Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S2 E7: "May The Best Pet Win!"
"So, you all think you got what it takes to trope MY episode, do ya? Well, we'll just see about that!"
Rainbow Dash:Can't settle for less cause I'm the best! Fluttershy & Dash:So a contest we will see! Rainbow Dash:Who's the number one, greatest, perfectest pet Fluttershy & Dash:In the world for meeee! Fluttershy:May the games begin... Rainbow Dash:And may the best pet win!
Written by Charlotte Fullerton
Rainbow Dash is awakened by her friends' pets from a crazy dream where she's attacked by a creepy chimera-like monster made up of... her friends' pets. The other ponies arrive soon afterward, and Applejack explains that they're at the park for their weekly Pony Pet Play Date. Feeling a bit left out, Rainbow Dash admits she might want to have a pet someday, whereupon Fluttershy enthusiastically drags Rainbow to her cottage, prattling on about the wonderful animals available. Once there, Fluttershy and Rainbow sing a jaunty tune about finding the perfect pet for Rainbow Dash, ending with her announcing a competition to do just that.Before long, Dash is briefing her pet contenders on the upcoming challenge. When Fluttershy comes up and places a turtlenote Actually, it's a tortoise in the lineup, Rainbow Dash complains, but Fluttershy browbeats her into giving him a chance, as he's been trying to find a home for the longest time. Dash puts the pets through a series of events to test their speed, agility, guts, style, coolness, awesomeness, and radicalness. Despite finishing last every time, the tortoise persists in competing. At the end, Rainbow Dash commends his effort, but she's narrowed her choices down to an owl, a falcon, an eagle, and a bat.The four fliers (and the tortoise) head for the tie-breaker, a race through the hazard-filled Ghastly Gorge, where the one who crosses the finish line with Rainbow Dash will be her pet. Dash leads them through a series of dangerous obstacles: a windy tunnel, a large patch of briars, and a nest of gigantic Quarray Eels. As the race continues, Dash flies backwards to offer taunts and encouragement—only to smack into a canyon wall, causing an avalanche that pulls her to the bottom.When the dust clears, Rainbow Dash is trapped with one of her wings pinned under a boulder, while the four fliers pass by overhead, oblivious to her predicament. Her despondency turns to hope when an approaching shadow indicates help has arrived, only to return to despair when Dash sees it's the tortoise, plodding along. Ignoring her continued dismissals, he resiliently digs under the boulder and levers it up with his head.At the finish line, the rest of the Mane Cast greet the fliers, but quickly become worried over Rainbow Dash's absence. Using a pair of binoculars, they spot the avalanche, then see the tortoise emerging from a cloud of dust, carrying Rainbow Dash on his back. Meeting Dash halfway, the ponies inform her that the falcon finished first, and they congratulate her on finding her new pet. Rainbow Dash ruefully admits the falcon is everything she thought she wanted in a pet... but then announces that the tortoise is the real winner, since he fulfilled her final rule by being there when she needed help and crossing the finish line with her. The upset falcon gracefully accepts defeat, and Rainbow Dash dubs the tortoise "Tank" for his toughness and tenacity, only for Fluttershy to point out that Dash wanted a pet that could fly and keep up with her...The next week, as the ponies and their pets gather for the latest Pony Pet Play Date, Rainbow Dash proudly brings along Tank, who's now sporting aviator goggles and has a propeller pack strapped to his shell.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
The Big Race: This is the final test to see who is worthy to be Rainbow Dash's pet; they have to keep up with her.
Binocular Shot: Started by Twilight, but the other ponies (well, just Fluttershy and Applejack) shove in to look through them when trying to spot Rainbow Dash after the other potential pets have crossed the finish line.
All the pony pets besides Opal and Angel, as we haven't seen them in a while.
In the starting dream sequence, Rainbow Dash's first reaction to Owlowiscious's hoot is "Who?"
At the beginning of the song, we see the mallards from "Griffon the Brush Off".
One of the outfits Rainbow Dash wears in the "Style Competition" includes Rarity's scarf from "Dragonshy".
Rainbow sings under the same dramatic spotlights as in Winter Wrap Up.
Canada, Eh?: DHX Media/Studio B shows it's Canadian roots by staging Rainbow Dash and the eagle playing curling (a popular Canadian sport) in the photo montage. It's irony if the eagle is meant to be a bald eagle, the symbol of America, where curling is non-existent and stereotypically connected to Canada in this fashion.
The tortoise lifting Opal's kennel with only his head and neck.
The bat displaying his echolocation during the awesome skill part of the contest. He later uses it in Ghastly Gorge to easily navigate his way through the thorn vines and make up for the ground lost in the wind tunnel.
