It was established way back in the very first episode of My Little Pony that Rainbow Dash’s dream was to be a member of the highly esteemed Wonderbolts. So when you think about it, this week’s episode is one six years in the making. Back in Season 3, “Wonderbolts Academy” was a big one for the speed pony, where she was officially put in the reserves. “Newbie Dash” actually has her join the team. In concept this is just as big as Twilight becoming Princess and the Crusaders acquiring their Cutie Marks. It’s a plot development we’ve waited a long time to see which changes the foundation of the character. In theory, the episode should be great. The problem is that it’s not and more of a mediocre outing for Dash.
Here’s the official episode description from Discovery Family:
Rainbow Dash finally achieves her dream of becoming a Wonderbolt, but makes a disastrous first impression with the team and gets saddled with a mortifying nickname she is determined to change.
The episode starts out well enough. Scootaloo and Dash have had few interactions over the course of six seasons, but those few are very heartwarming. Here we see how excited the filly is for Rainbow when Spitfire tells Dash she’s officially part of the Wonderbolts. This is rather sudden, but forgivable if what comes next is written well. Sadly, writers Dave Polsky and Dave Rapp seem intent on being as mean as possible to Rainbow. What do I mean you ask? For starters, the Wonderbolts all act like complete jerks to her, constantly teasing her as if they’re schoolyard bullies on a playground. I expect a little more professionalism from Ponyville’s premiere fighting force. They aren’t just performers, they’re supposed to be basically military. (This is evidenced when they’re first on the scene to try and stop a giant rampaging Spike from destroying the town back in “Secret of My Excess.”) The team was very grating to watch here.
If this wasn’t bad enough, by the end the story attempts to shift blame to Rainbow Dash. This was a terrible move, because the entire time they were mocking and teasing her. The Wonderbolts were in the wrong. What really should have happened was Rainbow leaving, finding out the team wasn’t as noble as they portray themselves to be. Yes, some of her antics were wrong near the end, but the Bolts were pretty bad almost the entire time. Despite all this, there are somethings to like. I enjoyed the sequence when Dash arrives back home and discovers her friends have thrown her a surprise party. Rarity notices something’s wrong and pries a little. Rainbow, despite being more on the stubborn side, knows they are her best friends and she opens up to them. This was a truly heartwarming moment, and another example of why the show is called Friendship is Magic. This moment is a light in the rather mean- spirted episode. (Even the teacher in Dash’s flashback was laughing at her.)
Overall, “Newbie Dash” is a disappointment. Rainbow becoming a Wonderbolt should be a monumental event. Instead, we’re shown why being a Wonderbolt will give you some of the worst co-workers out there. The viewer feels for Dash throughout the episode, and not once does the writing indicate how wrong the team is. At the very least, the Mane 6 were nice to have around.