Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 68: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

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Season 6, Episode 13

We’re halfway through season 6 now! My output has been a little slow lately, but I still want to release weekly posts whenever possible as I go through the rest of the season. After the season, I’ll probably take another break. I’ve reviewed each season more intensely on average than the last, and I’ll need to collect myself before I go through the densely packed episodes of season 7.

Season 6 Episode 13: Stranger Than Fan Fiction

… or as I like to call it, The Body Pillow Episode.

In five words: “This one’s for you, bronies.”

Premise: Read the title of the episode. What do you think it’s about? … okay, fine. At a Daring Do fan convention, Rainbow Dash meets a fellow fan named Quibble Pants who turns out to have very different opinions on the book series. Both of them get wrapped up in a real-life Daring Do adventure, Rainbow Dash excited and Quibble Pants skeptical.

Detailed run-through:

It’s no secret that the later you get into this show, the more the episodes are designed around its adult fans. While some episodes of season 6 at least try to act like they’re teaching simple friendship lessons to little kids, the title of this episode embraces that it’s designed for bronies. The name practically screams, “this one’s for you, bronies”—both in paying homage to them and teaching a lesson on how to respectfully interact with each other. You and I already know this review is going to be huge, so why not embrace that and pick apart this episode as thoroughly as I can?

This episode starts with what looks like another wild adventure from a Daring Do book, indicated by the movie-like coloring…

We never see the friendship summit in Griffonstone, but we do get to see more griffons six episodes from now.

… except it turns out to be Rainbow Dash’s fanfiction.

Rainbow Dash: Well, don’t stop there! You read, I pack. That’s the deal.

There’s so much to unpack in this exchange, I’ll start by analyzing it line by line. First off, I can relate to Rainbow Dash’s impatient excitement to show her friends her fanworks based on media they both like. The thing you have to understand about Rainbow Dash is that she’s a HUGE nerd, rivaling Twilight Sparkle as the biggest egghead of the Mane 6. They’re just different types of nerds—Twilight is the straight A student type, while Rainbow Dash is the smart but lazy C student type. Both are the resident bookworms of the main cast, giving them a special dynamic.

Twilight Sparkle: I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I just keep thinking about how much fun you’re going to have at the Daring Do convention. I wish Princess Celestia didn’t need my help with the friendship summit in Griffonstone.

It’s so easy to forget that Twilight Sparkle is a massive Daring Do fan too—she and Rainbow Dash, as I’ve said in prior posts, represent different types of bronies who both love the show dearly. It must have been a difficult decision for Twilight Sparkle to skip out on the convention—no matter how fascinated she is about griffons, her heart desires four or so days of the unique adrenaline blast that you can only ever get at a convention (I speak from experience). But no matter how obsessed she is with the Daring Do books, her duties to Celestia always come first. It’s kind of sad that the one time she actually gets to visit Griffonstone, it’s at the cost of something else she was psyched about.

I hope Rainbow Dash remembers after the end of the episode to get the book signed.

Rainbow Dash: Don’t worry. I’ll make sure A.K. Yearling signs your book.
Rainbow Dash: I can’t believe she’s gonna be there. She never goes to conventions!
Twilight Sparkle: (disgruntled sigh)
Rainbow Dash: Which, I guess, will be cool for all those other fan ponies. But since you and I know A.K. Yearling personally… (and we know that she’s secretly Daring Do herself)… it’s no big deal.
Rainbow Dash: This convention will be fun, but it’s nothing to get too excited about.

Note that a lot of the ponies cosplaying as Daring Do have fake wings and fake cutie marks.

This is also accurate to the experience of attending conventions. You always underestimate how excited you are about it, but then when you arrive at the convention center, your mind is blown and you squee in absolute delight, even if you’ve attended the same one multiple times. I’ve never attended a brony convention as of this writing, but my goal is to go to at least one this year. Part of me is worried that I won’t find brony conventions that fun, but another part of me thinks the doubt is a natural part of the pre-convention experience. All parts of me agree that it’s miraculous and wonderful that pony conventions are fiercely alive today.

Rainbow Dash stares at everything around her with a big goofy smile, and before long, she encounters someone just as obsessed with Daring Do as her.

Obligatory mention that this is season 6’s guest star episode.
Patton Oswalt, famed for playing media critic characters, voices Quibble Pants.

