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Hey guys! Time for another character Ask Thread! This time with three of my favorite MLP characters: Daring Do, Ahuizotl, and Dr. Caballeron... Daring Do: Hello, everypony. Ahuizotl: Hola, ponis! Dr. Caballeron: I never, ever agreed to this... Oh hush, Calby, you’ll love it. Rules: - You can ask any or all of them a question - Try not to spam all your questions in one post, you can always ask again! - Please don't keep asking the same question repeatedly trying to get a different answer - Please try not to add more characters to the thread, this is exclusively for the Daring Do trio Annnnd... go!
Note: Expanded from my forum post. Credits to comments by @BornAgainBrony, @Truffles, and @Ittoni for the review. This whole episode is packed with lots of smaller details, which on rewatch go a long way. One of the first instances is this exchange between AK and her former fans. At first, it looks like a throwaway line that Groom Q.Q. Martingale threw in there. But in the beginning of Act 2, that concerned filly returns to her book signing, where we see more of this exchange: During my rewatch of the saga last month, I assumed it referred to kicking away the wild cats, one of them a housecat, during Daring Don't. But those weren’t accidents; she tried to defend herself. Despite her initial denial, she finally admitted to not only accidentally kicking a puppy, but didn’t put it in any of her books. Why does this small exchange matter? The Daring Do Series is a series of autobiographical events, but because she’s trying to sell stories to children as well, she sanitizes, alters, and omits things that might disinterest or repulse the audience. She edits each book to make the stories more sellable and sells the books as fiction. For a long time, that tactic worked; each "character" has become memorable, and there's a huge Daring Do fandom out there. Now it's starting to backfire. It opens the door for the possibility of more laying beneath to the whole Daring Do saga. Remember, the series is written in third-person limited perspective, every adventure in Daring’s point of view. Groom Q.Q. Martingale's opens that point of view, painting her stories in a more negative light while still making sense. More importantly, Caballeron’s response becomes more credible to the general audience. Yes, he’s scheming to steal the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh, but because of the editing of her own book, she opens things up for him to explain his own side and sprinkle truths both big and small that she didn’t tell. As omissions and inaccuracies big and small add up, doubt clouds the Daring fanbase's head, which Fluttershy and the little filly represent. Innocuous details like the flower being the wrong color now implicate she has something to hide. During that exchange, Dash busts back in to warn A.K. that Caballeron is bringing Fluttershy along to Tenochtitlan. During the frantic warning, she looks around to see if anyone was around (not seeing the filly), just to see if no one is sneaking around. Like Dash herself, A.K. Yealing forgets about the child, revealing her original identity as Daring Do to the filly's shock and delight. Despite the growing scandal, some ponies still idolize her and want to grow up to be just like her. Another one comes in Fluttershy's first scene in the Tenochtitlan Basin. Notice his twinkling highlights and small smile as she tames Ahuizotl's jungle cats. For the first time all series, he shows sincere appreciation for someone other than himself. Usually greedy and selfish, he watched firsthand how much someone's selflessness and unconditional caring mattered. He brought her over to trick her; despite carrying that trickery throughout, his plan began to both crack and evolve. Yet, that crack didn't quite begin there. After Caballeron scolded at Rogue for almost poisoning himself, what does she do? Take out her traveling picnic with apple juice to Caballeron's surprise and share her lunch with them out of appreciation. Rather than snub her, he and his henchponies accept her generosity. Had this not happen, Caballeron's appreciation for Fluttershy from that point forward won't make sense. From the very beginning, Fluttershy was convinced that there's more to the Daring Do saga than what A.K. Yearling told through her books, even though she witnessed Caballeron and Ahuizotl firsthand commit bad actions. Talking personally with Caballeron while in the bookstore only made her more curious. So, was she gullible and naive? Absolutely. However, her naivety is much more believable compared to buying a too-good-to-be-true rag doll from Flim and Flam during Best Gift Ever, and one key moment shows she isn't that gullible: This indicates awareness of the events and an expectancy of Caballeron to try to explain the problem. So how does he respond? With a plausible alibi surrounding a museum that closed down from lack of funds. Daring's long history of storing many sacred artifacts on her shelves, destroying temples older than the Royal Sisters, and thus the homes of many animals (something she cares about deeply) also invited questions on her behalf. While she listened to and questioned him, he explained his lies while remaining grounded to Equestrian reality, and his book while under Martingale has enough credentials to sway many ex-fans. Additionally, she was very well aware throughout that Martingale was Caballeron, talked to him as if he was Caballeron, and never reacted at all when he reveals his identity to her. Also, Fluttershy never wavers her unconditional kindness regardless of any circumstance. During the entire expedition, she stayed true to her embodied Element of Harmony and exemplified it wherever she went. In each scene, Caballeron and his gang slowly show appreciation for it, both subtly and obviously. Beyond the examples from above: At the closure of the first expedition scene, Biff, Rogue, and Withers smile in thanks for Fluttershy. At the base outside of Tonatiuh's pyramid, Caballeron yells at Biff for suggesting to take a shortcut, and Biff feels disrespected by him despite being second-in-command. Fluttershy reassures him that he will and she believes in him (which happens inside the central room). Once they reach the top, Withers relaxes under shade, unaware that he was under an active, dangerous flyder hive. Instinctively, she whispers to stay still and called the flyders away for just a moment so he can escape. Again, Dr. C smiles appreciatively. On an unrelated note, Tonatiuh is the Aztec god of the sun, and the only way to enter his temple is to place a sacred relic in a pedestal once the sun reaches its apex. If intentional, clever tie-in to its mythology. Inside the