Yay, a grading thread. I watched the episode when it leaked on Wednesday so I slept in and I'm glad didn't miss the discussion this morning.
I quite liked it. I think I need to see it a second time to decide if it's an A or a B, but it was quite good and much more in line with what I expect from the show than the sometimes bizarre antics of episodes like Too Many Pinkie Pies and Magic Duel, or the focus on the CMC we've got this year (not that I don't like the CMC, but even with only two episodes, it's surprising that they got the lion's share of normal, slice-of-life-style episodes so far this season). The biggest problem with this week's episode was the abrupt ending. The story just kinda...stops. Felt like it needed another scene to wrap things up properly, but Meghan tweeted on Thursday that it originally had a different ending – I don't know what it was, but I suspect that Dash resigning from training was the original conclusion and that they replaced the original epilogue with Spitfire changing her mind and firing Lightning Dust. Still, I liked the ending they went with. One of the strengths of the show has always been its reluctance to push the reset button on character development or worldbuilding, and it's nice that RD is in training on an ongoing basis. I imagine we can expect to see this revisited down the line.
However, as much as I enjoyed the scene with RD saving her friends I really wish they had no involvement beyond the opening. The rescue scene could have worked just as well with the other recruits. This was supposed to be RD's story and the rest of the mane 6 seemed to be just interfering. Everytime they cut away I just groaned because the story wasn't about them it was about RD.
I liked it. One of the things I hated about season 2 was how it ignored the group for the purposes of most episodes. I'm glad to see the stories are back to including all the mane 6 whenever possible.
Plus Pinkie was great this week.
Secondly Spitfires voice/personality, taking a character who's personality has been well established and turning her into a complete ***** is just plain lazy. Spitfire's is the captain of the Wonderbolts, not a drill sergeant. So now's she playing double duty as a trainer and captain? Would it have killed them to create a different character to play the drill sergeant?
Her personality hasn't exactly been "well-established," at least not in a professional capacity. We've seen her hanging out at a party and showing up to keep records at an event. And between those, she had, what, four lines of dialog? If she's also the team's drill sergeant, of course
she's going to be a hardass when on-duty. It's part of the job. (I imagine that guy who hosts Modern Warfare on the History Channel doesn't yell like that when he's at home eating dinner.)
The Wonderbolts seem to be quasi-military anyway, judging by their attempted intervention in Secret of My Excess. I have no problem with her being a military hardass when screening candidates.
I do wonder if she wasn't scripted as Spitfire, though. Since the voice actress is different this season, it's possible she was written and recorded as a new character and changed during animation.
Santa Hooves wrote:
Anyway, I like that they addressed Dashie's occasional recklessness by seeing how she would respond with another pony who was like her in almost every way.
I thought they were going somewhere completely different with that – I expected Dash and Lighting Dust to become really good friends and that when the choice came down to the two of them in the finals (or some such thing), Dash would give up her spot for her new friend because she knows how much Wonderbolt training means. Given that I can often predict how episodes will turn out, I was surprised and pleased they went in a totally different direction with things.