Department of Redundancy Department: Lampshaded by Twilight Sparkle, despite Rainbow Dash insisting that "Coolness," "Awesomeness," and "Radicalness" are distinct categories. Dash even penalizes the bat for doing something awesome during the radicalness portion of the competition.
Determinator: Despite being put down by Rainbow Dash, the tortoise tries his best to become her pet. It eventually pays off when he saves her, earning the name Tank and the right to be her pet.
Dogged Nice Guy: The tortotise tries so hard to impress Rainbow Dash despite her shooting him down every step of the way. It pays off in the end.
Don't Try This at Home: An example so subtle it verges on Fridge Logic. The pets presented for Dash's consideration include only "ordinary" pets like cats and rabbits, or wild animals. None of the suggestions are exotic-but-obtainable pets like parrots, which kids might convince their parents to buy without realizing how much trouble they can be.
Catapult Nightmare: After dreaming of falling a great distance, Rainbow Dash bolts up out of her makeshift bed on a tree branch.
Crashing Dreams: Her freaky dream turns out to be a result of the rest of the mane cast's pets being noisy around her tree but one would wonder how Gummy and Angel make noises that would get her to think of them subconsciously.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: Rainbow Dash when coaching to see who will be her new pet. It's mostly front-loaded, as she tries to let the animals down gently when giving criticism.
Empathy Pet: Rainbow Dash and Tank share a key element: Loyalty.
Failed a Spot Check: Given that the tortoise is able to dig deep enough under the rock to put his head in far enough to leverage the rock off the ground, Rainbow should be able to do the same to free her wing without help. She's likely caught up in her panic, and possibly the fact that her wing hurts even though it turns out to not be badly injured. Since Rainbow Dash spends most of her time in theh air, this is basically a reversal of Forgot I Could Fly.
Final Exam Boss: Though no actual boss fight is involved, the race through Ghastly Gorge has segments that test the pets on all qualities they were previously tested on - speed (the wind tunnel), agility (the thorns) and guts (the Quarray eels).
First Girl Wins: First pet wins. When the musical number starts, the first pet we see clearly, centered in the frame, is the tortoisenote TURTL— Oh. Sorry..
This episode is all about pony pets. All of the competitor pets demonstrate a large amount of intelligence, awareness and ability, such as the falcon displaying embarrassment when it was pointed out that he didn't come back to get Dash when she was caught under the avalanche; or the montage of the pet's attempts to impress her with fencing, knitting and so forth.
Some domesticated animals in the show can talk, but none in this episode can.
Rainbow Dash: Today I learned what the most important quality really is: a certain kind of spirit, a sticktoitiveness. A never-give-up, can-do attitude that's the mark of a real winner! And this tortoise has it! Twilight: Tenacity! Rainbow Dash: Gesundheit.
Help, I'm Stuck!: During The Big Race at the episode's climax, a boulder from the avalanche lands on Rainbow Dash's wing. As the four competing pets passed her, she was stuck...until somebody came to her rescue.
Rainbow Dash claiming that the contest "isn't a game, you know," and explaining immediately afterward that "these games will determine..."
We have this bit between Fluttershy and the rest of the main cast (sans Rainbow Dash, who's on Tank's back). Keep in mind that she's been correcting Rainbow Dash that Tank's a tortoise the entire episode every time she calls him a turtle.
I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Ghastly Gorge. Even Rainbow Dash is obviously put off by it, and she's the one trying to assure the other contenders that it's not as bad as advertised.
"I Want" Song: Wanting a pet may not be as grand a scope as your usual Disney Princess song, but the duet does a wonderful job establishing all the key plot points for the episode.
Implausible Fencing Powers: According to the Photo Montage, the hummingbird is capable of fencing. (Which is odd, because it was earlier established that it couldn't give a high-five without plummeting to the ground.)
Instant Bandages: The tortoise not only lifted the rock but also gave Rainbow first aid.
Lampshade Hanging: Noted in a few other tropes, but explicitly calling back to the duet...
Pinkie Pie: You got your perfect pet, right? Fluttershy: The best of the best like you wanted, remember? It can fly and it's not a squirrel! Should we sing about it again?
Second Place Is for Winners: Even though the tortoise comes in last during the race, he still gets to be Rainbow Dash's pet for being the most loyal to her. She justifies this with the exact rulings she placed for the race.
Late to the Punchline: Fluttershy is two minutes into the song before she gets the impression that Dash wants a flying pet, despite Dash making it clear within the first thirty seconds that this is what she wants.
Merchandise-Driven: Fans were quick to catch that the Riding Along with Rainbow Dash toy comes with a turtlenote tortoise! (though this one actually is supposed to be a turtle). In general, the pony toys come with pets, and Dash was the only "Mane Six" pony without one in the show. Until this one, of course.
Mind-Control Eyes: Opalescence gets these when the butterfly uses its wings to mesmerize her.
