Twilight Sparkle finds Pinkie Pie and Rarity watching Rainbow Dash performing a new stunt flying routine. The girls are impressed... but less so, and even a little worried, when Rainbow Dash suddenly crashes.Rainbow Dash awakens in the hospital, with her concerned friends huddling around her bed and one wing in bandages. Sentenced to a few days' bed rest, Dash is convinced she'll be bored to tears with nothing to do and nopony to talk to except her room-mate, who's in a full-body cast and obviously not the best conversationalist. This gives Twilight the idea to pluck a book from a passing book cart, and recommend it to Rainbow Dash. Despite all her friends insisting that she'll enjoy the adventurous tale of Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue and that reading is something anypony can enjoy, Dash refuses to give the book a try.
Rainbow Dash: No thanks! I so don't read. I'm a world-class athlete! Reading's for egg-heads like you, Twilight... no offense, but I am not reading. It's undeniably, unquestionably uncool!
After her friends leave, however, the tedium of her hospital stay quickly gets to Rainbow Dash, and she starts reading. She's quick to identify with the adventurous Pegasus protagonist, and is taken in by the description of Daring Do's escape from a pack of ferocious wild cats.
Rainbow Dash: I would hate to admit it to myself, and I would really hate to admit it to my friends, but... I love this story! I love reading! ...I'm anegghead.
Dash reads on about Daring Do navigating the many traps of an ancient temple, and finding the treasure she's been seeking, the titular Sapphire Statue... only to be pulled back into reality by the arrival of Twilight and Fluttershy, who've brought her favorite board game and offer to play it. Rainbow Dash agrees to play, but ends up throwing the game in order to get it over with as soon as possible so she can go back to reading her book without revealing to her friends that she's into reading after all.Daring Do manages to navigate the traps guarding the treasure, and snatches it from its pedestal... only to set off another big trap that causes the room to fill with lava! She manages to escape by climbing to a hole in the roof using collapsing pillars, but just when she thinks she's in the clear she's confronted by the evil Ahuizotl, who also has designs on the statue... and Pinkie Pie's voice?No, it's just Dash being interrupted by her friends again, this time by Pinkie, Applejack and Rarity. Fortunately, it's also dinner time, and Dash manages to drive them off with her messy eating so she can get back to the story.Daring Do puts up a brave fight against Ahuizotl and his feline minions but is captured and tied to an ancient death trap: spiked walls closing in, spiders, snakes, and sand flooding the room for good measure. Unfortunately, Dash gets interrupted again, this time by the doctor. Not only has Rainbow Dash been up all night reading her book, she's being discharged from the hospital soon — right now, in fact.Desperate to see how the cliffhanger is resolved, but equally desperate to keep her new love of reading a secret, Rainbow Dash tries to get back into the hospital by playing sick. When that doesn't work, she dresses up in a black cat-suit and sneaks into the hospital, slipping under the bed of her former hospital room (which is occupied by a new patient). She manages to find the book, but before she can get to reading the hospital staff is alerted to her presence!A frantic - and eerily familiar - chase ensues, which ends when Rainbow Dash is cornered outside Twilight's library. Confronted by the hospital staff and her friends, Rainbow Dash is forced to admit that she had enjoyed the book after all and needed to know how it ended.
Twilight Sparkle: Wow... I knew the book was good, but I didn't know it could drive a pony to petty theft. Rainbow Dash: "Good"? Try "awesomely amazing"! That book is undeniably, unquestionably un-put-down-able!
Fortunately, Twilight is willing to loan Rainbow Dash her copy of the book, along with the other books in the Daring Do series. Rainbow Dash admits she's learned that you shouldn't knock something until you've tried it, and that you shouldn't be ashamed of your interests... though she's too busy rushing off to finish Quest for the Sapphire Statue to really put it into the form of a letter to Princess Celestia.Dash finally finishes her story, reading how Daring Do manages to escape the death trap through judicious use of her explorer hat, then snatch the Sapphire Statue out of the paws of the evil Ahuizotl and escape. Which means now Rainbow Dash is free to start the next book in the series, Daring Do and the Griffon's Goblet.The Daring Do book seriesnote the non-canon, entirely-fan-made one has an actual page on here now!
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
Twilight Sparkle as she tries to get Rainbow Dash's attention by poking her with the book... and her desperate smile when she admits to owning the entire series.
Rainbow's reaction before reading the next book about Daring Do also qualifies.
An Aesop: "Books are for everyone, not just eggheads", "Don't knock it 'til you try it", and "Don't be ashamed of the things you enjoy". Dash is too preoccupied to write the Friendship Report herself though.
Artistic License - Biology: OK, we didn't expect magical talking ponies to follow any strict rules in this area, but the X-ray of Dash's wing does not resemble the bones of any bird with its Stock Femur Bone and finger bones inside some of the feathers.