Rainbow Dash: This is the
Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants: awesomest thing ever!
Quibble Pants: Now this is something that only a true fan can appreciate.
Rainbow Dash: They even put the tiles in the right order.
Quibble Pants: Heh, good catch. Oh, I’m Quibble Pants. Nice to meet you.
Rainbow Dash: Rainbow Dash.
(hoof bump)
Rainbow Dash: Nice costume.
Quibble Pants: You too.
Rainbow Dash: Thanks. The hard part was figuring out the right
Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants: number of arrow holes.
Quibble Pants: Because on page 84 of Sapphire Stone, it describes her dodging a, quote, “score of arrows shooting forth from holes in the very walls”, unquote, but then, on page 107, Daring Do says she, quote, “barely made it past the trap’s barrage of arrows”, unquote, but clearly, Daring Do was embellishing, and the correct number of arrows is…
Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants: Twenty!

I definitely have no idea what it’s like to have the absolute most granular details from a work of media memorized, and I totally have never been able to recite exact lines or the page numbers they were said on when debating over inconsistencies. This is an experience I am completely unfamiliar with—I’ve been a big fan of works of media before, but never to the point of obsessively memorizing as many things about them as I can fit in my brain. And I certainly don’t know what it’s like to precisely remember basically every detail about a work of media even a year and a half after I finished a huge blog post series analyzing it, or to constantly fight the urge to write tangents about it in the posts you are reading right now.

All jokes aside, this passage is interesting if you remember that Quibble Pants later states that he hates all the Daring Do books after the first three. Daring Do and the Sapphire Stone is the first book in the series, and while Quibble Pants is perfectly willing to forgive an inconsistency in this book, I think he would harshly complain about the same error if it was in a later book. I see it all the time, people having double standards between early and late installments of a work of media. Especially if the work of media is Homestuck—a lot of fans completely flip their opinions about it either when Act 5 starts or when Act 6 starts, and the way they do it feels so performative like they’re the smartest person in the world for noticing even the slightest error in anything that happened after Cascade.

There was no reason for me to go on a Homestuck tangent here. I could have talked about how some MLP fans bash on everything after Magical Mystery Cure, or everything after The Cutie Re-Mark… actually, that’s better done when Quibble Pants reveals which parts of the book series he doesn’t like. Because I have a lot to say on that topic.

Next comes a montage of Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants having fun at the convention, and one scene in it has something especially notable: a body pillow of Daring Do.

One of my favorite things to mention to people who haven’t seen this show is that it has an episode with body pillows in it, because they ALWAYS think I’m joking at first. Then I explain that it’s in an episode where one of the ponies goes to a fan convention about her favorite book series, and perhaps also post a picture for good measure, and that’s when they get it. It’s not just a fun way to make people very, very confused; it also makes them realize that yes, this show really does have scenes and jokes that appeal to adult fans.

Quibble Pants’ cutie mark is a speech bubble. I wonder if this means his special talent is drawing comics?

Rainbow Dash looks so innocent, creeped out by the fetishistic pillow of Daring Do strangled by a rope. On the other hand, Quibble Pants looks like he’s thinking, “to be fair, Daring Do is pretty hot”. They don’t judge each other for their contrasting reactions.

One more funny touch in this montage is one staff member wearing some sort of Daring Do headdress who doesn’t want to be here at all. This episode works hard to accurately depict the experience of attending a convention, which shows once more that you can truly ponify anything.

In the background is a grill of rotating carrots, the ponified version of hot dogs.

After Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants talk about how cool it is to meet someone who really gets the Daring Do books—an experience that’s super easy for me to relate to, especially with MLP—we get our first conflict of the episode.

Rainbow Dash: That’s weird. We’ve only done stuff from the first trilogy. After lunch, we should probably start working our way back to the other books.
Quibble Pants: Whoa, whoa, whoa. There are no other books.
Rainbow Dash: Of course there are. Daring Do and the Trek of the Terrifying Towers, Daring Do and the Many Faces of—
Quibble Pants: Uh, please, please don’t. Just don’t even mention the titles. I’m not saying those books don’t exist, I’m saying… that I refuse to acknowledge them.

