While Pinkie Pie is reading the local paper, Rainbow Dash is shocked to learn that the next Daring Do book will be the last as the author, A.K. Yearling, plans to retire. Knowing that Yearling really is Daring Do, this must mean that Daring Do will stop adventuring. Thinking this is a misprint in the paper, the two go to see Yearling, who confirms the story is true. Yearling shows them news clippings from her recent travels to Southern Equestria, all of stories complaining about Daring Do's adventures causing damage to their homes and stores. Yearling admits that while these accidents were part of her adventures, though she didn't mean to cause the damage and she has no way to tell these ponies that. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie offer to help repair her reputation and the three travel to Somnambula, a village near a desert in Southern Equestria where she had her latest adventure.
There, it is obvious that the villagers still resent Daring Do when her name is brought up, as they hold her responsible for destroying their statue of the legendary figure of Somnambula when Daring Do was fighting Ahuizotl. Later, a figure in a mysterious cloak continues to egg on these stories and accuses Daring Do of stealing the glowpaz gems that the villagers offer to the statue as part of their tradition. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie try to stick up for Daring Do, telling the villagers how if Daring Do hadn't fought for them, they would have suffered a worse fate. However, the villagers note that their respect for Somnambula is of immense value: she had helped rescue a kind prince that had been helping to make sure his ponies did not starve during a great famine, but he had been kidnapped by a Sphinx. Somnambula solved the riddle of the Sphinx and took the Sphinx' challenge of performing a leap of faith to rescue the prince, restoring hope to the land. Their village's name and traditions are meant to honor Somnambula. Rainbow Dash insists that if Daring Do knew of how much Somnambula meant to the town, she would have respected the statue and glowpaz gems as well, but the cloaked figure continues to turn the villagers against Daring Do, and Yearling dejectedly walks away.
As Pinkie goes to see on Yearling, Rainbow Dash discovers that the cloaked figure is really Dr. Caballeron, and this was all part of his plan to ruin Daring Do's reputation and break her spirit. Before Rainbow Dash can warn her friends, Caballeron kidnaps her and takes her to the Sphinx's temple and ties her up. Pinkie catches sight of this, and warns Yearling about this. Yearling changes to Daring Do and the two set off to help Rainbow. They find themselves in a similar trap as Somnambula had to face, to cross a pit of green acid with no bridge to rescue Rainbow, with the temple's magic preventing Daring from flying, but Pinkie encourages her to take a leap of faith. To Daring's surprise, there are air vents in the pit that allow them to bounce across the pit and save Rainbow Dash.
They return to the village and see Caballeron and his mooks walking away with a large bag and they stop him; the bag spills open, revealing the stolen glowpaz. Realizing he's defeated, Caballeron reveals his whole plan in a fit of anger. The villagers chase Caballeron and his goons away, and cheer on Daring's name. Daring vows to never let Caballeron break her spirit like that again. Later, Yearling has unannounced her retirement, and under the Daring Do name has helped to repair the statue and other damage that happened in Somnambula, restoring Daring Do's name to them.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Daring Do, stuck in a Heroic BSoD after finding out her heroics have caused more harm than good, nearly decides to hang the hat on her adventures and writing. Thanks to support from Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, she forgoes her plans to retire.
- Adaptational Heroism: Zig-zagged. Somnambula was a villain when she first appeared in My Little Pony 'n Friends. Here, she's a historical hero who had an entire town named after her in memory of her bravery and hope. However, she is also Somnambula In Name Only.
- Adaptational Species Change: The original Somnambula was a human witch; this version is a pegasus heroine.
- An Aesop:
- Even if you try to do something good, you're still responsible for your actions.
- If something bad happens that you didn't intend, you shouldn't give up hope or lose faith in yourself.
