Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S4 E4 "Daring Don't"
Written by Dave Polsky
Rainbow Dash is eagerly counting the days until the release of the next Daring Do
novel. Then she arrives at Twilight's library during Pinkie Pie's party for National Random Holiday Party Day and learns the book has been delayed by two more months! Crushed with anticipation, Dash decides there's only one solution: find where Daring Do
author A.K. Yearling
lives and help free her from all distractions so she can finish the book.
Upon finding her home in a remote jungle, the Mane Six discover the author's house ransacked, Yearling herself arriving not long after. While Rainbow Dash professes her love for the Daring Do books (and the rest of the Mane Six insist they had nothing to do with the state of her house), all Yearling seems concerned with is a book containing a large gold ring. Twilight pulls Rainbow Dash out of the house to scold her for her pestering, when they spot a trio of bandits breaking into the house. Cornered, Yearling throws off her coat and reveals a startling secret: A.K. Yearling is
While Daring is able to fight the bandits off for a while, the ring falls into the hooves of their leader Dr. Caballeron
, who plans to sell it to the evil Ahuizotl to use for an evil ceremony that will bring about 800 years of intense heat to the valley. Daring Do sets out to stop them with Rainbow Dash following, but her fangirl tendencies only serve to annoy the adventurer, who insists that she works alone. Daring Do disguises herself and almost succeeds in buying the ring back from Caballeron when Ahuizotl storms the scene, demanding the ring. Daring manages to fight the fierce cats Ahuizotl sics on her, but Rainbow Dash complicates things by getting herself noticed, distracting Daring long enough for the adventurer to get captured.
Twilight and the others catch up with Rainbow to find her kicking herself over letting her hero down. Just as Rainbow decides to head home, her friends insist that Daring needs her help now more than ever — she may be her hero, but she's a pony like anyone else. Rainbow has a change of heart and swoops into Ahuizotl's nearby temple lair to save Daring from a pool of piranha fish. Daring relents and brings Rainbow to the temple's central altar while the others distract Ahuizotl and his henchponies from completing their ceremony. Rainbow and Daring remove all of the mystical gold rings from the altar, causing the temple to collapse and thwarting Ahuizotl's plans. Daring thanks Rainbow for her help and flies off to start her new book, which she mails to Rainbow Dash: Daring Do and the Rings of Destiny
, with an expy
of Rainbow on the cover.
- Actually, I Am Her: A.K. Yearling is revealed to be Daring Do (previously thought to be a fictional character in-universe) near the beginning of the episode.
- Rainbow Dash gets plenty of squeeing fangirl moments around Daring Do, so much that she makes her famous "So Awesome!" face. She also gets one at the end when she gets an advance copy of the book she was desperate for and says "Ohmygosh ohmygosh ohmygosh!!!"
- Twilight as well, since she's about as big a fan of Daring as Rainbow Dash, if not bigger; she's just not as vocal about it. That is, until they get caught up in an argument over Daring Do's adventures book-by-book that none of their other friends can follow (except Pinkie Pie).
- An Aesop: Three but only the first is pointed out at the end of he episode and recorded in the journal.
- Rainbow Dash learns not to put others on a pedestal if it risks forgetting her own self-worth
- Daring Do learns that some things can't be done alone.
- Twilight makes a point of never invading others' privacy unless they actually need help.
- Artifact of Doom: Ahuizotl needs a set of golden rings of various sizes to carry out his Evil Plan.
- Ascended Fanfilly: Rainbow Dash has the chance to become this when she offers to help the author of the Daring Do series finish her latest book, and later help Daring Do on her latest adventure. As a result, Daring Do writes Rainbow into her latest book.
- Ass Kicks You:
- During the fight with Caballeron's Mooks Daring Do sends one flying across the room with a hip-check.
- Later, one of Ahuizotl's minions repeats this upon Pinkie Pie during the scuffle for the ring.
- Badass: Daring Do. She's a considerably skilled hoof-to-hoof fighter, and smart enough to set up a Batman Gambit to get inside Ahuizotl's base.
- Big Ball of Violence: Daring Do gets caught in these throughout the episode.
- Book Safe: This is where Yearling had hidden her golden ring, even needing to open the secret compartment through a special locking mechanism.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Once again Ahuizotl leaves Daring Do in a death trap.
- Bring It: Daring Do says it to Ahuizotl's henchcats.
