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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) Issue 21 to 22

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Manehattan Mysteries

Story by Ted Anderson, Art by Agnes Garbowska and Bill Forster (Ted has provided annotations for this arc.)

Applejack, Apple Bloom, Fluttershy, and Rarity have been invited by the Great and Powerful Trixie to one of her magic shows in Manehattan, and they invite Babs Seed along as well. At the show, Trixie does an escape trick involving the valuable Ostlerheimer Diamond, but by the end of the trick, the diamond has gone missing. The theater is quickly blockaded by police. The Ponyville group are surprised that Trixie has actually been working with the police to try to capture the notorious thief Rough Diamond, who has been performing a series of gem thefts in the city. Trixie reveals that the diamond that she had used in the show was a fake, with a magical tracking device hidden on it, but they are surprised to find the fake hidden in Applejack's hat. Confused, Trixie and the others go with the police to the theater office, where the real Ostlerheimer Diamond was stored and, after a smoke bomb hidden in the safe goes off, finds the diamond missing. The police chief reveals that he too put a tracking device on the real diamond, and when one of his sergeants track down the magic, they find the diamond on Trixie. The entire group is put under suspicion, but Trixie grabs the others and escapes.

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After ditching the real Ostlerheimer Diamond, the group make for Babs Seed's home to hide out and figure out their next steps. They agree that they must try to catch Rough Diamond and clear Trixie's name, with several of the ponies that were helping Trixie's show as possible suspects. However, they have no idea as to the thief's next target until Babs notices a scrap of paper stuck in Trixie's mane, part of a map of the city highlighting the Manehattan Museum of Art. Applejack vows they will catch the thief there and clear Trixie's name.

The group dons disguises to split up; Fluttershy and Apple Bloom check out the museum to find that the next target of Rough Diamond is the Forehoof Pendant, while the others visit various jewelry stories to discover one where Rough Diamond pawned off her stolen wares, with the shopkeeper only being able to recall having seen a bit of her cutie mark, a diamond. Regrouping, they agree they need to try to catch Rough Diamond in the act and they sneak into the museum that night. They spot the masked Rough Diamond in the midst of the act but she creates a distraction, and before the others know it, Rough Diamond has disappeared and the police have captured the group. Babs catches something odd about one of the arresting officers, Officer Fluffles, and creates a distraction while ordering Trixie to capture her. Babs realizes that the theft of the Ostlerheimer Diamond could have only be done by someone on the inside, including any of the police, and points out that Fluffles' cutie mark is oddly-shaped - when she wipes it away, it reveals the diamond, proving Fluffles is really Rough Diamond. Rough Diamond is apprehended, and the police are able to recover all the missing gems. Trixie is exonerated and thanks Babs for giving her a second chance, and she returns to the stage the next night to finish off her show proper.

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These issues provide examples of:

