Twilight Sparkle has always been known to forgive easily. Many of the worst threats to Equestria have gone unchecked after Twilight forgave them for their actions. But when Starlight Glimmer, a former enemy of Equestria, causes a major accident that endangers lives, Princess Celestia has no choice but to review and approve a plan to implement a checks and balances system against former antagoniststhe Reformed Antagonist Regulation Act.
The introduction of RARA splits the Mane Six, and many Equestrians, into two factions. Supporting a former villain's right to choose their own destinies is Princess Twilight Sparkle. Supporting a system of accountability and a fail-safe for potential relapse is Twilight's former friend, Moon Dancer.
This fanfic provides examples of:
- Adaptational Jerkass: Moon Dancer in this story is more openly hostile towards Twilight than how she was portrayed in the show. Most of this streams from the fact that her sister was injured because of Starlight's recklessness.
- Adult Fear: Thunderbolt's daughter, Sunbeam, was murdered during the Changeling Invasion in "A Canterlot Wedding". The terrible event also caused the divorce between him and his then-wife, Wind Chime, because the two of them were too consumed with grief.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Trixie shows up at Twilight's castle and begs her to protect her from Thunderbolt, who has already begun tracking down and imprisoning former villains like rogue changelings and Discord.
- Amicable Exes: Thunderbold and Wind Chime still care about each other; they divorced because they were too consumed by grief by their daughter's murder during the Changeling Invasion to stay together.
- Armor-Piercing Question: After Thunderbolt forces Fluttershy to become Discord's main guard, Fluttershy recognizes that most of the Captain's hostility is simply revenge for something (she doesn't know about his daughter yet) and asks if he's supporting RARA to lash out for something that happened in the past. This actually makes Thunderbolt pause for a minute, but he presses on.
- Ascended Fridge Horror: Ponies did lose their lives during the Changeling Invasion in the season two finale, and Thunderbolt's daughter was among them. His ex-wife was also crippled during the invasion.
- Bait-and-Switch: In Chapter 7, it's implied that Thunderbolt's wife and daughter died in the Changeling invasion with the reveal that he lost his family in it. Chapter 10 reveals that only his daughter was killed during the invasion, while his wife, Wind Chime, survived but got permanently crippled. Thunderbolt and Wind Chime then divorced because they were too grief-stricken over losing their daughter to continue living together.
- Big Bad: The as-of-yet unnamed villainess. We don't know what she wants yet, but it's implied she wants revenge on Starlight.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Those who are against RARA believe that villains who truly want to reform deserve another chance, and that putting them under watch could hamper their chances of ever fitting in with society again. Those who support RARA believe that no matter how remorseful the reforming villains are, they need to face the consequences of their actions, especially when those actions have hurt innocent ponies, and placing any wannabe atoners under intense scrutiny could prevent them from potentially relapsing.
- Cynicism Catalyst: The Changeling Invasion was this for Thunderbolt. His daughter's death during the changeling invasion, combined with the crippling of his wife and subsequent divorce, is the reason he's so hostile towards villains, regardless of if they're genuinely remorseful.
- Deconstruction Fic: This fic examines the realistic consequences of Twilight instantly forgiving Starlight for all her horrible crimes, from having said decision divide opinions all over Equestria to others begin to suspect that Twilight has horrible judgment and needs to have her decisions regulated.
- Easily Forgiven: Deconstructed; Twilight's decision to take Starlight on as a student instead of throwing her in jail for her crimes has raised controversy throughout Equestria; many ponies, especially those who side with Moon Dancer, accuse Twilight of being lenient and naive, and they also accuse Starlight of taking advantage of this trope to avoid punishment for her crimes. Crime rates have also increased since Twilights ascension because many think that Twilight will easily forgive them as well.
- Everyone Has Standards: In Chapter 10, Wind Chime asks Thunderbolt if he was going to have Flurry Heart registered with RARA due to her accidentally almost destroying the Crystal Empire in The Crystalling. Thunderbolt scoffs at this accusation, saying that hes not going to take an innocent child who had no control over her magic and didn't know better away from her family, especially when he knows how horrible it is to lose your kid.
- Expy: Given how this is a Whole Plot Reference to Captain America: Civil War, it's easy to see parallels in Thunderbolt being Ross, Twilight being Steve, and Moon Dancer being Tony. There's also similarities between Starlight and Scarlet Witch and the mysterious pony and Zemo.
- Freudian Excuse: Thunderbolt's actions with R.A.R.A are a result of his daughter being murdered during the Changeling Invasion.
- Heroic BSoD: Starlight enters one after she causes the accident at Ponyville Town Hall. It slowly gets worse with each chapter, until Twilight can tell just by looking at her that she has completely given up on any hope before the vote for the act even happens.
- Honor Before Reason: Spitfire supports RARA and she tries to use her authority to get the other Wonderbolts to sign it despite many of them, such as Rainbow Dash and Soarin, being against it. The former ends up quitting the Wonderbolts altogether when Spitfire starts dealing out insubordination punishments for not rallying with RARA.
