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Wonderbolts Academy

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Wonderbolts Academy
Rainbow competing with Lightning S3E07
Season №: 3
Season episode №: 7
Overall episode №: 59
Original airdate: December 15, 2012
Written by: Merriwether Williams
Storyboard: Tom Sales and Johnny Castuciano[1]
Featured characters: Spitfire
Lightning Dust
See also
transcriptgalleryallusions
animation errorsstatisticsspeculation
Episode guide
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Sleepless in Ponyville
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Apple Family Reunion
Wonderbolts Academy (called Wonderbolt Academy by other sources) is the seventh episode of the third season of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and the fifty-ninth episode overall. In this episode, Rainbow Dash gets an invitation to the Wonderbolt Academy, but questions whether or not she is Wonderbolt material.

Production and release

Wonderbolt Academy flying field

A production image for the episode.

Show head writer Meghan McCarthy wrote on Twitter that the script for the episode "had a different final scene."[2] On December 26, 2012, she tweeted script screenshots of the original ending in two parts.[3][4] It depicted Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust switching roles: Rainbow as lead pony and Lightning as wing pony.

The episode was released on The Hub's website Hubworld.com a few days prior to its scheduled television premiere, and was released on the iTunes Store hours prior to the scheduled television premiere. Hubworld, iTunes, Zap2it, and AT&T U-verse all call the episode "Wonderbolt Academy", as crew member Meghan McCarthy sometimes has,[3] but the title in the episode reads "Wonderbolts Academy", which McCarthy has also sometimes used.[2]

The Dizzitron used in this episode is the show's first use of 3D cel-shaded graphics, as opposed to normal Flash animation. The second time this animation technique was used was in Spike at Your Service, with the smaller Timberwolves.[5]

Summary

The acceptance letter 

Rainbow snatching letter S3E7

Gimme that letter!

The episode begins with Rainbow Dash and her friends having a picnic underneath her cloud-house, waiting for the delivery of Rainbow Dash's Wonderbolts Academy acceptance letter to her mailbox, which is situated on the ground close by. Rainbow Dash is confident that she will be accepted, while Pinkie Pie is far more nervous. When the letter arrives, Rainbow Dash seizes the letter from the mailpony. She quickly reads it and sadly announces, "I...didn't get in." Her friends gasp in dismay, but she cries "Gotcha!" and shows them the green check mark on the letter. Pinkie Pie abruptly embraces Rainbow Dash and clings to her tightly, exclaiming how happy she is for her with a bone-crushing hug. When Rainbow Dash departs to the Academy for a week's stay, Pinkie pulls out a massive megaphone and shouts: "Don't forget to write!!!" The volume of the exclamation echoes in the mountain scenery around them, though Pinkie Pie worriedly asks her friends, "Do you think she heard me?"

Arriving at the Academy

The Wonderbolt Academy S3E07

The Wonderbolt Academy.

Rainbow Dash arrives at the Academy. She stands in line with seven other pegasi, some of whom appeared in Hurricane Fluttershy, such as Thunderlane and Cloudchaser. Wonderbolt captain Spitfire, in dress uniform instead of her flightsuit and a whistle around her neck, walks past the candidates and emphatically tells them they do not have what it takes to become an elite flier. When Spitfire tries to intimidate Rainbow Dash, the latter confidently declares, "I'd never quit, ma'am!", bringing out a smile of approval from the captain. The next pony in line, Lightning Dust, is eager to prove her worth, prompting Spitfire to command the fliers to fly five hundred laps. Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust equal each other in their speed, easily outstripping the other pegasi. They learn each other's names and agree to go to the mess hall.

Outside Sugarcube Corner in Ponyville, Pinkie Pie is eagerly checking her mailbox every few seconds, looking sad when it remains empty. Applejack tells her Rainbow Dash has not been gone for twenty-four hours yet, and tells her to give Rainbow time to settle in. Applejack suggests that they should go and watch Twilight practice some new spells assigned by Princess Celestia, but Pinkie is not persuaded and remains by her letterbox, continuing checking its contents once every few seconds.  

Cadet about to be launched off the Dizzitron S3E07

Wild Flower on the Dizzitron.

