Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picking Apart "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic", Season 4 Episode 4

WARNING!  From this point onward, the following reviews will consist of using heavy profanity.  It is advised not to proceed past this point unless you are 18 years of age or older.  Profanity will be used to express personal opinions only, so there can be no one responsible if anyone is greatly offended because you have been warned.  If you can handle profanity and you're ready to proceed, by all means do so.

*sigh* Well, folks... I'm not gonna waste any time, so let's strap on our fedoras and get ready for an adventure that's nothing more than a totally watered down Indiana Jones film.  This is "Daring Don't".

So we start with Rainbow Dash expressing that she's excited... for... something.  And although I already knew what it was, I found this entire scene where Rainbow just goes on and on without dropping any details annoying.
Rainbow Dash: Four more months, four more months, four more months! I bet you're excited, huh?
Fluttershy: Oh, my. I, uh, I could be excited. I don't really know. I wasn't really think—
Rainbow Dash: Come on, you gotta be excited!
Fluttershy: Oh, well, I guess maybe I'm a little kinda sort of excited.
Rainbow Dash: I thought so!
Fluttershy: Yeah... So, um, why am I excited?
See?  Rainbow Dash couldn't just fly up to her and say "Hey, Fluttershy!  The next Daring Do book is coming out four months from today!  I'm excited!"  I mean, Fluttershy has no knowledge of Daring Do whatsoever!  Why couldn't Rainbow just go up to Twilight and grab her and say the exact same thing.  After all, Twilight reveals that she too is a Daring Do fan, which we could have figured because she has the entire collection in her library.  But Fluttershy is completely clueless!  Why her?  Oh, well, back to the episode.

Anyways, Rainbow finds out from Twilight that the author of Daring Do, A.K. Yearling, has pushed back the release date of her latest book and of course, Rainbow is utterly...  Take a guess.

Okay, so four months is long enough.  I get that.  I mean, four months is like... the longest summer vacation I ever had in my life.  But I'm gonna bring up something that might be extremely nitpicking.  A.K. Yearling.

Yeah, I think we all know that it's a joke name of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books.  But why choose that kind of joke name?  Aren't these Daring Do books supposed to be allusions to the classic Indiana Jones movies by LucasFilms?  And furthermore, we learn in this episode that Daring Do is nothing like Indiana Jones at all.  She actually has a personality almost exactly like Batman from those DC comics.  Yeah.  Batman.  You heard me.  Okay, I get that J.K. Rowling is famous and I get that her books made her the richest woman in England, but if you make a joke name, wouldn't it be more suitable if Daring Do was more like Harry Potter in this case?  You know, besides the names of the books.  And that's about the only thing that justifies the name A.K. Yearling.  And the Indiana Jones movies had similar titles too, so you know what?  Leave me alone, nitpicking haters and let me nitpick.

Let me use another example to justify my nitpicking.  In the anime Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, there's one episode, "A Novel Approach", that was an obvious allusion to the Harry Potter books and since the episodes aired out of order outside of Japan, "A Novel Approach" aired in light of the release of the long-awaited fifth Harry Potter book, Order of the Phoenix.  In the episode, we're introduced to a character named Rowlin (only named in the English dub), author of the Pappy Pottey books, clearly a nod to both Joanne Rowling and her Harry Potter books, but trust me when I say this would-be parody is way better.  For starters, Rowlin is practically a likeness of J.K. Rowling and even has a similar back story.  And unlike A.K. Yearling, she actually has a fascinating and very inspiring speech in the episode.

And this is another reason why I love what Japanese people do with the media they create.  It's obvious that when they get it right, they nail it, even with obvious spoofs of already popular stuff.  I'm well aware that sometimes English dubbing isn't always suitable and can water down a popular anime, but for God's sake, give Rowlin's English-dubbed speech some credit!!  And as much I would give A.K. Yearling and Daring Do credit where it's due, I really can't for a number of reasons.  And if you give me a chance, you'll see why.

So back with the Mane 6, Rainbow proposes that they should pay... the author whose name should be a nod to George Lucas a little visit and maybe persuade her to finish her latest book.  Okay, that sounds just creepy.

Rainbow Dash: Don't you get it? The new book is obviously delayed because she needs help dealing with whatever everyday nonsense is distracting her from spending her every living breathing second writing! So I– I mean, fans like me, can get to read the new book ASAP! Think about it! We could help her with her laundry, buy her groceries, cooking her meals, whatever! Now, who wouldn't appreciate that?

I wouldn't.

