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File:Maythebestpetwin 5020.jpg

 Rainbow Dash: Can't settle for less cause I'm the best!

Fluttershy & Dash: So a contest we will see!

Rainbow Dash: Who's the number one, greatest, perfectest pet

Fluttershy & Dash: In the world for meeee!

Fluttershy: May the games begin...

Rainbow Dash: And may the best pet win!

  Written by Charlotte Fullerton

Rainbow Dash is awoken by her friends' pets from a crazy dream where she's attacked by a creepy chimera-like monster made up of… her friends' pets. The other ponies arrive soon afterward, and Applejack explains that they're at the park for their weekly Pony Pet Play Date. Feeling a bit left out, Rainbow Dash admits she might want to have a pet someday, whereupon Fluttershy enthusiastically drags Rainbow to her cottage, prattling on about the wonderful animals available. Once there, Fluttershy and Rainbow sing a jaunty tune about finding the perfect pet for Rainbow Dash, ending with her announcing a competition to do just that.

Before long, Dash is briefing her pet contenders on the upcoming challenge. When Fluttershy comes up and places a turtle[1] in the lineup, Rainbow Dash complains, but Fluttershy browbeats her into giving him a chance, as he's been trying to find a home for the longest time. Dash puts the pets through a series of events to test their speed, agility, guts, style, coolness, awesomeness, and radicalness. Despite finishing last every time, the tortoise persists in competing. At the end, Rainbow Dash commends his effort, but she's narrowed her choices down to an owl, a falcon, an eagle and a bat.

The four flyers (and the tortoise) head for the tie-breaker, a race through the hazard-filled Ghastly Gorge, where the one who crosses the finish line with Rainbow Dash will be her pet. Dash leads them through a series of dangerous obstacles: a windy tunnel, a large patch of briars, and a nest of gigantic Quarray Eels. As the race continues, Dash flies backwards to offer taunts and encouragement—only to smack into a canyon wall, causing an avalanche that pulls her to the bottom.

When the dust clears, Rainbow Dash is trapped with one of her wings pinned under a boulder, while the four flyers pass by overhead, oblivious to her predicament. Her despondency turns to hope when an approaching shadow indicates help has arrived, only to return to despair when Dash sees it's the tortoise, plodding along. Ignoring her continued dismissals, he resiliently digs under the boulder and levers it up with his head.

At the finish line, the rest of the Mane Cast greet the flyers, but quickly become worried over Rainbow Dash's absence. Using a pair of binoculars, they spot the avalanche, then see the tortoise emerging from a cloud of dust, carrying Rainbow Dash on his back. Meeting Dash halfway, the ponies inform her that the falcon finished first, and they congratulate her on finding her new pet. Rainbow Dash ruefully admits the falcon is everything she thought she wanted in a pet… but then announces that the tortoise is the real winner, since he fulfilled her final rule by being there when she needed help and crossing the finish line with her. The upset falcon gracefully accepts defeat, and Rainbow Dash dubs the tortoise "Tank" for his toughness and tenacity, only for Fluttershy to point out that Dash wanted a pet that could fly and keep up with her…

The next week, as the ponies and their pets gather for the latest Pony Pet Play Date, Rainbow Dash proudly brings along Tank, who's now sporting aviator goggles and has a propeller pack strapped to his shell.


Tropes (YMMV tropes can be found here)

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Pony Pet Play Date in the Park." Later, "Great galloping galoshes!" is uttered by Applejack.
  • Adorkable: Fluttershy when she hears Dash wants a pet.
    • And the Tortoise.
    • And, for once, Rainbow Dash, in her prep-school outfit while posing with the owl.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Rainbow Dash condescendingly does this to Twilight Sparkle when the latter makes a comment that "cool", "awesome", and "radical" are all the same thing.

  Rainbow Dash: You would think that, Twilight. And that's why you would never qualify to be my pet.