- Broken Pedestal: Interestingly played out, in that it wasn't so much that Daring Do let Rainbow Dash down by being a jerk (though it could be justified in that Dash was being a creepy fanfilly), but that Rainbow felt she let Daring down for getting the latter distracted, then captured by the enemy. Thankfully though, the rest of the Mane Six convince Dash to go back and help Daring anyway, and the two make amends at the end of the episode.
- Bystander Syndrome: The Mane Six stand aside and watch as Daring Do and Caballeron's thugs fight over the ring. Lampshaded by Fluttershy when she asks if they should go and help. Fortunately they drop this in the end.
- Call Back:
- To Rainbow Dash's love of books from "Read It and Weep"; this time she gets to meet the author of her favorite book series. Twilight even reminds Rainbow that she wouldn't even be a fan if she hadn't introduced the latter to them in the first place.
- Ahuizotl is still the villain, and has taken on the role of Daring Do's Arch-Nemesis. He also still has a pack of wild cats that he sics on Daring Do.
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The Daring Do books are named like this, as usual.
- Circling Birdies: Lampshaded in the opening: Rainbow Dash, in imagining Daring's adventure, goes into for a dive and crashes into a baby birds' nest that Fluttershy was seeing to, with the chicks flying around Rainbow's dazed head.
- Clark Kenting: A.K. Yearling`s outfit (that includes glasses, of course), hides her Daring Do identity.
- Collapsing Lair: Removing the final ring from the monument in Ahuizotl's temple causes the entire thing to collapse. Invoked by Daring Do, who knew this would happen.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Rainbow's only concern upon seeing Yearling's messed up office is that the next book won't be finished. Though to be fair when she realizes Ahuizotl is a real threat, she forgets about the book and just wants to help Daring stop him.
- Continuity Nod:
- Eight centuries of unrelenting heat sounds almost like the complete opposite of a more popular incident that happened in Equestria. Temporary effect instead of permanent (though considering the timeframe, it probably wouldn't matter anyways since it'd kill everyone either way), and unrelenting heat sounds something like what the sun would cause.
- This isn't the first time that Ahuizotl (in Rainbow Dash's imagination) winds up being voiced by Andrea Libman.
- Cool Hat:
- Besides Daring Do herself, there's Pinkie Pie wearing a fez with her cutie mark, Twilight gets a party hat with hers, Applejack gets an oversized red cowboy hat with white apple polka dots, Rarity gets a heart pattern tiara, Fluttershy gets a purple top hat with some flowers, and at the very end there's a picture of Rainbow Dash wearing a baseball cap.
- Among the villains, one of Caballeron's thugs had a black fedora one would expect to see on a member of the mafia.
- Crucified Hero Shot: How Daring Do is suspended over the piranha pit.
- Deadly Dodging: While playing keep-away with the final ring, Twilight catches it on her horn then teleports as two mooks try to tackle her, causing them to slam into each other instead.
- Deadpan Snarker: Fluttershy of all ponies snarks at Rainbow's... ahem, enthusiasm over the upcoming novel.
Rainbow Dash: WHAT?! Two more months?! I've been waiting so long! I don't think I can wait another two months! I'll never make it! *faceplants*
Fluttershy: Yeah, I can vouch for that.
- Death Trap: Ahuizotl attempts to kill Daring Do with one of these after capturing her, involving rising water filled with piranhas.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Many fans have compared Rainbow's fan-maring over her idol throughout the episode to be similar to how bronies react upon seeing the show's staff in person or even a scenario where they might see the actual characters from the show.
- Similarly, Twilight's and Rainbow's debate on the several plot-lines in the Daring Do series can also be seen as how bronies would nitpick each and every single detail when expressing their viewpoints.
- Then there's Rainbow's panicking over having to wait two more months for the new book and worrying she can't take waiting any longer. See also the fandom taking on the hiatus between season.
- In general, the episode seems to show a bunch of Affectionate Parodies of bronies and fandoms in general.
- Dressed in Layers: A.K. Yearling had her regular Daring Do outfit on underneath her disguise.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Daring Do is surprisingly dismissive and suspicious of not just multi-time saviors of Equestria, but a princess. See I Work Alone, below.
- Expy: Just as Daring Do is based on Indiana Jones, Dr. Caballeron can be taken as an expy of Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark, though unlike Belloq he only has a minor role in the story and doesn't die.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The ponies who live in the fortress seem to be based off of Aztecs. In addition to Ahuizotl (a creature from Aztec folklore), Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent god) and Tenochtitlan (the Aztec capital) are name-dropped.
