Rainbow Dash listens in on one of Scootaloo's Rainbow Dash Fan Club meetings, but is surprised when Scootaloo ends it early and dismisses all the members. Dash is even more shocked when Scootaloo takes down all the Rainbow Dash posters to replace it with posters of the Washouts, a new daredevil stunt group. Dash barges in to ask what's happening, as she's never heard of the Washouts. Scootaloo suggests she come with her to the Washouts show happening in Ponyville.
At the show, Dash finds the pegasi trio of Washouts do a number of death-defying stunts, far too dangerous than what the Wonderbolts would do, all which excite the crowd and Scootaloo even more. Scootaloo drags Dash to meet the Washouts after the show, where they meet Short Fuse and Rolling Thunder before meeting their leader: Lightning Dust.
Lightning Dust and Rainbow Dash greet each other coldly, though back off enough to explain what happened since Lightning was kicked out of the Wonderbolts. She decided to form the Washouts with other Wonderbolts rejects and tour Equestria. Much to Dash's concern, Lightning Dust suggests that even Scootaloo could be a Washout even if she can't fly. Scootaloo is enthralled by the opportunity, as she would otherwise never get the fame and attention without being able to fly. To try to sway Scootaloo away from the Washouts, Dash takes her to Spitfire, who tries to scare Scootaloo about being injured for life if any of the stunts go awry.
After returning Scootaloo back to Ponyville, thinking that Spitfire's speech had convinced Scootaloo to stay away from the Washouts, Dash learns that Scootaloo went right back to the Washouts and joined the team just as they are about to start another show. Lightning Dust takes Scootaloo to the stunt she has set up for her, having strapped her scooter to a giant rocket for her to jump over twenty flaming wagons. Scootaloo suddenly has a change of heart, but Lightning Dust forces her to go through with it, launching the rocket. Scootaloo is sent sailing over the wagons, but Rainbow Dash shows up in time before the rocket goes too far; a rope trailing on the rocket snags Lightning Dust and drags her off with it. Back on the ground, Scootaloo thanks Dash for saving her and apologizing for not listening to her advice.
Later, Scootaloo is pleased to see that Rainbow Dash has started a Scootaloo Fan Club to show her how much she is also appreciated.
- 0% Approval Rating: Subverted. Despite Lightning's unpopularity at the academy and among the current Wonderbolts, she and her fellow Washouts have plenty of fans cheering for them during their show.
- An Aesop:
- If you're a parent/parental figure/guardian, you can't protect your charge forever. As hard as it is, you can't talk them out of doing everything; you have to let them make their own decisions, and that includes letting them make their own mistakes.
- Just because someone may seem cool and awesome doesn't mean they are necessarily good people who will have your well-being at heart.
- Air Quotes: Among all the gesturing done with pegasus wings, Lightning Dust puts quotes around the Wonderbolt's "rules".
- Anti-Smother Love Talk: While flying to the Washouts' arena, Twilight says that she has to let Scootaloo makes her own decisions. While initially reluctant to accept it, Rainbow eventually lets Scootaloo join the Washouts without stopping her.
- Ascended Extra: Short Fuse, one of the Washouts, originally appeared in "Top Bolt" as one of the voiceless new cadets. He returns in this episode with a name and an established personality.
- At Least I Admit It: Lightning Dust admits that she behaved wrongly at the Academy, though she doesn't show much remorse. She's also up-front that she's willing to endanger her teammates' lives for the sake of their stunts, and they apparently don't have a problem with it.
- Awesome Aussie: Played with, as there is no Australia in Equestria, but Rolling Thunder is portrayed with a strong Australian accent, and she claims to have been kicked out of the Wonderbolts for doing barrel rolls amid a powerful lightning storm.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Lightning Dust grimaces at Rainbow, recounting Scootaloo about how Rainbow Dash got her kicked out of the Wonderbolts, before suddenly brightening up and saying "it was the best thing that ever happened to me!"
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Scootaloo and Lightning Dust both suffer this during the final stunt.
- Scootaloo joins the Washouts to perform a new stunt Lightning was working on and is excited to do something awesome. Once she actually sees the rocket, though, and realizes it is not only dangerous, but also untested, she has second thoughts about doing the stunt.
- After Rainbow saves Scootaloo from the stunt, Lightning says if she knew she was going to back out she would have done the stunt herself. Shortly after saying this her hoof gets caught in a rope and she is dragged away by her own rocket.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lightning Dust hasn't changed a bit. Although she is now openly hostile to Rainbow Dash (though that's understandable), Lightning at least seems to be nice to her fans. She invites Scootaloo to join the Washouts, much to the filly's pleasure, and talks nicely as she flies Scootaloo to the stunt. Once they get there though, Lightning shows her true colors by forcing Scootaloo to go through with the dangerous stunt even though she no longer wants to do it, and threatening Scootaloo with disappointment. Scootaloo realizes Lightning never cared about her or her safety, and just wanted to put on a good show. It's also implied that Lightning was only nice to Scootaloo because she noticed how much Rainbow cared about her, and was just using Scootaloo as a way to spite Rainbow.
- Blatant Lies: Despite ignoring Scootaloo's desire to back out of the stunt, Lightning Dust claims she would have done it herself if she knew Scootaloo was going to "bail".
- Book-Ends: Scootaloo starts the episode by hosting the Rainbow Dash Fan Club at the clubhouse with Rainbow Dash eavesdropping. The episode ends with Rainbow doing the same thing, but this time for Scootaloo's fan club, and with Scootaloo and Twilight eavesdropping.
- Both Sides Have a Point: After the climax, Scootaloo admits Rainbow Dash had a point she should've known better than to look up to Lightning Dust when she had been warned of her true nature. In turn, Rainbow Dash admits she should've acted more like some pony worth looking up to, and been more sensitive to Scootaloo's feelings about her flying disability.
- Broken Aesop: Reconstructed. Rainbow Dash learns to allow Scootaloo to make her own choices as well as her own mistakes. However, if Rainbow Dash hadn't intervened when Scootaloo pulled that dangerous stunt, there's no guarantee she would've walked away from this mistake to learn from it. This is somewhat lampshaded and justified by Rainbow Dash, as she states:Rainbow Dash: I know I was supposed to let you make your own decisions, but that doesn't mean I can't swoop in and save you from time to time.
- Broken Pedestal: After spending the episode idolizing the Washouts over Rainbow, Scootaloo finally sees Lightning's true colors when she forces her to do an incredibly dangerous stunt rather than an easier one on her terms. As a result, she loses the respect she had for the team.
- Brutal Honesty: Lightning Dust casually admits that she endangered ponies' lives at the Academy, and admits to doing the same with her teammates. She's also completely up-front that the stunt she wants Scootaloo to do has never been tested.
- The Bus Came Back: Lightning Dust returns after last being seen over five years ago in "Wonderbolts Academy".
- The Cameo:
- The Student Six are seen in the crowd during the Washout's second show.
- Bow Hothoof and Windy Whistles appear as part of Scootaloo's fan club at the end.
- Continuity Nod:
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rainbow's protectiveness towards the rebelling Scootaloo mirrors a mother trying to talk her child out of falling victim to peer pressure.
- Don't Try This at Home: In-universe. The Washouts' announcer urges the audience not to try anything they see during the show, because "the Washouts are highly-trained professionals with protective fire-proof flight suits." As a demonstration, a Washout then flies through a pillar of fire to light a torch. Despite this, Lightning Dust tried to put Scootaloo through a dangerous and untested stunt before she even had any professional training.
- Double-Meaning Title: The meaning of the word "Washout" is either a) a characteristic of aircraft wing design, or b) someone who has failed at least one occupation in their history.
- Dramatic Unmask: Lightning Dust lands near Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo and removes her helmet, revealing herself in a dramatic fashion.
- Duct Tape for Everything: Scootaloo's rocket-propelled scooter is held together with copious amounts of duct tape. Scootaloo is understandably wary when she sees the haphazard design.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Lightning Dust accepts any Wonderbolt "washout" onto her team, regardless (or because) of their shortcomings.
- Expy: Short Fuse's short stature, Hair-Trigger Temper, and reddish coloration makes him very close to a ponified version of Anger.
- Eyed Screen: Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust's first confrontation includes a close-up on their respective frowning eyes over a horizontal split of the screen.
- Feather Fingers: Lightning Dust and the rest of the Washouts use their wings as hands several times; Rolling Thunder in particular gesticulates with her primaries as if they were fingers, and uses one wing to bandage up her leg.
- Friendly Enemy: For all their bad blood, Lightning and Rainbow are mostly civil to each other. They reminisce about their time at the Academy, Lightning congratulates Rainbow on becoming a Wonderbolt, and Rainbow admits that she's tempted by the offer to join the Washouts. Even when they're arguing, they stay calm for the most part. The other Washouts are also pretty friendly to Rainbow when they first meet her, explaining how they used to be Wonderbolts too before they were kicked out.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Rainbow spends the first act of the episode disliking the Washouts mainly because Scootaloo now seems to admire them more than her and the Wonderbolts. Once she realizes that Lightning Dust is their leader, she dislikes them for completely different reasons.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Short Fuse was kicked out of the Wonderbolts for anger issues which he shows throughout the episode at random times.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: Lightning Dust almost gets Scootaloo killed with a dangerous stunt that involved a rocket. After Rainbow saves Scootaloo from said stunt, she lets a rope coil around Lightning's leg and gets her dragged off into the sky.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: One scene transition uses the fast closing and opening of the metallic jaws from a bear-trap-like contraption used by the Washouts for their show.
- Ignored Expert: Scootaloo ignores both Rainbow Dash and Spitfire, both expert fliers and members of the Wonderbolts, and joins The Washouts despite the warnings they both give her on the dangers that come with joining and being with Lightning Dust. Scootaloo finally realizes they were right when she sees the poorly made stunt and Lightning forces her to go through with it.
- Innocently Insensitive:
- Near the end of Spitfire's motivational speech, she picks up Scootaloo while hovering a bit of the ground, trying to shake sense into the filly. When she's done, she lets go of Scootaloo, who between being shocked by the speech and her inability to fly, nearly falls to the ground, but Rainbow Dash rushes in to catch her.
- Rainbow Dash's attempt to get Scootaloo to look up to the Wonderbolts again backfire because she's unaware that the reason Scootaloo stopped was because it's impossible for her to live up to them, to Rainbow's dismay once she realizes this.
- Insistent Terminology: "The Crushinator Jaws of Smashalot (Patent Pending)".
- Jaw Drop: Rainbow Dash does one during the Washouts show as she starts legitimately enjoying it. Twilight helpfully closes Rainbow's mouth for her.
- Jerkass Ball: Scootaloo holds it towards Rainbow for most of the episode. She becomes a fan of the Washouts and begins to ignore Rainbow and openly insults the Wonderbolts, Rainbow's dream job, when comparing them to the Washouts. She also completely goes against Rainbow when Rainbow tries to protect her from Lightning Dust, by joining the Washouts against her wishes. She only realizes her mistake when Lightning shows her true colors and forces her to do a dangerous stunt that almost gets her killed.
- Kick the Dog:
- When Rainbow asks the Washouts if they have seen Scootaloo, Lightning sarcastically asks if she is "that pony that used to respect you".
- Even after Scootaloo shows that she's nervous about the stunt, Lightning doesn't listen and tells her it's too late to back out.
- Large Ham: Spitfire goes into a long rant to Scootaloo about the dangers of being a stunt pony, getting louder as she goes on, making more over-the-top gestures and facial expressions, ending by shaking Scootaloo while shouting at her.
- Large Ham Announcer: The unseen announcer for the Washouts spares no efforts to make sure to audience is fired up, proudly yelling every announcement. Par for the course in a daredevil show, naturally.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Lightning Dust pressures Scootaloo into doing a very dangerous and untested stunt involving a rocket that could have gotten her killed, even after hearing how big a fan Scootaloo is. Rainbow ends up saving Scootaloo from the stunt, resulting in Scootaloo choosing her over Lightning, and Rainbow doesn't try to save Lightning from being dragged away by her own rocket, resulting in even further humiliation for Lightning.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": Most of the audience watching gets visibly startled when it appears Scootaloo is going to get hurt during her trick.
- Meaningful Name: Short Fuse. He has a short fuse, and is rather short for a stallion.
- Motor Mouth: Scootaloo invokes this while rushing through the Rainbow Dash fan club meeting.Scootaloo: First order of business — [quickly] Let's-celebrate-the-one-and-only-Rainbow-Dash-yay-she's-amazing-now-if-there's-nothing-else-that-concludes-this-meeting-of-the-Rainbow-Dash-Fan-Club-thank-you-all-for-coming-any-questions?!
- Never My Fault: Lightning Dust still blames Rainbow Dash for getting her kicked out of the Wonderbolts Academy, even though Lightning brought it upon herself for being too reckless and almost getting ponies killed. Even though Lightning admits she did endanger ponies' lives at the Academy, she doesn't seem to believe that alone should be sufficient grounds for her expulsion.
- No Sense of Personal Space: During Spitfire's speech to Scootaloo about the dangers of joining the Washouts, she gets in her face several times, puts her hoof in Scootaloo's mouth to stop her from speaking back, and ends her speech shaking Scootaloo while shouting at her. This is presumably all part of her Scare 'em Straight tactic.
- Not So Above It All: Twilight is a fan of the Washouts, even having them sign a poster for her.
- The One Guy: Short Fuse is the only male member of the Washouts.
- Parrot Exposition: Discussed. Rainbow Dash does a bit of this after Scootaloo describes the Washouts, adding "are you just repeating everything I say?"
- Pet the Dog: Played for Laughs; after Spitfire finishes her loud Scare 'em Straight rant to Scootaloo, which included shouting loudly at her and shaking her wildly, she immediately calms down and gives her a free Wonderbolts hat.
- Reality Ensues: In the end, Rainbow and Lightning are on mutual terms of being "Rivals for life", confirming that some friendships are too toxic to be redeemed.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: After seeing Lightning Dust for who she truly is, Scootaloo regains her trust for Rainbow Dash.
- The Rival: Lightning Dust now considers herself as such to Rainbow Dash. After Lightning is dragged away by the rocket, she shouts "rivals for life!" at Rainbow.
- Rule of Three: During Spitfire's speech to Scootaloo, she warns her that she will end up "in a full body wing-and-hoof cast drinkin' through a straw!" three times, each one louder than the last time.
- Running Gag:
- Every time a character mentions the "Crushinator Jaws of Smashalot", someone immediately adds the words "patent pending".
- Spitfire's mention of ending up "in a full body wing-and-hoof cast, drinking through a straw" is mentioned multiple times, including when Lightning Dust mocks her and when Scootaloo wants to back out of the rocket stunt.
- At both Washout performances, Pinkie laments being late due to baking special cupcakes for the occasion.
- Say My Name: Parodied.Rainbow: [angrily] Lightning Dust!
Lightning: Rainbow Dash.
[the two butt heads and growl; Scootaloo pops up between them]
Scootaloo: Scootaloo! My name's Scootaloo. Hi!
- Scare 'em Straight: Subverted. Spitfire gives a speech to Scootaloo warning her about the dangers of going through with joining the Washouts with Lightning Dust, saying that Scootaloo will end up "in a full body wing and hoof cast, drinking through a straw" multiple times. Spitfire does this in a Drill Sergeant Nasty tone with exaggerated body movements and at the top of her lungs to get the point across. However, the speech doesn't work, as Scootaloo still joins the Washouts.
- Schizo Tech: Liquid-fueled rockets are added to the setting's schizophrenic list of technology.
- Sequel Episode: To "Wonderbolts Academy", where Rainbow Dash encounters Lightning Dust again.
- Series Continuity Error: Scootaloo acts like she's never heard of Lightning Dust or her rivalry with Rainbow Dash. However, in the season 7 episode "Parental Glideance," she told Rainbow's parents about Lightning Dust, and even had Lightning Dust's picture in her report book on Rainbow Dash.
- Serious Business: Applejack initially compares Scootaloo's favoritism to the Washouts over Rainbow Dash to Apple Bloom loving bananas more than apples, and chuckles at it... before immediately seriously telling everyone to let her know if that ever happens.
- Spitfire's lecture is influenced by Matt Foley's motivational speeches from Saturday Night Live.Spitfire: "Practice?!" Well, la-dee-doodle-da! Let me give you a different scenario. You're probably saying to yourself "I'm young, I'm strong, I'm gonna go out there and stunt some tricks with my new friend Lightning Dust." Well, I'm here to tell you that if you play that game, you're gonna find out it's pretty hard to "stunt tricks" in a FULL BODY WING AND HOOF CAST, DRINKING THROUGH A STRAW!
- Short Fuse is small and squat, red with a yellow mane, and very short-tempered. Overall, he looks a lot like a certain character representing anger.
- Spitfire's lecture is influenced by Matt Foley's motivational speeches from Saturday Night Live.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Lightning endangers Scootaloo's life and tries to talk down to her for "bailing", Rainbow gets the last laugh over Lightning by letting her get dragged away by her own rocket and smiling as Lightning screams at her in anger.Lightning: If I'd known you were gonna bail, I would've done the trick myself!
Rainbow: [smugly] Great! So you won't mind how that rope's about to coil around your hoof.
[Lightning gives an Oh, Crap! face as said rope finishes coiling and drags her away]
Lightning: RIVALS FOR LIIIIIFE!!
Rainbow: Wouldn't have it any other way!
- Start My Own: Having been expelled from the Wonderbolts for her disregard of safety, Lightning Dust started her own stunt group — the titular Washouts — with a focus on dangerous and untested feats that the Wonderbolts won't touch. By the time the episode takes place, the group has three enthusiastic team members, slick marketing, and crowds of adoring fans, making it a clear success.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Rainbow is talking to her friends about Scootaloo's new idols, she makes a point of saying that she's not worried about her looking up to anypony else. At all.
- Tradesnark: When both Rolling Thunder and Scootaloo mentions the "Crushinator Jaws of Smashalot", they add "Patent pending" afterward. When Spitfire says "Crushinator Jaws of Smashalot" in turn, it's Rainbow Dash who adds "Patent pending" afterward.
- A Twinkle in the Sky: Lightning Dust is shot upwards into the sky until she twinkles out thanks to being attached to a rocket, with her fellow Washouts following her.
- Verbal Backspace:
- Used when Twilight looks at the Washouts' flier.Twilight Sparkle: Wow! They do look pretty amazing... uh, -ly unamazing. [laughs nervously] Trying so hard to look amazing is what I mean.
Pinkie Pie: [audible whisper] Nice save, Twilight!
- And after Rainbow Dash is amazed by the Washouts' first show.Rainbow Dash: That... was... insane! Woo-hoo!
Scootaloo: I told you!
Rainbow Dash: I mean... [clears throat] It was pretty cool.
- Used when Twilight looks at the Washouts' flier.
- Volumetric Mouth: Each time Spitfire yells the last part of her Scare 'em Straight spiel, by saying "DRINKIN' THROUGH A STRAW!", it's with her wide-open mouth covering the whole face.
- Watch Where You're Going!: As she's looking for Scootaloo all over Ponyville, Rainbow Dash stops watching where she is going and bonks her head against Twilight's.
- We Will Meet Again: As Lighting Dust is dragged away by her own rocket, she angrily shakes her hoof at Rainbow and shouts at her "RIVALS FOR LIFE!"
- Wham Shot: The leader of the Washouts taking off her helmet to reveal none other than Lightning Dust.
- Worthy Opponent: For all their antipathy, Lightning Dust and Rainbow are initially happy to see each other again, and spend a few minutes reminiscing about their time at the Academy. Lightning even draws attention to Rainbow's accomplishments as much as her own. When she vows at the end that they'll be "rivals for life", Rainbow tells her she's glad to hear it.
- Would Hurt a Child: After Scootaloo joins the Washouts, Lightning forces her to do an extremely dangerous and untested stunt involving a rocket that could have killed her if anything went wrong.