  • Art Evolution: Applejack's freckles no longer disappear as she runs.[2]
    • Fluttershy pawing at the ground when nervous is nothing new, but the small clouds of dust she kicks up are.
    • The ponies sport expressions that they never had in the first season, although one in particular seemed a bit… odd to some viewers. See Off-Model, below.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Tank the tortoise.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Several of the pet candidates have abilities like this, such as the butterfly's hypnotic wings and the bat's echo.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Averted with the bat, though Fluttershy does introduce it as "dark and mysterious".
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rainbow Dash insists earlier on that she wanted a fast, agile, flying animal for a pet… and after putting the animals through competitions testing these (among other) traits she found out that the falcon met her standards the most… but by the time she found this out, she had evidently changed her mind about what she wanted in a pet after all, as she clearly wasn't happy about being told that the falcon won. Of course, she found out a loophole in her rules that allowed her to adopt a tortoise instead, in a clear contrast to what she at first wanted.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT try to steal Opal's toy mouse. It pisses her off so much that even a falcon and an eagle are terrified of her.
  • Big Badass Birds of Prey: The owl, the falcon, and the eagle. They all qualify for the final race.
  • The Big Race
  • Binocular Shot: Started by Twilight, but the other ponies (well, just Fluttershy and Applejack) shove in to look through them when trying to spot Rainbow Dash after the other potential pets have crossed the finish line.
  • Boring but Practical: The tortoise fits this trope like a glove. Very boring, yet VERY practical.
  • Bow Ties Are Cool: Rainbow Dash always dresses in style.
  • Brutal Honesty: By Applejack near the beginning:

 Rainbow Dash: Not much point in a Pony Pet Play Date for a Pony without a pet, right?

Applejack: Exactly!

  • Burning Rubber: Rainbow Dash does this at one point, leaving a trail of rainbow flames behind her.
  • Call Back: "...Yay?"
    • Also all the pony pets besides Opal and Angel, as we haven't seen them in a while.
    • In the starting dream sequence, Rainbow Dash's first reaction to Owlowiscious's hoot is "Who?"
    • At the beginning of the song, we see the mallards from Griffon the Brush Off.
    • One of the outfits Rainbow Dash wears in the "Style Competition" includes Rarity's scarf from Dragonshy.
  • Captain Obvious: During the song.

 Fluttershy: I'm sensing you want an animal who can fly.

Rainbow Dash: Ya think?

  • Cats Are Mean: Played straight as always with the ever-upset Opal, but averted with Fluttershy's "puddy tat," who is affectionate (although it still fails to impress Rainbow Dash).

 Rarity: Say you're sorry, Opal!

(Opal hisses)

Rarity: ...She's sorry.

  • Chekhov's Gun: Twilight mentioned that a pet needs "care and attention, love and affection." Take a wild guess at what the tortoise showed towards Rainbow Dash to help him win.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The tortoise lifting Opal's kennel with only his head and neck.
    • The bat displaying his echolocation during the awesome skill part of the contest. He later uses it in Ghastly Gorge to easily navigate his way through the thorn vines and make up for the ground lost in the wind tunnel.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Many of Fluttershy's suggestions for Dash's new pet. Rainbow clearly states she wants a pet who can fly, yet three-quarters of Fluttershy's suggestions include animals like a bunny, a cat, an otter, and a seal[3].

  Rainbow Dash: Cutsie-wootsie? Have you even met me?

    • Also, Rainbow herself, invoked by Applejack and Twilight.

 Rainbow Dash: Any questions?

Applejack: (aside) I got one: Does she understand what a pet really needs?

Twilight Sparkle: Yeah, like care and attention, love and affection!