You know, I think we all know the reason why Joanne Rowling took so long to finish the fifth Harry Potter book and why it had been three years since the release of the fourth book.  In short, she has a fucking life outside of writing, in case Rainbow Dash can't figure out that it might be the exact same reason with A.K. Yearling.  Okay Rainbow, nice thought to help her out and all that, but no.  Just... no.
Twilight Sparkle: Hmm, I don't know... What she probably wants most of all is respect for her privacy.

Rainbow Dash: She can always just say no.
And I suppose that gives you the green light to go ahead and find this author who would just as soon be left alone to work in peace without anyone disturbing her privacy.  I mean, really.  Do you think this would sound good for Rainbow Dash's track record much less for an episode?

But, as you can imagine, Twilight gives in and reluctantly agrees to tag along with Rainbow Dash to pay a visit to their favorite author, She-Who-Should-Be-Named-After-George-Lucas.  Guess this won't end well.

So the Mane 6 find A.K. Yearling's house out in the middle of nowhere, only to find that someone has already intruded on her property.  The Mane 6 decide to investigate the damage, but that's when A.K. Yearling just happens to return.  And... get this.
Twilight Sparkle: We didn't do this! We swear!
A.K. Yearling: What have you done to my house?
I mean, geez, lady.  Are you deaf?  They said they didn't do it.  What, you don't believe them?

So upon finding her house trashed, A.K. Yearling starts digging through her possessions, apparently searching for... something.
...It's a ring.

A.K. Yearling: [sighs] It's safe.

So Rainbow Dash, against her better judgment, tries to persuade A.K. Yearling to get a move on finishing her latest Daring Do book, but she just looks annoyed.  Maybe she doesn't like having fans.

I mean, Good God.  She's nothing like J.K. Rowling at all.  Rowlin is a much better likeness!  I mean, trying to isolate yourself from your fans is one thing if you want your privacy respected and all that, but at least Rowling made plenty of public appearances.  She was even at the White House once during an Easter Egg Roll in 2010 and she was even a producer for the last two Harry Potter films!  That's why they had so many ties to the original books.  Whereas A.K. Yearling...  I'm gonna take a stab and guess that she's not the sort of pony who's interested in taking the limelight to show that you're proud of your work.  I'm about this close to saying that the name A.K. Yearling is practically a disgrace to the real Joanne Rowling.  It's okay to be modest, but when it comes down to things, show that you're proud of your work.  Make public appearances and acknowledge that your fans admire you for your work!  Even if it's just once in a while!

As for A.K. Yearling, she's just more like Batman.  And I'm not saying Batman is bad, mind you, but he has reasons for acting the way he does!  For starters, as a child, Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered right in front of him!  And as Batman, he makes a mess fighting crime and is not afraid to do it.  Why else does he wear a mask?
Also, Batman is always slipping into the shadows of Gotham City so he can sneak up on crime and beat the living hell out of it.  Criminals are supposed to be afraid of him and for good reasons.  No one knows where or when Batman will strike next, but chances are, it's some time after dark.

Anyways, Twilight drags Rainbow out of the house and scolds him... I mean, her.  But that's when the Mane 6 notice some thugs breaking into her house, probably the same ones as before.
So A.K. Yearling is left with no choice, but to expose her secret identity...  She's actually the very real Daring Do!  Kinda weird how those thugs already knew that somehow and where she lives.
Twilight Sparkle: A.K. Yearling and Daring Do are one and the same! My mind is officially blown!
Rainbow Dash: Aw, come on, I knew it all along.

Yeah, how could Rainbow Dash have possibly known that, much less that Daring Do is apparently real.  ...Wait a minute...  Daring Do... is real?  And... the Daring Do books that A.K. Yearling writes are... based on her real-life adventures... as Daring Do?  Do you have any idea what this means?  It means that the Daring Do stories, the ones that Twilight and Rainbow immensely enjoy reading... are practically... nonfiction.  Daring Do is nonfiction.  Does that mean that everything in the Daring Do worlds is real?  Including the evil Ahuizotl?  Well, let's find out.

So Daring Do takes on the three thugs, but is bested and the ring ends up in the hands of a stallion named Dr. Caballeron, voiced by Michael Dobson, who was also looking for this one ring.

Apparently, Caballeron wants to sell the ring to the evil Ahuizotl for a fortune, never mind that Ahuizotl probably plans to double-cross him and use the ring to secure the Fortress of Talicon for 800 years, probably part of a plan to, you guessed it, take over the world.

So after Caballeron retreats with the ring, the Mane 6 offer to help Daring Do, but of course she refuses.

