Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S4 E10 "Rainbow Falls"
Go Ponyville!note and Derpy is finally back! YAY!
Bulk Biceps: "P" IS FOR RAINBOW DASH!! Fluttershy: Um, "Rainbow Dash" actually starts with an "R". (beat) Bulk Biceps: NEVER MIND!!
Written by Corey Powell
The qualification round for the Equestria Games is a few days away, and Rainbow Dash is attempting to motivate Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps to help them qualify Ponyville for a relay race. However, while Rainbow Dash is a natural athlete, Bulk and Fluttershy assuredly aren't, despite their best efforts. The rest of the Mane Six go with the three-pony team to the competition at Rainbow Falls, with the Wonderbolts Spitfire, Soarin, and Fleetfoot competing for Cloudsdale. The Wonderbolts are proud to have some worthy competition from Rainbow Dash, but Rainbow's spirits soon sink when she realizes how hopelessly outclassed her teammates are against her heroes.During practice, Soarin injures his wing and has to be taken off the practice field to rest. With him gone, Spitfire and Fleetfoot offer Rainbow Dash a chance to practice with them, since she grew up in Cloudsdale and has proven herself to be an exceptional flyer. Rainbow agrees, splitting her time between practicing with the Wonderbolts and trying to motivate her friends. Twilight catches on to the deception and confronts Rainbow about her two-timing. Just then, Spitfire and Fleetfoot show up and offer Rainbow the chance of a lifetime: since Soarin's wing is too injured to compete, Rainbow Dash can fly with them permanently to help them qualify — but if she accepts, it means Ponyville's chances of qualifying for the games will be slim to none. With the competition the next day, Rainbow begs Twilight for advice, but Twilight tells her she must make a decision on her own, and fast.Not long after, Rainbow Dash arrives on the practice field in a wheelchair, covered in bandages and very badly acting out pain, claiming she "tripped and fell". Rainbow is taken to the hospital, where all of her friends encourage her to get better and tell her not to worry, since they'll make sure to give Rainbow a medal if they win the gold in the Games — they even got Derpy to replace her! Soarin, in the next bed over, compliments Rainbow on what good friends she has, remarking that his teammates never came to visit him even though his wing is feeling better. Realizing the Wonderbolts lied to try and get her on their team, Rainbow Dash leaves the hospital and reveals her deception to both teams. She announces her decision to retake her place on Ponyville's team, convincing the Wonderbolts to accept Soarin back onto their team in time for the qualifying round.During the time trial, Cloudsdale easily qualifies with the Wonderbolts. Thanks to the combined work of Bulk, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, Ponyville also (barely) qualifies. Everypony receives a medal, with Spitfire giving her Wonderbolt collar pin to Rainbow as well. Back in Ponyville, Rainbow writes in the Mane Six's diary that, as much as she loves winning, she loves her friends way more. As she leaves to go be with her friends outside, the Wonderbolt pin lets off an iridescent rainbow shimmer...
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Absentee Actor: Spike is the only character from the main cast who doesn't appear in the episode.
Competition Freak: Due to the pressure of making it into the games. The Wonderbolts (and Rainbow Dash) start acting very out of character. Though they all snap out of it by the end of the episode.
Compressed Vice: Applied to the Wonderbolts/Cloudsdale members Spitfire and Fleetfoot: where they've been portrayed before as nice ponies, here they lie about the extent of Soarin's injuries so that they could replace him with Dash because they care more about being the best than flying with their friend.
Conflicting Loyalty/Friend or Idol Decision: Rainbow Dash is torn between joining the Equestria Games Ponyville team with her less able friends, or the Cloudsdale team with her idols, the Wonderbolts. Naturally, she chooses her friends after a talk with Soarin reveals that they picked her for a better chance of winning.
Within the first minute of the episode, Bulk Biceps responds to Pinkie Pie's cheerleading with a "YAY!" that knocks her over, recalling Fluttershy's very soft cheer and Rainbow Dash's reaction back in "Sonic Rainboom".
Bulk Biceps and Fluttershy were previously shown to be capable enough of flying in "Hurricane Fluttershy", and Bulk Biceps was apparently good enough to enter the Wonderbolt Academy, but they're both written as weak fliers in this episode.
In "Hurricane Fluttershy", Rainbow Dash reminded Fluttershy that she had done a "wicked nose dive to save that falling baby bird". In this episode, Fluttershy is all pasterns and can barely hold onto a relay baton; she'd have struggled to hold onto a falling baby bird.
Fluttershy's dialog is filled with the "...if you're ready" and "...if that's OK" VerbalTics that have been absent in other episodes.
Facehoof: Twilight's reaction to Rainbow Dash's fake injuries.
Double Aesop: Rainbow Dash learns that she should have stayed loyal to her Ponyville team from the beginning; when she demonstrates this by turning down the Wonderbolts' offer to join their team, Spitfire and Fleetfoot learn a similar lesson and ask Soarin to rejoin the team. Both lessons were necessary for Rainbow Dash to receive her Plot Coupon.
Double Meaning Title: The bulk of the episode takes place at the "Rainbow Falls", but there is also the fact that Rainbow Dash (almost) fell for the Wonderbolts' offer to fly for Cloudsdale. Note that this is a combination of her first two temptations of the series: Nightmare Moon offered her to join a team of great flyers, and Discord forced her to choose between Cloudsdale or her friends.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Soarin, a Wonderbolt, and therefore a well known pegasus with several fans, doesn't receive a single visit after getting injured, not even from his own teammates, who go as far as lying about the extent of his injuries to convince another pegasus to take his place. Though they apparently communicated enough to tell him he was getting a replacement.