  • Cool Pet: The episode is about Rainbow Dash's attempt to find one of these.
    • By the end of the episode, Tank's little helicopter contraption certainly makes him one.
  • Cool Shades: Rainbow Dash adopts these during her "radical" pose.
    • Lampshaded by the turtle [4], donning a pair when Rainbow Dash talks about needing a "cool pet".
  • Continuity Nod This is not the first time Fluttershy's noticed so many wonders.
  • Cute Kitten: The "puddy tat" Fluttershy nominates as a potential pet is ridiculously doe-eyed and adorable. Rainbow Dash isn't swayed by the Cuteness Proximity one bit.
  • Dandere: Fluttershy goes from hoping Dash won't be mad at them and pawing the ground nervously to positively Squeeing when Dash suggests she's interested in getting a pet.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Lampshaded by Twilight Sparkle, despite Rainbow Dash insisting that "Coolness," "Awesomeness," and "Radicalness" are distinct categories. Dash even penalizes the bat for doing something awesome during the radicalness portion of the competition.
  • Determinator: Despite being put down by Rainbow Dash, the tortoise tries his best to become her pet. It eventually pays off when he saves her, earning the name Tank and the right to be her pet.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Although in this case, finishing last means getting first prize!
  • Dramatic Pause: Played straight and lampshaded by Rainbow Dash.
  • Dramatic Spotlight: With Rainbow Dash, during the song.
  • Dream Tropes: Several.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Rainbow Dash shows elements of this when coaching to see who will be her new pet. It's mostly front-loaded, as she tries to let the animals down gently when giving criticism.
  • Empathy Pet: Rainbow Dash and Tank share a key element: Loyalty.
  • Exact Words:

 Rainbow Dash: But I said whoever crosses the finish line with me gets to be my pet.

Pinkie Pie: You did! You did say that! She did say that! That was the rule!

  • Everything's Worse With Wasps: Averted. Fluttershy offers a wasp as a pet and it acts relatively benign.
  • Expy: The tortoise to the one from "The Tortoise and the Hare." Both were not expected to win, but put forth their best effort anyway, and this tenacity[5] paid off in the end.
    • However, in a bit of a twist, the tortoise in this episode doesn't actually win the race himself, but comes out on top in a different way.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Given that the tortoise is able to dig deep enough under the rock to put his head in far enough to leverage the rock off the ground, Rainbow should be able to do the same to free her wing without help. She's likely caught up in her panic, and possibly the fact that her wing hurts even though it turns out to not be badly injured.
    • Rainbow Dash spends most of her time in the air, or at the very least hovering above the ground without touching it. This is basically a reversal of Forgot I Could Fly.
  • Feather Fingers: When the falcon shakes Tank's leg.
    • Also played with when the hummingbird tries to high-five Rainbow Dash…and promptly plummets to the ground, since a wing being used for a high-five isn't being used for flight.
    • And the duck, in order to hold a straw hat and cane.
    • The eagle uses these whenever it's convenient for a gag, like knitting a sweater or holding a curling broom.
  • Flat Joy: Fluttershy gives a little "yay", just like in "Sonic Rainboom".
    • Which is directly in contrast to the joygasm she has when she finds out that Rainbow wants a pet.
    • By the time the owl and bat (3rd and 4th place) cross the finish line, the other five Mane cast are still cheering for the animals but clearly concerned about the lack of Dash.
  • Foreshadowing: The turtle tipping over Opal's cage hints at the strength of his neck.
    • During the race through Ghastly Gorge, the eagle and falcon get their right wings stuck at some point.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Rainbow Dash, for once. Every living thing wants to be her pet.
  • Furry Confusion: This episode is all about pony pets. Also, some domesticated animals in the show can talk, but none in this episode can.
    • All of the competitor pets demonstrate a large amount of intelligence, awareness and ability, such as the falcon displaying embarrassment when it was pointed out that he didn't come back to get Dash when she was caught under the avalanche; or the montage of the pet's attempts to impress her with fencing, knitting and so forth.
  • Gesundheit

 Rainbow Dash: Today I learned what the most important quality really is: a certain kind of spirit, a sticktoitiveness. A never-give-up, can-do attitude that's the mark of a real winner! And this tortoise has it!

Twilight: Tenacity!

Rainbow Dash: Gesundheit.

 Pinkie Pie: Wait! Look!

Fluttershy: It's the turtle!

Everypony Else: Tortoise!

Fluttershy: Whatever.

 Pinkie Pie: You got your perfect pet, right?

Fluttershy: The best of the best like you wanted, remember? It can fly and it's not a squirrel! Should we sing about it again?