Misplaced Wildlife: Fluttershy has an otter and a seal among the woodland critters she cares for. The otter might very well be a river otter, and thus have an excuse. The seal, however, has no excuse for its presence far from any ocean.
Rainbow Dash: The bat would be awesome, but the wasp I'm digging too. Do you have something in a yellow-striped bat?
Mood Whiplash: Rainbow Dash is flying along in the race, being awesome and cocky as usual... hits the side of the gorge; pretty standard... starts an avalanche; nothing she can't handle... and then she's stuck at the bottom of the gorge with her wing pinned under a rock, crying out "Don't leave me!" to the competing pets.
Mundane Made Awesome: During the musical number, Fluttershy gives one pet a grand entrance, including fanfare, curtain rise, and a specially made stage for it to stand on. The pet in question? A squirrel—a flying squirrel, but a squirrel nonetheless. (This may be a jab at the toy line; the basic Rainbow Dash toy comes with a squirrel figurine.)
Musical World Hypotheses: The duet in this episode follows the Adaptation Hypothesis. Fluttershy makes reference to the song at the end of the episode:
Fluttershy: It's the best of the best like you wanted, remember? It can fly, and it's not a squirrel. Should we sing about it again?
Never Say "Die": Rainbow Dash worries that her pinned wing will leave her trapped forever. The thought of dying of starvation rather than simply being stuck indefinitely doesn't seem to occur to her (though it may depend on your interpretation of her fears).
Pinkie Pie, in demonstrating how Fluttershy nodded her head, by forcing Fluttershy to nod her head.
When Fluttershy "politely asks" Rainbow to let the tortoise compete, she shoves him into Rainbow's face.
Fluttershy does the same thing earlier during their duet when showing off the "puddy tat" at her house.
Non-Indicative Title: The animals are competing to become a pet, and as such, are not yet pets. Fluttershy is more their caretaker than owner; something like a 'foster owner'.
Off Model: Rainbow Dash is briefly animated without wings while lounging in a tree.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When the race begins, the flying competitors zoom ahead while the tortoise is left to look forlornly at the enormous drop in front of him. Given that he eventually makes it to the finish line, that means that he makes his way down to the gorge, possibly by falling all the way down. and then goes through all three obstacles (the windy tunnel, the briars, and the Quarray Eels) thanks to his shell and non-flying nature, and eventually meets up with Rainbow Dash.
When Rainbow challenges the contenders to steal Opal's toy, everyone except the butterfly refuses to try. When the butterfly succeeds, the tortoise is already behind Opal's cage in an attempt to tip it over onto Opal.
As mentioned above, the tortoise reaches the area where Rainbow Dash is pinned in the avalanche in a reasonable amount of time. (The episode cleverly places a commercial break after Dash is trapped, but before the tortoise shows up. The amount of time that passes is thus ambiguous.)
The mane cast is at the start line, and at the finish line, before anyone else. Justified, as Twilight has genuine teleportation.
Oh Crap: The falcon has a mild one when the tortoise is announced as the winner.
Prehensile Tail: Applejack can use hers to throw sticks, and Fluttershy's is strong enough to carry bunnies.
Psycho Strings: When Opal extends her claws to guard her favorite toy.
Schizo Tech: Tank's flying device, to start, but there's a mention of "bullets" in the duet, and Tank gets his name when Rainbow Dash describes him as being "like a tank." Judging by the telltale magical aura around it, Tank's flying machine has been enchanted.
Dash posing with the owl in a prominently red and gold school uniform might be a vague Shout-Out to Harry Potter, who had a pet owl and was in Gryffindor.
Shown Their Work: The falcon shown in the episode strongly◊ resembles◊ a Peregrine Falcon. Peregrines are known for their blazing fast 200 mph dive, which makes the species uncannily well matched to a pony who can break the sound barrier when diving. Also, peregrine falcon mating rituals consist of daring flight maneuvers, and females are larger and stronger than males.
Simple Yet Awesome: Again, several of the pet candidates pull this to impress Rainbow Dash. Who would have guessed that a bald eagle could knit a sweater so fast?
Squee: Fluttershy when Rainbow Dash says she wants a pet.
Totally Radical: Rainbow Dash briefly dons a pair of dark sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap. Also, she unironically uses the word "radical" throughout the episode.
True Love is Exceptional: Pet-owner love in this case. Rainbow Dash insists earlier on that she wanted a fast, agile, flying animal for a pet... and after putting the animals through competitions testing these (among other) traits she found out that the falcon met her standards the most... but by the time she found this out, she had evidently changed her mind about what she wanted in a pet as she clearly wasn't happy about being told that the falcon won. She found out a loophole in her rules that allowed her to adopt a tortoise instead, in a clear contrast to what she at first wanted.