Daring Do: Daring Do doesn't need help. She handles her business herself.

This is nothing like Daring Do from the books!  When did she decide to write in her adventurous personality?!  What, was she afraid that her Batman personality would be less appealing to readers?

In the books, she's an adventurer and lives for danger, but if she's supposed to be anything like Indiana Jones, then she would be more accepting of sidekicks!  In each of the four movies, Indiana Jones had at least one sidekick and didn't work alone!

Now, I'm willing to bet that there's gonna be extreme irony to all this.  You know, it's gonna turn out that Daring Do actually needs assistance contrary to Twilight suggesting that they should keep her muzzles out of her affairs.  But you know what?  There's even bigger irony in a scene prior to that, which I'll get to.  And it makes the whole goddamn episode a total mess of confusion which is capable of fucking with brains like mine.
So Rainbow Dash convinces the others that if they don't help, Daring Do might just be outnumbered and outmatched, which seems to be fairly obvious considering there's only one of her.

And when Twilight agrees, as you can imagine, Rainbow dashes off to find her new favorite heroine.  But during the scene where she's looking for Daring Do, there's actually something interesting worth point out.
Each and every time she gets all giddy with excitement, especially the prospect of teaming up with Daring Do, getting her autograph and all that fan shit, she slaps herself to get a grip.  This means that Rainbow Dash seems to at least know how to take heroic business seriously.

In the Disney film The Incredibles, Buddy Pine was this lunatic fanboy who idolized the superhero Mr. Incredible to no end and wanted to be his sidekick.  But Bob Parr knew that as fun as being a superhero sounds, it's also serious business and he seemed to have an inkling that Buddy thinks it's all fun and games and wasn't about to understand that anytime soon.
And even when Buddy later became Syndrome, he was not only still immature, but his mind was completely twisted and he was a fucking insane psycho, not even caring about harming innocent lives.  And the worst part is, he blamed Mr. Incredible for what he became, believing that his former idol never gave him a chance.  But Syndrome never understood the true meaning of what it means to be a hero.

In this situation, Rainbow is at least trying not to let heroism get to her head and shows that she wants to help, so when she finally catches up with Daring Do, she keeps getting told off, probably because Daring Do just sees her as a squealing fan girl incapable of offering any real help to a serious adventurer.  Rainbow even begs and pleads with her.  You know, kind of like this.

And that's when Daring Do finally says this.

Daring Do: My work always involves secrets. And since you never know who you can trust, it's best never to trust anypony.

Yep.  She's Batman.  That is exactly how Batman thinks.  And this is why I really can't give credit where it's due.  Because not learning to trust others also means practically cutting yourself off from the rest of the world and living a life in isolation.  And that shouldn't have to be a good thing because it means others wouldn't trust you either.  So, if Buddy thought he couldn't count on his heroes, this should be a proper reason why, not because they blow you off when you can't do anything to help them.  At least Rainbow Dash is trying, but Buddy Pine didn't even try at all.

So Daring Do arrives at Caballeron's camp site and tries to disguise herself to buy the ring off Caballeron's hooves, but the evil Ahuizotl (yes, he exists in Equestria for real) shows up to foil Daring Do.

That's... actually kind of funny.  You know, the way he says that name so fast.
Ahuizotl: The ring, Daring Do! Give it to me!
Daring Do: Now, Ahuizotl, you know I love you, but I can't give you the ring 'til I've properly proposed.

But things go downhill when Ahuizotl summons his ferocious feline minions, including a kitten.  What's with the staff for including this?!  Did someone vote for a Republican?!  I mean, really!  Why that little kitty cat?!
But anyways, Rainbow gives herself away, allowing Ahuizotl to snag her and use her as leverage... to distract Daring Do long enough to grab the ring and take Daring Do hostage.  And of course, Daring Do reprimands Rainbow Dash, telling her not to even bother to come to her rescue.
Rarity: [gasps] Thank goodness you're alright!
Twilight Sparkle: Quick, where does it hurt?
Rainbow Dash: In here. Daring Do and the ring have been captured by the dreaded Ahuizotl, and it's all my fault.
Rest of main cast: [gasps]
Twilight Sparkle: Dash, I'm sure whatever you did was an honest mistake.

But Rainbow Dash isn't convinced and decides to just give up on her ex-favorite heroine and go home.  And here's what really throws the entire episode out of whack.

Twilight Sparkle: It's fine to look up to Daring Do, but you've put her so high up on a pedestal, you can't even see your own worth anymore!