temple, Caballeron tricks Fluttershy to getting the Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh (I'll get back to it in a sec), and once she retrieves it, lava spurts out. Previously, Caballeron and his henchmen were somewhat cowardly and only went after the treasure. If something bad was going to happen, they'd leave it behind. That doesn't happen here. Instead, they instinctively knock down a totem pole, and Caballeron rescues Fluttershy from certain death. Again, they didn't have to do this, but they chose to rescue her and save her. Yes, they retrieved the talisman, but because of her kindness, they returned the favor. Fluttershy's naivety in this scene, however, is problematic in two areas: Throughout almost all of Daring Doubt, Dr. Caballeron was very competent. However, his use of false despair to convince Fluttershy to fly up and steal Tonatiuh's talisman wasn't convincing whatsoever and lazy. By falling for his bad acting, she crosses from being just gullible into becoming dumb. Fluttershy reveals to having no idea that Caballeron planned to trick her the whole time. If Fluttershy knew beforehand he was scheming yet went along, it subverts the idea that she was too gullible, instead showing she knew what she was doing. OTOH, it also makes her really reckless, implicating she knows Caballeron poorly acted, yet helped him steal the talisman and put her own life at risk. Right after he reveals to lie to her, he soon reveals that he valued her kindness and friendship, a smaller subversion in and of itself and downplays unneeded drama, but it also lessens the weight of his small change of heart. Caballeron revealing his lie through the Truth Talisman could've gone either way with varying implications. The canonical path, as stated before, shows her unconditional kindness, especially after her ignorance towards Angel's needs fueled the conflict, but it made her look way too naïve and made his eventual understanding of FS's kindness at the end feel too lucky. OTOH, had Fluttershy showed controlled kindness, then you risk repeating the unfortunate implications of controlling Discord's channels of communication in the form of "kindness" from Keep Calm. Personally, I prefer the innocent path here, but it could've showed a more nuanced degree of taking elements from both. Now to focus on the other side, Rainbow Dash was written much better here compared to 2, 4, 6, Greaaat. To echo @BornAgainBrony, Daring Doubt is a shining example of giving Dash negative traits without making her out of character or miserable. Yes, her rush to judgment was written in the wrong, but at no point does Dubuc demonize her for her black-and-white "good guy, bad guy" assumptions. With the allotted time given to her, Dubuc rightfully justifies her prejudices. Daring Do and Rainbow Dash are both very good friends and better confidants. Whenever she's about to publish something new, she delivers a copy to her two weeks in advance. The entire main crew, especially Dash, is trusted by her to keep her identity a secret. BTW: >RM6 out her in Fame & Misfortune >episode retcons the journal again Not the first episode to handwave this atrocity's existence! As a result of Daring and Dash trust each other, they exchange information and secrets. If something goes wrong, Daring knows Dash will be there to try to help. Here, that's exactly what happened. When Dash first sees Groom Q.Q. Martingale, she immediately recognizes him as Caballeron despite a much more complicated disguise, an immediate improvement of Daring Done. Watching Fluttershy buy into Caballeron's story was a major shock; she has every right to be upset and urgently warn Daring about what he was after and why he manipulated her like that. No one can argue how abrasive and pushy she was here. But Caballeron began yet another scheme, decided to tag someone along to unknowingly help him retrieve the Truth Talisman to get rich quick, and took her to a temple with very dangerous traps (one in which FS got caught in minutes later). Her worries are perfectly justified. Imagine if Fluttershy got hurt — she wouldn't forgive herself for not interfering sooner! Once Caballeron admitted through the talisman that he lied, she got right in his face, as any good friend would. But then he admits through it his and his henchmen's gratitude for Fluttershy's kindness and generosity, Dash's edge immediately dissipates: Ditto. Speaking of lines, the dialogue during the escape (especially those influenced by the truth teller) was top notch, and some of the lines were really, really funny. Some of the best are: Caballeron fighting with the talisman, finally relenting to reveal he still held onto Lapis-Lux's diamond. Clever, clever. Perfect timing to sneak in a clever "Day" Off callback, eh? Now, let's talk about the thorn peaking out from the pond. Ahuizotl has earned a reputation in the Daring Do books as one of the most memorable villains within the fanbase. In reality, both he and Daring have been massive archenemies, even though Dr. C's an even bigger one. Several times, he has tried to kill Daring Do in order to prevent her from taking relics throughout the Basin. In Daring Don't, he searched for ones himself — the Rings of Scorchero — to trap Tenochtitlan Basin in a massive heatwave, only for Daring and her friends to foil his plan. One of her latest books involved Ahuizotl heading to Somnambula to separate the Doomed Diadem of Xilati from the Tiara of Teotlale (a.k.a., the Sister Crown Relics), and Daring raced the clock to steal it back and return it home before a cursed night was cast over the land and Somnambula was sunk beneath the sand. Daring Doubt shifts things a bit, at first accusing Daring of getting by his jungle cat army and then attempting to steal Tonatiuh's talisman, even though he has no idea that Caballeron and Fluttershy are inside. After they escape, we don't see him again, but once we do, he's furious. Not just an evil furious. He was at his angriest throughout the show's history. Despite his history as a villain, who can blame him. It was safe and secure, and from his reaction, he clearly did NOT want it stolen. And he shows the knowledge of Tonatiuh's temple by waiting for them at the main exit, and his anger really takes over. He wanted to retrieve that talisman and play no games, going so far as to cornering them in a dead end and ramming into it, threatening to hurt them and trap them under the temple rubble until they return it. At this point, Daring accidentally gives Fluttershy what may be the solution: Think about this. They steal the talisman, and he becomes supremely upset when he catches them. She's the only one astute enough to understand that something was missing, this being why he got so mad, and the only way