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Ah, spring! That magical time of year, full of whimsy, frolicking, and basement-flooding. Actually, mostly just that last one; when you're laying down towels every few hours, it tends to dampen the mood too much for the first two. But hey, at least it's towels and not buckets, right?
Somber's What's Eating Rainbow Dash?, reviewed below the break, as always.
Impressions before reading: I read this when it first went up on EqD--just a few days after the episode that inspired it, The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well. I enjoyed reading it... but it was mostly a vicious pleasure, a "take that" against an episode I particularly disliked. It'll be interesting to see how that holds up a few years later.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: After Twilight and her friends reveal to Dash that they were Mare-Do-Well, and that they'd become her in order to teach Dash a lesson about humility, everyone laughs it off and things go back to normal... right?
Thoughts after reading: Let's talk about the concept of a "fix-fic:" it's a story that's written specifically to refute all or part of a piece of canon or fanon. I've reviewed a couple a before; The Light in the Darkness is a fix-fic for Cupcakes, for example. Generally, these kinds of stories get a pretty bad rap, especially when what they're "fixing" is canon; who is the author, readers tend to quite reasonably ask, to write a story all about how the show we all nominally enjoy is wrong?
But The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well is almost universally disliked among fans (a little Google searching turns up a few people who will admit to putting it on their "favorite episodes" list... but not many), for a variety of reasons which have been quite thoroughly discussed at this point. What's Eating focuses on one of the perceived issues specifically: that Twilight and her friends go out of their way to ruin Dash's reputation and esteem in the name of a dubious-at-best moral. How much you appreciate that angle will obviously depend on how much you agree with the author's assessment of the episode, but as someone who does basically agree with that assessment, I was pretty sympathetic to the narrative's purpose.
Unfortunately, there's not much here to recommend beyond that. This story was rushed out in just a few days, in order to be shared the same week Mare-Do-Well premiered, and that haste shows; from homophone mix-ups to clunky, repetitious phrasing to the straight up missing words (especially distracting when it's a character's name, and without that name, it's not clear who's speaking), this story is clearly still in draft state. Given the author's well-established writing competence, his "draft" is still perfectly readable, but there's a wide gap between "readable" and "enjoyable."
The plot, sadly, is also completely subsumed by the need to hammer home how awfully Dash was treated, and how thoughtlessly it was done. The fic is literally nothing but Twilight going from friend to friend, slowly figuring out what a terrible person (pony) she's been. That may be cathartic for some (and again, I'll cop to being one to whom it is), but it feels more like a screed than a narrative. There are some nice bits regarding Dash's childhood here, but not enough to really do more than to establish, then hammer home, just how wrong her friends were to act the way they did. And in the end, that's all this fic really has to offer.
Star rating: ★☆☆☆☆ (what does this mean?)
As a story, there really isn't much to recommend this; it's poorly written, poorly edited, and single-mindedly focused on redressing perceived wrongs.
Perhaps evaluating this as a story is the wrong way to go, here; "rant dressed up in an extended metaphor" might be a more appropriate description. