Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wonderbolts Academy Episode Review

All right then, soldier!  Are you gonna sit there all droopy-eyed, staring at the "read more" button, or are you gonna man up and take responsibility?  You've no doubt seen the new episode, so you have absolutely no excuse not to educate yourself on a complete stranger's personal opinion!  Just march yourself on past the break, and find out whether this episode was Wonderbolt material, or just another rookie giving big talk.

Ah, a Rainbow Dash episode.  After such a long period of being demoted to a rather one note side character, it's nice to see her return to the spotlight.  In fact, not only does she return, but this episode deals with an issue near and dear to her heart: the Wonderbolts.  Since Dash spent the entire series fawning over them, I'm glad to see her character arc finally make progress.  But, with progress, comes conflict.  The episode asks, now that she's finally within spitting distance of being a Wonderbolt, what sacrifices will she be willing to make?  I have to say, the plot in this episode, while still a bit archetypal, was handled well enough to where I'm more than willing to overlook its flaws.  The main reason for this is that it marks a return to a more complex Rainbow Dash... it shows that despite all her tough talk, she does care about others, and won't show off to the point where she becomes downright cruel.  

Although she certainly does the showing off thing a lot.  Which Pinkie seems to be sick of.
Also, I was thankful this episode doesn't go the route where the academy staff are all sociopaths, and Rainbow's dreams are cruelly shattered so that she can treat her friends like living beings.  Rather, the staff actually cares enough to expel someone if they remorselessly and nearly kill other students on a regular basis.  The other nice thing about the ending is that it actually furthers the canon.  Instead of having a generic cartoon ending, where everything is safely returned to the status quo, it opts to have Dash get a step closer to attaining her dream, and makes an imprint that will influence the rest of the show.  This trend towards a more continuous canon is something that I covered in my last review, and something that I find myself appreciating more and more.

Continuity nods have never felt so right.
However, something that's been getting a bit less appreciation from fans, or has been at the very least controversial, is Spitfire's portrayal in this episode.  There have been complaints that her no-nonsense drill sergeant attitude doesn't match up with what we've seen in previous episodes.  I'd have to disagree.  Part of what made this episode interesting was seeing just how differently Spitfire behaves on duty.  And it makes sense.  After all, drill sergeants tend to be completely different people off duty than on.  The unflinchingly cruel persona they adopt serves to try and push their students, but underneath all that bravado, there still lies a person.  Here, despite Spitfire's originally harsh attitude, we still get to see that she cares if people get hurt, and in the end, wants what's best from her students. This episode serves to expand her character, rather than contradict it.

When she's not thinking up bizarre torture devices.
So, did I like this episode?  Hells yeah.  It further showed just how much season 3 has been dedicated to quality. In fact, there still hasn't been a truly weak episode.  Sesaon 3 hasn't shied away from showing different sides of characters, or changing the status quo.  And for that, I applaud it.  But do you?  Why not have a lively discussion in the comments about it?  I promise I won't bite.