to solve it was to confront Ahuizotl himself. Dash justifiably assumes that he's "just a bad guy," but FS realizes that the world sometimes operate so one-dimensionally. On one hand, Ahuizotl's explanation for being ferocious and violent has some merit, something both @Ittoni and @BornAgainBrony explain in their posts in the episode discussion. Throughout the series, Daring and Caballeron have been taking artifacts throughout Tenochtitlan Basin, and in doing so, many ancient pyramids have been destroyed. Whether it's in the name of profit or protection, they're still stealing from them and displacing them, which each carry massive consequences. Ahuizotl is given charge to protect not only the basin, but also the artifacts of these same ancient beings. For those who watched the series throughout, this explains quite a bit why he and his crew of Aztec ponies searched for those rings, began the ceremony inside the dark tower, and came so close to beginning that heatwave within the basin. If he completed his plan, then neither Daring nor Caballeron would rob the temples again without potentially deadly consequences. Also, I see why the episode establishes him as a guardian in the first place; he's sly, territorial, knowledgeable, and old enough to know every nook and cranny of Tenochtitlan Basin from the back of his three hands. But thanks to Cabby and Daring's rivalry, he's caught in the crossfire and at risk of being replaced; Tonatiuh's talisman being the tip of that sun ray. On the other, it overlooks a very specific piece of continuity, which was ironically referenced in Act 1: Why did he travel to Somnambula, allegedly separate the Sister Crown Relics, put hundreds of lives at risk, and cause Daring to go on one of her most dangerous journeys? What made him decide to apparently team up with the Wild Bunch Gang to steal Xilati's diadem from where it belonged? None of this was answered, which it should've. He did many things both in the main and secondary canon that we would consider evil, and this would easily be his worst. Given how Daring Doubt tried to explain his actions and make us at least understand his position, you can argue one of two answers. By forcing Daring and Caballeron to go to Somnambula, there's a chance that both of them would get stuck there and sink under the ground, which would keep every relic in Tenochtitlan Basin safe. With them out of the way, he won't have to worry so much about them grave-robbing anymore. Since this plot is about clearing up misunderstandings by listening to others, there's also the likelihood that he was caught in the crossfire. The gang chased her through Somnambula after she retrieved the Doomed Diadem from them and apparently Ahuizotl. Could Ahuizotl have been trying to recover it too, only to be caught in the crossfire? Given how the books are in her perspective, it makes his motives look more sinister than she believed. Theory #2 is more in character to the portrayal of his rivalry with Daring and Daring Doubt's dismantling of Daring's limited perspective of the journeys. But without a clear answer, we can only guess what truly happened and must rely on headcanon to fill in the gaps as well as reviewing little, overlooked details from previous episodes. An episode with this important a moral and with a very gray perspective of humanity must be treated with respect. Is it? I argue yes, but if others don't, I can see why. Ahuizotl's apparent trip to Somnambula may not have been that important in Daring Done, but when observing the arc as a whole, this plot point is now crucial in overall scope. Unfortunately, this resolution fails to deliver any explanation, much less a decent one, creating a massive plot hole in a worldbuilding idea that never fully delivered. Therefore, Daring Doubt doesn't adequately explain why Ahuizotl acted so violent this whole time. Fortunately, this episode's resolution isn't completely unsalvageable. Review all of the reformations over the seasons, from Diamond Tiara to Starlight to Sunset. What do they all have in common? In some way or another, they all change their ways, even if their personalities don't. What happens here isn't a true-to-FIM reformation or redemption, which — again — @BornAgainBrony points out well. Nobody agreed to anything other than a truce related to Tenochtitlan Basin. As long as neither of them steal treasures or destroy the temples, Ahuizotl won't come after and threaten them. But that doesn't mean their feud won't continue anywhere else. Daring Do will still hunt for treasure and store them however she can so no one else can destroy or desecrate them, while Caballeron's greed remains (only without one sidekick ). What this episode establishes is how despite being enemies, neither of them truly have any moral high ground. No true good or bad guys exist in the reality of Daring Do; Fluttershy has that wherewithal to deliver an objective perspective to help put them all on the same page and listen to one another. Plus, @Truffles points out an important distinction between Ahuizotl's explanations and Garble's reformation from 9A. Throughout the series, DHX established Garble as a petty, stereotypical teenager with a lust to pick on Spike whenever possible, and will threaten anyone if he doesn't get his way. However, Sweet & Smoky tries to introduce a more sensitive side to his personality by being close to his younger sister Smolder, who's more open to his quirks and talents. Thanks to his past actions, his secretive side's hard to sell, even after he opens himself up to save the baby dragons from freezing to death inside their eggshells. Daring Do's triangular feud here lacked that key position of listening from the get-go, and creating a series of limited-perspective books that prop up Daring's status as a hero only invited extra questions about the lore. Until the climax, nobody ever asked Ahuizotl about his behavior before, evident by how taken aback he was to FS's question. Daring's urgent line in trying to figure out an escape route and Fluttershy's awareness created a plausible out for a truce. This review, though, won't be complete without praising the ending. How hilarious is it that after trying very hard to avenge his losses over the years, his decision to become a best-selling author himself would be his most successful path. The way he presents himself to the audience makes him credible, and patting his hair as he reads is a nice touch. All in all, Daring Doubt dares to deconstruct the world of Daring Do. At times, it works. At times it doesn't. But overall, the good heavily outweighs the bad. I like it a lot, and rough edges aside, it's nicely done. It's a good episode and the best one of the Daring Do arc.
