• Editorial: How Can the Mane 6 Develop? (Part 2)

    Last time it was Fluttershy and Applejack, this time we've got pink one with blue eyes and blue one with pink eyes. That has nothing to do with anything, but I can't unsee it now. They match too perfectly. If I have to live with this knowledge, so do you.

    Matching or not, they've come a long way, so it begs the question where do they still have left to go? But it's all speculation if it's not based on anything, so come along while we recap their character arcs so far in order to take a few educated guesses on where they might go from here in season 8 and beyond!

    This is Character Arcs: The Sugar Rush edition (that has to be their ship-name, right?)!

    So, here's a thing I'm sure you've noticed: Pinkie has separation anxiety whenever one of her friends leaves for an extended period of time. Think running after the train in Three's a Crowd, all of Wonderbolt Academy, etc.

    Or, if you're not a put labels on it kind of person, we can at least say she doesn't cope well.

    It's... honestly a little upsetting to realize Pinkie never really learned that it's okay for her friends to leave. She's still this messed up over it. Protect her from herself please.
    Given that to Pinkie, "they don't like my parties" and "don't want to be my friends anymore" are within the same breath, and that not being the best meant she had to find a different career or altogether leave Ponyville, and she obsessively wanted Cranky to like her, and that she became even more obsessed with one of her friends liking just one of the things she can bake

    Well, given, like, a whole bunch of things, the Party One defines her worth by her ability to make her friends smile, smile, smile.

    That's not how you smile! Here, I'll show you!
    But, to be entirely fair, given her family, I can see why. Even if her parents were never really disapproving of Pinkie's (ahem) alternative lifestyle, the very nature of how different they were from Pinkie automatically set a precedent. They're way was the established, time-honoured way.

    And Pinkie's different. Which leaves her to be somewhat of a black (or pink) sheep. The odd one out, and by that token, the one that has to prove their lifestyle is valid.

    One of these things is not like the others
    She left home with the sole intent of making her passion a reality, and somewhere along the way, she started defining herself almost entirely by the success or failure of that dream.

    If that's her arc, you could consider Pinkie Pride to be the end. She learned that even if she isn't the best, she can still contribute and in that find meaning and happiness.

    But, if so, what's the general theme of her development been after that episode draws to a close?

    Perhaps another arc, or an extension of the same one, I'm not sure, but a number of Pinkie's recent escapades put her friendship skills to the test.

    I enjoy the idea that Pinkie didn't make that wrapping paper. It was store bought. You can just go out and buy Maud's face on wrapping paper. She's an up and coming star in the geology world, she has her own merch.
    And, okay, for this show, that doesn't sound like a character arc because everybody's working on friendship. How is that in any way character-specific?

    But, I'm talkin' more than just the general friendship lessons. Up until now, Ponk's put too much weight behind her smile-making, right, so now that she has a better handle on identifying with it so much, the logical extension is to see her struggle with the very thing she's best at: friendship.

    What do you mean, 'reaching?'

    "I'm the bestest friend there ever surely was and a delight, how dare you."
    That's part of the honest-to-goodness fun of watching her struggle to keep secrets, or have to give up something precious to make some she cares about happy, or completely misunderstanding a friend. Her parties and (judging by episodes like A Friend in Deed) friendship expertise are how she's defined herself for a long, long time. Even if she has a healthier perspective nowadays, there's something awesomely ironic about the friendship expert of the cast struggling to do the friend thing.

    Not in a let's erase all of Pinkie's compassion and likability! sort of way or even a watch her get cocky about what a good friend she is only for it to smack her in the face sort of way, but a let's challenge that compassion of hers and see what she does approach.

    More to the heart of this are the stories where she feels hurt by a friend in one way or another. Because at that point, no matter how great Pinkie herself is at making them smile, I mean... her heart is breaking. What can she do?

    Fascinating, really. You can actually pin-point the second when her heart rips in half. And as an added bonus, look! A beach! You guys wanted a beach episode, right?

    You could argue Secrets and Pies, rather than being a Party of One clone, has Pinkie grapple with the idea that one of her best friends is mistreating her. And what a concept for Pinkie to tackle, right?

    That's why there's so much more anger behind the craziness this time. She's genuinely hurt, even if it's over something small.

    Not to mention this gem from the Movie, where Twilight's betrayal and arguing hurts Pinkie so much she can't even talk to her. Yes, I'm still crying, no, I'll never be over it.

    In both cases, Pinkie comes around to forgiving them pretty quickly, but not before it causes her to go crazy trying to out the lie or shout right back at Twilight. That way, we see what it really means to be Ponyville's premiere party planner, and by extention, friend extraordinaire by asking the question: What does she do under the threat of heartbreak?

    So, yes. For those keeping score at home, her character arc's theme right now is literally "friendship," which means Pinkie Pie has the most meta arc on the show because of course she would.

    How that snow hasn't melted like my heart is one of life's great mysteries.
    Alright, so what's next?

    Well, completing an arc like this could mean a variety of different things, but if you want a specific example, it could be seeing Pinkie face a pony she loves dearly but differs from so wildly that they're in natural opposition to one another.

    Like her sister Limestone.

    I'd be mad all the time too if my butt tattoo was that literal
    Now this is just one idea for the finish line of all this, but a conflict with Limestone perfectly complements Pinkie's development so far.

    Just judging by how she acts in Hearthbreakers, Limestone sees herself as the boss around the rock farm. While Pinkie was off partying it up in Ponyville, Limestone stayed at home and took charge. And if you watch Hearthbreakers, there's at least two small moments where you can see Pinkie actually annoyed with her grumpy, bossy sister. Imagine that. Pinkie Pie annoyed with someone.