 Rainbow Dash: And so the final tie-breaking contest is going to be...(to herself) pause for dramatic effect, (beat, then to everyone) a race against me! (Jump Cut) Through Ghastly Gorge! Dun dun dunnnnnn!! (hawk screech[6])

  • Let's Duet: Between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.
  • Loophole Abuse: Rainbow Dash utilizes this to name the tortoise her pet, even though the falcon crossed the finish line first.
  • Loud Gulp: When "Coach" Rainbow Dash instructs the lineup of pets before the games, the pink flamingo gives one with the swallowing motion following all over the many bends and turns of his neck.
  • Magitek: Tank's helicopter rig at the end has the show's distinctive aura seen with magic.[7]
  • Meaningful Name: Tank is named because he is "built like a tank," with his tenacity, determination, and his ability to resist Opal's non-stop scratching.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Fans were quick to catch that the Riding Along with Rainbow Dash toy comes with a turtle[8]. In general, the pony toys come with pets, and Dash was the only "Mane Six" pony without one in the show. Until this one, of course.
  • Mind Control Eyes: Opalescence gets these when the butterfly uses its wings to mesmerize her.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Fluttershy has an otter and a seal among the woodland critters she cares for. The otter might very well be a river otter, and thus have an excuse. The seal, however, has no excuse for its presence far from any ocean.
    • Well, there are three seal species that live in freshwater. However, they all live exclusively in one lake, lake Saimaa, lake Ladoga and lake Baikal, for the Saimaa seal, Ladoga seal and Baikal seal, respectively.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Rainbow's opening nightmare. And hinted at during the song:

 Rainbow Dash: The bat would be awesome, but the wasp I'm digging too. Do you have something in a yellow-striped bat?

  • Mood Whiplash: Rainbow Dash is flying along in the race, being awesome and cocky as usual… hits the side of the gorge, pretty standard… starts an avalanche, nothing she can't handle…and then she's stuck at the bottom of the gorge with her wing pinned under a rock, crying out "Don't leave me!" to the competing pets.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The duet in this episode seems to follow the Adaptation Hypothesis. Fluttershy even makes reference to the song at the end of the episode:

 Fluttershy: It's the best of the best like you wanted, remember? It can fly, and it's not a squirrel. Should we sing about it again?

  • Mythology Gag: Rainbow Dash seems to be back to dressing in style.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted, to some degree, in the tortoise's "radical" display: The course includes a ring of fire, a guillotine and a pool of circling sharks. However, the pool appears to be a wind-up toy, based on a turning key on its side. And of course, the tortoise never gets a chance to actually run through any of the obstacles.
    • Rainbow Dash also worries that her pinned wing will leave her trapped forever. The thought of dying of starvation rather than simply being stuck indefinitely doesn't seem to occur to her (though it may depend on your interpretation of her fears).
  • Non Indicative Title: The animals are competing to become a pet, and as such, are not yet pets.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Pinkie Pie, in demonstrating how Fluttershy nodded her head, by forcing Fluttershy to nod her head.
    • When Fluttershy "politely asks" Rainbow to let the tortoise compete, she shoves him into Rainbow's face.
    • Fluttershy does the same thing earlier during their duet when showing off the "puddy tat" at her house.
  • Off-Model: Rainbow Dash is briefly animated without wings while lounging in a tree.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When the race begins, the flying competitors zoom ahead while the tortoise is left to look forlornly at the enormous drop in front of him. Given that he does eventually make it to the finish line, that means that he makes his way down to the gorge somehow, possibly by just falling all the way down.
    • This would also extend to the fact that the tortoise makes it through all three obstacles (the windy tunnel, the briars, and the Quarray Eels) thanks to his shell and non-flying nature, and eventually gets to Rainbow Dash.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When Rainbow challenges the contenders to steal Opal's toy, everyone except the butterfly refuses to try. When the butterfly succeeds, however, the tortoise has somehow managed to get behind Opal's cage in an attempt to tip it over onto Opal.
    • Also, as mentioned above, the tortoise somehow manages to get all the way to where Rainbow Dash is pinned in the avalanche in a reasonable amount of time.
    • The mane cast managed to be at the start line, and at the finish line, before anyone else. Justified, as Twilight has actual teleportation.
  • Prehensile Tail: Applejack can use hers to throw sticks, and Fluttershy's is strong enough to carry bunnies.
  • Psycho Strings: When Opal extends her claws to guard her favorite toy.
  • Punny Name: "Quarray" Eels
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Watch as the bold and majestic eagle… knits Rainbow Dash a sweater?
  • Removable Shell: During the "Find a Pet" musical number, the turtle[9] pulls his head into his shell and pokes it back out through the tail end so he can look behind him.
  • "Ride of the Valkyries": Plays and is whistled by Rainbow Dash during the race through Ghastly Gorge.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Several of the pets offered by Fluttershy. Taken Up to Eleven with the "puddy tat."
  • Running Gag:
    • During most of Rainbow's tests, she exclaims:

