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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S9 E21 "Daring Doubt"

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Written by Nicole Dubuc
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Rainbow Dash is eagerly waiting for Fluttershy so they can go off to an A.K. Yearling book signing. Fluttershy, who got into the Daring Do books thanks to Rainbow, is late as she is reading the latest title in the series, but one that Rainbow hasn't heard of. Taking a look, she finds it is an unauthorized version of Daring Do, written by a pony named Groom Q.Q. Martingale, that seems highly critical of what Daring Do has done.

With Fluttershy in tow, Rainbow goes to see A.K. at her book signing, but finds that the crowds there are trying to ask A.K. about Martingale's book, and walk off when she can't provide counter-answers. A.K. admits she has no idea who Martingale is or how he knows so much about her, but does know he is having his own book signing across the street. Rainbow and Fluttershy goes to the other store and see Martingale and the crowd gathered for him, who they immediately recognize through the disguise as Doctor Caballeron. Rainbow immediately accosts Caballeron, but he remains aloof to being discovered, and Rainbow storms off. Fluttershy however tries to learn more, and as the crowd dissipates, he explains he wants to set the record right about what happened on Daring's adventures, asserting that he and his goons were only trying to recover important artifacts but Daring stole them first for her own safekeeping, and that Daring continually destroys important archaeological sites in these ventures. As Fluttershy continues to be attentive, Caballeron coerces her to help them recover a special artifact before Daring Do can. Fluttershy agrees to join their expedition, shocking Rainbow.

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Rainbow warns A.K., who guesses Caballeron needs a pegasus' help to recover a truth-telling amulet, and slipping into her Daring Do outfit, takes off with Rainbow to catch up. Meanwhile, Caballeron and his goons continue to fake their thanks and support for Fluttershy, but after she is able to provide them a fresh lunch and keep wild cats at bay, they start to realize she is particularly helpful. They reach and enter the temple with the amulet, with Daring and Rainbow right behind them.

In the temple's center, Fluttershy successfully retrieves the amulet, while Caballeron and his goons help her to escape from a dangerous eruption of lava. Daring and Rainbow arrive just as Fluttershy turns the amulet over to Caballeron, but this results in Caballeron revealing his whole plan. However, he and his goons admit that Fluttershy has convinced them there may be better ways to earn a living. Just then, the temple guard, Ahuizotl appears and traps them in the inner chamber, demanding they return the amulet. When the ponies don't, he sends a pack of stone gargoyles after them. Rainbow, Fluttershy, Daring, Caballeron and his goons work together to keep them at bay. However, Ahuizotl manages to get his hands on the amulet, but coerced by it, reveals that he needs to make sure this amulet doesn't get stolen, as his failure to stop both Daring and Caballeron from stealing other artifacts in the valley will get him in trouble with the other guardians. Fluttershy encourages everypony there to stop and listen to the others to work out a mutually beneficial solution. Daring and Caballeron agree, vouching on the amulet, that they will stop stealing artifacts, and this gives them both an idea.

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Sometime later, A.K. Yearling and Martingale have co-authored a book together about Daring Do and Doctor Caballeron, but find that their work is being upstaged by Ahuizotl's own book about his own plights against the pair.


Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Pickpocket, the new henchpony introduced in "Stranger than Fan Fiction", is not with Dr. Caballeron this time. Same thing with the tiger among Ahuizotl's cats.
  • Aborted Arc: Daring Do's reputation. Early on, her fans have turned on her and her identity due to the events in the episode, but it's never brought up again, even when A.K. Yearling is co-writing a book with Caballeron.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Truth Talisman of Tonatiuh.
  • An Aesop:
    • There are two sides to every story. You shouldn't label someone as a bad guy just because of the way they act or refuse to give them a chance to explain themselves.
    • Helping yourself to other cultures' heritage and breaking into their sacred sites to do so is a very shady thing to do.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Fluttershy takes to calling Caballeron "Dr. C".
  • Becoming the Mask: Dr. Caballeron and his henchmen pretend to be nice and misunderstood to trick Fluttershy into helping them retrieve another artifact but her kindness on the journey there really endear them to turning over a new leaf. Dr. Caballeron admits as much when he first puts on the truth amulet.
  • Blatant Lies: Caballeron. He tells Fluttershy that he only wants to find artifacts to put in a museum, and sells them to reopen his own after Daring Do's interference caused it to close. He also feigns ignorance over the Truth Talisman requiring a Pegasus to retrieve.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Dr. Caballeron is clearly running a smear campaign on Daring Do again so he can ruin her chances of thwarting his thefts, but he is telling the truth that her actions destroy a lot of ancient sites while she hoards their artifacts in her home. However, when Daring Do touches the Truth Talisman in the final act of the episode, she reveals she takes the items because she feels compelled to protect them from falling into the wrong hands, that and Dr. Caballeron is possibly no better at keeping a historical site in place.
  • The Bus Came Back: After being absent for five seasons since "Daring Don't" (and being mentioned in "Daring Done?"), Ahuizotl returns in this episode.
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: In his own version of the Daring Do stories, Dr. Caballeron calls himself "mild-mannered".
  • Call-Back: Rainbow Dash brings up how Dr. Caballeron spread false rumors about Daring Do in Somnambula.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Daring Do is able to change clothes from her A.K. Yearling persona into her usual outfit in the time it takes for her to throw off her cloak.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Withers unknowingly finds himelf directly beneath a flyder hive.
    • Rainbow's secret love of spa treatments is referenced.
    • This isn't the first time Fluttershy has reformed a villain just by being her kind self.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Rainbow Dash invokes this when Caballeron admits his and his group have to genuinely like Fluttershy.
  • Dirty Coward: When Fluttershy insists she can handle the big cats, Dr. Caballeron calls her "crazy" and tells her she's on her own, leaping into a bush to hide.
  • Easily Condemned: Once again, all of Daring Do's good deeds of saving artifacts and protecting the world are forgotten the moment someone badmouths her. In this case, Dr. Caballeron's "tell-all" book about Daring Do turns most of her fans on her.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite all the times that Caballeron and Ahuizotl tried to ruin and kill her respectively, Daring Do forgives them both and even co-writes a novel with the former.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Dr. Caballeron is genuinely confused when Fluttershy offers to share her food.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the actual truths in Dr. Caballeron's book is that she hoards a lot of artifacts while destroying the temples that housed them, in one flashback Ahuizotl is seen shaking his fist at her from the rubble of one. The conflict at the climax involves addressing and resolving that.
    • Dr. Caballeron's group are attacked by a group of cats, which astute viewers will recall as the ones working for Ahuizotl.
  • Glowing Eyes: The indicator that the Truth Talisman is working is that a character's eyes glow bright green.
  • Good All Along: It is revealed that Ahuizotl is the guardian of his jungle and is in charge of keeping the artifacts within it safe, rather than trying to use them for some Evil Plan as was originally thought. Because artifacts keep getting stolen by Daring Do and Caballeron on his watch, he's in trouble with the other guardians and could lose his job if any more go missing, hence his hostility towards them.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Both of Daring Do's recurring enemies become allies in this episode. In Ahuizotl's case, however, he didn't have to reform that much in the first place.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Daring Do's image is once again ruined by Dr. Caballeron and shockingly, it’s left ambiguous if she regains it at the end of the episode.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • According to his book, Dr. Caballeron is a history professor, and an amateur birdwatcher.
    • Rogue, one of Caballeron's henchponies, admits while under the Truth Talisman's power that he wants to become an opera star.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Fluttershy is quick to believe the best in Dr. Caballeron after reading a book that was written from his point of view (i.e. a biased source) that depicts him as a good pony. This is despite having witnessed him and his men attack Daring Do in her own home previously and claiming to have read the entire Daring Do series, which detail his other villainous acts. Though it is ultimately downplayed since her believing the best in him, and her kindness towards him, prompts him to come to value her as a friend and turn over a new leaf.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Even caught in-universe:
    Rainbow Dash: It's Dr. Caballeron in disguise! Now it all makes sense! Daring Do's archnemesis created a fake author self so he can write books that make him sound like a hero! Who does that?!
    Fluttershy: Uh, A. K. Yearling?
