Twilight Sparkle: Seven ninety-five! We are so close! Fluttershy, they need you up there! Fluttershy:I won't make a difference!
Written by Cindy Morrow
At an all-pegasus meeting, Rainbow Dash announces that Ponyville's reservoir has been chosen this year to supply Cloudsdale with the water for all the rain for Equestria — and Ponyville's pegasi will get the water from the ground to Cloudsdale by flying together and making a tornado of at least 800 wing power. Every capable pegasus in Ponyville is needed to help (including the Running Gag of a huge, beefy, enthusiastic stallion with disproportionately small wings). Rainbow Dash wants Ponyville to break the record of 910 wing power set by Fillydelphia the previous year with a hurricane of over 1,000 wing power! Everypony's cheering is marred by a little coughing.As training begins, Rainbow Dash watches over the proceedings, scolding the coughing ponies for attempting to malinger. Fluttershy is conspicuously absent — she's at home, faking being sick and injured. Rainbow Dash spots the ploys, forcing Fluttershy to admit the real problem: she was humiliated by her weak flying in front of the other young pegasi at Flight Camp, and now she feels a crippling sense of performance anxiety. Rainbow tones down her usual brash approach and reminds her friend how important their mission is. Fluttershy agrees to try despite her obvious misgivings.Twilight brings an anemometer to the training grounds to test pegasus wing power. When it's Fluttershy's turn, she makes a valiant effort, but when she hears laughter from twin pegasi on the sidelines, it causes her to flashback to being teased:
"Fluttershy! Fluttershy! Fluttershy can hardly fly!"
Fluttershy falters, resulting in a miserable score of 0.5. She runs off in tears. Rainbow Dash tries to bolster her spirits, but Fluttershy's nerve has failed. Alone with her animal friends, however, she soon musters up her courage and begins practicing on her own. When she returns, her wing power has improved significantly — but it is still only 2.3, well short of the goal Rainbow Dash has set for all pegasi. Though both Rainbow and Twilight commend her for her significant improvement, Fluttershy still feels humiliated and useless, running away yet again.On the big day, Spitfire of the Wonderbolts shows up to oversee the proceedings and witness the record-breaking attempt. Unfortunately, it turns out the coughing fits were genuine — eight ponies are out with the feather flu! Not only does this mean they won't beat the wing power record, but they might not even be able to get the water to Cloudsdale. Determined to overcome these setbacks, Rainbow Dash and the Ponyville pegasi start the tornado, only to fail due to a mid-air crash. Despite Twilight's warnings that she's endangering the team, Rainbow Dash rallies everypony to try again, building a tornado of 795 wing power — five short of the minimum needed. Twilight urges Fluttershy to help, but Fluttershy says her measly strength is too little to make a difference. When Twilight convinces her to try not just for Rainbow Dash or Ponyville, but for herself, the meek pegasus takes flight and enters the maelstrom.In mid-flight, Fluttershy's memories of being teased strike again, but she refuses to let them stop her, pushing herself past her limits. The sight of Fluttershy's determination encourages the other pegasi. Together, they generate just enough wing power to propel the water to Cloudsdale!Spitfire congratulates Rainbow Dash, who graciously steps aside and gives props to Fluttershy, her number one flier! Everypony begins to chant:
Fluttershy narrates her letter to Princess Celestia from the shoulders of everypony: "Sometimes you can feel like what you have to offer is too little to make a difference. But today, I learned that everypony's contribution is important, no matter how small. If you just keep your head high, do your best, and believe in yourself, anything can happen!"
Absentee Actor: Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity are not present, although Ashleigh Ball and Andrea Libman are still present as Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, respectively. This leaves Tabitha St. Germain as the only main VA absent.
Artistic License - Physics: While the spinning air in a tornado can lower the pressure at the center, and a pressure drop can create some lift on internal fluids, it's not like it's going to suddenly shoot water high into the air immediately upon crossing a threshold. There is such a thing as a waterspout, but it's really a condensation effect inside a funnel cloud rather than a tornado actually sucking up water.