When Quibble Pants says that he hates the Daring Do books after the first three, it’s clear what this is an allusion to: the many fans of MLP who hate everything after the first three seasons, when Twilight Sparkle became a princess. That and The Cutie Re-Mark are the two most common cutoff points for fans to viciously tear into everything about the show afterwards. The latter cutoff point is especially upsetting to me because I love Starlight Glimmer and some fans refuse to give her reformed self a chance. I think fans are more likely to sympathize with Rainbow Dash than with Quibble Pants, because to even be watching as late as season 6, you need to have at least tolerated the changes that happened after season 3.

Rainbow Dash: Why?
Quibble Pants: Because they’re horrible! I mean, there isn’t a single thing after Ring of Death that is even remotely in the realm of the possible.
Rainbow Dash: What?! I know for a fact that everything in every one of those books is 100% possible.
Quibble Pants: Uh, and how could you possibly know that?
Rainbow Dash: Uh… I just… do.
Quibble Pants: Well, that’s a compelling argument.

Even though I enjoy almost all episodes of this show and get annoyed when people dismiss anything past a particular season, there is a situation where I completely sympathize with Quibble Pants. I act EXACTLY the same way as he does when people mention Homestuck^2. I hate giving that horrendously bad spinoff any attention, and I was kind of hoping I could go this entire post series without bringing it up even indirectly. Or at least, that’s what I would think if it actually happened. Fortunately, any sane and civilized person can agree with me that Homestuck^2 never happened. Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender react the same way when the live action movie is brought up—they ALWAYS say the show never got a movie. (If you’re a fan of Avatar and are sad I only mentioned the show to talk about the movie everyone hates, I am so sorry.)

Rainbow Dash: Why would you even come to this convention if you hate Daring Do so much?
Quibble Pants: I don’t hate Daring Do! The first series was smart and cool and an amazing nod to old-time serialized adventure books that somehow manages to be self-reflexive and ironic while at the same time celebrating the art form without a hint of cynicism. Which is why I came here to ask A.K. Yearling, muzzle to muzzle, why she sold out and dumbed down the rest of her books into a series of impossible action sequences.
Rainbow Dash: Okay, now I know you’re crazy. A.K. Yearling is awesome, and every Daring Do book that comes out is better than the last!
Quibble Pants: Wh… Wow. Okay, yeah, I’m sorry, but I can never be friends with somepony who’s willing to believe impossible stuff is possible as long as Daring Do does it.
Rainbow Dash: That’s okay, because I could never be friends with somepony who’s so focused on things being possible that he’s willing to turn his back on the coolest hero of all time!
Quibble Pants: Fine!
Rainbow Dash: Fine!

I roll my eyes when people talk about the early seasons of MLP (especially if it’s solely the first season, which is REALLY rough around the edges) with such a pretentious attitude like it’s the ultimate pinnacle of art while dismissing the entire rest of the show, but that’s exactly what I do with Homestuck (and the epilogues, controversial as they may be) compared to… ugh, I don’t want to say the name of that putrid awful unreadable trainwreck anymore. My point is, I take the centrist position of sympathizing with both characters based on my different fandom experiences.

Actually, after this show ended, a lot of the people who enjoy the entirety of MLP:FiM criticize the G5 shows for being a big step back in a very Quibble Pants-esque fashion. So now that I think of it, maybe there are now more viewers who can sympathize with Quibble Pants than when this episode aired.

Rainbow Dash: Look, just tell A.K. Yearling that Rainbow Dash is here, and I need her help to convince a know-it-all pony that everything Daring Do has ever done actually happened.

People hassling the creator of their favorite media to settle a dispute with a fellow fan? That is very realistic, and I can tell the writers of this episode (there’s two of them) have gone through that a lot. The receptionist responds with unamused silence, then A.K. Yearling herself appears and pulls Rainbow Dash aside.

A.K. Yearling reveals what we were all suspecting: her attendance at the con is part of her latest adventure as Daring Do. In the security of her hotel room, she’s hidden an amulet that Dr. Caballeron wants to steal and sell, and she needs the help of her most loyal fan who’s caught up in wanting to prove Quibble Pants wrong. What better place to sneakily grab Rainbow Dash on board than at a convention she wouldn’t miss for the world?

