Like a number of the other reviewers before me, I didn't particularly care for this episode. But for a long time, I struggled to pin down exactly *why* this was so.
Was it the Aesop?
No. Not letting your head get too inflated after genuine accomplishments is a good moral. Admittedly, they could have maybe *shown* that it was acceptable to be proud, rather than just have one line at the very end of the episode, but at least they included that.
Was it the character interactions?
Again, no. To an extent, at least. As far as aesops concerning pride and ego, Rainbow Dash is the ideal character to demonstrate the bad aspects. Similarly, her friends would be ideal to show her the way, and to provide a good example.
Except they didn't; it was Mare Do Well that was selected to provide the good example. That's where it goes downhill for me.
I mean...what was the point of the Mare Do Well identity? Did the Mane Five really need to remain anonymous? Did the costume allow for them to do things that they ordinarily would not have been able to do?
No. To me, at least. Personally, all I see the MDW identity standing for is a couple of hours of effort from Rarity, and the other Mane Five then being forced to quickly don the MDW suit at the first sign of trouble. Surely, they could have been just as able to perform the necessary hero-work as themselves.
I may be wrong, but to me it seems as though the negative aspects and escalation from the competition between RD and MDW could have been at least downplayed if it was RD's friends showing her up, rather than some shadowy entity that she has no previous good interactions with. After all, at the end of the episode, we see that RD is quickly able to swallow her pride when she finds its her friends 'out-heroing' her. Even the scene at Sugarcube Corner would have seemed more of a nudge than hypocritical if it were the Mane Five joking about something RD knew about.
And that's where my issue comes from: this episode seems to have been built around the references to superheroes, rather than around the characters. Now, I don't mind references, like Huffy the Magic Dragon, My Little Lebowski, or even actual characters like Photo Finish, as these don't hamstring the plotline.
To me, this episode could have focussed on the conflict between Rainbow's loyalty and her desire to be recognised.