Apologies for the delay. I have just got a paying job – two, in fact – and had a busy weekend with book club, going to see Catching Fire, and Sunday lunch round my boyfriend’s parents. I’ve been working hard on preparing Brother Wolf for publication, because it’s in need of extensive re-writing to make the story a bit more dynamic than the first few drafts were. Hopefully I’ll be able to get the next review up sooner, but with Christmas imminent normal scheduling goes out the window. In the new year I have a three-day working week, so things might be a little more balanced out.
The break also helped me detox from the excitement of the premiere episodes and get myself back into expecting slice-of-life pony drama – with the obvious twists the writers of this fantastic show always seem to insert.
Anyway, this week’s plot is that Rainbow Dash is excited four months in advance of the new Daring Do book. Note the word ‘book’: Daring Do is a fictional character. Or so I believe on first encounter with this plot. (Bear with me here. I write while I’m watching, so I record my initial reaction to the plot — written after the episode finished and in summing up.)
The other ponies couldn’t be more …apathetic if they tried. RD is a big fan, but the other. Twilight knows the publishing schedules of her favourite novelist… A K Yearling.
A K Yearling. Honestly. I’m not sure whether to groan at the pun or salute the writers on their large and inventive horse vocabulary. (Let’s try working ‘Tesco’s Delicatessen’ into an episode next year.) Yearling has pushed her book release back two months. And the loyal fan RD is obsessed with seeking out Ms Yearling (who writes about a female action hero, a neat touch). Ms Yearling lives in a remote part of Equestria, so the ponies set out to try and find her and ask whether they could help her.
There’s an excellent visual gag. A red line is drawn over a map. Pinkie Pie is actually painting the line along the ground.
Uh-oh. Yearling’s house is abandoned and trashed. Pinkie reckons she’s just a slob, but RD is more concerned that the lack of an author means no more books.
But they finally meet her when she returns, and accuses the Mane 6 of trashing the place. It seems she’s hiding an artifact, a ring of gold. Twilight insists RD leave Yearling alone, but…duh duh duhnnn!
“You should tell that to those guys.” Three ne’er-do-wells (mare do-wells? Well, they’re stallions…)…three intruders are getting in at the upstairs window. They watch as, in a very surprising twist, A K Yearling turns into …DARING-DO!
That’ll learn me to second-guess fan comments on t’interwebz. The intruders seem to be after the ring. After a scrap, it lands on the floor in front of Dr Caballeron, another character from the books. Cue obviously ridiculous Indiana Jones plot, dooming the Valley of Wherever to eight centuries of DOOOOOOOOM.
Okie-dokie-lokey. The moral becomes clear – Daring-Do doesn’t want help. RD wants to help her. The books seem to hold some clue to Twilight’s assessment of her book. I’ve lost track of the various plotlines of the adventure books, but it seems to be instrumental in the arguments as to whether DD needs help or not.
They’ll need a plan. “I’M COMING, DARING-DO!” Uh, that’s not a plan. Just another adventure. RD gets a bit starstruck over working alongside DD and wastes a few minutes beating herself up, with DD a little scathing of her demonstrations of “quick wit and courage”. DD has a few trust issues and “secrets”. This could go one of two ways: DD learning the value of trust, or RD learning to leave people the f… alone.
She tags along behind a frustrated and cynical DD, who uses a cheesy ambush idea to lure Caballeron and his henchmen. As Caballeron and DD are sealing the deal, Zodo, mentioned in the original opening sequence, invades the clearing. DD uses a little bit of wit to confront Zodo, who has a “proposal of his own”. RD is a little non-plussed, as you might imagine, and gets in the way during the climactic battle…leading to DD’s capture.
I’m leaning towards my latter moral at this point, with RD learning that moral right now, in fact, so there’s an additional situation. My hero doesn’t need my help. But that doesn’t sound like the usual Rainbow Dash: and she’s put her up on so much of a pedestal RD no longer sees her own worth.
Which is a moral worthy of MLP and really makes the episode. The ponies have battled evil before. So they can confront Zodo. Which is just as well as he is in full-on evil megalomaniac mode, with DD suspended above a crocodile pit. She’s a little snarky at RD’s appearance and a little hostile towards her. RD says, to her snappy, “Have I mentioned yet I work alone?” — “Have I mentioned that I DON’T?”
DD planned all along to get captured and into the fortress. But she didn’t count on how heavy the various rings were to get off the obelisk, which is where RD comes in. So the spirit of co-operation is upheld, and it’s a nice note to end on. And she’s on the cover of the next DD book. It’s a little less pat than the last episode’s moral, and a little less one-dimensional, because it demonstrates another facet of fandom – that is, be yourself and see your own worth as well as worshipping someone else’s talent. Let’s face it – we’ve probably all been there, and kids need to know that their life is supposed to be for them, not made to be in service to someone else (but often co-operating with others who find out they need assistance).
I’ll give this one 8 out of 10. I’m not bothered that evil exists in Equestria apparently without Celestia knowing about it; Daring Do might well be under Celestia’s orders to handle that aspect of Equestrian life; it also makes Equestria seem like a varied and intelligible place rather than a one-trick ponyville. I also like the idea that DD’s books are memoirs rather than stories.