  • Indy Hat Roll: Rainbow Dash and Daring Do fly through a mobile floor atop a temple as it is closing; Daring Do, fitting with her Indiana Jones expy status, leaves her pith helmet behind, but grabs it just in time.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally; Dr. Caballeron's book says that Daring Do kicks puppies. When a filly asks A.K. Yearling about this, A.K. Yearling defensively says it only happened one time accidentally.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the beginning of the episode, Caballeron's book signing overshadowed AK Yearling's own appearance. At the end, it is Ahuizotl's own book that overshadows his and AK's collaboration.
  • Mean Boss: Dr. Caballeron tends to talk down to his henchponies, and not listen to their advice. However, Caballeron tries to maintain a friendly aura when Fluttershy's watching.
  • Nice Hat: Biff's fedora and Fluttershy's bucket hat.
  • No-Sell: The guardiangoyles aren't affected by Fluttershy's ability to speak with animals, since they're creations of magic.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Daring Do's enemies are now reformed, and she and Caballeron have started writing books together.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: The guardiangoyles are stone statues in the general shape of a pegasus, but with bat-like wings, fangs and claws, come to life by magic and are petrified by light.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Zigzagged. Dr. Caballeron's disguise as Groom Q.Q. Martingale is a hat and a beard. Rainbow Dash doesn't buy the disguise for a second, but everypony else does. It helps that she's the only pony who's actually met him in real life.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Dr. Caballeron tells Fluttershy that he does what he does because Daring Do is always getting to artifacts before he can, and refused to team up with him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: It turns out Daring and Ahuizotl's entire rivalry is the result of Ahuizotl never explaining he's not a villain trying to destroy everything but the guardian trying to protect the artifacts.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Biff, the large orange-maned henchpony, admits while holding the amulet that he wants to quit being a henchman and become an opera singer.
  • Reality Ensues: Once Ahuizotl tells his side of the story, it becomes clear that, when you look past Daring Do's status as an Adventurer Archaeologist, she's essentially a thief much like Dr. Caballeron — she may not have intended to be such, and had noble goals, but she was still taking away other people's rightful property.
  • Retcon: Ahuizotl had been portrayed by most media as a genuinely evil and monstrous individual, while this episode reveals he's actually a benevolent guardian.
  • Saying Too Much: A few times, thanks to the Truth Talisman. Dr. Caballeron has to admit he stole a diamond, and that he was just taking artifacts for money. Rainbow Dash says she wants a massage after the adventure is over, which she says that doesn't leave the temple. One of Caballeron's henchponies reveals that he wants to be an opera singer. One example not due to the amulet is when Daring Do says she will write about not stealing artifacts anymore in her next book, which leads to Dr. Caballeron realizing she is actually A. K. Yearling.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • It's a big deal in this episode when it is revealed that Daring Do is real and not a fictional character, but this has already been mentioned in public in previous episodes, like it being mentioned in the friendship journal or Rainbow mentioning it in a conversation with Clear Sky.
    • Ahuizotl apparently only opposes Daring when it comes to artifacts in his home basin... which contradicts "Daring Done?", where it was stated he was trying to separate two relics and plunge Somnambula (the town) and surrounding region into eternal night, which would've sent the entire town sinking into the ground, which are in a completely different Egyptian inspired location.
    • While the episode tries to justify Ahuizotl's animosity with Daring Do by stating he's just protecting the temples as part of his job, this puts him at odds of his first appearance in "Daring Don't", in which he was trying to cause centuries worth of sweltering heat in the forest, an act that likely would harm the wildlife around the area.
    • Dr. Caballeron is shocked to learn that Daring Do is A. K. Yearling, but back in "Daring Don't" his henchponies ambushed her in her house and she cast off her disguise in view of them, making it clear they already knew her true identity.
  • Shout-Out: Dr. Caballeron adapts the name "Groom Q.Q. Martingale", and his Paper-Thin Disguise is a puffy beard and a fisherman's hat, a clear nod to fantasy author George R. R. Martin.
  • Stock Beehive: A swarm of flyders appears inhabiting a grey variant of the classic donut-stack beehive with a single large opening in its middle, albeit draped with spiderwebs.
  • Suddenly Voiced: After being The Voiceless in their previous appearances, Caballeron's henchponies finally speak. One spoke in "Stranger Than Fan Fiction", but he was absent here like in their first appearance.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Fluttershy resolves the conflict with Ahuizotl at the climax by sincerely talking to him about his motivations. He's not just a monster, but a guardian entity with an actual job of protecting the artifacts Caballeron and Daring Do steal from his territory. Their actions are putting his work on the line and hearing him out allows them to resolve the conflict peaceably.
  • Truth Serum: The MacGuffin of the episode is a talisman necklace that makes whoever holds it have to tell the truth. Dr. Caballeron's deception unravels when he puts it on, and several characters end up Saying Too Much when they hold it.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Biff's voice is higher than his appearance would suggest.
  • Vocal Evolution: Ahuizotl's voice is notably higher than his previous appearances.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The guardiangoyles are vulnerable to bright light, even just that of an ordinary flashlight refracted through a gemstone, which turns them back to stone.

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