- Horrible Judge of Character:
- This has become a common viewpoint of Twilight among RARA's supporters due to her immediately forgiving Starlight.
- Part of the reason why Cadance supports RARA is because she believes Twilight has morphed into this trope regarding Starlight; the Princess of Friendship is so protective of her new pupil that she fails to see the legitimate arguments being made by the other side.Cadance: I want what's best for Twilight.
Shining: Then why don't you support her?
Cadance: Because I have to support whatever protects her.
Shining: From Starlight?
Cadance: From herself.
- Celestia also fears Twilight is becoming this, because in her own words, "I believe you are a bit too comfortable with your own friendship lessons to know the difference between friendship opportunities and actual threats to Equestria."
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Thunderbolt, the new Captain of the Royal Guard, insults the Mane 6 simply for asking who he is and gets so belligerent that Celestia has to shout him down twice. However, he's completely in the right when he says that Twilight pulling an Easily Forgiven for every single villain she encounters doesn't always work and that it's an extremely naive way to reform villains. Hes also right that people who commit crimes need to be held accountable for them, especially if they hurt innocent ponies.
- Celestia also argues with him that he's being way too strict in regards to Discord. Thunderbolt points out that Celestia's not in any position to criticize since she was the one who made him go after Tirek, a decision that almost doomed Equestria. When Celestia tries to further argue that Discord has stopped causing trouble since that, Thunderbolt using memory gems to show her the events of Make New Friends but Keep Discord, What About Discord?, and Dungeons & Discords to show that he most certainly has not.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Moon Dancer, Thunderbolt, and a mysterious pony working behind the scenes plan on invoking this with Starlight Glimmer, because the way they see it, she took advantage of Twilight's "naivety" to escape punishment for her crimes.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Thunderbolt's daughter was killed during the Changeling Invasion in "A Canterlot Wedding". This is why he refuses to believe that villains are capable of changing; even if they could, it would do nothing to bring his daughter back.
- Overshadowed by Controversy: In-Universe, several ponies were attacked by an unknown assailant, one of whom was Moon Dancer's sister. The event didn't receive much attention due to the accident Starlight caused.
- Reality Ensues:
- Twilight pulling an Easily Forgiven on Starlight for her crimes didn't excuse or change that she did a lot of bad things. A lot of ponies are outraged by the decision and suspect that Starlight took advantage of Twilight's "naivety" to get away with everything she did, which is why RARA has so many supporters. Celestia even admits that she should have overruled Twilight's decision and thrown Starlight in jail.
- You'd think a song and dance is gonna fix up the damage that the Changelings caused in the Season Two finale? Hah. It's shown that Thunderbolt's reasoning for RARA is out of revenge for his lost child thanks in part to the invasion.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Certain ponies with authority like Soarin and Shining Armor don't think that RARA is a good idea because it will only make others feel like they are being watched and unable to change instead of encouraging them to do better. Shining actually believes Starlight just made a mistake and that she is really trying to be a better pony and understand friendship. Unfortunately, their protests alone are not enough to convince others of the act's problems.
- Shout Out: While Rainbow Dash and Spike are fighting over the radio channel, one of the networks is a show hosted by two ponies named Magician and Bangstick, pitting Starlight Glimmer against Tirek while saying the lines "Its our job to analyze their weapons, armor and skills-".
- Stupid Good: Many who support RARA view Twilight as this as she easily forgave a villain for her crimes and trusts her with her life.
- That Man Is Dead: Thunderbolt's response to what happened to the kind stallion he once was who believed conflicts could be solved diplomatically.Him? That altruistic fool died in the invasion... along with his daughter...
- To Be Lawful or Good: The Wonderbolts are obligated to support RARA as they serve the Equestrian government, but Rainbow Dash does not. She tries to convince them to change their minds, but Spitfire refuses to budge on the issue and threatens to put Rainbow on probation for questioning orders. Rainbow then quits the Wonderbolts entirely, refusing to go against her friends and support something she knows is wrong.
- Took a Level in Cynic: According to Thunderbolt's ex-wife, Wind Chime, he used to believe that conflicts could be resolved with diplomacy and reasoning. That changed after his daughter was killed during the Wedding Invasion, and he blamed himself for it because he attempted to reason with the Changelings before they got to her.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Thunderbolt gives a minor one to Celestia over the accusations that Discord is under control. He shows her that he's aware that she invited Discord to the Grand Galloping Gala, thereby encouraging him to cause mischief and ruin the party. He's clearly not impressed when all Celestia can say in her defense is that she thought it was funny.
- Whole Plot Reference: To Captain America: Civil War, to the point where one of the characters is named after the person who introduced that film's version of RARA.
- Witch Hunt: Twilight believes that RARA is going to evolve into this for all former villains. Considering how Thunderbolt is starting to track down and round up former villains, she seems to have a point on why she's against it.