Watch Rainbow Dash demonstrate the law of unintended consequences
The nomadic city of Cloudsdale arrives and the process of Equestrian winter comes to Ponyville; the town’s chief weather pony, Rainbow Dash, coordinates the effort. As she does so, she notices that her pet
turtle tortoise Tank is practically sleep-flying. She is worried he’s sick. When Fluttershy confirms that he’s about to hibernate, Rainbow Dash’s fear of being left alone overwhelms her good sense. She attacks the idea of what is making Tank need to hibernate, Winter.
This episode is the most controversial of the series thus far, certainly edging out the previous contender, Sweet and Elite. In that episode, a remember-your roots friendship lesson completely glosses over Rarity’s penchant for telling real whoppers. Tanks for the Memories laudably, perhaps even audaciously, discusses the grief of losing a pet (even if temporarily by hibernation), and by implication the death of a loved one. If you are perceptive, you can see RD pass through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, while in Sweet and Elite Rarity confronts the consequences of her lies, Rainbow Dash never confronts the consequences of her bad behavior (1). She is the captain of the weather team, but she specifically sabotages her coworker’s efforts, then crosses the line and sabotages the Cloudsdale winter lab. (She even says, “Sabotage snowflakes? I think we gotta go bigger than that.”) Fortunately, the resulting explosion only brings winter to Ponyville in one fell swoop, “saving a lot of work” as Pinkie Pie says speaking for the writer who’s apologetically trying to trivialize RD’s egregious breach. Rewatch the episode; substitute “petroleum refinery” for “winter lab.” Sadly, I doubt RD will ever suffer the consequences of her actions in this episode(2). Worse, as a jock, RD is all about physicality, and loyalty, and perseverance–she is not stupid. Her wanting to becoming a Wonderbolt is really about her wanting to become a soldier. That’s a role I’d like to see played out, that might not be were she to have a “record.”
The comedy, and the detail in the animation, not to mention the verve demonstrated in the song, are top notch. The writing is good, though the plot is completely broken. (Really, couldn’t RD have just kept Tank in a heated room? Plot advancement by character stupidity is rarely good.) That said, this episode, for the second time in the series and twice in this season, treats us to a fully dimensional villain. There is no denying that RD commits villainous deeds. The why is important. From her perspective, she’s doing good; she’s saving Tank. That she’s really doing it because she’s selfish is secondary. In The Cutie Map, Starlight Glimmer also wants to do good, to save people from the tyranny of not fitting in. She also crosses the line when she steals the Mane 6’s cutie marks (something she’d not before done). That SG is doing it because she wants to express her unique talent, or simply likes power, is secondary. The lesson that evil can come from good intentions is entirely unexpected in a children’s show.
(1) Okay. I’ll say it. Crimes.
(2) She’s a Knight of the Round Table. Perhaps she’s getting a royal pass?
What to watch for (and comment upon):
- Duck bill.
- Perhaps Fluttershy is so sanguine because winter is the time she gets a break from all her demanding animal friends?
- Abbot and Costello classic “Who’s on First” reference.
- What’s that on Tank’s front feet?