Warning: this episode was so uninspired, we didn't even bother making macros.
Well, the venue has been selected and the Ponyville representatives for the Opening Ceremony have been chosen, so now it’s time for the important stuff- who is going to fight for the Glory of Ponyvile in the upcoming Equestria Games? No surprise, Rainbow Dash hopes to qualify for the flying relay race. Unfortunately, due to the rules that only allow for participation in one event, she’s forced to choose timid Fluttershy and lesson-in-the-consequences-of-steroid-use Buff Biceps for her team. (He's actually the opposite of a typical glamour-muscle workout bro. He definitely doesn't skip leg day.) Pinkie Pie is official team cheerleader (a duty she takes all too seriously), Apple Jack has made apple brown betties just for the team, and Rarity has plans to make a fabulous uniform for them as well. They all head to Rainbow Falls for the qualifying rounds.
Once there, the others set to their auxiliary roles whilst RD despairs of ever winning. She is especially humbled by the Wonderbolts, as always. They seem almost disappointed that RD’s team is crap, since they know she is a great flyer and worthy of the Equestria Games. However, when Wonderbolts team member Soarin runs into a pylon and mangles his wing, they offer Dashie a place on their team. She does not agree right away, but does practice a bit with them, since it’s far preferable to flying with Fluttershy and Buff Biceps.
Dash agonises over what to do. On the one hand, her friends are counting on her (maybe?). On the other, she would really like to qualify to fly in the Equestria Games. She asks Twilight Sparkle for advice, who basically says “figure it out.”
Dashie’s solution to the problem is to pretend to be injured. Her friends visit in the hospital and voice that they are disappointed they won’t get to fly with RD. They do, however, make Derpy her substitute. Twilight, just before leaving, tells Dashie that not making a decision isn’t really a solution (Twilight: the all-knowing, just as ODL is training her.) After her friends leave, Soarin pulls back the curtain and tells Dash that his friends didn’t even visit, and that he’s probably in good enough shape to fly, they just wanted someone stronger.
Dashie makes her decision then. She goes to the Wonderbolts and tells them off for being shitty friends, then flies with Fluttershy and Buff Biceps. They manage to just make qualifying, thanks to RD’s incredibly impressive speed. Ponyville will go to the Equestria Games for flying, and RD has done the right thing, not to mention taught the lesson of loyalty to another. The magic tree in the forest (yeah, did you guys forget about that?!) re-grows its thread of loyalty.
Or has she? Quick rant here. I’m very pro-friendship, you guys, and I know it’s magic and everything, but did Rainbow Dash really make the best decision? Her friends don’t seem to care too much about qualifying for the Games- Fluttershy explicitly states that she only wants to qualify because it means so much to Dash. (Buff Biceps doesn’t seem like a terribly articulate dude.) RD is all about being an athlete; it’s her goal in life to become a great and renowned flier. Does she have a bit too much hubris about her abilities? Yes, absolutely. But is it so bad that her ambition is driving her to excel, and that she would want to be placed with the best team? I would argue no.
I don’t get why it would be so bad if she had agreed to fly with the Wonderbolts (even if they are kind of dicks.) They’re the best; she wants to be the best. Particularly because her friends don’t seem concerned with winning the Games for themselves, I think her handicapping herself just for the sake of them is pretty dumb. Yes, I know, this is a show for seven-year-olds, and RD definitely needs her friends around to keep her (a little) humble, but she nearly cost herself a chance at the Olympics just so her friends don’t feel bad and they probably wouldn’t have even felt that bad. That behaviour isn’t “loyalty” so much as it is self-destructive; at the very least, this episode teaches young girls that nothing is more important than the opinions of their friends.
So to all the seven-year-olds out there with dreams and ambitions: no, you should never try to destroy those around you to achieve your goals (lookin’ at you, Rarity) but you shouldn’t limit yourself from achieving said goals just for the sake of others. Growing up is about knowing the balance between what’s good for you personally and what will keep your relationships intact.
Perhaps that will come up in a future episode?