Rainbow Dash: Sounds like another awesome Daring Do adventure! But… what are you doing here?
A.K. Yearling: Since I haven’t found the temple yet, it’s the safest place for me and the amulet. It’s crawling with security, and if I get into trouble…
(changes outfit)
Daring Do: I can just blend in with all the Daring Do cosplayers.

I find it amusing that during the fan convention, the author would attract less attention as Daring Do than as A.K. Yearling. Everyone thinks she’s a fictional character anyway, so she could pass as a highly accurate cosplay without being flooded with questions from fans.

We see that Dr. Caballeron and his mooks have attended the convention too, and it starts with a moment of humor: Caballeron is unamused at the smaller portion of attendees who are cosplaying as him. One of his sidekicks even purchased a Daring Do body pillow, which Caballeron pushes off of him. It’s true that at any convention, some of the events and merchandise will be a little bonkers, and you’ll just have to roll with it.

Quibble Pants: Well, if it isn’t the pony who knows impossible things can happen because “she just does”.
Rainbow Dash: Ugh. Sorry, Quibble. I’ve got more important things to do than argue with a pony who thinks awesome means unrealistic.
Quibble Pants: No, wait, I want to hear more about how you’re 100% sure that in Curse of the Jungle Queen, Daring Do could survive a sixty-story drop from the top of a waterfall after sustaining a broken wing in a category 6 rapid.
Rainbow Dash: Ugh. Obviously, her wing wasn’t brok—

I find it amusing that Quibble Pants has memorized the Daring Do books he hates just as intensely as the ones he likes. He has to have read the later books multiple times, not just the original trilogy that he puts on a pedestal. It’s just like bronies who constantly complain about the show after a certain cutoff point—they obsessively rewatch the seasons they hate anyway, so that they can smugly memorize every little flaw with them even though they would have forgiven the exact same flaw if it was in season 1. In my MLP episode reviews, I make an effort to be as unbiased as possible because I don’t want to be like those people. I also don’t want to seem too biased towards the later seasons, because I know several fans who massively prefer them and can be harsh on the early seasons. I always try to see a controversial topic in the show from both sides, and I hope that my efforts to keep a neutral perspective have paid off.

Rainbow Dash: Caballeron! (hides)
Quibble Pants: See, now that’s a great character. Solid backstory, good motivations…

Dr. Caballeron is a strange case of a villain who doesn’t have a canonical backstory, but we know he has some backstory only because Quibble Pants mentions it offhand. But for all we know, Daring Do could have made up a fictional backstory for Caballeron in her books, and his real backstory is something totally different. Learning a villain’s true backstory is typically the first step to reforming them, so I think it’s more likely than not that Daring Do made something up.

Here’s a cool detail I noticed: every attendee at the con is wearing a green wristband.
(Except for the actual Daring Do villains.)

Rainbow Dash: No no no no no, Caballeron is right there!
Quibble Pants: Of course he is. He’s also over there, over there, ooh, ooh, over there! … and over there.

Derpy Hooves has gotten in the spirit of cosplaying Daring Do characters, in her own characteristic Derpy way. Who would have guessed that everyone’s favorite clumsy pegasus is a Daring Do fan too? I find it adorable to imagine her excitedly reading through the latest book and exchanging scientific theories with Dr. Whooves.

Rainbow Dash steps outside to follow Caballeron and his crew, explaining their motives to a skeptical Quibble Pants. When they’re caught up in discourse one moment too long, they’re kidnapped and meet the villains face-to-face.

Rainbow Dash: Caballeron, hah! What do you have to say now, Quibble?
Quibble Pants: This was your plan? To prove the Daring Do books are realistic? You bought a Daring Do experience adventucation. Really?
Rainbow Dash: What?! No! Look around us! Henchponies? Caballeron? The jungle it took forever to get to? This is the real deal!
Quibble Pants: Right. We’re actually being held captive by Caballeron? Please, this guy’s accent is all over the place. No offense.

I view Quibble Pants’ remark about accents as a self-deprecating jab at the wacky accents the show gives to some characters—accents that don’t neatly match with one specific accent that exists in real life, in this case a vaguely Mexican accent. Indeed, it’s a common trope in cartoons to give foreign characters a vague place of origin that’s a loose pastiche of various real-world countries, to avoid parodying any particular culture. Impressively, Quibble Pants’ remark was accidentally racist no matter which culture Caballeron hailed from.