Audience Surrogate: It's pretty easy to identify with Rainbow Dash if you're one of those people who spent some time laughing at your Brony friends, before checking out the show yourself. Or even simply just prefer to hide your fondness for the show from those you know.
Bad Bad Acting: Rainbow Dash, when she's trying to get back into the hospital. Doctor Caramel isn't fooled.
Boredom Montage: Dash gets one, which eventually drives her to give the Daring Do book a try.
Cabin Fever: Rainbow Dash claims this will happen to her if she has to stay in the hospital for a few days.
Rainbow Dash: You guys have gotta get me out of here! I'm gonna climb the walls!
Chekhov's Gun: The pony doctor tells Rainbow as they are dismissing her from the hospital not to use the wing for a few days as it is still healing. Then, later, when Rainbow is trying to steal the book from the hospital, she attempts to take off and fly away but the wing appears to snap (quite painfully, in fact) and causing Rainbow to crash into the book cart.
Closet Geek: Rainbow Dash is a closet 'egghead'. She's horrified at the idea of her friends finding out that she likes reading.
During the previous episode's Cold Open, Fluttershy found Rainbow Dash pulling the covers off her while she was in bed. This episode, she's apparently begun wearing a nightie to avoid the same thing happening again.
When Rainbow Dash crashes into a bookcase during her hospital escape and loses the book, one of the other books that falls on the floor is Super Naturals.
Crashing Dreams: A version of this occurs twice, both times when Rainbow Dash is engrossed in reading her book.
Creator Cameo: Director Jayson Thiessen voices the hospital security guard.
Damned by Faint Praise: Rarity tries to reassure Rainbow Dash by pointing out "The hospital gowns, they... match the curtains!"
Impairment Shot: We see the rest of the Mane Six and the Doctor out of focus in the eye-shaped shot indicating Rainbow Dash is returning to consciousness after her crash.
Insistent Terminology: There's a brief debate over whether Rainbow Dash was causing a ruckus or a fracas.
Jabba Table Manners: Rainbow Dash invokes this, hoping her friends will leave her alone so she can get back to reading. It works.
Life Imitates Art: In-Universe Several scenes during Rainbow's stealth-mission into the hospital and subsequent escape mirror scenes from the story. Mostly played for laughs, as some of the things she does were completely unnecessary, such as swinging over a stream when a perfectly fine bridge was already next to her.
Major Injury Underreaction: The cold open has Rainbow injure herself off-screen while Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight watch. Pinkie's response? "So much for dazzling..."
Match Cut: Appropriately enough, a shot of Daring Do's face cuts to a shot of Rainbow's at the exact same angle when Rainbow's reading is interrupted.
The Mentally Disturbed: When the doctor and company finally catch Rainbow Dash, we find out that the angry dog barks heard during the chase were made by a mentally disturbed mare who took the chance to join the chase for fun. She's quickly chased back to the hospital by a security guard.
The trainee nurse is a recolored Twist with a nurse's cap instead of glasses and a different cutie mark.
Daring Do is a recolor of Rainbow Dash. The varying shades of black on her mane and tail are what gives it away.
Pastimes Prove Personality: The aversion of this trope is the aesop for this story as Rainbow Dash realizes that simply because she learned that she likes to read doesn't change essentially who she is.
The hospital can take an X-ray of Rainbow Dash's broken wing, but she has to use fireflies in her lantern to read at night.
The hospital staff also have flashlights.
The doctor's cutie mark is an EKG screen. For that matter, we can hear an EKG beeping in the hospital room, but don't actually see it.
Let's not forget Dash has a lamp on her bedside table, but still makes use of a lantern. Notable as the lamp clicks on and off as though powered by electicity (well, magic), but the lantern has fireflies.
The hospital's security guard has a police-style radio mic clipped to the shoulder of his uniform.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Rainbow Dash denies wanting to read the Daring Do books when Twilight says "do", even though she wasn't even talking about the books.
Take Our Word for It: We see none of the dazzling, daredevil flying tricks Rainbow Dash was performing at the start of episode save for a single loop-the-loop, nor her apparently horrific crash at the end. Probably wise, because it would have to be pretty horrific to be worse than everything that's happened to Dash on-screen so far.
The whole episode is pretty much a giant montage, as time passes extremely quickly between transitions of Rainbow reading the book and events outside of the story.
Subverted with Dash's Boredom Montage; the montage ends up taking up the same amount of time in-universe as it did on the screen (about 60 seconds).
Twisted Wing: The reason Rainbow Dash was running instead of flying, making it possible for the ponies to catch up to her.
Unmanly Secret: Rainbow Dash feels that nobody can know that she, being the sportish flying pony that she is, likes something egg-head like such as reading and she goes to increasingly elaborate lengths both to hide it and to get her book back.
