Monday, 17 October 2016

Episode review: S6E24: "Top Bolt"

Twilight and Rainbow Dash trying unsuccessfully not to look worried
The wind did indeed change that day
Thanks to Tiny Pop, this was actually the last episode of Season Six that I got to see. That being so, I was hoping that it would be a good one. I was encouraged by the identity of the writers: Joanna Lewis and Kristine Songco have a solid record, with only one of their four previous episodes ("The Hooffields and McColts") failing to get a four-star rating here. I was also hoping this would live up to the last Rainbow/Twilight episode, the excellent "Testing Testing 1, 2, 3" from S4. Come with me past the break to see what I thought.

Another hit for the "Lady Writers", as they style themselves! This has immediately become my favourite Wonderbolts episode, and a very satisfying way to end the normal run of S6. Indeed, there isn't really much I can find to quibble with, which is always a nice feeling. The story is well told, Rainbow and Twilight interact well with each other and with the guest ponies, and even Spitfire is less irritating than she's sometime been in the past.

I'm always pleased when My Little Pony gets characterisation right, and it did so here. For example: Spitfire is shown giving orders to Rainbow Dash but not to Twilight, which makes perfect sense given their respective positions in the pecking order. When the two of them first appear, the prospective Wonderbolts are actually excited. Dash and Twi also bounce off each other wonderfully well, with their differing attitudes to the friendship problem convincing. This is great stuff.

Spitfire smiling, flanked by her staffers
"I feel the need... the need for steed"
Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail are solid guest ponies. I was a little concerned at first that SS would just be a Lightning Dust rehash, but no: his character is nicely distinguished from Dust's. Yes, he's a pain too, but LD really was that good and threw it away through her own arrogance. Sky Stinger, on the other hoof, has made it this far only because of Vapor's quiet assistance – and guess what, she's actually the pony with the greater ability, at least until VT pulls himself together late on.

And then there's Angel Wings. She is voiced by Alexis Heule, who got the role through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. This is the second time MLP has partnered with the Foundation, the first being Steel Eclipse's cameo in S4's "Trade Ya!". Given Angel Wings' character in this episode, the fact that she sounds a bit different from the other ponies may actually be an advantage. She's certainly adorable, with her fangirling over the other ponies making her relatable too. Also, she has the best line in the episode (see below).

Although there's no song – S6 has been a little light on those – music plays an important part, especially in the flying scenes. The montage music used here is great, and reminds me just a little of Fluttershy's training montage back in "Hurricane Fluttershy". We also get some excellent visuals, from Twilight being distracted by stunt fliers early on through to the fine use of split-screen near the end. Mind you, I have to give a mention to the expressions, too, especially the face Twilight makes when Vapor Trail finally tells it like is!

Twilight and Rainbow talking to Angel Wings
In this picture, it very nearly does look as though RD's wings fell off!
As I said earlier, I really can't complain about anything important. Okay, I might ask why there's apparently a poster of a disgraced ex-'Bolt in the locker room. Okay, the storyline isn't the most original we've ever seen. But what we have here is a fine piece of Friendship is Magic storytelling, simple but effective along the lines of "Buckball Season" and focusing on character moments as most of my favourite episodes do. All that results in a well-rounded, entertaining 22 minutes.

Best quote: Angel Wings: "Do you think Rainbow Dash was the pony whose wings fell off?"

  • Excellent characterisation for everypony
  • Well paced throughout
  • Very enjoyable score
  • Angel Wings, even apart from her VA's backstory, is adorable
  • The Top Gun references are there but not intrusive
  • That Twiface
  • Not the most original plot
  • The Lightning Dust poster is just odd
  • Tiny Pop cut one cider reference but not the other. Huh?


  1. Lewis and Songco: no wonder this was good. :) I think they're the new AKR, all things considered. Lady Writers to the rescue of the show!

  2. This episode is Wonderbolts academy done right, and probably the best map episode to boot. Twi and Dash work well together and the scene with RD falling asleep was funny. Also am I the only one who thinks Dash looks cute in her flight jacket? As for the pony who wings fell off wasn't that Rarity in Sonic Rainboom?

    1. Now I come to think of it, Rainbow had her wings removed by Discord in the S2 premiere! :P

    2. True... but she's not a Wonderbolt. :P