Quibble Pants: So, what’s the setup here? You’ve kidnapped us, taken us to the middle of nowhere because?
Dr. Caballeron: The Temple of Chicamoztoc is somewhere in this jungle. When I find it, the seven-sided chest is as good as mine! I just need the Amulet of Culhuacan to unlock it.
Quibble Pants: Uh-huh. And Daring Do has the amulet, so you came up with this overcomplicated plot to lure her into the jungle and exchange it for us.
Dr. Caballeron: I wouldn’t call it overcomplicated, but… yes.

When you’ve analyzed a work of media intensively enough, you start to pick up on patterns about the characters and storylines, and Quibble Pants is demonstrating exactly that. It’s why it’s often recommended to watch a show or read a story multiple times before you try writing fanfiction of it—I find that writing blog posts analyzing it in depth helps too.

I think quotation marks are the most efficient, readable way to convey that someone is poorly acting out a line.

Dr. Caballeron chains Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants up with a griffon lock, and Quibble Pants has an idea. He throws a button from his shirt and then pretends he heard Daring Do come to the rescue.

Quibble Pants: “Daring Do, thank goodness! We’re over here.”
Caballeron’s minion on the top right: Fan out! We can’t let Daring Do rescue these two.
Quibble Pants: (laughs) All four? I mean, shouldn’t at least one of them stay behind to guard us? Oh, oh, wait, no, because then it wouldn’t be a terrible Daring Do adventure.
Rainbow Dash: It doesn’t matter. We’ll never solve the griffon’s lock before they get back.

Quibble Pants sounds exactly like I do when I talk about the unfinished sequel to Homestuck that shall not be named because it’s horrible. Or like I do when I analyze one of the few MLP episodes that I dislike. It’s the exact same snarky, nitpicky attitude when you tear into a work of media that frustrates you because you don’t want to despise it. I think part of his criticisms with the later Daring Do books are because he never considers the idea that the characters won’t always think of everything he does. Then again, it’s fair to think a different action from the characters would make a more interesting story.

In a small moment of awesome preceding many more moments of awesome, Quibble Pants easily solves the griffon’s lock, showing a skill that will be vital for this adventure. Rainbow Dash convinces him to follow her through the adventure so that they can get back to the hotel.

Quibble Pants: … which would make Daring Do left-hoofed, which we know is false. And that is everything that’s wrong with Daring Do and the Trek to the Terrifying Tower. Now, the problems with the next book are e—

Every work of media has a few inconsistencies, a smattering of contradictions, and a handful of pesky continuity errors. To make a work 100% free of such mistakes, it must either be extremely short, or painstakingly looked over hundreds of times to ensure full consistency, and the rule with making a project be perfect is that you have to draw the line somewhere or else you’ll torture yourself. People judge the quality of a work not by how many flaws it has, but by whether it’s good enough overall to forgive the flaws. If you choose not to forgive the flaws in a work of media, then all the little issues and errors stick out massively; if you forgive the flaws, the inconsistencies fade to the background and may even give the work some soul and charm. I’m the same way when I review MLP episodes, now that I think of it.

This scene does a good job teaching viewers what “precarious” means.

Quibble Pants: Oh, right. What Daring Do adventure would be complete without the precarious rope bridge.
Quibble Pants: Look, I’m all for making things feel as real as possible, but are these adventucation ponies sure this thing is safe?
Rainbow Dash: Is it too realistic for you? Wouldn’t want that on a Daring Do adventure, would we?
Quibble Pants: If this were really a Daring Do adventure, I’m sure I’d step on the wrong plank at exactly the wrong—WOAH!

Quibble Pants stepping on the wrong plank and then getting stuck inside the bridge has to be the most instantaneous flip from humor to horror that I’ve ever seen. The comedic tone lasts for just a split second until we see he’s genuinely in peril, and then the bridge falls apart and Rainbow Dash has to rescue him. They barely make it out alive.

After surviving the precarious rope bridge, Quibble Pants bursts in incoherent excitement mixed with trope frustration about how awesome that was. That’s how it is with a lot of cliches: you can complain any day about how tiring they are, but once they actually happen in a show you’re watching, you get a rush of excitement anyway. Rainbow Dash says that Quibble Pants would have complained that this was too unrealistic if he read it in a book, and she has a good point. Many things that happen in reality would seem unrealistic or contrived in fiction. Quibble Pants still thinks this is just a simulated adventure with poor safety standards, and at this point he’s clearly in denial. There’s a difference between genuinely believing something isn’t true and being in denial when you know deep down it’s true.