  • Anthropomorphic Shift: While the comic has done this before, in this issue the characters spend a LOT of time on bipedal stances and human poses that really don't make much sense.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Or at least disguised as one.
  • Batman Gambit: The police were hoping that Rough Diamond would try and steal the diamond, as the one Trixie was using was a fake with a tracker on it.
  • Character Development: Trixie is again quick to drop the Third-Person Person act offstage, and is quick to refer to the gang as her friends.
  • Clear Their Name: Trixie gets framed for a theft and the rest of the group is accused of being her accomplices. They have to find and capture the real thief to prove their innocence.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • To Friends Forever #6, as Trixie is mentioned as being the former Queen of Diamondia (the Diamond Dog kingdom).
    • Babs Seed joins Apple Bloom and the other three mares to see Trixie's show; this is implied as Apple Bloom's first visit to the city after "One Bad Apple"/"Apple Family Reunion".
    • Applejack is wearing her "Apple Jewel" dress from "Simple Ways", though she wears her hat and doesn't have her mane done up.
    • Apple Bloom tells Babs that Trixie has a "history" in Ponyville when Babs asks about the gang knowing Trixie.
    • Babs mentions her sister again when offering the others a place to stay while they try and figure out the mess they're in.
    • Apple Bloom once again describes jewels as "shiny".
    • Babs mentions her brief bullying stint to Trixie in an attempt to cheer the mare up and let her know that she knows how she feels.
    • Fluttershy wears her "Dangerous Mission Outfit" from "Magic Duel" when they sneak back into the museum.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Issue #22 starts with a paper pony selling the Equestria Daily newspaper, announcing the daring jewel thief of the previous issue (and offering a quick recap in the process).
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: We get clues to Rough Diamond's identity in the first issue of the arc — Officer Fluffles is blue, which explains how she could have disguised herself as Princess Luna, and she puts her ear to the safe when opening it, even though she had already been given the combination. The original diamond trap was also a Closed Circle, narrowing down the suspects pretty quickly, and much like Micro Series #1 the smudged cutie mark is drawn smudged through the whole issue.
  • Foreshadowing: If the description didn't give it away, Rarity's comment about the jewel thefts before the show should have been a strong indicator of what was going to happen.
  • Frame-Up: Trixie is framed for the diamond theft.
  • Funny Background Event: Some of the police officers are doing things like looking into a flashlight or eating in/swimming in the pudding vat.
    • It's possible to see Rough Diamond's smudged cutie mark after her robbery attempt at the museum.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Trixie attempts to perform one: she tries to make a diamond disappear while blindfolded and tied upside-down from a burning rope over a giant vat of pudding.
  • Impossible Theft: Rough Diamond manages to get the fake diamond under Applejack's hat and the real diamond under Trixie's hat without either noticing (though she did leave a clue behind in the process).
  • Informed Flaw: Applejack tells to Babs Seed that Trixie had "some kinda scheme goin' on" everytime she shown up in Ponyville. It's actually Snips and Snails who led the Ursa Minor while Trixie just wanted to make a show the first time she came there. However, she did return for revenge with the Alicorn Amulet (though ultimately went too far without meaning to), so this trope is played with.
  • Intergenerational Friendship : Trixie and Babs Seed become very good friends through their Not So Different realization; plus, Babs didn't meet Trixie before this adventure so she never personally experienced Trixie's worst moments, making her much more willing and open to befriend her.
  • Jeweler's Eye Loupe: Rarity is seen using a loupe to confirm that a diamond is fake.
  • Just One Little Mistake: The one thing that led to Rough Diamond's arrest is Officer Fluffles' smudged cutie mark. Babs deduces that because the police were called in immediately after Rough Diamond's escape, she rushed to apply her fake cutie mark before joining the police chief, smudging it in the process.
  • Kid Detective: Babs proves herself a very good one in the end.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Trixie does this while blindfolded in issue #21, with the aid of one of her assistants.
  • Magician Detective: Trixie becomes one in this arc.
  • Master of Disguise: One of Rough Diamond's heists involved disguising herself as Princess Luna to rob a bank. And it turns out she was masquerading as Officer Fluffles all along. Sharp-eyed readers can use this against her: Fluffles is almost exactly the same color as Princess Luna.
  • Meaningful Name: Trixie's assistants are named Peppers Ghost and Miss Direction, both magic-related terms.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Rough Diamond's attempt at stealing the Forehoof Pendant is by dangling from the ceiling with a rope.
  • The Mole: The gang theorize that Rough Diamond might be one of the police officers, one of Trixie's assistants, or even the theater director. It turns out to be Officer Fluffles.
  • Mythology Gag: The safe combination is "4-14-84", which is also the date the first MLP special Rescue at Midnight Castle, aired.
  • Noodle Incident: Rough Diamond's other thefts, namely the one where she disguised herself as Princess Luna to rob a bank.
  • Out-Gambitted: Rough Diamond somehow manages to catch on to the plot to trick her and turns it into a Frame-Up for Trixie.
  • The Navigator: Babs Seed. Only natural as she's the only Manehattan native of the group.
  • Not So Different: Babs is able to relate to Trixie as she too had been nasty in the past and has changed since then. The two quickly become friends.
  • Phantom Thief: Rough Diamond, an infamous jewel thief who the police have never caught.
  • Schizo Tech: The turnstiles at the subway station, the subway trains, and the police van are very modern-looking. Anderson said he tried to avert this further in the museum by giving it a hallway filled with tripwires instead of a Laser Hallway.note 
  • Shown Their Work:
    • A very minor example: in their escape from Carneighie Hall, the characters catch an F train, which is the closest subway stop to Carnegie Hall and would, indeed, take you from Manhattan to Brooklyn (or Hooflyn). This was intentional.
    • Babs' apartment is located at "Farrier Hill"; this is a reference to the real world Cobblers Hill in New York, but per Word of God, plays on the name, as cobblers would make shoes, while farriers would make horseshoes.
  • Tempting Fate: Trixie says that no one had been in the office where the real diamond was right before an officer said someone had broken in.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Trixie uses a timed smoke bomb to lure away the two police ponies that are guarding the museum.
    Trixie: Always makes the audience look somewhere else! That's the power of misdirection!
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Trixie and the others might not have committed the theft, but they still resisted arrest and broke into a museum. As stupid and unfair as it is, in real life, resisting arrest is considered a separate charge, and you can still be charged with that even if you are found innocent of the crime they tried to arrest you for. Likewise, they may have had good intentions, but breaking and entering is still illegal. Of course, because this is a kids comic, none of this is brought up. Plus, Trixie can argue that she was ultimately helping to catch the thief, which precisely what the police hired her for in the first place, and her friends were just helping her. So any legal transgression, technically, was done as part of her job.
    • Also, the show implies at several points that Equestrian law is far more lenient with good-intentioned transgressions (Twilight is never charged for using the "Want It, Need It" spell, and Trixie was apparently forgiven for taking over Ponyville). It's possible Equestria has an actual "genuinely didn't mean to do it" escape clause.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Babs tells Trixie a bit about her stint as an antagonist, and assures the mare that while it'll be difficult, she can work to be good again.

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