    Bitter pony and sweet pony. If they can't make a pun title for that episode, they've lost their touch.
    But that frowny pony is the antithesis of our favourite smile-maker, when you really think about it, so as much as they love each other, I think it's easy to devise a conflict between them could wrap all this up in a neat bow so she can move on to yet another arc!

    Perhaps it doesn't necessarily have the spectacle of Pinkie Pride, but throw in a meaningful Pinkie song about wanting someone to be happy who's perpetually a little mean and grumpy (i.e. I Want you to be Happy, Even if you Don't to the tune of You Could be Happy by Snow Patrol), and you've at least got yourself a Canterlot Boutique. A suitably splendid bookend.

    That's one thought. But, if they want to continue with the same trend, I think no matter what, we'll be see Pinkie face a doozie of a friendship problem.

    Ah, there she is. My little garbage child.

    Rainbow is a personal favourite, but it's not because she's awesome. It's because her flaws have always been so prominently on display that it's all the more inspiring for me to watch her gradually overcome that in order to reach her dreams.

    So, there's always been a careful balance with Rainbow Dash's character. The lovable jerk type usually has it. She's a dreamer, a loyal friend, a fighter of bullies, while also being an insensitive egomaniac who makes rash decisions without thinking.

    There's really no in between with you is there?
    More than that, our narcissist is insecure. We've seen glimmers of it here and there, Sonic Rainboom being a fine example, Daring Don't being another. Not to mention the times she's desperate to keep up that cool and/or heroic front she has, as in Mare-do-Well (which itself is pretty ironic since she's one of the biggest dorks on the show).

    Rainbow Dash with integrity? I'd be shocked, too.
    So, while Rainbow's arc has often included making decisions to break away from that ego and coolness-centric identity in order to do what's right, like she does in Wonderbolts Academy, she also has to confront that insecurity to truly reach the emotional maturity she needs to reach her ultimate goal.

    "Ha ha! It's funny because you suffered serious head trauma!"
    Love it or hate it (and judging by comment sections those are your only two options), that's largely what Newbie Dash is all about. Facing the bullies again that seeded those insecurities, not by puffing out her chest and compensating like she has so many times before, but by learning to laugh at herself. And more importantly, to do so knowing she still has the respect of her peers and idols.

    See? A balance. Ego deflated, yet self-esteem lifted.

    Rainbow Dash's still on the path to her ultimate goal, becoming Captain of the Wonderbolts, but she outright told us the direction of her next arc in that episode: learning to fit in, instead of stand out (like she does when she's working as a team with the rest of the Mane 6).

    Effectively, learning to be a follower, before she can be a leader.

    Thanks for the goggles, Spitfire Senpai
    What's great is she's already started this. Not only has she been learning to cooperate better from day 1 because, say it with me, friendship is magic, her episodes since Newbie Dash teach her a lesson in teamwork, or one she could use to be a better, more compassionate leader in the future.

    Stranger than Fanfiction's ultimate lesson is that it's okay to disagree even with wildly differing perspectives. 28 Pranks Later taught her to take into account different ponies' sensitivities, which might come in handy when leading different kinds of ponies.

    Buckball Season has her learn to coach ponies in the way that's best for them, instead of what she'd prefer for herself. Top Bolt even has her working through a friendship problem for cadets at the academy, specific to them though it may be.

    Speaking of development, have the 3—count 'em, 3—times in the series Rainbow Dash responded to a compliment with humility. Good job, Dashie, you learned the thing!
    Parental Glideance, learning to appreciate the support she's gotten in a new light, (Daring Done isn't really about her learning a lesson, she was right all along); Secrets and Pies, learning to value honesty over sparing someone's feelings—you see where I'm going with this.

    And where Rainbow's going. They don't all have to be Wonderbolt episodes to contribute toward this goal, but no matter how she learns the lessons, she's going straight to the top, through cooperation, understanding, and communication.

    ... Someone give them a dictionary. Those last few words there confused and startled them
    Now, I know as early Wonderbolts Academy but especially since Rainbow Falls, there are those in the fandom who can't really care for the Wonderbolts anymore. They've just crossed that Unlikeable line one too many times for them. I've even seen it suggested that Rainbow's due for a don't-meet-your-heroes style turnaround where she starts her own flight group ...with blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the flight group!

    But that always seems wrong for Rainbow, at least to me. To do all this work learning the right balance of humility and self-esteem only to learn she's better than her idols? It doesn't flow.

    Plus, say what you want about Spitfire and Fleetfoot, but Soarin is a genuinely good friend (even if he does roll with the guilty 'til proven innocent Wonderbolts policy that's just straight up illegal, please stop I'm trying to defend you).

    Even so, I think Rainbow can still learn from the Wonderbolts and in particular her captain without Spitty being a moral paragon of virtue.

    "My first instinct is to kick dragons in the face and even I know what compassion means."
    Yes, Captain Hothead needed to learn from Rainbow in the past, and she's not a perfect mentor so you don't have to like her, for sure, but since she's not the only place Rainbow is learning to be a good team-member and leader from, I think it still works.

    Have them learn from each other, if necessary. But still have Rainbow learn. It's why I love her in the first place, and it's how she's earning her dream. She's a naturally gifted flier, so the vast majority of the work we actually see Dash do to reach her dream is all emotional growth.

    So learn, she will! Both lessons on humility and serving others, and on feeling secure enough in herself so she doesn't need to brag. The loveable jerkass on her way to being a worthy captain. Now that's an arc I want to follow.

    Tumblr Blog: Marvel&Ponder