Back at the Wonderbolts Academy, Rainbow Dash and the other seven pegasi are now wearing close-fitting cadet uniforms, and are apparently training together as part of the same cadet class. Spitfire unveils a contraption called the Dizzitron, a spin-out simulator. The Dizzitron works by spinning the Pegasus around in circles, disorientating him or her. The pegasi's task is to recover quickly from the "spin-out" upon being released from the contraption, fly in a straight line as soon as possible, and come in for a smooth landing. Although Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust volunteer to go first when Spitfire asks, it was apparently a rhetorical question as she choses in order of line up. The first mare to go on the Dizzitron is completely winded and almost crashes in front of Spitfire, who calls the mare's time of 15 seconds "decent". Rainbow Dash is next in line and effectively returns to Spitfire in six seconds, setting a new Academy record. The first mare tells her admiringly that she made it look so easy, to which Rainbow grins back and says that's because she makes everything look easy. Third in line, Lightning Dust flies up to the Dizzitron and requests Spitfire to set the Dizzitron on maximum speed in order to test her limits. Spitfire permits this, and despite the increased difficulty, Lightning Dust manages to return in six and a half seconds.

Flying in pairs

After the whole class have had their turn, Spitfire announces she will be pairing them up for the rest of the camp, with one cadet being a lead pony and the other being a wingpony; she will post the team assignments in the morning.  Rainbow Dash assumes that she will be the lead pony of her pairing, but when she checks the posting in the mess hall at breakfast, she is disappointed to find that while Lightning Dust is her partner, she was assigned to be wingpony instead. In her office, Spitfire is stamping a stack of Wonderbolts posters with a horseshoe-shaped stamp when Rainbow Dash enters and asks her about this decision. Spitfire tells her that she paired them together because she believes they'd make an unstoppable team.  However, Rainbow expresses her thoughts that while that's likely true, she feels that she deserves to be lead pony. Spitfire then explains that she gave Lightning Dust the lead position because Lightning Dust likes to push herself, a little more so than Rainbow Dash does. Rainbow is of course still disappointed, but acquiesces to Spitfire's decision and leaves.

Talking to Rainbow Dash S3E07

Lightning talking to Rainbow.

The next day, Lightning Dust shows Rainbow Dash her golden lead pony badge, which she secures on her chest.  Rainbow is still feeling a bit down about being wingpony, but that's the extent of it.  The class is divided into two teams of four, red and blue, and are told that the team which captures the most flags of the opposing team's color wins.  Additionally, the pairs of lead pony and wingpony must remain together or be disqualified, which would effectively cut a team from four ponies to only two.  In the process, Rainbow Dash spots the first flag in a narrow ravine, which has two logs closely placed across the top, making the approach much tighter. Lightning Dust determinedly drives forward, ignoring Rainbow's observation that if they were to continue to fly at this speed into the ravine, both would not be able to fit at the same time. Lightning Dust pushes ahead; as she must keep up or disqualify the two of them, Rainbow flies right behind her as she already knows that they will have to enter one after the other. However, with Lighting Dust's body in the way, she can't see exactly how tight a squeeze it's going to be.  Consequently, as Lighting Dust flies into the ravine first, she tucks in her wings to avoid grazing the logs, but since Rainbow can't see, she keeps her wings open and her right wing clips a log, injuring it. The two then return the flag to Spitfire, though Rainbow is now lagging a bit and is hesitant to immediately continue due to her injured wing. Lightning Dust chooses to ignore her partner's injury. Pressured by the expectant Spitfire and Lightning Dust, Rainbow obliges to continue in the exercise.

Back in Ponyville, Pinkie Pie is still in front of her mailbox, though her mane looks disheveled and unkempt. Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Twilight are watching her from a distance. Pinkie is distraught that it has been three days and Rainbow Dash still has not sent a letter yet. Twilight suggests Pinkie Pie send a letter to Rainbow herself. Though Pinkie embraces the idea at first, she becomes paranoid and is terrified by the possibility that Rainbow has forgotten them already. Pinkie enumerates other possibilities, such as the letter being lost in the mail or another pony receiving the letter. She ultimately decides to send a care package to Rainbow in person. The friends agree, though Pinkie advises them, "Don't be upset if she doesn't recognize you at first. It might take a while for her to get her memory back." 

The tornado

View of the obstacle course S3E7

The obstacle course.

