FimFiction Link - Short ID: 338643/permission-to-land
Published: Jul '16
'Permission to Land' is a three thousand and five hundred-word oneshot. Spitfire had suffered an injury. She lost a wing. She, effectively, lost her job. She lost her dream. This is her last day as a Wonderbolt.
Going into details about this story would be pointless, because a review like this can't really give back the emotional punch this story delivers. The themes of denial dominate this fic, along with an exploration of how someone who basically considered it part of her job never to show emotions copes with the loss of what was basically the core of her as a pony. The story portrays this with by repeating both sentences and sentiments, giving us a candid look into Spitfire's inner turmoil. Is she refusing to cry really due to wanting to look like a "strong leader" or because she considers herself incapable or forbidden from showing her vulnerable side? The fic gives no clear answer and that is alright. I really enjoyed the way the author depicted her shaky emotional state clashing with the almost-harshly cheerful scene surrounding her. While the fic plays into many obvious tropes, the way it is written more than makes up for it and I think it's hard not to feel touched, especially be the ending. Also, it's a minor thing, but I'm glad the author didn't make Rainbow the next captain. It would've been pretty obvious fan catering, which could have easily hurt the story's feel slightly.
The only "issue" in this fic is its length. The fic largely depicts past events in very brief flashbacks, even though these scenes could have easily been great additions to the narrative. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a matter of "bad execution" vs "good execution," rather one of "good" vs "better." While these flashbacks give us a general idea about what had happened, I think if instead of a few hundred words, the fic dedicated an entire chapter to the accident and its immediate after-effects, the story would have hit even harder. Seeing Spitfire's pride for her team, which she's unwilling to truly show; her denial towards the fact that something is wrong with her wing; and the blunt impact of her being told the bad news could have all been nice story beats to further give us a glance into her mind.
Overall: 8/10 This story is a very strong-hitting oneshot. It might not reinvent the wheel, but it delivers a very strong execution of a story archetype. Very much recommended for people who like bittersweet stories.