Good afternoon everypony, and welcome back to another edition of "Batbrony Reviews"! I'm sure you're all wondering why I'm posting my review of this latest episode so early. Well, while I normally always wait to write a review until after an episode has officially aired on Saturdays, I felt I had to make an exception this week since my girlfriend is briefly visiting me today and Saturday. If I waited, that'd leave me only Saturday evening and Sunday to catch up on this new episode and write my review on it, which is just more work and stress than I need. So without further ado, let's dive into "Daring Done?"! So, how did this episode leave me feeling? Welllllllllllllllllll, something like this... Very, very, very, very, VERY disappointed... That moment you need both Peyton Manning and a dog that looks just like him to sum up how disappointed you are Now do not mistake me, this episode is nowhere NEAR one of my least favorite ever in the entire show. Compared to a dumpster fire like "Hard to Say Anything," it's a bucking masterpiece. On its own this is just a very 'meh' episode, not that good, but not that bad either. HOWEVER, I still found myself disliking it more than most 'meh' episodes in this show, about as much as I would dislike an actually bad episode of the show. Why? Because like I said, it's an incredibly disappointing showing all the same. There was real potential here and some great ideas for what should have been at least a good, if not great, episode. It's nowhere near as infuriating in its disappointment as "Hard to Say Anything" was for blowing such a massive change in show canon with Big Mac getting into a relationship and all, but it is disappointing in these respects, which I will go through in detail. DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE!!! BTW, most of the pics in this review will probably be from the Somnambula segment, simply because that's really the only part of this episode I loved through and through Disappointing Factor #1: We Don't Get Many Daring Do Episodes One of the most charming aspects about MLP at this point in its run is that there is a wide bevvy of beloved supporting characters in it. These come in two varieties: (1) supporting characters who we see with a pretty steady degree of regularity, such as Cheerilee, Big Mac, the Cakes, the Princesses, etc., and (2) supporting characters who only appear on special occasions, even less so if they have celebrity VAs. A.K. Yearling/Daring Do is definitely the latter, but she shows up far more than beloved supporting characters like Cheese Sandwich or Countess Coloratura because her voice actress, Chiara Zanni, isn't a celebrity voice actor like those VAs are. This means she's become what I'd like to refer as a "special staple" on the show; she's not a regular main or supporting character, but she is a well-enough established element of the world that gets referenced so often, or flat out shows up enough, that she can be considered in her own way to be a staple of the show. While her appearances are still special occasions, you'd like for them to leave something of an impact on the show as well, even if they don't leave the biggest of impacts. Normally this has been the case, to varying extents. Here, however, everything was handled so poorly that not really anyone came out looking better for it, including Daring Do. Plot points were forced and contrived to the point that I couldn't help but think that Daring Do could have probably figured out most of the problems she was facing on her own, especially considering what solutions she chose to come up with at the end. The idea of Daring's exploits having unintended consequences that make life harder for others is not a bad one, in fact it's a fairly well-explored theme in the superhero genre in general, but it was handled badly here for a number of reasons that I will get into later, including the fact that Daring simply couldn't figure out for most of the episode how to fix things (like I said, given what she figured out she should do, this shouldn't have been that hard to figure out). She created an existential crisis for herself when she really didn't have to, and her lack of resolute behavior made it come off as though she didn't have a handle on anything that was going on. Anytime the incredibly EASILY swayed crowd in Somnambula turned against her, she got sad, anytime they said something nice about her, she got happy; it's like the entire direction of her life, whether or not she retired, was hinging moment-by-moment on whether or not these ponies were in a good mood around her or when talking about her, it was ridiculous. Perhaps worst of all, however, was that absolutely NONE of the exploits Daring Do got up to here, even rescuing Rainbow Dash from a bucking pyramid, came off as epic or adventurous. It all felt watered down somehow, like a wilted flower, and for a character who has always excellently channeled the spirit of Indiana Jones, who in just her last appearance embarked on this amazingly fun and exciting adventure with Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants that involved puzzles, temple traps, and a giant bucking crocodile monster, for any of her adventures to come off as lame and empty of adventure is the biggest sin of all. By far this was the worst Daring Do episode to date, and seeing as this is a supporting character who only appears on special occasions, it is all the more disappointing because of that. Disappointing Factor #2: Wasting a Cool Setting with a Great Background So @Jeric and I were at first convinced that this ENTIRE setting was being ambiguously referred to as "southern Equestria" which really doesn't make sense for one bucking town to be called that, but when I consulted the MLP Wiki entry on this episode, I realized the town is called Somnambula. However, while that name makes sense, I'm not sure they actually said the name once in the episode (although I could be wrong); the only time I recall them even suggesting it was called that was when the one villager said that Somnambula was the town's namesake, but again, I may be wrong and may have to rewatch it again. Either way, at least it's not called southern Equestria, that name is bucking generic as hell, though I have no idea what Somnambula itself is supposed to refer to considering it is drawn from the word "somnambulism" which is just the scientific term for sleepwalking, and there wasn't one bucking thing in this whole episode even close to that. Back to the issue at hand, this actually is a pretty cool setting, both visually and in its background. The idea of an Egyptian pony society (while a bit confusing considering all of these ponies in Equestria share the same country) is not a bad one in the slightest - though I will point out this was a