Derpy is present, derped-eyes and all, throughout the entire show, including participating in generating the tornado. No surprise there, as she is a pegasus. Thankfully, it wasn't her fault the tornado failed the first time. (Her friend Raindrops was the first to give out, followed by many others.)
Canon Immigrant: Blossomforth gets her debut in the show after making two appearances in the toy line the previous year.
Character Development: Rainbow Dash starts off as being very aggressive when confronting Fluttershy about participating in the tornado but seems to catch herself on this before switching to a gentler approach, reflecting a greater sense of empathy and understanding in her character. This actually goes beyond this episode and for the rest of the series beforehand. In initial episodes like "Dragonshy", Rainbow Dash had zero patience for Fluttershy's cowardice. While previous Season Two episodes made subtle pushes into a kinder role, this cements it, with Rainbow Dash being nothing short of gentle and supportive towards Fluttershy despite her excessive lack of self-esteem.
Comic Role Play: Angel Bunny, the animals of the cottage, and the animals of the forest wear little outfits, some in pony masks, to help Fluttershy learn to cope with her fear of performing with other ponies watching.
Feather Fingers: Fluttershy (and Dizzy Twister in the background in another scene) were shown doing pushups with her wings, and another Pegasus mare is shown weightlifting with hers. It's used one more time when Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy high-five each other.
When first confronting Fluttershy about skipping out on training, Rainbow is typically abrasive. Realizing this, she reins herself in and treats Fluttershy much more gently throughout the rest of the episode.
Similarly, Fluttershy is first convinced to do a test run out of guilt after a dejected Rainbow Dash submits to her refusal to train.
Kids Are Cruel: The fillies in Fluttershy's flashback tease her mercilessly.
Rainbow Dash calls out Thunderlane for trying to play sick to get out of training and tornado duty and forces him to train with the other pegasi. Turns out Thunderlane (or Blossomforth) really was sick and managed to get several other pegasi sick on the big day, which not only prevented them from breaking the wing power record, but nearly prevented them from raising the water to Cloudsdale.
Fluttershy, Rainbow, and Twilight seemed satisfied with her 0.5 first attempt, but Spike just had to be snide about it, sending the poor girl into tears. Twilight's smack to his head was well deserved.
Rainbow Dash gives one to all the pegasi in Ponyville as they prepare to bring up the reservoir water up to Cloudsdale. She gives one earlier in the library.
Fluttershy's animal friends all team up to give her one in the forest, though she's the only one who can understand them.
Running Gag: The muscular, white pegasus shouting "YEAH!!!".
Sadist Teacher: Lightly implied during Fluttershy's flashback to flight camp. The coach has a nasty little smile on his face when he kicks filly Fluttershy off the cloud, and filly Rainbow Dash looks concerned about Fluttershy right before he does this.
Cloudchaser: What exactly does this machine do? Twilight Sparkle: This is an anemometer. It measures your accelerative velocity and translates it into wing power, thus gauging your cumulative H2O anti-gravitational potential. Any other questions? Flitter: Yeah. (to Spike) What exactly does this machine do? Spike: It tells you how fast you're going and how strong your wings are. Pegasi: Ohhhh...
Shown Their Work: Twilight refers to a device to measure the "wing power" of the pegasi as an anemometer. While arguably the design is unconventional, this is a scientific device used to measure wind speed.
Super OCD: While it's technically a character defining trait, Twilight is seen enforcing a germ-free environment. Absolutely germ-free. Turns out to be Justified when quite a few pegasi get sick and create a problem for Rainbow Dash. Also the whole point of the job was to transport water up to Cloudsdale. If the pegasi moving it were sick, the water could've been tainted.
Writers Cannot Do Math: As Wing Power is stated to be cumulative for the 8 Pegasi missing to account for breaking the record versus barely not able to make the tornado would require them to have an average of over 13.75, unlikely given that only Dash displays a higher number. And that's only to beat Fillydelphia's 910, Dash's over 1000 goal would require the 8 to have been averaging over 25.