The two fans of Daring Do are captured once more and taken to the lost temple, where Quibble Pants seems to finally realize this is a real Daring Do adventure…

Rainbow Dash: You’ll never get away with this!
Dr. Caballeron: Won’t I? You’ve led me to the temple, and Daring Do is too noble to let harm befall her companions, so the amulet is as good as mine.
Dr. Caballeron: What? No witty remarks this time about how silly my plan is?
Quibble Pants: This isn’t the official Daring Do experience adventucation, is it?
Rainbow Dash: Finally!
Quibble Pants: It’s some cheap knockoff run by a bunch of incompetent ponies that have no idea how to execute this adventure with any level of safety.
Rainbow Dash: (facehoof) Ugh.
Quibble Pants: What was that with the bridge?! We were in serious danger. I’m reporting you all to… well, I don’t know who I’m reporting you to, but it’s gonna be somepony important!

… or not. As misguided as he may be, and as frustrating it is that he accidentally sets off so many traps, it is pretty awesome that Quibble Pants gives such a brutal speech to the Daring Do villains about their incompetence. Unlike Rainbow Dash, he isn’t scared of anything throughout the journey through the lost temple…

… at least until he accidentally summons a monster that proves once and for all that this is the real deal.

The moment things seem genuinely hopeless for Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants, Daring Do swoops in to rescue them. Quibble Pants gets a humorous double whammy of a shocker: Daring Do is real, and she’s friends with one of her obsessive fans. This gives Quibble Pants a turn to help Daring Do in her adventures, this time with his area of specialty: puzzle solving.

I love how smug Quibble Pants looks, having outsmarted Daring Do herself.

Daring Do: (sigh) Which lock do you think it is?
Quibble Pants: Ugh, finally. Look, each door has another door that matches. These two both have earth ponies fighting serpents. These two have pegasi fighting griffons. These two have unicorns fighting bears, but this one…
Daring Do: Has an alicorn on it! It’s the only one without a match. How did I miss that?
Quibble Pants: I’ve been asking myself that ever since Book 4.

I think it’s pretty cool that Quibble Pants gets to use his skill in catching details for more than just complaining about Daring Do books. A sharp eye for detail is a pretty great skill to have, and it means that what’s obvious to him won’t always be obvious to others. Daring Do grabs the artifact from the temple and then has to get out of there.

Despite her annoyance at Quibble Pants’ nitpicking. Rainbow Dash has gotten to a point where she trusts his judgements. Quibble Pants says that Rainbow Dash should go around the monster and can’t go over him, but Rainbow Dash mishears it and thinks he said they should go over him. And what do you know, it works!

Quibble Pants suggests to make a fake treasure for the villains, but Daring Do has a simpler idea. She throws a rock at the temple, and in typical adventure cartoon fashion, one hit from a rock is all it takes for a temple to collapse. The monster appears and scares away Caballeron and his crew, and Quibble Pants gives this remark:

Quibble Pants: Eh, not particularly original or inspired, but it worked.

At first, Quibble Pants complained about Dr. Caballeron’s plans being too complicated, but now he snarks about Daring Do’s plan being too simple. That’s simply how critical fans of media operate: they will always find something to complain about.

Twilight Sparkle missed out on more than she had expected!
Unless she also went on a surprise adventure in Griffonstone.

Daring Do thanks her two fans for their help, then says she will take the artifact from the temple to a museum. This leaves Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants alone to reflect on their unexpected adventure.

Rainbow Dash: So…?
Quibble Pants: So… maybe the later books are slightly more realistic than I gave them credit for. I still don’t like them.
Rainbow Dash: What?! How can you—
Quibble Pants: Wait. Hold on. Before we get in another fight, I… I think I finally figured it out. I love the Daring Do that solves puzzles and uses her brain to get out of tough situations, and she did way more of that in the original trilogy. You love the Daring Do that is brave and awesome and comes out on top no matter what the odds.
Rainbow Dash: Okay?
Quibble Pants: And that’s okay. We might never agree on what makes Daring Do cool, but… you are definitely cool. I mean, the way you saved me on the bridge… wow. And escaping from the temple. You, Rainbow Dash, are awesome.