- Artistic License Biology: Coconut trees are seen growing in Somnambula, which is located in a desert. Coconut trees only grow near coasts or beaches; they would not survive in a desert due to very scarce rainfall and drastic weather shifts between day and night. There's also the issue that since coconut trees are normally coastal plants that grow near the sea and rely on tides and currents to disperse their nuts and settle new areas, there's no way for them to have reached such a dry, inland place. Also, the coconuts on the palm have brown husks, when they should have green or yellow husks. This could be justified if they dried out due to the heat (as the palm leaves are), but a previous episode made the same mistake.
- Art Shift: The flashbacks to Somnambula's stories are mostly told through Limited Animation via hieroglyph-like images.
- Badass in Distress: Rainbow Dash is captured by Caballeron and placed in a trap which Daring and Pinkie must save her from.
- Bait-and-Switch: The innkeeper Rainbow and Pinkie talk with is first seen wearing extremely fancy clothing, so Pinkie addresses her as one would a minor noble hoping to gain some favor. The innkeeper speaks bluntly with a perfectly common accent not unlike Applejack. Pinkie, of course, isn't thrown off by this one bit.
- Behind the Black: Two of Caballeron's minions are hiding in the wrecked statue, fair enough. And then two more simply step into the frame with nothing they could have been hiding behind.
- Both Sides Have a Point: The villagers have full right to complain to Daring Do's Destructive Saviour tendencies, but, as Rainbow Dash points out, she never does it on purpose, and all those times she was doing her best to protect Equestria and save valuable and potentially dangerous magical relics. The conflict comes from both sides ignoring the other's problems until recently. In the end, they come to a compromise, with the villagers recognizing Daring Do's heroic actions, and Daring making herself responsible for the damages she causes and doing her best to repair them.
- Big "WHAT?!": Rainbow Dash's reaction on hearing about A.K. Yearling's retirement.
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Pinkie lists off a series of fairly trivial articles from the newspaper to a disinterested Rainbow Dash, with news of A.K. Yearling's retirement among them.
- Buffy Speak: Rainbow calls the hand on the end of Ahuizotl's tail a "weird claw thingy".
- Canon Welding: Somnambula is now part of the show canon, despite her origins from the Legends of Magic comic series.
- Character Development: Pinkie is much more considerate of others in this episode, especially when when compared to some of her previous ones. She even tells Rainbow Dash repeatedly not to be so pushy.Pinkie Pie: Okay! Heeeey... You're not just trying to make sure she writes more Daring Do books, are you?
Pinkie Pie: A. K. Yearling just retired. Like, today. Are you sure she wants visitors?
Pinkie Pie: Of course, if you don't feel like talking about it, that's A-okay, A. K.! As your friends, we completely understand. [glares at Rainbow Dash] Right, Rainbow Dash?
- Comically Missing the Point: After Rainbow Dash grabs the newspaper upon hearing one of the articles was of A.K. Yearling's retirement, Pinkie mentions she never knew Rainbow was so into politics.
- Continuity Nod:
- This isn't the first time Pinkie invokes a character to take a Leap of Faith.
- According to the newspaper, Fillydelphia had a parasprite infestion.
- From the novels (also written by G. M. Berrow), we have the Get On Inn and Mrs. Trotsworth from The Daring Do Adventure Collection and glowpaz from Trixie and the Razzle-Dazzle Ruse.
- Delayed Reaction: When Pinkie is listing off news Rainbow isn't interested in and gets to the part about A. K. Yearling retiring, it takes Rainbow until Pinkie has finished announcing the next piece of news to process and react to what she said.
- Destructive Saviour: Daring Do is accused of being this to the people of Somnambula. While Dr. Caballeron is playing it up to make Daring Do into a villain, Daring admits that some of what he says is true. For instance, Daring destroyed a statue of the town's hero Somnambula and skipped out on a hotel bill, but did so because she had to return artifacts together in time to defeat an ancient curse.
- Distress Ball: Rainbow Dash gets hit hard with it in the final act, where Caballeron's minions manage to capture her without much of a fight. She might have felt too guilty about unintentionally falling into his trap, but she doesn't even struggle one bit, nor does she simply think to fly away.