missed opportunity to return to Saddle Arabia instead, I REALLY wanna see the Saddle Arabians again - and their looks, while a bit confusing given that they are clearly modern ponies in their garb but for some reason had ancient Egyptian eye paint, were pretty cool. Jeric even pointed out to me that one of the Somnambulans was wearing specifically an Egyptian hijab, not just a generic one, meaning somebody did their research in coming up with that look, and I give props for that attention to detail. Say what I will about this episode, the Egyptian hijab is a very cool detail all in all! I mean look at this, look at the bucking colors and gorgeous visuals in this one shot alone! AND ALL OF THIS GOT WASTED ON A THOROUGHLY MEH EPISODE?! For shame!!! Even cooler is the town's background, which is easily the best part of this whole episode. Somnambula has a really great story around her (with some cool alternative animation at parts), and a unique personality to boot from what we saw; she seemed to have this very kind, hopeful demeanor, even resonating what I would call a natural nobility even though it seemed she wasn't an actual noble herself, or at least not part of the royal family. She was smart but also clearly brave, and didn't seem to rely too much on her brains or her brawn, but a healthy balance of all sorts of commendable qualities. The Sphinx itself was a bucking cool villain in its design, and my only gripe with both of them is that, for some reason, the show makers didn't bother to get either of them voice actors, and I think that's quite the missed opportunity; both of these characters could have sounded very unique, but instead all we got was the random village pony reading their lines, it was kind of annoying and distracting. But like I said, her whole backstory about rescuing Prince Hisan and saving her land from the Sphinx was awesome and honestly I wouldn't have complained if it was longer, and Somnambula is another great addition to the growing members of the Legends of Magic. D'awwwwwwwwwww, who's a cute ancient Egyptian pony??? YOU ARE! YES, YOU ARE!!! The problem is that, ultimately, this cool setting and background all came to nothing. The city itself felt minuscule, largely because it seemed they didn't utilize nearly as much of it as they could have, and considering this thing was right next to multiple pyramids, that's a bucking shame. We're talking about the first time ever we've gotten to see MLP's version of Indiana Jones in an EGYPTIAN-type setting... guys... in case you forgot, Raiders of the Lost Ark is still easily the best and most beloved Indiana Jones movie ever, and most of that takes place in Egypt!!! There are so many great Indiana Jones callbacks they could have done here, but instead most of the episode was spent with the main crew dawdling about listening to ponies waffle between praising Daring Do or bitching about her, hearing an awesome story that had no impact on the present events, and then embarking on a really stupid and underwhelming adventure inside a, if I'm being honest, really boring pyramid, and that's saying something considering it was a perfectly awesome setting in Somnambula's own backstory! Hell, even the stakes are lame! What do Daring Do, Rainbow, and Pinkie ultimately stop Dr. Caballeron from doing? Stealing a bunch of glowing topaz! Like, I know it has huge meaning to the townsponies, but c'mon, all they did was stop them from carrying a giant ass sack out of town, that's it! We didn't even get any kind of epic chase, they just confronted them like Scooby Doo and the gang would confront a monster about to get unmasked. While this setting had great potential, especially considering it does have a pretty awesome background, overall everything about how it was actually used was simply underwhelming and not particularly fun or exhilarating. Disappointing Factor #3: Bad Editing and Bad Pacing Wowwwwwwwwwww, was this episode ever a hot mess in the editing and pacing department! The biggest problem probably stems from the fact that we wasted five minutes of the episode opening up in Ponyville and then at A.K. Yearling's house (speaking of which, where the buck is it exactly that they got to it so quickly AND apparently A.K. Yearling for some reason gave this exclusive interview to, of all papers, the bucking Ponyville Chronicle? I thought she was a recluse living somewhere in northern Equestria, what the buck is she giving an exclusive interview to the town paper of one of Equestria's most podunk little towns when she should be telling this to, oh IDK, a paper in like Manehattan or something?!); I'll expand on this point about the opening later in the review, but from there it was all downhill. We didn't seem to get nearly enough exposure to the town of Somnambula itself, most likely as a result of those wasted opening five minutes, which in turn made the setting feel too small and confined; some scenes lasted too long or seemed to drag, others didn't seem to develop enough; and finally, as a result of the bad editing and pacing, laughably stupid things would occur, like Dr. Caballeron kidnapping Rainbow Dash when Pinkie Pie and Daring Do were LITERALLY 20 FEET AWAY!!! Oh yeah, we're gonna tear that bit of stupidity apart later. Point is, everything about the pacing and editing in this episode (except, oddly enough, for Somnambula's story) felt off somehow, like it just wasn't right. It's not the worst I've ever seen in the show, but it is plenty of testament to how something seemingly as small or simple as getting the editing and pacing wrong in an episode can screw the whole pooch. Disappointing Factor #4: Plot Contrivances and Poor Continuity Good gravy, are there a shitload of plot contrivances and poor continuity in this episode! This is one of those cases where the plot contrivances and bad continuity honestly just get worse the longer the episode goes on, so I'm just going to list them off down below one by one. *deep breath* Let's begin! (1) The aforementioned "where the buck does A.K. Yearling live" plot point. We see Pinkie and RD read about her retiring in the paper, and then cut to them running to her house, with no sense of how far they just traveled! Not only is this a poor transition, but it, compounded with the fact that A.K. spoke to the Ponyville Chronicle, makes it impossible to determine just how far she does live from Ponyville, or even where exactly in Equestria she lives. (2) A.K. Yearling's inability to confront a very solvable problem. The fact that her actions as Daring Do are disrupting others lives in harmful ways is not a bad plot point, nor is her feeling bad about it bad; however, A.K. suffers an existential crisis from this fact that almost leads her to retire as Daring Do for