Welcome back everyone.
Once again this review will contain spoilers. Those of you who haven't watched the episode yet, you have been warned.
So our episode starts with Rainbow Dash giving Fluttershy some lessons on being more assertive, as it seems Fluttershy's going to be RD's cheering section at an upcoming event. However, despite Fluttershy's best efforts, she can't really cheer very loudly, much to Rainbow's disappointment, leading into today's title sequence.
When the episode begins proper, we see Raibow practising a very special flying technique she plans to use at the upcoming event, with Fluttershy giving her best (although quiet) cheering. The technique is pretty impressive, but Rainbow ultimately fails to pull it off, winding up flung far away and straight into Twilight's home, where the other four ponies have just finished tidying up. When asked what she was doing, Rainbow explains that the upcoming event, the "Best young flier competition", shows off, as you'd expect, the best young fliers amongst the pegasus ponies. It will be taking place in Cloudsdale, the home city of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy and since only Pegasus ponies can get up there, only Fluttershy can come with her for support.
Pinkie Pie then bings up whether or not Dash will be performing the "sonic rainboom" a special technique that she reportedly pulled off when she was younger. Rainbow says she will and brags about how great it was before flying off the practice more. Fluttershy reveals that although Rainbow has practised that move many times, she's never come close to pulling it off, before flying to catch her. Rarity then points out that Twilight should use her magic to get them all into Cloudsdale to support Rainbow. Twilight agrees and finds a spell that can temporarily I've them wings. Rarity volunteers to have the spell cast on her and Twilight does so, although hidden from the audience.
Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy eventually make it to Cloudsdale, giving the audience it's first look at the place. After having a bit of a confrontation with some of their childhood classmates, Rainbow, will some reminding from Fluttershy, begins to panic over the fact that not only will Princess Celestia herself be watching the event, but also her heroes, the Wonderbolts. Racked with nervousness over the possibility that her special technique might not be successful, Rainbow panics more. That is until she sees that Rarity has turned up, having wings like a giant butterfly's. When Rainbow asks how she got them, Twilight and the others turn up in a balloon to join them. Twilight explains that she only had enough magic at the time to do the wing spell once, so for the rest she had to make do with casting a spell to allow them to walk on clouds.
After this we get scenes of them being given a tour by Rainbow through Cloudsdale, through places like the cloud factory (major Spyro flashbacks here people) and the like. During this time many of Cloudsdale's residents become enamoured with Rarity's impressive wings, so much so that the attention begins to go to her head and she gets the idea of entering the competition herself, much to Rainbow's dismay.
Soon the competition begins and both Celestia and the Wonderbolts arrive to judge the competition. Rainbow tries desperately throughout the entire event to try and postpone her going out there to perform her stunt due to nervousness. Eventually though she has no choice and ends up going out to perform at the same time as Rarity (who, by the way, is dressed in a manner that even Lady Gaga would find over-the-top). Rainbow tries her best to perform the stuns she practised at the start of the episode but doesn't quite pull it off as well. As she does this, Rarity flies higher and higher and, much like the tale of Icarus, her wings disappear because of this, much like Twilight warned that they might. With Rarity plummeting to the ground, the Wonderbolts rush down to save her but unfortunately get knocked out due to her flailing about. Rainbow notices this and flies down faster than ever before. In doing so she (I think) breaks the sound barrier and pulls off the "sonic rainboom" technique to catch the falling ponies.
After the competition, Rarity apologises to Rainbow for having stolen her thunder throughout the episode and, much to Rainbow's delight, the Wonderbolts themselves turn up to thank her for saving them. Celestia then arrives to name Rainbow the winner of the competition for having pulled off the "rainboom" technique and Rainbow is naturally rather pleased with herself, if a bit lost for words.
And so the episode ends, not with Twilight, but with Rarity giving a direct report to Celestia about the lesson she learned.
So how does this episode hold up?
Well, in terms of it's story it's a fairly well told tale of trying t overcome one's nerves. I can honestly say that I know what Rainbow Dash is going through in this episode. I've had to do things in front of large groups of people many times in my life so I know what impact that can have on a person. Feeling the moment coming closer and closer until you eventually have no choice but to go out in front of people with the possibility of failing? Oh yeah, I know what that's like. The scene of Rainbow in a near-foetal position wracked with nervousness, that was pretty much me at one point. As such I give credit to the writers, not only for creating a very relatable situation, but in providing some good development for Rainbow Dash, who we've never seen as anything but confident in episodes prior to this.
Having said that there was one major point to this episode that I had a problem, and that was the character of Rarity. As you know from my review of "Suited for success" I liked how much of a generous character they made her, suiting (no pun intended) her element, "generosity", down to the bone. Here though, she knowingly and deliberately makes things more difficult for Rainbow Dash by entering the competition herself, knowing full-well how nervous she is during all this. Even though I liked the fact that it was ultimately Rarity to learn and report the lesson of the episode, she still came across in a very negative light here.
Not only that, but the episode seems to have had a very strange contradiction regarding her character. I mean she was the one who urged all of the others to help Rainbow get past her nervousness by going to Cloudsdale, and yet it ends up being her who makes things harder for her by entering the competition. If, perhaps, the episode had been made so that someone else made the suggestion of going to Cloudsdale and still have Rarity do the things she does once there, it might have worked. As it is it just comes across as though the episode forgot why Rarity wanted to go there in the first place.
Speaking of Cloudsdale, I know I'm going off-topic here, but I found the place to be legitimately impressive as a location when I first laid eyes on it. Plus, it's just so nice to have a cloud city that's actually a CLOUD city (take that Lucas).
No song this week so I won't be covering one.
Humour now and, like with any Rarity-heavy episode, there were plenty of over the top performances by Tabitha St Germain that were just hilarious. Her laughing maniacally when people admired her wings stands out in my mind as a particularly funny moment. However, the funniest moment by far was at the start of the episode. As Twilight is wondering how to make wings for everyone, Pinkie Pie directs her to the right book. When she does, Applejack asks her "how'd you do that"? Just the delivery and eye movement during that brief moment had me laughing out loud. Sometimes just having an ordinary moment pulled off with good comedic timing is all it takes to have me in stitches.
Moral of the story now and this week it seems to be that sometimes it's best to be there for the people you care about rather than focusing on yourself. It's a good lesson and like I said before I like the fact that they had Rarity be the one to learn the lesson this wee rather than Twilight, who frankly didn't have that much to do in this episode.
Overall this was a fairly fun episode that, although it had some frustrating elements to it, was worthy of watching.
Join me next week when we see Fluttershy bite off more than she can chew in episode seventeen, "Stare master".
See you then.