- Flung Clothing: A.K. Yearling throws off her outfit when confronted by Dr. Caballeron's mooks to reveal she is Daring Do.
- Foe Romance Subtext: Daring Do and Ahuizotl have this In-Universe; see page quote. Rainbow Dash gets knowing smile after a certain Ship Tease.
- Forgot About His Powers: The Mane 6 are no stranger to brawling and general heroism, Rainbow Dash is Daring Do's Biggest Fan, and yet they all stand around discussing things while Daring Do is fighting three-on-all by Caballeron and his mooks. This is lampshaded by Fluttershy.
- Funny Background Event: While Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle are comparing notes from previous Daring Do novels, Pinkie Pie can be seen intently following — and keeping up with — their conversation, while the other mane characters are totally lost.
- Furry Reminder: El Caballero's and his cronies' dinner is comprised of... a stack of hay bales on the floor.
- Gale-Force Sound: In Rainbow Dash's recalling of Daring Do's adventure in the intro, Ahuizotl's roar sends Daring Do tumbling backward in a very strong wind.
- Genre Shift: The episode at first seems a Slice of Life affair as Rainbow gets to meet her favorite author, but the episode quickly turns into adventure after the authoress is shown to be Daring herself.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Rainbow Dash has to slap herself several times in succession when she chases after Daring Do. It starts to hurt after a couple hits.
- Gratuitous Spanish : Doctor Caballeron's name comes from "Caballero", meaning both "Knight" and "Gentleman", both words also derived from "Caballo", Spanish for "Horse".
- Heroic BSOD: Rainbow Dash, when she thinks she's gotten Daring Do captured. Poor Dash...
- Hollywood Healing: Despite having to splint her own leg after the initial fight against Dr. Caballeron's goons, Daring Do is completely fine by the time Rainbow Dash catches up to her.
- Identical Stranger: Daring Do, as usual, looks identical to Rainbow Dash aside from her color scheme. Her voice is a far cry from Dash's, however, including being much less raspy and generally older.
- Incoming Ham:
Ahuizotl: RRRRRAAARGGH! (after smashing through several trees) CABALLERON!
- Indy Ploy: Daring Do's escape from Ahuizotl's death trap is clearly spur of the moment. After all, she didn't know what kind of trap it would be ahead of time.
- In Medias Res: The Daring Do story itself. The dialog between the fangirls (see Mr. Exposition below) gets the viewer caught up on the back story.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Daring Do lets herself get captured in order to get into Ahuizotl's lair, though the way Rainbow Dash causes it and Daring's sarcastic "thank you" makes Rainbow think she's to blame.
- It Belongs in a Museum: Averted. When the rings are spoken of, there is no mention of museums. In fact, Daring smashes one of the rings at the end of the episode.
- It's All My Fault: Rainbow Dash says as much to her friends after she tells them how Daring Do was captured.
- I Work Alone: This is Daring Do's general attitude because of the dangerous and secretive nature of her work, even stating the trope verbatim. She eventually changes her mind when she needs help lifting the final, heaviest artifact to stop Ahuizotl's plan while the Mane Six play Keep Away with Ahuizotl's mooks.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As far as heroes go, Daring comes across as aloof, cynical, and distrusting of others. However, she's on this adventure to prevent "800 years of unrelenting heat" from scorching a valley. She warms up a bit to Rainbow Dash at the end.
- Karma Houdini: Not only does Dr. Caballeron escape punishment for helping bring about an apocalypse, but he gets a huge bag of bits out of it!
- Keep Away: The Mane Six (minus Rainbow Dash) play this with the Ring of Destiny to keep the mooks busy.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, accomplished heroes in their own right, are overjoyed to meet Daring Do and spend much of the episode in awe of her. The other mane characters are also notably impressed with Daring Do's fighting prowess against Caballeron's henchponies.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Rainbow Dash's response when Twilight suggested a "carefully thought-out plan" is to fly off while shouting.
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: The episode reveals Daring Do and her adventures are real, with Daring herself writing under the penname A.K. Yearling. She makes some adjustments to the story, such as giving Rainbow Dash a baseball hat and bag.
- Loony Fan: Rainbow Dash's reason for finding/stalking A.K. Yearling is to take care of whatever mundane activities are keeping the author from finishing the next book in the series as soon as possible. She's willing to cook her meals, do her laundry, anything to have Yearling spend every waking moment writing her next book. Strangely, Twilight — the fangirl who inducted Rainbow to the fandom — was the only one who found the proposal creepy.