- Distressed Dude: In Somnambula's story, Prince Hisan's attempt to stand up to the sphinx results in him getting abducted, trapped inside a pyramid and having to be rescued by Somnambula.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Experienced by Daring Do when the villagers hate her due to some collateral damage, despite her saving them all from certain doom. However, it's heavily implied that the villagers had no idea what was really at stake when Daring caused the damage.
- Early-Bird Cameo:
- Somnambula was first mentioned by Sunburst during "The Crystalling" while reciting various spells to help Flurry Heart, one of them being "Somnambula's Weather Abjuration". Also, like Rockhoof, Mistmane and Flash Magnus, she debuted in the Legends of Magic comic book before appearing on screen.
- The Get On Inn and its innkeeper Mrs. Trotsworth were elements G.M. Berrow previously created for her The Daring Do Adventure Collection.
- Evil Gloating: When Daring Do confronts him, Caballeron can't help but brag about his plan to break her spirit.
- Expanded Universe: Somnambula also appears in the Legends of Magic issue released the same week, where her story gets expanded further.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Somnambula's headdress and clash with a sphinx mark her namesake village as Equestria's version of Egypt. Said village also has traits of an actual Egyptian village or town, most of its residents seem to wear kohl, and it is located near ancient pyramids.
- Field Power Effect: The Sphinx's temple has magic which prevents pegasi from using flight inside. This prevented Somnambula from flying in to rescue the prince, and prevents Daring from reaching Rainbow Dash with her wings.
- Forgot About His Powers: When Caballeron's Mooks pop out to ambush Rainbow Dash, she just invokes Deer in the Headlights instead of even trying to — you know — fly away at her signature Super Speed.
- Hand Wave: Daring/A.K.'s dual life, which has always been rife with Fridge Logic, finally gets some justification: she conducts her adventures in Equestria's distant southern reaches, while her books are published in the north where FIM takes place, explaining why Daring and Caballeron are considered fictional characters despite their rather public line of work. This still relies on there being very little communication between Southern Equestria and Northern Equestria for somepony who obviously has saved countless lives in Southern Equestria to not get any attention at all in Northern Equestria, for whatever reason.
- Hate Sink: It's a challenge not to dislike Caballeron for actively besmirching Daring Do's reputation, especially when he convinces the village ponies that Somnanbula would want them to hold a grudge against Daring Do and he has no reason to do beyond being mad that she foiled his other immoral enterprises in the past. Worse, he frames Daring Do of stealing the glopaz (which he stole) partly to keep the heat off himself.
- Hero Insurance: The episode is one long examination of the concept, as Daring Do's adventures can have a negative side-effect for the locals in the aftermath of her saving their lives and homes. This is both by what she causes herself and the type of ne'er do wells she fights against, and leave the townsfolk responsible for the damages. The "insurance" is apparently funded by her book royalties because she pays to fix the damage at the end of the episode.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Just the mere mention of Daring Do's name in Somnambula is enough to anger the most pleasant citizens there, on account of her bringing trouble and causing mayhem everywhere she goes. Dr. Caballeron takes advantage of this by pinning his own crimes on Daring Do, and since the townsponies hate her already, they find no reason to doubt him.
- Hope Bringer: For the village of Somnambula, the eponymous heroine becomes the very embodiment of hope through her selfless actions, with a gigantic statue of her serving as a reminder of her legacy. Thus, it is hardly surprising why the villagers hate Daring Do for accidentally destroying that statue during one of her adventures.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The villagers of Somnambula can't tell heroes from villains. While they had good reason to resent Daring Do for the damage she unwittingly caused, they had no trouble trusting Caballeron's every word, in spite of the fact that he always hid his face from them. They even believed his claim to be one of them, which should have made them question why he was keeping his face hidden from his "fellow" villagers.
- I Gave My Word: There's a double subversion here. In line with ancient Greek mythology, the Sphinx really does keep her promise of going away and never returning if Somnambula succeeds, despite having nothing to gain from that. Although the story states that the Sphinx would have just killed Somnambula after the first challenge if she didn't suggest a second one.