good, when there are far better options available to her for confronting it which aren't all that hard to figure out, namely, using her considerable resources accrued from her Daring Do novel sales and royalties to pay for damages and costs she incurs in her adventuring! Given that this is exactly what she does at the end, the fact that she couldn't figure out she should do it before on her own is even more infuriating and stupid for it. (3) The "A.K. Yearling is Daring Do and vice versa" plot point is finally falling apart as a result of some really shitty continuity in this episode. It was always an awkward situation, but I was able to believe that most ponies didn't know Daring Do was real because I always figured her adventures took her to far away lands outside of Equestria. I still thought it would make more sense if she acted like she was just reporting on the REAL adventures of Daring Do, not pretending to be a novelist, but that theory held up well enough. Well that all went out the window because of this episode, because Somnambula is a town in Equestria itself, meaning Daring Do does indeed adventure in Equestria. Even worse is the fact that A.K. Yearling tells Rainbow and Pinkie that southern Equestrian (and we have no idea how much of Equestria that's supposed to cover) don't know about her books since they're not sold there, so they don't know who A.K. Yearling is and that Daring Do is a popular fictional character. What this essentially means is that while ponies in "southern Equestria" know that Daring Do is real but don't know about the books about her written by A.K. Yearling, vice versa, in "northern Equestria" (again, no idea how much of Equestria that is supposed to cover) ponies don't know that Daring Do is real and think she's just a fictional character because of A.K. Yearling's books. This is a terribly stupid plot point resulting from really bad continuity more than anything else, and it makes every pony in Equestria look like idiots. I know they don't have the Internet, but this country is probably the most developed nation in its setting and is pretty well-interconnected by this point, so communication isn't that primitive. So you're telling me that in all these years, no northern Equestrians have ever told southern Equestrians about the Daring Do novels and, vice versa, no southern Equestrians have ever told northern Equestrians that Daring Do is real? Nope, can't buy that, it's too big of a leap in logic. (4) The ponies of Somnambula are far too ridiculously easy to sway. Every single time both Rainbow Dash and Caballeron bring up a point for and against Daring Do, they agree with whoever's speaking, it's bucking annoying. I know it might be a joke about mob behavior, but if it is it isn't particularly executed that well or cleverly. On top of that, you're telling me that absolutely NONE of these ponies could recall seeing Ahuizotl on Daring's previous adventure there? The biggest reason I find that hard to believe is because he and Daring were responsible for the destruction of Somnambula's statue, which sits right in the middle of the whole bucking town, and not a single pony saw him at any point when that happened? That's a HUGE stretch right there. (5) Nopony recognizes Caballeron when he's hiding under nothing but a cloak. I know that A.K. Yearling's disguise when she's not Daring Do is fairly simple, but it at least has multiple pieces of clothing (hat, cloak, very big glasses) and is convincing enough considering how much of her it conceals. Caballeron, however, wears nothing but a cloak and his INCREDIBLY distinct five-o'-clock shadow is still visible even when he has it on. You're telling me that RD, Pinkie, and bucking Daring Do, his archnemesis, didn't at any point recognize him under that? (6) Rainbow Dash gets captured in the absolutely stupidest way possible... BECAUSE SHE FORGETS THAT SHE CAN FLY!!! It doesn't help that the abduction wasn't even particularly well handled considering (1) his henchmen just pop up out of nowhere and (2) THEY'RE STANDING 20 BUCKING FEET AWAY FROM DARING DO AND PINKIE PIE WHEN THEY ABDUCT RAINBOW, but for obvious reasons, the most egregious bit of forced plot in all of this stupidity is Rainbow forgetting that not only she can just fly away from them, but she just so happens to be a little thing called, oh, THE FASTEST FLYER IN ALL OF EQUESTRIA!!!!!!! There's really no getting around or justifying this one, it was just stupidity for the sake of moving the plot forward. Rainbow Dash: She... just didn't feel like trying that day (7) The pyramid rescue is a bucking joke and completely undermines the message of "having hope." Having hope does, admittedly, sometimes mean you have to take a leap of faith in certain things, BUT that's not all that it means. Hope is so much more than just about taking a leap of faith, and holding onto it does much more for someone than convince them to take chances. On top of that, this show has done the "you have to take a leap of faith" lesson before all the way back in Season 1's "Feeling Pinkie Keen," and frankly it was much better handled there. Here, they jumped down into a slime pit to their doom without any plan or reason to think this would work whatsoever and got BUCKING LUCKY!!! What did they find at the bottom, you may ask? Oh, just these bizarre contraptions that, for some unknown reason, blow puffs of air that are strong enough to float them across the gap! What? Don't you know those are super common in ancient deathtrap temples?! This plot device is one of the worst, most forced deus ex machinas I have seen in some time, and in fact it's so bad that it even ruins the Somnambula story to a certain extent. For starters, why would they even make these? What purpose were they actually supposed to serve? As far as I could tell, the bridge was supposed to be the only way across the pit, but because they have these in there, there's essentially no threat if one fell off the bridge or it wasn't there. Why would someone build a deathtrap slime pit if it wasn't supposed to be, ya know, an actual deathtrap??? Second, they shouldn't have needed to take a leap of faith at all if those were down there. I don't know how they could have possibly missed those devices considering they were clearly poking out of the slime below, so Pinkie and Daring should have been able to determine that they could just use those. Finally, while this doesn't have to do with the devices themselves, why was that "no flight" spell still in the pyramid? It really shouldn't have been after all of those years considering I was under the impression that the Sphinx just put that spell on Somnambula alone in that particular moment. To make matters worse, why did Dr. Caballeron tell Daring Do that