 Sort of X...not X...pretty X! Could be more X/X-er.[10]

    • Characters calling the tortoise a turtle, then being corrected.
  • Sand Worm: The "Quarray eels".
  • Schizo-Tech: Tank's flying device, to start, but there's a mention of "bullets" in the duet, and Tank gets his name when Rainbow Dash describes him as being "like a tank."
    • Judging by the telltale magical aura around it, Tank's flying machine has been enchanted.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "I can't be stuck here forever! It's like...forever!"
  • Shout-Out:
  • Simple Yet Awesome: Again, several of the pet candidates could pull this to impress Rainbow Dash. Who would have guessed that a bald eagle could knit a sweater so fast?
  • Somewhere an Ornithologist Is Crying: This episode falls for the common trap of giving a bald eagle the red-tailed hawk's screech, at least twice.
  • Squee: Fluttershy when Rainbow Dash says she wants a pet.
  • Staggered Zoom: Used on the reveal of Ghastly Gorge.
  • Super Strength: The tortoise is much stronger than he looks, lifting an enormous boulder using just his neck strength, then carrying the injured Rainbow Dash to safety all by himself.
  • Talent Contest: Part of Rainbow's tests for who should be her pet.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: The bat performs part of the MLP theme song on a set of water glasses during the Talent Contest.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Rainbow's pet tortoise is fitted with helicopter propellers so he can fly around.
  • Title Drop: The end of the Let's Duet sequence.
  • Tortoise Power
  • Totally Radical: Rainbow Dash briefly dons a pair of dark sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap. Also, she unironically uses the word "radical" throughout the episode.
  • Too Quirky to Lose: The tortoise.
  • Underdogs Never Lose
  • The Voiceless: The monarch butterfly. He's the only contender who doesn't make any sort of noise at all, not as much as a wing flap. Lampshaded by Rainbow Dash's "I can't hear you!"
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: During the musical number, Fluttershy gives one pet a grand entrance, including fanfare, curtain rise, and a specially made stage for it to stand on. The pet in question? A squirrel--a flying squirrel, but a squirrel nonetheless. (This may be a jab at the toy line; the basic Rainbow Dash toy comes with a squirrel figurine.)
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: To Opal, taking her toy away from her is the worst thing you can do, and she makes sure everyone knows the consequences.
  • Wing Snag:
    • A few of the competitors have trouble getting through the brambly section of Ghastly Gorge.
    • Rainbow Dash's wing gets pinned under a boulder, leaving her trapped at the bottom of the gorge.
  • Working Title: Formerly known as "The Tortoise & the Mare".
  • You Need a Breath Mint: Twilight Sparkle suggests one for Winona while she and Applejack discuss whether Rainbow Dash understands what it really means to have a pet.

 Today I learned what the most important quality really is; a certain kind of spirit; a sticktoitiveness. A never-give-up, can-do attitude that's the mark of a real winner! And these tropers have it!

Tenacity!

Gesundheit.

Notes

  1. Actually, it's a tortoise
  2. this happened in Season 1 due to animators screwing up when they created AJ's standard run cycle.
  3. But he totally caught ten feet of air after breaking the water that one time!
  4. ahem, tortoise
  5. Gesundheit
  6. which was made by an eagle
  7. The color matches Princess Celestia's, though not necessarily on purpose. Solar powered, maybe?
  8. tortoise! (though this one actually is supposed to be a turtle)
  9. Tortoise!
  10. X being such qualities as "fast", "agile", or "awesome".
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