- In Name Only: Aside from being female, Somnambula has nothing in common with her G1 counterpart. At least with Tirek he looks like his G1 counterpart.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While Rainbow Dash speaking ill of the statue was kind of uncalled for (though justified since she was unaware of the gracious story behind it), shes right when she says that losing the entire town was worst than just losing the statue.
- Karma Houdini: The Sphinx never pays for her crimes, as she simply flies off after Somnambula manages to rescue the prince, never to be seen again.
- Laser-Guided Karma: While Caballeron does escape retribution from the village ponies, he doesn't elude consequences entirely. For trying to ruin Daring Do's reputation, not only is Caballeron's plot of stealing the glopaz exposed, but if the wanted poster is any indication, all of the villagers' hatred of Daring Do has transferred to Caballeron.
- Leap of Faith: Pinkie invokes this trope when leaping down into the acid pit. Daring Do leaps in after her and finds air vents that blow steam upward, allowing them to bounce across the pit to save Rainbow Dash and use those same air vents to get out.
- Manipulative Bastard: Caballeron's latest outing involves convincing everypony to see Daring Do through a Hero with Bad Publicity lens. To his credit, it gets him a Near-Villain Victory... at least until he grabs the Villain Ball and reveals himself for some Evil Gloating.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Sphinx. Unlike the classic sphinx of mythology, which possesses a human head, this version has the head of a pony (with razor-sharp teeth), along with the body of a cat and the wings of an eagle.
- Moving the Goalposts: Downplayed. The sphinx originally stated that it would only release Prince Hisan if someone answered its riddle. When Somnambula answers the riddle, it flies into a rage. Somnambula offers to take another challenge in order to prove her worth beyond doubt and satisfy the sphinx. This has the added bonus of convincing the Sphinx to leave town.
- Mythology Gag: Somnambula was the name of a villain in My Little Pony 'n Friends.
- Noodle Incident: Daring Do's previous adventure in Somnambula and apparently a fight with Ahuizotl led to some damage in the town, but what happened to cause that is not explained.
- Not Helping Your Case: After Caballeron is exposed, and the villagers turn on him, he calls them "fools" for their newfound belief in Daring Do. As you might expect, this does nothing to change the villagers' minds.
- Only Sane Man: "Sane" and "Pinkie Pie" rarely go hand-in-hand, but she is the most sensible and supportive character in the episode, calling out and reining in Rainbow Dash when her emotions get the better of her and being very supportive of Daring Do when she doubts herself.Pinkie Pie: [pushing Rainbow Dash aside to give space to A.K./Daring] Of course, if you don't feel like talking about it, that's a-okay, A.K. As your friends, we completely understand. [to Rainbow Dash] Right, Rainbow Dash?
- Our Sphinxes Are Different: The flashback sequence features a sphinx in the shape of an enormous, purple, winged catlike creature with a vaguely pony-like head (as all partly-human creatures in the setting have their humanoid body parts replaced with something else) and a stylized nemes headdress. It terrorized Somnambula's home in the distant past, kidnapping its prince when he tried to stand up to her and taking the crops of the people. When Somnambula came to rescue the kidnapped prince, the sphinx demanded that she solve a riddle before being permitted to do so, and after Somnambula did so further demanded that she rescue the prince from a prison in the middle of a pool of corrosive slime after having her ability to fly removed by the sphinx's magic.
- Orphaned Series: A.K. Yearling's retirement has put the future of the Daring Do series in doubt, with Rainbow Dash fearing that the series is coming to an end.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Caballeron's disguise is only a simple hooded cloak. Despite this, he never gets found out by Rainbow Dash or A.K. Yearling (Dash even has a rather extensive conversation with him standing right in front of him where she could surely see under his hood).
- Poor Communication Kills: The villagers would have been much more tolerant of Daring Do's destruction if they knew the reasons behind it; at the very least, they wouldn't be so hateful and would have politely yet firmly asked her to pay for the damages.
