(Relevant self-pimpage: I'll be doing a panel called "Deconstructing Equestria" at Everfree Northwest in Seattle on Friday, August 17. Come see!)
Season 2, Episode 22: "Hurricane Fluttershy"
The Ponyville pegasi (including a typically reluctant Fluttershy) have gathered in Twilight Sparkle's library, because that's where the 16mm projector is. And on it they watch what I think may be the show's first non-subjective, diegetic film-within-a-film.
As has been established before, nature in Equestria only functions through the work of ponies, and the hydrologic cycle is no different: To create the rainclouds the pegasi use to make rain, they have to first get the water off the ground and up to Cloudsdale. It only (only!) requires a wingspeed of 800, but Rainbow Dash being Rainbow Dash, she wants to beat Fillydelphia's wingspeed record of 910 -- in fact, she wants to go over
All the pegasi are pumped up and ready, engaging in vigorous training.
Even Derpy is involved. This episode is pretty much a full-length Derpywatch
Every pegasus ... except Fluttershy, who's at home with a case of the pony pox.
Probably because it's a trick she used to pull herself, Rainbow Dash recognizes it as the kind of pony pox that rinses right off.
Fluttershy pleads a case of severe performance anxiety dating back (and flashing back) to being teased in Junior Flight Camp.
But she's as willing as ever to sublimate her own desires in order to not disappoint her friends
, so Fluttershy gives in.
Down at the track, Twilight Sparkle is technobabbling about her wingspeed-measuring gizmo ...
... during which it is established that in order to break Fillydelphia's record, everypony will need to generate an individual wingpower of at least 10.0. The other pegasi are displaying wingpower ranging from 9.3 to 16.5, but Fluttershy's is a little less than that. Less than 1.0, in fact.
The giggling of the other ponies is not as intense as when she was a filly at flight camp, but it triggers her even harder now. (That's one of the things they don't tell you about being a grownup: Sometimes the pain and anxiety only gets worse.)
She runs off in tears ...
... and is consoled by her animal wards, including a newly sympathetic Angel, who's probably still afraid of the return of new Fluttershy
Inspired by the support of her non-verbal entourage, Fluttershy engages in her very own '80s exercise montage, one designed to both get her into shape and help her overcome her performance anxiety, hence the animals wearing creepy, creepy pony masks.
The thing about '80s exercise montages is that they don't happen right before the triumph -- typically, they lead into the character's greatest moment of defeat at the end of the second act. (I think that it's in Syd Field's book
somewhere.) So, while Fluttershy returns to the track and goes faster than she's ever gone before ...
... and her speed is up from .5 to 2.3, that's still not fast enough, at least not as far as she's
Rainbow Dash, to her eternal credit, is more concerned with Fluttershy's well-being than anything else, but to no avail.
Fluttershy runs off in renewed humiliation -- and speaking from personal experience, that's the worst kind of humiliation.
Tornado Day arrives, and Spitfire from the Wonderbolts is there to oversee the project (but not to help, since the Wonderbolts are nothing if not useless). Unfortunately, the pegasi ranks are further decimated by an outbreak of the feather flu.
Not only might those splitters in Fillydelphia get to keep their record, the Ponyville pegasi may not even be able to generate the tornado.
Indeed, their first attempt to create the 800-wingpower tornado fails. And, yes, the water is rather phallic, as pseudo-pods tend to be
Their second attempt seems to be maxing out at 795 ... until Fluttershy is finally convinced to join in, even though she knows that 795 + 2.3 does not equal 800.
Her demons have followed her in ...
... but she pushes past them, beats her own record speed, and success! The 800 wingpower tornado is created, pluming the water to Cloudsdale.
Spitfire from the Wonderbolts tries to give the credit to Rainbow Dash, but Rainbow redirects it to the truly deserving party, Fluttershy.
In her Shoehorn
, Fluttershy relates that contributing what you can, however little, is better than nothing at all. (And it helps when there are no dragons
Fluttershy tries to overcome being yellow-bellied, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders are overcome by yellow journalism.