Monday, 27 April 2015

Episode review: S5E05: "Tanks for the Memories"

Rainbow Dash does a Grinch face
Then Dash thought of something she hadn't before...
Cindy Morrow is back! Okay, the last episode she wrote for Friendship is Magic ("Apple Family Reunion") wasn't a favourite, but no writer who came up with the outstanding "Hurricane Fluttershy" is one I'd want to lose permanently from the My Little Pony squad. This time around, we knew we were going to be looking at the Dash/Tank relationship and that M. A. Larson had promised Hasbro he'd take responsibility for... well, for something. Let's see how that turned out.

The central storyline of this episode is that Rainbow Dash is heartbroken when she's told by Fluttershy that Tank will need to hibernate over winter. Rainbow, devastated by the idea of losing her pet, goes through the full five K├╝bler-Ross stages of grief as the episode progresses. This is extremely well handled, and is a very good way of covering the issues surrounding loss without having to break the little-kids'-TV taboo on talking about death explicitly. If you watch this episode for nothing else, watch it for this.

The "Open Skies" scene background ponies
The very silly but fun "Who's on First?" homage
A big moment: Rainbow Dash gets a full-length solo song, "I'll Fly". I'm afraid this isn't going to become a favourite of mine. It's somewhat similar in concept to "Generosity" from "Rarity Takes Manehattan", but there's a crucial difference: Rarity's character and voice suit an intricate song in a way that Rainbow's just don't. A less complex rock ballad, simpler in construction but just as heartfelt, might have fitted Dash better. Also, the line "I know it's wrong, but what does it matter?" really grates on me. That's too shallow even for Rainbow in this situation.

Most of the rest of the Mane Six are almost incidental to the episode (though that AJ "cries on the inside" is perfect) but Fluttershy is the exception. As you'd expect from Morrow, 'Shy is written very well indeed, and her unique bond with Rainbow Dash is reaffirmed: nopony else could have said what she did to Dash. Fluttershy has clearly remembered the lessons she learnt in "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies" and is noticeably unfazed by Rainbow's crying fit. After all, given Fluttershy's vocation, she herself must have a lot of experience dealing with loss. She also knows Dash more deeply than anypony.

The Weather Factory machinery
Rainbow Dash's fears and horrors are about to come true
I very much appreciate the S1 callbacks, to the Running of the Leaves for example, which remind us that Equestria is not simply Earth With Ponies. More of this, please! I'm still not sure about mobile!Cloudsdale, but with luck it will at least spawn some interesting fanfics. Talking of Cloudsdale, one problem with this episode is in the Weather Factory sequence, which drags a bit at times. There were very few times during this ep when I felt bored, but Rainbow's extended infiltration scene teetered on the edge of that by the end.

Season 5 has delivered a lot of interest so far, and "Tanks for the Memories" continues that run. This is a flawed ep, but it's only rarely a dull one. Even so, it's probably slightly inferior to "Bloom and Gloom", putting it at the foot of this season's nascent league table. Rainbow Dash is often divisive, and that's going to be the case again, but I can't say she really won me over until the very end. This episode has some excellent touches and wonderful Fluttershy writing. Another "Hurricane Fluttershy" it is not, but it's still worth your time.

Fluttershy consoling Rainbow Dash and Tank
The matching slippers and Fluttershy here make this absurdly cute
Best quote: Pinkie Pie: "Applejack cries on the inside, Twilight!"

Yays
  • Handles the subjects of loss and saying goodbye very well indeed
  • Fluttershy is extremely well written throughout
  • Enjoyable and satisfying callbacks emphasise Equestria's otherness
  • Touches of silliness like the "Who's on First?"-style routine
  • Rainbow and Tank's slippers – awww!
Neighs
  • Rainbow Dash is a bit too much like her old S1 self...
  • ...and doesn't suffer much/any comeback for her dangerous actions
  • The song feels too complicated for the character singing it
  • Rainbow's infiltration of the Weather Factory takes too long
  • That Game of Thrones reference left me entirely cold
★★★

9 comments:

  1. Yeah, Tank and Rainbow Dash's matching fuzzy slippers were just adorable and awesome.

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    1. When I see things like that, I'm reassured that the creators really do still care about this show. :)

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  2. Turtles hibernate during winter?

    I didn't know that.

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    1. You did not watch enough Blue Peter as a kid.

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    2. What is Blue Peter? I've never even seen it...

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  3. "That Game of Thrones reference left me entirely cold"

    Well, it is about winter...

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  4. I Finally got to watch this yesterday, and made my housemates watch it too (Pre Game of Thrones viewing indecently).
    I think you nailed all the good and bad points with this review.
    My 4 Bits;

    All-ways imagined Cloudsdale to be movable,

    Herd the episode described as 'Environmental terrorist Rainbow Dash' and the episode lived up to that, (or it will do in a fan fic) Agree with the poor characterization of RD, I'm afraid this may lead to another Mare Do well (I looked what ne'er-do-well meant and it did sum up RD perfectly before this episode. extremely disappointed she did not suffer any consequences of her actions)

    I would have loved some pony to say 'You know nothing Rainbow Dash' would have been better and less forced than the winter line.

    Did you notice the amount of screen time that Caramel (and his Marefriend got) Many ships have been further sunk (if they were still sailing after Hearts and Hooves day)

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    1. Mare Do Well wasn't that bad of an episode IMO, but this one looks OK. Some people are starting to compare this to Double Rainboom, but honestly, at least Rainbow wasn't acting all selfish in this one; she didn't want Tank to possibly die.

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    2. Caramel and Sassaflash are that rare thing in MLP, a canon non-married couple! Besides, Integration sealed the deal for those two as far as I'm concerned. :)

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