Back at the Wonderbolts Academy, Spitfire instructs the Pegasi to fly their famous air obstacle course, which challenges their precision and ability to adapt in different weather environments.  She adds that as this is not a race, to not worry about winning, however Lightning Dust winks at Rainbow Dash, implying that she's going to do just that anyway.  Held up behind another pair, Lightning Dust expresses frustration that they can't get around them.  Rainbow attempts to mollify her partner, pointing out that they can show off their synchronized flying to Spitfire instead; Lightning Dust grudgingly agrees. Flying behind the same pair in the midst of a stormy setting, Lightning Dust impatiently mutters, "What are they? A couple of snails? It's just a little bit of weather."  Once the air clears however, Lightning Dust grabs the opportunity to carelessly soar past them, tossing the rest of the pairs aside in a spin-out. Commending their record time, which does please Rainbow Dash, Spitfire gives Lightning Dust and Rainbow an early leave to the mess hall.  When she leaves to help sort out the other teams affected by Lightning Dust's recklessness though, Rainbow expresses her discomfort to her partner, saying "Next time maybe we don't cut the other teams off like that." Lightning Dust rebuts, "You snooze, you lose."

The last straw comes in a training exercise where the pairs are required to clear clouds from the sky. Even though Rainbow Dash points out that the pair are way ahead, Lightning Dust proposes that they work together to make a tornado, a tactic that will blow away their competition. Recalling Spitfire's comment that Lightning Dust pushes herself more, Rainbow agrees to the plan. Though the tornado is initially successful in clearing the clouds, Lightning Dust loses control of it and the tornado ends up whirling off-course. At this moment, Rainbow's friends show up in the Twinkling Balloon to deliver the care package.

Rainbow Dash freaking out S3E7

Rainbow Dash in shock as her friends got sucked into the tornado.

They get sucked in, and the lines connecting the hot air balloon's basket to the balloon are snapped by the tornado's winds, sending the friends through the air. Rainbow sees them and quickly corrals some clouds to cushion their fall. She then releases the cloud, propelling the friends back into the air, where they are safely caught by the other pegasi, Rarity gratefully embracing Thunderlane, and Fluttershy awkwardly detaches herself from Cloudchaser's grasp, annoying Cloudchaser. As the rest of her class and other cadets gather around, Rainbow touches down on the plateau to determine whether or not her friends are okay, and goes to check on Pinkie Pie, who is absolutely overjoyed that she still remembers her.

Rainbow Dash quits

Lightning Dust triumphantly exclaims, "That... was... awesome!", but Rainbow Dash is enraged that her friends were put in mortal peril. Lightning Dust shows an appalling lack of concern for Rainbow's friends or their classmates, only caring about how many clouds the tornado took out, an attitude that the surrounding cadets are shocked and offended by. Lightning Dust even has the gall to extend for a hoofbump, but Rainbow Dash pushes down her hoof and goes on to criticize Lightning Dust's poor judgment during the previous exercises. Rainbow fully understands the need to be the best, but Lightning Dust is trying to be the best in all the wrong ways. Lightning Dust retorts that her results are apparently what the Wonderbolts are looking for, as Spitfire had made her the leader of their pair, to which Rainbow Dash grimly agrees.

Rainbow pays another visit to Spitfire's office. Rainbow declares that there is a difference between pushing yourself as hard as you can and being reckless. She states that she doesn't want to be part of the Wonderbolts Academy if they reward recklessness, like Lightning Dust had displayed. Turning in her wingpony badge onto the stunned Spitfire's desk, Rainbow quits the Academy, and her friends comfort her. Rarity exclaims in confusion that being a Wonderbolt was Rainbow Dash's dream, but Rainbow replies it isn't anymore.

Epilogue

Rainbow Dash receives the lead pony badge

Rainbow Dash has been made Lead Pony.

Nonetheless, before she can leave, Spitfire (a little ticked off that Rainbow didn't give her a chance to respond) catches up to her and affirms her argument. She goes on to say that while they do want the best flyers in Equestria, Rainbow was correct about the well-being of other ponies being ahead of recklessness, and pushing themselves must always be in the right direction. The two Academy staff members who have been assisting Spitfire throughout the episode then bring over Lightning Dust, from whom Spitfire literally rips the lead pony badge off, stripping her of her position as lead pony, and sends her away. As Lightning Dust sadly walks away, escorted by Spitfire's two assistants, Spitfire gives the badge to Rainbow Dash and tells her that she's no wingpony, but a leader. Rainbow reacts by repetitively saying "Oh my gosh!" and fluttering her wings in exultation. 
Cadets salute Rainbow Dash S3E7

Rainbow Dash being saluted.

As soon as Spitfire gives Rainbow her orders, she flies up to the rest of her class, who salute her as a leader. Rainbow guides them into the sunlight, while the rest of the main characters watch from below. Pinkie Pie yells after Rainbow Dash, "Wait! You didn't even get to open your care package!"