- MacGuffin: Daring Do's golden ring, which is part of a set of rings known as the Rings of Scorcherro that, when gathered, will place an 800-year curse of sweltering heat on the valley.
- Match Cut: When Rainbow Dash is retelling Daring Do's latest book at the beginning, the transition to the story match Rainbow Dash with Daring Do. The end of the Imagine Spot is marked by the sudden replacement of Ahuizotl by Fluttershy.
- Meaningful Echo: When Rainbow Dash lifts Daring Do out of the death trap, she exclaims "You could flap too, you know!", chastising her for the lack of support. Daring repeats this to Rainbow while they're trying to lift the final ring, encouraging her to help out more.
- Mook Chivalry:
- Ahuizotl's cats considerately attack Daring Do one at a time.
- This is averted with Caballeron's mooks, who eventually dominate her by attacking all at once.
- Mr. Exposition: This role switches between Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Daring Do to get the viewers up to speed on the events of the books.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Rainbow Dash becomes wracked with guilt when she ends up getting Daring Do captured.
- Narrating the Obvious: Rainbow Dash and Daring Do find Caballeron and his henchponies eating in a clearing; Rainbow Dash says "Looks like they decided to have an early dinner before making their way back down the hill to the marketplace in town." Possibly subverted, since Daring Do's residence is earlier stated to be in a remote area, and the intended buyer had no trouble finding them in the clearing.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Rainbow Dash invokes this when she distracts Daring Do by trying to give her her hat, thus getting Daring Do captured.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: A.K. Yearling is a clear nod to J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, though the parallel to staff writer Amy Keating Rogers has also been acknowledged.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Dr. Caballeron's name is derived from the Spanish word caballero,note which is pronounced with a "y" or "j" sound rather than an "l" like it is throughout the episode. Possibly deliberate, to sound more like "Belloq".
- Noodle Incident: A series of plotlines from previous Daring Do books are mentioned briefly in an argument between Rainbow and Twilight.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Daring Do is clearly annoyed at Rainbow Dash's getting in her face and fangasming over her. She warms up to Dash at the end, though when she gets hugged for longer then she's comfortable with, she has to gently push Rainbow away as if to say "Yeah, I think that's enough."
- One-Mare Army: Whereas Daring Do mostly evaded Ahuizotl's cats in Quest for the Sapphire Statue (most likely due to her injury), here she is able to easily gain the upper hand in combat against multiple enemies. Rainbow Dash says that fighting armies by herself is one of Daring's many accomplishments.
- Only in It for the Money: Dr. Caballeron's allegiance lies with the highest bidder, as he helps deliver Daring Do's ring to Ahuizotl for a huge price, not caring that he'd be dooming the land to 800 years of unrelenting heat. When a disguised Daring tries tricking him into selling it back to her, he decides to make a change of plans. Unfortunately for Daring, Ahuizotl decides to show up at that exact moment (prompting Caballeron to grab the bag of bits and run).
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Rainbow Dash has accomplished some amazing things (Sonic Rainbow, fighting the Changeling army, toping evil gods with her friends, etc) but has built up Daring Do so much she herself feels inadequate. Twilight snaps her out of it in time for the final act.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Daring Do wears a beard made of leaves and flattened her usual hat slightly. Caballeron and his henchponies appear to fall for the disguise hook, line and sinker, though he seems to have been willing to sell the ring to anypony — even selling it back to Daring Do herself — for the right price.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: The combination on the Book Safe is '000'. It's understandable because it's not immediately obvious in-universe that the book is really a Book Safe.
- Pen Name: A.K. Yearling is one for Daring Do.
- Piranha Problem: The water in the death trap Ahuizotl locks Daring Do in is filled with piranhas.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I. Work. Alone."
- Real After All: The Mane Six are shocked to discover that Daring Do and her adventures are real.
- Refuge in Audacity: One can very well argue that this is how Daring is able to sell her books yet avoid ponies realizing it's real; an adventure archeologist that fights armies and works her way out of death traps etc sounds too Action Hero-y to be real. It helps that there are probably are FAR stranger things out there in Equestria.
- The Runt at the End: The "Death Kitty" amongst Ahuizotl's pack of feline heavies.
- Shaped Like Itself: Pinkie Pie, master of tautology: "You might say the secret ingredient is... a secret!"