*sigh* Okay, that really doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
In the episode "The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well", didn't Twilight and the others plot behind Rainbow's back to outdo her and teach her a lesson in grace and humility for going overboard from seeing her own self worth?  Now Twilight wants Rainbow to not put herself down and go be a hero?  Okay, so there's a fine line between being strong and confident and being arrogant and egotistical, but it still doesn't make any sense.  And here's another thing.

Twilight Sparkle: Look, there is more going on here than meets the eye. In every Daring Do book, there always is! We can't turn our backs on her!

Didn't just a minute ago Twilight suggest that they shouldn't meddle with Daring Do's affairs?  Now she says that according to the books there's a lot more to it than just Daring Do saving the day?  What the hell is going on here?!  How did this not cause any confusion?!
Oh... right.  I forgot.  You people who watch the show aren't in it for the plot.  You're in it for the ponies!  Of course, the plot, animation, drama, and character traits mean nothing, right?  You just wanna see your precious ponies in action and could care less about the lessons they learn in their adventures!  Isn't that what prompted Meghan McCarthy to write her episodes in which the original demographic means nothing to her?  Isn't that why "A Canterlot Wedding" even existed?  So that we get to see the true nature of Twilight's friends, that they're willing to dump her for a total stranger?  How did it not cause any pain to witness Twilight being betrayed by...

I can take a hint, fans.  I can take a hint.

So the point is, it just doesn't make sense as to why Twilight would change her mind and decide to point out that there's more to these books as opposed to telling her otherwise before, now suggesting that Rainbow might be in the right to help out her heroes because even they need help.  Even Batman is smart enough to call on the Justice League when things look rough.  So why did Twilight try to stop Rainbow from helping Daring Do before?  What prompted her to change her mind like this?  And I mean besides the fact that they're the heroes of Equestria.  I mean, despite their efforts, I've never actually seen any other character take them seriously for being heroes anyway.

Well, Twilight somehow convinces Rainbow Dash to get her act together and go save Daring Do, which she does.  But of course, Daring Do seems to be ungrateful.  Yeah, big surprise.

Daring Do: I was just about to save myself, y'know.

Daring Do: Have I mentioned yet that I work alone?

So Rainbow's friends confront Ahuizotl and his army head on...

...while Daring Do and Rainbow Dash team up to remove the other rings from the room's center pillar, which will apparently put a stop to Ahuizotl's plan to heat the world.  Now here's a question.  If Ahuizotl wants to bake the world, wouldn't that mean he too and his fucking feline friends would also be roasted?  Of all the ways to take over the world...

...why go with intense heat?  Unless he has some kind of magical air conditioning system, doesn't that mean Ahuizotl will end up killing himself?

You wanna toast the world?  ...That's cool.
Daring Do: [panting] If we can remove the giant ring at the bottom, the whole fortress will collapse!
Rainbow Dash: W-Was this your plan all along?
Daring Do: I had to find a way to get into the fortress.
Rainbow Dash: You did it on purpose?! But– but I thought—
Daring Do: I didn't count on how heavy this ring would be, though... Guess having a little help can be handy sometimes.

So together, Rainbow and Daring Do remove all the rings and they escape the fortress before it collapses.
And wouldn't you know it?  Daring Do thanks Rainbow for the assistance and learns that there are some ponies she can trust.  Like the loyal Rainbow Dash.
And the episode ends with Rainbow recording the adventure in her journal and receiving a copy of A.K. Yearling's latest Daring Do book a week early after who knows how long she had to wait.  Not only that, but Rainbow Dash is featured on the book's cover as Daring Do's sidekick.  Oh, the fabricated truths that can come from this.

So that was "Daring Don't", as in "don't watch the episode unless you could care less about the details".  I guess I found this episode to be somewhat mediocre, but when I think about the details and everything that goes on, there are some parts that just don't make sense.  I'm also convinced that the staff just picked the name A.K. Yearling because they wanted to name her after a famous writer for books, not films, and not just unintentionally make a nod to Amy Keating Rogers by using her first two initials.  Seriously, there's no connection because Daring Do is meant to be an allusion to Indiana Jones and not Harry Potter.  And it's almost hard to imagine how things would have been if Rainbow Dash hadn't changed her life.  So for the record, the character Rowlin from the Kirby anime made a much better nod to J.K. Rowling, as she had a similar back story and makes that impressive speech.  But at least the real Daring Do isn't a completely horrible character.  But you know what is completely horrible?  Me having to watch the next fucking episode!  Oh God, I'm gonna hate that.

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