En Route Sum-Up: Much of the exposition of the episode is given on the train ride to Rainbow Falls.
Easily Forgiven: Soarin forgives Spitfire pretty quickly for lying and trying to replace him. Granted, she did apologize.
Famed in Story: Several pegasi recognize Rainbow Dash as one of the best fliers in Equestria. Even the Wonderbolts treat her as their only real competition for the qualifiers.
Funny Background Event: Just what the heck are Rarity, Twilight and Pinkie Pie doing as Rainbow Dash is writing her journal entry?!
The Wonderbolts (plus Rainbow Dash) put feeding bags over their muzzles to eat while they are in mid-air.
The relay batons are horseshoes.
When Rainbow Dash manages to cross the finish line barely in time for the Ponyville team to make the qualifying round, the Wonderbolts all let out congratulatory whinnies for them.
Game-Breaking Injury: Soarin, the Wonderbolts teammate, suffers one during practice when he hits the side of a ring and injures his wing, leaving him unable to qualify. Turns out it did heal in time, but he had heard he had been replaced and felt he wasn't worthy to compete.
Parodied and invoked when Rainbow Dash fakes a full-body injury so severe that she doubts she'll ever fly again, just so she won't have to choose which team to join.
Gentle Giant: Bulk Biceps may look like a roid head and rarely speaks without yelling, but he's as nice as Fluttershy, though a little lacking in intelligence.
Got Me Doing It: At the end nearly everyone gives a big YEAH!!! for the winners, just like Bulk Biceps would do.
Hand Wave: The episode establishes at the beginning that competitors in the Equestria Games can't take part in more than one event, which is why Rainbow Dash's relay team consists of Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps rather than more capable fliers like Thunderlane and Cloudchaser.
Heel Realization: Spitfire and Fleetfoot realize how wrong they were to abandon and replace Soarin thanks to Rainbow Dash, the former even noting this is the second time that's happened.
Jerkass Ball: Held by Spitfire and Fleetfoot when they pretend that Soarin is still injured so they can get Rainbow Dash on their team.
Lame Excuse: When forced to choose between her friends and the Wonderbolts, Rainbow Dash tries to escape her dilemma altogether by showing up at practice in a wheelchair and wrapped up in bandages from top to bottom, moaning that she "hurt her hoof" because the tripped on a foam hoof and landed on a..."(mumble mumble) pokey stick in the ground."
Pinkie Pie: Ohhhh, if I get my hooves on that *mumble mumble*, it'll be in BIG TROUBLE!
Mythology Gag: Two of the competitors have the same character design as the G1 ponies Firefly and Medley.
No Indoor Voice: Bulk Biceps. Not only does he get to say his "YEAH!", but everything else he says is at the top of his lungs.
Not So Stoic / Not so Above It All: Twilight, arguably the closest to The Stoic among the Mane Cast, gets so pumped by the Ponyville team's success that she breaks into Pinkie's cheerleading routine, rainbow wig and all.
Obfuscating Disability: Rainbow Dash fakes being confined to a wheelchair in total agony so she can get out of having to pick which team to join for the Equestria Games.
Powerpuff Girl Hands: The horseshoe batons used by the relay teams make it clear that "sticky hooves" are canon.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Rainbow Dash's team includes Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps, who aren't known for their spectacular flying abilities. It's no question why Rainbow's loyalty is challenged here when the competition includes the Wonderbolts.
Real Men Wear Pink: Bulk Biceps is perfectly fine wearing Rarity's thoroughly girly uniform.
Spit Take: Dash does one, having been in the middle of drinking water from a pond when Twilight confronts her about training with both teams.
Suddenly Voiced: Helia talks to Rainbow Dash during the train ride. For some reason, her VA Kelly Metzger was instead credited for Blossomforth, who was relegated to the background. This episode is also the first time that Crescent Moon and Sprinkle Medley are voiced.
Take a Third Option: Rather than choose between her idols and her friends, Rainbow Dash opts to pretend to be injured. Twilight points out that choosing not to choose isn't really making a decision.
Two-Timer Date: Rainbow Dash practising with the Wonderbolts and the Ponyville team.
Underdogs Never Lose: Rainbow Dash is teamed up with Fluttershy and Bulk Biceps, two of the most flight-challenged pegasi in Ponyville. Their opponents are the Wonderbolts, who think her teammates have no chance of making the top five in the Equestria Games tryouts. Of course Team Ponyville qualifies in the end. It's not played entirely straight, as the Wonderbolts take first by a mile, while the Ponyville team just barely qualifies by a millisecond. It's also made pretty clear right from the start that Rainbow Dash is pretty much doing the work of three ponies; the goal is to simply have her teammates do well enough that she can pick up the slack.
Unexpected Character: Derpy, of all ponies, being chosen as Dash's replacement. Not only did she receive next to no coverage in previews of the episode, and thought to be almost gone from the show entirely, but she isn't exactly the most reliable of fliers; in this last case, again, having her replacing Rainbow Dash can be justified by the same reason Fluttershy and Bulk are Rainbow's teammates, as most of Ponyville's best fliers are already competing on other events, so Derpy was the only replacement they could get on such short notice.
The Voiceless: Following the debacle surrounding Derpy being given spoken lines in her last major appearance, she remains mute this time around, except for when the entire crowd speaks at once.
Wham Shot: Derpy entering Rainbow Dash's room after being announced as Rainbow Dash's replacement.
What Happened to the Mouse?: A more literal example - Angel Bunny is present in the cold opening, but after one big shout from Bulk Biceps that knocks him offscreen, he never reappears in the episode.