the spell was there at all? He could have let her try to fly to save Rainbow and fall to her doom instead, problem solved! Overall, this whole climax was just one giant clusterbuck of stupidity and some of the biggest plot contrivances I've ever seen in this show. Disappointing Factor #5: Bad Character Writing and Utilization This point applies largely to the main characters. I've already detailed how A.K. Yearling/Daring Do clearly shouldn't have been so troubled by the unintended consequences of her actions that she simply decided the best thing would be for her to retire; she's been doing this for years, and she's a very different character than Rainbow Dash is. Whereas Rainbow Dash has always been impulsive, Daring seems like she's a healthier balance of adventurous, but also thoughtful and considerate. The very fact that these reports bothered her so much are proof of that. She's a successful novelist at that, and her adventuring requires a great amount of intelligence (not that Rainbow Dash isn't smart, but Daring Do seems like she's about as book smart as she is street smart), so she should have been able to conclude on her own that a sound way to fix the trouble she'd caused would have been simply paying for the damages and costs she'd incurred. Beyond that, she just wasn't particularly engaging to watch in general; she spent most of the episode moping, and the little actual adventuring she did wasn't really exciting at all. Always a shame to see such a good supporting character wasted here like Daring was. Pinkie Pie was fine for what she contributed, heck, she seemed to be acting of sounder mind here than Rainbow Dash was and offered some solid advice to Daring Do. Her presence was a tad confusing but I'll get into that later. Dr. Caballeron did unnecessarily stupid things like tell Daring Do that she couldn't fly inside the pyramid, or kidnap Rainbow Dash when Daring Do was standing 20 feet away; he may be traditionally an over-the-top villain, but he's still been competent enough in the past. However, by far the absolutely worst character here was none other than Rainbow Dash, both in her writing and very utilization. Rainbow may be impulsive, but she also loves solving a mystery, ESPECIALLY if Daring Do is involved. A dilemma like the one Daring faced required talking to ponies face-to-face and figuring out what their problems were, and what they needed to fix in order for them to be cool with Daring again. What does she spend most of the episode doing? Ignoring what the ponies of Somnambula are mad about and just loudly insisting that they should love Daring Do because she's "so awesome and cool!" It gets so bad that she straight up insults their own culture and belittles the statue of Somnambula as being crummy when she doesn't even know anything about why it means so much to them! I forgive this point only a little bit since she does seem to understand why they care about it so much after they've explained the story of Somnambula to her, but still, as a historian myself I know what a culturally insensitive thing it is to simply belittle another person's culture, especially when you don't know thing one about it. Rainbow Dash was acting like an idiotic Daring Do fangirl here, doing nothing but cheerleading for Daring Do for most of the episode in the most superficial of ways, which really isn't the kind of support Daring Do needed. She needed real friends who were ready to support her but also give her good advice and figure out how to address some truly genuine concerns. But instead she got Fangirl Dash, and considering just a few episodes ago we got an entire episode in "Fame and Misfortune" where the writers specifically called out and condemned the worst type of fanboy behavior in all kinds of nerdy fandoms, RD's behavior here feels hypocritical and in many ways makes "Fame and Misfortune" worse. Another point that makes "Fame and Misfortune" worse is simply the fact that RD's outing Daring Do as being A.K. Yearling in their journal wasn't what caused A.K. Yearling to retire; @Jeric and I both agreed that if that'd been the case it would have been a cool bit of continuity from that episode, but instead it's now clear that the show is simply ignoring that ever even happened, which makes "Fame and Misfortune" even less consequential to the show's continuity and canon than it already was. The worst part about RD, besides her poor writing in general (let's not forget while we're at it her forgetting how to fly, I mean, seriously) was that she didn't even have to be in this episode. She didn't really help Daring figure out to never stop having hope even if she made mistakes, that was mostly Pinkie and the story of Somnambula, and Somnambula wasn't even her Legends of Magic analogue, we already got that in Flash Magnus just a couple of episodes ago. So why did they include Rainbow Dash here? Simple, because it was a Daring Do episode and for some reason the writers feel like Rainbow is the only one of the Mane 6 who absolutely MUST be involved in any Daring Do episode. Frankly, that's a policy that I disagree with and I'll go into more details about that in the next section. But Daring Do is not some mirror image of Rainbow Dash, there's a ton more to her than that, so I don't see why other members of the Mane 6 can't just as easily adventure with her as well. Unfortunately, DHX clearly doesn't see it that way, and as a result RD just felt out of place in this story the whole time; she didn't really contribute anything, she only made matters worse for Daring, and the writers were forced to make her behave very stupidly in order to set up a very forced climax. Overall, this episode simply would have been far better if Rainbow Dash wasn't here at all, and if the show insisted she had to be, then she should have at least been acting far smarter and more considerate than she was here. OK, at first glance she may look like a terrifying, tyrannical pony Sphinx, BUT... ...I bet in reality she's just a cute widdle giant bird-cat pony who wants some belly rubs! What the Episode Could Have and Should Have Been As you can see, while the overall product we got in this episode was simply 'meh,' all of the meh elements in this episode make for a very unlikable product, far more unlikable than it should be. The worst part of this entire episode, as I said earlier, is that this could have at the very least been a good, if not great episode; the pieces were all there, they just simply didn't come together. A few changes, some minor, some major, would have given us something far better than we got, and so below I'm going to detail what direction I truly believe this episode should have taken instead. First of all, Rainbow Dash simply shouldn't have been the main