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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Season 2, Episodes 16 & 17

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM

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Rainbow discovers the magic of reading, and the Crusaders discover the danger of magic.

Season 2, Episode 16: "Read It and Weep"

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Rainbow Dash's dazzling feats of daredevilry have landed her in the hospital, as such things often will. She's less bothered by the injuries than she is by the inconvenience.

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Especially since it's going to be all of a few days!
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Her friends' attempts to cheer her up fail,and it doesn't help that even in Equestria, hospitals are very gloomy places.
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Seeing a passing book cart, Twilight Sparkle grabs something she's sure Rainbow Dash will like: Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone, the first of the Daring Do novels! In hardcover, even!
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Fiercely proud of her status as world class athlete (and nozzle), Rainbow Dash scoffs at the very idea of reading.
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The fact that all her friends enjoy reading, not just the eggheaded Twilight, doesn't sway Rainbow. But as Twilight and the others are leaving for the day, Twilight plants an irresistible seed: An appeal to Rainbow's own awesomeness.
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Minutes tick by, the boredom finally gets to Rainbow Dash, and she realizes there's not a blessed thing to do except to read that dumb stupid book.
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She gives in ...

Though Rainbow Dash's CinemaScope vision of the book is clearly modeled after Raiders of the Lost Ark -- and the care taken by the animators to replicate the feel of projected 35mm film, down to the bleedthrough glow at the edges, makes me so very happy -- Daring Do, what with her pith helmet and faint whiff of colonialism, is more of a throwback to H. Rider Haggard's character Allan Quatermain, whose first appearance was in the 1885 (!) book King Solomon's Mines.

Indiana Jones is of course based on Quatermain with some James Bond and especially Doc Savage thrown in -- compare these Raiders pre-production sketches with the original Doc Savage magazine and paperback covers, plus Spielberg has always been open about James Bond's influence on Indiana Jones -- and Daring Do is descended from all of them. The fact that she's a mare is never addressed, because in Equestria, there's no reason why women can't be adventurers. That's only a problem in this world.

Just as the book is getting really good, Rainbow is interrupted by the arrival of Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle on an up-cheering mission. Desperate in equal measures to get back to her reading and not let anyone know that she's reading, Rainbow purposefully (and quickly) loses a round of her favorite board game.

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A baffled Twilight and Fluttershy leave, and Rainbow happily returns to her reading. Judging from this YouTube compilation, the five cutaway scenes to Daring Do and the Quest for the Sapphire Stone interspersed throughout the episode comprise a solid third of the running time -- and they tell a full, standalone story, too.

Back in the real world, Rainbow tries to do away with obstacles to her reading, like the aforementioned visit from Fluttershy and Twilight, and a later, similarly well-meaning intrusion by Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Applejack. Worst of all, Rainbow gets forcibly discharged from the hospital without getting to finish the book and/or smuggle it out.

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Sure, Twilight Sparkle has a copy of the book, but Rainbow's already burned that bridge.
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Trying to get readmitted doesn't work, either.
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There's only one option left: A nighttime raid on the hospital, worthy of Daring Do herself ...
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... which leads to a nighttime chase even more worthy of Daring Do (and one which is far more organic to the theme and plot than, say, the climactic chase in "The Last Roundup").
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Caught, Rainbow confesses to both her nerdiness and her criminality.
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Twilight chalks it up as a win.
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In the not-heard Shoehorn, Rainbow acknowledges that she shouldn't have been so judgmental about readers, and about reading in general ...
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... but she's not going to write the letter, not when there's a book to be finished (and when she can farm out the actual writing to a baby dragon).
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At least Rainbow finally has her priorities straight -- I'd always rather read than write. (Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta write the next recap!)

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Sherilyn Connelly

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