Quotes

For more quotes, see the episode's transcript.
Rainbow Dash: I'm not nervous at all. When I get into the Wonderbolt Academy...
Pinkie Pie: If you get in! If you get in! Don't jinx it!
Rainbow Dash: I'm telling you, it's in the bag.
Pinkie Pie: Don't jinx it!
Pinkie Pie: DON'T FORGET TO WRITE! [echoing] Do you think she heard me? 
Spitfire: Think you got what it takes to be an elite flyer?
All pegasi: Yes ma'am!
Spitfire: Well then. Let me be the first to tell you... You don't! If you had what it took to be an elite flyer, you'd already be a Wonderbolt! Still think you're something special?
Cloudchaser: No ma'am!
Spitfire: [to Bulk Biceps] Ya think you're hot stuff? [to Rainbow Dash] You look like you're the worst flyer in the whole academy! You'll probably quit after the first day!
Rainbow Dash: No ma'am! I'd never quit, ma'am!
Spitfire: Ha. What about you? Bet you couldn't fly past the first flagpole without getting winded.
Lightning Dust: Try me, ma'am.
Spitfire: What's that?
Lightning Dust: Let me show you what I've got, ma'am.
Spitfire: Ah. You want a chance to prove yourself, huh?
Lightning Dust: Yes ma'am!
Spitfire: Well then, now's your chance. Give me five hundred laps! All of you!
[ponies moan]
Spitfire: NOW! [blows whistle]
Pinkie Pie: Wait! If I'm not here when Rainbow Dash's letter arrives, I won't be able to read it right away, and if I don't read it right away I won't be able to write her back right away, and if I don't write her back right away, she might think I didn't get her letter and then she might worry about loss and then she's worried about her letter, she'll be distracted and if she's distracted then she won't do well in the Academy and if she doesn't do well in the Academy, then she'll get kicked out and if she gets kicked out she'll never get to be a Wonderbolt and if she never gets to be a Wonderbolt all her dreams will be crushed! And it'll be ALL. MY. FAULT! 
Applejack: So... in other words, you're stickin' by the mailbox.
Pinkie Pie: Yup. 
Pinkie Pie: [about sending the care package to Rainbow Dash] Wait! That won't work at all!
Applejack: Why not?
Pinkie Pie: Because what if the package gets lost in the mail? What if somepony else gets the package by accident and then she remembers us instead of Rainbow Dash and then she becomes our new friend and then the real Rainbow Dash won't ever know that she used to have friends and she forgot them!
Applejack: Is anypony else followin' this?
Pinkie Pie: I've got it! We'll deliver the care package to Rainbow Dash in person!
Rarity: I wouldn't mind a little trip.
Twilight Sparkle: I'll go!
Applejack: Count me in!
Fluttershy: Me too.
Pinkie Pie: Me five! But don't be upset if she doesn't recognize you at first. It may take a while for her to get her memory back.
Rainbow Dash: A hoofbump? Seriously? You made me clip my wing. You send half of our class into serious tail-spins on the obstacle course. You unleashed a tornado that nearly demolished my friends!
Lightning Dust: ...Yeah. And?
Rainbow Dash: And I get that you want to be the best. So do I! But you're going about it in the wrong way.
Spitfire: This better be important. You're supposed to be up there busting clouds with your partner.
Rainbow Dash: We're done with that, ma'am.
Spitfire: Already? That's an academy record!
Spitfire: Rainbow Dash! How dare you storm out of my office without giving me a chance to respond?! The Wonderbolts are looking for the best flyers in Equestria, but you were right. Being the best should never come at the expense of our fellow ponies. It's not just about pushing ourselves. It's about pushing ourselves in the right direction. You've shown that you're capable of doing just that. You're no wingpony, Rainbow Dash, you're a leader.
Rainbow Dash: OhmygoshOhmygoshOhmygoshOhmygoshOhmygosh!
Spitfire: Now get out there and give me twenty!
Rainbow Dash: Yes ma'am.
Pinkie Pie: Wait! You didn't even get to open your care package!

Gallery

Wonderbolt Trainees looking at the Dizzitron S3E7

Wonderbolts Academy image gallery

References

  1. UPDATE and Episode Credits (2012-12-15). Retrieved on 2012 December 15.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Meghan McCarthy on Twitter (2012-12-13). Retrieved on 2012 December 14.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Part one of the original ending (2012-12-26). Retrieved on 2012 December 26. Archived locally.
  4. Part two of the original ending (2012-12-26). Retrieved on 2012 December 26. Archived locally.
  5. http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?s=1da55af26641c7371279e914f6f5afd3&showtopic=91229&st=20&p=2215230&#entry2215230 Archived locally.
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