MLP:FIM season 4, episode 5 – “Flight to the Finish” – thoughts and review

Way behind now. I blame being sick – again – and being distracted by trying to figure out which ultrabook to buy. But without further ado: Flight to the Finish!

This was sort of an important episode in a way, because it brought something out into the light that had been presented, but never really examined: the fact that Scootaloo is unable to fly.

I loved this episode, I thought it was a good character piece for Scootaloo, and sweet Luna on a tricycle, they really did crank the crazy facial expressions up to eleven this time during the scenes with Dash and Harshwhinney!

The concept of juxtaposition - a graphic representation.

The concept of juxtaposition – a graphic representation.

Of course, ostensibly, this episode was about the efforts of the CMC to be the flag-bearers for Ponyville at the Equestria Games (EG, not to be confused with EQG!). But, that was essentially a vehicle for doing an episode that actually focused on Scootaloo, who has had relatively little such focused attention thus far in the series. I don’t think I have a favorite CMC, honestly; I like them all too much to pick, but for a time, I kinda thought it was Scoots, and I guess I sort of have a soft spot for her, so this was delightful.

Well, except for the part where she’s been made to feel awful about her inability to fly by Ponyville’s resident schoolyard bully team. I just LOST it when – after witnessing how great the CMC’s routine looked – Silver Spoon says “But how do we stop them? We already called them blank flanks!” That was such a great moment, not only because it was hilarious, but because it really underscored the true nature of these bullies: they have a set script of harmful rhetoric, but when it fails, they don’t always know what to do. I also liked seeing the CMC actually stand up to them directly.

Unfortunately for our fiery little heroine, they did come up with something else to use as an emotional bludgeon against her. That part certainly wasn’t delightful, it just made me feel really bad for Scoots (which, of course, was the point). And did it work?

At this point, I had to exert some willpower not to smash my hands into my TV screen in an attempt to give her a hug.

At this point, I had to exert some willpower not to smash my hands into my TV screen in an attempt to give her a hug.

Yeah, it worked. You couldn’t help but root for her. And at the same time, you could understand why she felt so dejected over the whole thing. Of course, the question of exactly WHY she can’t fly, and whether or not she will be able to fly at a later date, are left unanswered. While it would have been interesting to see them get into some more precise explanations about that, I can kind of understand why they didn’t – for one thing, they may have simply decided they weren’t ready to commit entirely to Scoots NEVER being able to fly, in terms of what that would mean for future stories.

Of course, the crowning moment of AwesomeWarming of the episode had to be when Rainbow Dash – upon finding out that Sweetie Belle and Applebloom left Scoots behind after their falling out – stops the train and just takes off to go back to her. And the following conversation was just filled with fuzzy. It was especially great to see a reaffirmation of the Dash/Scootaloo relationship established in “Sleepless in Ponyville”. While we can easily enough assume that they’ve spent some time together between then and now in the background, “when we weren’t looking” so to speak, it was nice to see Rainbow comforting her in this very big-sister-like way. For all her bravado, moments like these remind us that Dash actually cares deeply for certain ponies in her life and just has trouble showing it – the mane 6 obviously, but it’s clear that Scoots is also up there.

d'awwww levels approaching critical!

d’awwww levels approaching critical!

Which was, I felt, a very positive message, delivered in a way that was direct in-universe (Dash comes right out and says both “you may or may not fly” and “but you’re awesome no matter what”), but didn’t feel too heavy-handed as a “message” (i.e. “the moral of today’s episode is…”), because the dialog felt very natural. The whole scene made my heart melt, and I really hope we see more of this kind of Dash/Scoots interaction in the future. Of course, this isn’t an all-encompassing rundown of the reality of being disabled (assuming that that is even what Scoots is, per se – it’s technically still not known just what it is that’s preventing her from being able to fly. The possibility that it’s not a permanent disability but more of a delayed growth thing – meaning she’ll fly at some point in the future – is still open), but it isn’t really meant to be. And it seems like no one is really sure, in-universe, just why Scoots can’t fly, thus it doesn’t make sense yet to simply rule out the possibility that she may be able to do so in the future.

Oh, also: apparently Scoots does have a home! With… a room, at least. We don’t know anything beyond that, and still know nothing about her parents or any other family, which I have to admit, is a bit odd at this point. But eh, not a deal-breaker. This vagueness might actually be a good thing for fanfic authors with orphan/foster family Scoots stories!

The song was damn catchy, and it was fun to have all three of the CMC VAs actually singing it themselves! Previously, Michelle Creber (Applebloom’s VA) sung for both her own character and Sweetie Belle. This time, however, Claire Corlett sings for Sweetie herself, and knocks it out of the park. I continue to be amazed and baffled at how much I enjoy CMC stories (to say nothing of CMC singing), considering how much I tend to dislike things centered around children, or singing, or children singing, in my entertainment.

Other highlights included Dash’s hilarious attempts to remain “professional” (including the obvious but amusing reversal gag at the end), and the continuation of the absolutely gorgeous “season 4 cel-shading”:

What awaits the Three, they do not know. Each holding an ORB, that 2000 years ago shined with beauty from within- er, wait....

What awaits the Three, they do not know. Each holding an ORB, that 2000 years ago shined with beauty from within- er, wait…

Overall, I’d give this one a 9. Another excellent episode. Season 4 rolls on!

-Saito “Professionalism” S


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