* BaseBreakingCharacter: Some fans disliked Lightning Dust due to [[LackOfEmpathy her]] [[ItsAllAboutMe attitude]] while others liked her. See DracoInLeatherPants below.
* BrokenBase:
** Spitfire's [[DrillSergeantNasty demeanor]]. Some were turned off as it was [[OutOfCharacter a far cry from her friendly and laid back attitude from previous episodes]] while others felt it was {{justified|Trope}} as she was on duty and it was her job to weed out anyone who was incapable of being Wonderbolt material regardless of past interactions with her recruits. Having a [[VocalEvolution different-sounding]] (initially misidentified as [[TheOtherDarrin new]]) voice helped this prespective. On that note, some feel that Spitfire seems to have [[DudeWheresMyRespect completely forgotten what Rainbow Dash is capable of]], while the episode's defenders point out that Spitfire would logically be forbidden from showing Dash any favoritism.
** Pinkie's behavior in this episode. Either it's funny, sad, or annoying.
** This episode. It's either Merriwether's "best episode since ''Hearth's Warming Eve''" or "SoOkayItsAverage but least it's not ''Mare Do-Well'' since the whole episode is written better".
* DracoInLeatherPants: It didn't take long for Lightning to get several fans who feel she has a FreudianExcuse for her reckless nature such as a personal tragedy in her past. Other feel she is a reasonable pony that underestimated how much danger Rainbow's friends were in and would have been remorseful had the others explained it to her better. This isn't as extreme as some examples because the AlternateEnding to the episode gives her a JerkassRealization and has her accept that Rainbow was right.
* FanficFuel:
** It ''is'' a ''Film/TopGun'' [[HoYay homage,]] after all.
** Lightning Dust is effectively to Rainbow Dash what Trixie is to Twilight Sparkle... but unlike Trixie, Lightning Dust is canonically without remorse[[note]] unless you count the DeletedScene[[/note]].
*** Which could make her a prime candidate for a villain creating a real Shadowbolt squad.
** A brief shot of [[ShipTease Rarity hugging Thunderlane]] after he saves her is sure to inspire a mountain of ship fics.
** At the end of the episode, Rainbow Dash is shown "[[TheLeader leading]]" a group of Wonderbolt Cadets through a set of drills, most of whom are well known in the fandom. Wonderbolt Squad Fanfics GO!!!!
* MemeticMutation: "That's an academy record!"
* {{Narm}}: The arguably jarring application of NeverSayDie in the climax almost dampens the severity of the situation at hand. "Smashed to pieces"? "Demolished"? Your friends are pony beings, Rainbow Dash, not fine china.
* RonTheDeathEater: Spitfire gets this treatment from certain fans for her DrillSergeantNasty portrayal, conveniently ignoring how this was clearly her on duty persona in contrast to her laidback off duty persona.
* TheScrappy: Pinkie Pie is even ''more'' manic than usual self in this episode, and it can be '''very''' annoying; you just wanna say "Pinkie, checking the mailbox every 3 seconds will ''not'' make the mail come faster." At the same time, though, [[TheWoobie you've gotta feel sorry for her]] and wonder just how freaking ''fragile'' her confidence in keeping her friends really is.
* ViewerGenderConfusion: The pink PaletteSwap of Wild Fire, due to having a boyish voice. When she speaks a little quieter, it's more feminine.
* WinBackTheCrowd: For Merriwether Williams. Only one of her four episodes the previous season had been received favorably, but this one was heralded as a huge improvement, showing an understanding of the series and characters that she hadn't had before.


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