- Just as with "Read It and Weep", there's many shout-outs to Indiana Jones:
- Daring Do remains the Expy of Indy, and this time she has a whip.
- Rival archaeologist Dr. Caballeron is evocative of René Belloq.
- Rainbow's baseball cap on the cover at the end is a clear nod to Short Round.
- Look closely and there's an internal shout-out on that cover as well. It appears as though A.K. Yearling considers Rainbow Dash to be the Derpy Hooves of her fictional world.
- While traveling to Yearling's home, they have a similar Travel Montage as the films with a red line following their progress on a map of Equestria. This is Lampshaded in that Pinkie was painting the line behind them the whole way.
- The golden ring being lost into the fireplace and then pulled out and quenched is similar to what happens to the Headpiece of the Staff of Ra at Marion's bar. (This also is possible reference to another major story about rings...)
- A. K. Yearling is an Expy of J. K. Rowling, as well as a play on series writer Amy Keating Rogers (in initials and status among the fandom).
- Rainbow Dash trying to fight alongside Daring Do as a sidekick (while unintentionally causing damage in the process) and Daring Do telling her that she works alone, reminds you of how Buddy interacted with Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles.
- The structure holding the golden rings is inspired by the Towers of Hanoi. It even leads to disaster when completed (and, in an inversion, when destroyed).
- So the hero worshiper intervenes in a battle between The Hero and the Big Bad, causing the latter to use her as leverage in defeating the hero. Where have we heard that before?
- Pinkie's fez with her mark on the front could be seen as a shout-out to Grunkle Stan's fez from Gravity Falls.
- The plot of the episode (an adventurer who writes novels documenting his/her real life adventures, disguising it as pulp fiction) seems to be a big shout out to the 1986 movie Jake Speed, a film similarly inspired by Indiana Jones.
- Sickening Crunch: When Daring Do tries to put weight on her broken foreleg before splinting it.
- Skewed Priorities: Instead of worrying about the safety of A.K. Yearling and what happened to her house, Rainbow Dash only worries about if she wouldn't be able to write more books. Twilight at least calls her out on this.
- Spin to Deflect Stuff: Daring Do, by spinning her tail, deflects a volley of arrows with a mini-tornado. Although it was retelling by Rainbow Dash of a scene from the book, so she might be exaggerating a bit. We don't know if the true Daring Do can do it.
- Spit Take: Rainbow Dash after Twilight informs her that the next book will be delayed for two months.
- Squee: Rainbow and Twilight for much of the episode, though Rainbow is more vocal about it.
- Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream makes yet another appearance, twice.
- Symbol Swearing: One of Caballeron's mook has grawlix as a cutie mark. The others, similarly, have different comic book effects for cutie marks.
- Temple of Doom: Ahuizotl's lair. Oddly, it's referred to as a "fortress" within the episode.
- Terms of Endangerment: Daring Do's line in the dialog at the top of this page.
- Travel Montage: Lampshaded as described in the Shout-Out. Bonus points though as the map used is geographically the same as the previous Equestria map that was published as posters prior to Season 3.
- Tuckerization: A meta-example, A.K. Yearling is a nod to staff writer Amy Keating Rogers.
- The Unpronounceable: Applejack has trouble saying Ahuizotl's name. She's the only one.
- Unwanted Assistance: Daring Do's reaction to Rainbow Dash tagging along. She warms up to her over time when it turns out she does need the help.
- Unwanted Rescue: Daring Do makes clear she didn't want Rainbow Dash to save her because she was escaping on her own.
- Vocal Evolution: Ahuizotl's voice sounds more gravelly and Daring's sounds raspier compared to their previous appearance. Possibly justified in that their last appearance was in Rainbow Dash's imagination and here they're seen in the flesh.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Early in the episode, Twilight has had enough of Rainbow Dash's invading A.K. Yearling's privacy and scolds her for it.
- Exploited later when Daring Do bitingly tells Rainbow Dash she's helped plenty after her "help" gets her caught. Rainbow Dash thinks she's blown it, but Daring Do later reveals that she let herself get caught to enter the temple and used Rainbow Dash's distraction to further convince Ahuizotl that she was truly captured.
- Wham Line: As said by Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash when they discover A.K. Yearling's big secret:
Twilight Sparkle & Rainbow Dash: A.K. Yearling is Daring Do!
- Would Hit a Girl: Caballeron's mooks, and Ahuizotl and his minions. Understandable since their nemesis is a female who can fight them 3-1.