- Proportional Article Importance: When Pinkie thinks that Rainbow wants to look at the paper to see the news about Cloudsdale politics, Rainbow shoves the page with Yearling's retirement announcement in her face. Pinkie sees an entirely different article.Pinkie Pie: I never would've picked noodles as the official food for Whinnyapolis either, but here we are.
- Riddling Sphinx: Somnambula's home is terrorized by one. The sphinx gives a riddle to Somnambula which she must solve to release the kidnapped prince.Sphinx: I shine brightest in the dark. I am there, but cannot be seen. To have me costs you nothing. To be without me costs you everything.
Somnambula: ... Hope.
- Scape Goat: As the townfolk of Somnambula are already angered by the property damage Daring Do had left, Caballeron uses this to his advantage and starts blaming Daring for something she didn't do. Namely, his own theft of the town's glowpaz.
- The pyramid seen over the town of Somnambula looks like the pyramid ship from the Stargate movie.
- Pinkie and Daring Do having to perform a Leap of Faith in the episode's climax seems intentionally reminiscent of a Leap of Faith that Indiana Jones had to perform in the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana Jones naturally being the inspiration behind Daring Do's entire character.
- Shut Up and Save Me!: Rainbow Dash interrupts Daring Do and Pinkie Pie congratulating themselves for having made a Leap of Faith by reminding them she's still tied up and the platform they're standing on is sinking in the slime.
- Sickly Green Glow: The bubbling green slime at the bottom of the pit in the pyramid is letting of a sinister green glow, tinting green even ponies on the edge of the pit.
- Skewed Priorities: Played with when Rainbow Dash tries to convince the ponies of Somnambula that there were bigger problems at hand than all of the trouble Daring Do accidentally caused.
- Skyward Scream: The Sphinx does this when Somnambula correctly solves its riddle (though it's more like a demonic roar than a scream).
- Sore Loser: When Somnambula solves the Sphinx's riddle, the Sphinx becomes enraged and only calms down when Somnambula offers to go through another challenge.
- The Storyteller: The old stallion who tells the story of Somnambula seems to be the resident storyteller of that village as he tells Rainbow Dash the village lore.
- Third Act Stupidity: Caballeron's plan would have succeeded had he not resorted to Evil Gloating, and Rainbow Dash lets his Mooks take her without trouble.
- Vent Physics: Non-video-game example. Some conveniently and well-hidden air vents blowing steam upwards within the acid pit allow Pinkie and Daring to reach Rainbow's sinking platform to save her (and provide a way back).
- Verbal Backspace: Caballeron is prone to this while posing as a resident of Somnambula.
- Dr. Caballeron: Here it is! The remains of your I mean, our Somnambula statue!
- Villain Ball: Caballeron drops several:
- When Rainbow Dash confronts him about sullying Daring Do's name, he drops his disguise, revealing his true identity, for no reason.
- By kidnapping Rainbow Dash and placing her in a deathtrap, he inadvertantly gave Daring a reason to revert back to her heroic ways.
- Shortly after, he and his minions drag their bag full of stolen glowpaz through the streets of Somnambula, in full view of the villagers. When Daring surprises them, the bag opens, revealing Caballeron as the true thief.
- When Daring confronts him, Caballeron loudly boasts about his plan to trick the villagers into thinking she stole their glowpaz - again, in full view of said villagers. This leads to the villagers turning against him and driving he and his minions out of Somnambula.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Dr. Caballeron runs off after the people of Somnambula turn on him for stealing their gems, swearing revenge against Daring Do and her friends for mucking things up for him.
- Villainous Breakdown: Once the heroes expose him as a thief, Cabelleron goes on a Motive Rant about his plan to demoralize Daring Do.
- Vocal Dissonance: Although Somnambula and the Sphinx are depicted as female, the voices that come out sound male. It's justified because an elderly stallion is telling the story.
- Worldbuilding: The story takes place in Somnambula, an Egyptian-themed village in the saharan-style desert of Southern Equestria which also has an ancient pyramid nearby that used to be the home of an evil Sphinx.