Urgent Medical Alert: The "she's stealing my slippers!" alarm brings the entire hospital staff running.
Convection Schmonvection: Daring Do's escape from a room filling with lava, at one point with her standing inches above it (bare-hooved, even), without harm. She even gets a face-full of steam with no ill effects.
Covers Always Lie: In-Universe. The scene on the cover of Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue never occurs. Also, the title appears to read Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone, as this is what Rainbow Dash calls the book when she's holding it (near the end of the episode, she says "statue" instead of "stone"). The MacGuffin in the book is most definitely a statue, not a stone.
Death Course: Daring Do goes through two of them one after another, but only one is ever shown on-screen.
Eyes Do Not Belong There: Ahuizotl's eyes are a little too close to his nose. Or, if you compare his head to a canine's, he has eyes where his nostrils should be (with his real, small nose crammed between them).
Homage: Daring Do and her whole adventure is a pony version of Indiana Jones. The story Rainbow Dash reads includes references to the "step on the right tiles" puzzle from Last Crusade followed by a gesture-by-gesture recreation of his stealing the idol from the opening of Raiders.
In Medias Res: The book Rainbow Dash reads is supposed to be the first one in the Daring Do series. It begins with her as an already established adventurer, in the middle of an adventure, and talks about her nemesis as if the reader should already be familiar with him.
Indy Hat Roll: A variation, as Daring doesn't have to rescue her hat.
Irony: Ahuizotl (who, as in Aztec Mythology, is dog-like) surrounds himself with cats, and even has a cat whistle.
Large Ham: Ahuizotl has a presence as big as Rainbow Dash's ego.
Long Runner: Assuming that giant stack in the final scene is completely made up of this series. It's enough to induce Archive Panic by proxy.
MacGuffin: The Sapphire Stone/Statue. Apparently Ahuizotl wants it as part of his plan to take over the world, but it's far from clear how.
Mayincatec: The architectural style of the temple where the Sapphire Statue is kept. (However, the statue itself looks like a two-headed Anubis.)
Meaningful Echo: The story Rainbow Dash reads starts out exactly the same way as the episode itself, with Daring Do injuring her wing in a crash landing and unable to fly for a few days.
Rainbow Dash/Daring Do: A few days? It might as well be a few months, or a few years...
Meaningful Name: Daring Do (derring-do, being a word for heroic escapades) is a perfect description of what said character does.
Misplaced Wildlife: Parodied — a lynx, a panther, a cheetah, a tiger, and an adorable putty tat all chase Daring Do through the Equestrian analogue of the South-American jungle. Possibly justified as they're actually Ahuizotl's henchmen.
Nice Hat: Which turns out to be a useful tool as well, thus making it even nicer.
Palette Swap: Daring Do is a palette-swapped Rainbow Dash; specifically, a yellow coat, gray-scale mane, different eye color, and a different cutie mark. Probably, this was done to highlight the similarties between them, as Twilight notes.
Twilight Sparkle: I think you'd like Daring — she's a lot like you!
Also, one of the times Rainbow Dash is drawn out of the story, the background fades into the hospital room, and an actual color morph from Daring Do to Rainbow Dash occurs.
Raiders of the Lost Parody: Obvious Indiana Jones parody but a weird example in that Rainbow Dash (and Twilight) think it's awesome.
Red Herring: Admit it: you were expecting the giant boulder when the idol stealing scene started.
Retraux: The whole Indiana Jones motif is furthered by utilization of film grain and color fading, to make it look like it's being played by a film projector. Additionally, the 2.35:1 aspect ratio is emulated with letter-boxing.
Right-Hand Cat: The fluffy white kitten from earlier in the episode, to Ahuizotl.
When Daring Do stumbles across the temple, and later when first walking into it, the music is reminiscent of Aladdin. Also, the temple itself has jewels for eyes, a gaping maw for an entrance, and disturbing the treasure inside leads to the floor crumbling into lava.
Perhaps even a parody of a parody, as Daring-Do's method of "carefully" retrieving the Stone are about as, er, meticulous as when "Weird Al" Yankovic does it in his stock Indiana Jones' parody in the film UHF.
Sudden Name Change: When the book first appears, it's explicitly name-dropped as "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone". When Dash first begins to read it, it's suddenly "Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Statue" and remains as such for the rest of the episode (though the cover still says "Stone").
Temple of Doom: The ancient looking temple with the sapphire stone and the death traps.
Weight And Switch: Spoofed when Daring Do makes a big show of preparing for it then just grabbing the idol off the platform.
Rainbow Dash:: And so, with Ahuizotl defeated and the Sapphire Statue secured, the world was safe and sound once again. Thanks to Daring Do! [set book aside, picks up another] Rainbow Dash:Daring Do and the Griffon's Goblet... Awesome! /)^3^(\