This is a very nice way to show the moral of the episode: you don’t have to share all the same opinions about a work of media to be friends. Rainbow Dash and Quibble Pants both find things to admire about each other, and they clearly enjoy debating about the Daring Do books. For both of them, it’s a way to showcase how well they’ve memorized everything Daring Do. This moral is designed around adult fans in general, but especially the type that memorizes as much information as they can about the show. They’re the kind of fans who need to hear this message the most.

Rainbow Dash: Well… I’m not the one who can locate a treasure in half the time Daring Do can. You may have terrible taste in books, but… you’re pretty awesome yourself. In a brainy egghead puzzle solving kind of way.
Quibble Pants: I guess… we don’t have to agree on everything to get along. Friends?
Rainbow Dash: Definitely friends.

Of course, Rainbow Dash can’t compliment a nerdy pony without jabbing at him, much like she does with Twilight Sparkle. It’s a natural part of being the Rainbow Dash type of egghead, as opposed to the Twilight Sparkle type.

Quibble Pants says that he thinks he’d be qualified to write the next Daring Do book.
I have to admit, I know the feel.

Huh, I never thought this episode would have such a small voice cast.

This episode ends with Quibble Pants blabbering about his idea for a Daring Do story, which I’ve heard was improvisation by Patton Oswalt himself. His monologue even spills into the credits, meaning that in a sense, this is the longest episode of the show. It has 30 more seconds of actual content that would otherwise just be taken by credits music, but then again, you could also count the two-part episodes as longer episodes, or Best Gift Ever, or maybe The Ending of the End and The Last Problem combined? Nah, it’s funnier to think of this as technically the longest episode of the show. In that sense, the shortest episode of the show would be part 2 of whichever two-part episode has the longest recap.

Overall thoughts:

This entire episode was blatantly designed for fans like me—the adults who pick apart every little detail of this show and take great joy in finding someone else who has it so obsessively memorized. It makes total sense that this episode would exist, because the show is all about teaching friendship lessons, and since so many adults became fans of the show, many of the friendship lessons became more designed for them than for children. The fandom satire is completely accurate to what bronies are like, both with Rainbow Dash’s adoring fangirling and Quibble Pants’ smartass nitpicking, and it does a great job showing that you can be friends with fellow bronies without agreeing on what parts of the show you like. Quibble Pants is a fun addition to the show’s cast, and his tone of voice, which sounds a little stammering and is bubbling to get out as much information as he can, makes it clear he’s played by a guest star, which I think is fun. His snarky commentary throughout the Daring Do adventure is hilarious, and truly feels like a fan nitpicking as many things about the show as he can.

I’m thankful that this episode exists because it’s one of the easiest ways to explain to others why adults like the show. If I tell someone that the show has an episode where two ponies go to a fan convention about their favorite book series and get into a bunch of arguments, it’s clear to them that there’s something more to this show than colorful rainbow ponies eating cupcakes and picking flowers.

Grade: A

I really respect the way this episode is written. It’s accurate to how fans of this show act without being exaggerated or condescending, and that’s why it gets an A.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Quibble Pants mentioning the book title “Ring of Death” is a strangely conspicuous instance of the show using the D-word. The “never say die” rule in the show has an asterisk not just for figures of speech, but also for book titles, apparently.
  • The sidekick of Dr. Caballeron’s who bought a Daring Do body pillow has symbols used for swearing, specifically * and # plus a star and spiral, as his cutie mark. Maybe his special talent is using profanity in creative ways? We’d never get to see that onscreen, of course.
  • You could argue that the two unicorns, two pegasi, two earth ponies, and one alicorn on each of the seven doors represent the Mane 6 plus Starlight Glimmer, and I’m sure some fans see it that way. But I think Starlight Glimmer never really became the eighth main cast member (don’t forget Spike!)—as I’ve said before, she becomes the leader of her own group of supporting characters instead.

The next episode features another memetic Derpy scene, but it otherwise doesn’t have much in common with this one.

See you next week for the second Cutie Mark Crusaders episode of season 6, then an episode that I’m reluctant to analyze and tempted to skip.

>> Part 69: The Cart Before the Ponies + 28 Pranks Later

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