character here. In fact, you don't even need to start it in Ponyville. The whole episode should have started in Somnambula so that we didn't waste five minutes outside of this setting itself, allowing the characters more time to explore this setting. Pinkie Pie could possibly still be there, but other candidates for supporting Mane 6 character could include Rarity (who would be well equipped to help with this dilemma) or Twilight (who really should be able to go on an adventure of her own with Daring Do, especially considering she's been a fan of hers far longer than Rainbow Dash has been). That said, the only pony who absolutely should have been there of the Mane 6, whether another Mane 6 member was accompanying her or not, is Fluttershy. For starters, it seems like she'd be better equipped to deal with this sort of problem; she's kind, considerate, and very much capable of listening to others but still offering helpful advice after she has heard their concerns. She could have been traveling to Somnambula for her own personal reasons, possibly to see some type of exotic creature, and while there she could overhear how much the locals didn't like Daring Do. After running into A.K. Yearling, she could explain to Fluttershy why the locals don't like her; Fluttershy would listen, be very supportive since she knows how to be kind and considerate to those struggling with some kind of personal dilemma, but also be in a prime position to help Daring confront this. They'd start going around, with Fluttershy asking others to explain why exactly they don't like Daring Do; she wouldn't impulsively shout them down any time they raised a concern, but patiently and quietly listen, possibly offering some gentle counterpoints now and then. She'd probably even be able to advise Daring on how to fix this situation after hearing their concerns. Secondly, Fluttershy just seems to be a far closer analogue to Somnambula than Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash are. After carefully thinking about it I'm pretty sure that Somnambula is supposed to be Pinkie's analogue from the Legends of Magic as opposed to Rainbow's, considering Flash Magnus is clearly hers, but frankly it's hard to see the connection in Pinkie's case too. I think it's supposed to stem from Somnambula spreading hope to others being comparable to how Pinkie, when she puts smiles on the faces of others, spreads hope to them, but to be honest that's not enough of a connection for me. While it's obvious that Mage Meadowbrook, a healer, will probably be Fluttershy's analogue, I think she clearly has far more in common with Somnambula than Pinkie Pie does. Somnambula may have been good at spreading hope to others in ways similar to how Pinkie does, but she also seemed somewhat quiet, reserved, thoughtful, and had this very natural nobility and grace to her demeanor and how she carried herself; watching her story play out, I was far more reminded about Fluttershy's character arc than I was Pinkie's. Fluttershy gives hope to others too in her kind, considerate behavior, and is usually very thoughtful in her actions. Hell, she has a very similar natural grace to how she carries herself just as Somnambula does, which ponies like Rarity and Photo Finish have pointed out in the past. Overall, it just felt like, after watching this, that Fluttershy would have been far more comparable to Somnambula than Pinkie Pie is supposed to be. Finally, having Fluttershy here would have gotten extra brownie points from me for simply being unique. As I said earlier, why should we have this rule that Rainbow Dash MUST show up in any Daring Do episode? Daring Do is beloved by ponies all over Equestria, whether or not they know she's real, and this includes multiple members of the Mane 6, all of whom have technically adventured with her at least once and are thus friends of hers just like Rainbow Dash is. RD contributed virtually nothing to the plot here and was downright unbearable at times, but having Daring go on an adventure with another member of the Mane 6 (or even a couple, like Fluttershy and Rarity or Fluttershy and Twilight) would have mixed things up a bit, giving this episode a distinct, unique element distinguishing it from all other Daring Do episodes. It's a shame the writers didn't consider this and instead went with the easier, lazier, more predictable route of giving Rainbow Dash the spotlight in another Daring Do episode, even though she really didn't deserve it here and only distracted from both the main problem as well as Pinkie Pie, who did far more to help Daring Do solve her personal dilemma than RD did at all. Other elements that could have been different as a result of these changes are (1) the town of Somnambula could have been more thoroughly explored if the episode had started there from the very beginning, (2) more adventurous elements could have and should have been added, including actual callbacks to Indiana Jones, particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, (3) plot points wouldn't have necessarily felt so forced or contrived if characters had simply been approaching them more smartly and subtly, (4) with more time in Somnambula, Somnambula's own story could have been expanded upon to a certain extent, and (5) both Daring and the townsponies should have been gradually convinced that things weren't as bad as they thought and that there were good ways they could both resolve the problems they were facing and come to appreciate each other more. All of these new elements would have most likely resulted in a far better episode, one which was at the very least good, if not great, in its premise and execution. Unfortunately, that's not what we got. While most meh episodes in this show are simply forgettable, this one left a particularly bad taste in my mouth simply because of how much of its potential it failed to realize. It's hardly one of my least favorite episodes of the show ever, but it is one of the biggest disappointments the show's ever had, at least for me. With so much unrealized potential, this is a real shame, but it thankfully doesn't take away from the great things that this season has already done and will continue to do I'm sure. That's all I've got for you today, everypony, until next time this is Batbrony signing off! I'm off!!! *cue dramatic exit* Huh... apparently the word of today for this episode is 'kinky'
We all thought that the Daring Do books started off as fictional stories, right? Then it turned out to be real in season 4. So why would Daring write a story about her adventures? What's her story? Like her backstory? Why would she do it? I mean, my guess is that the story started off as a journal and she turned it into a book later on. I dunno, what do you think?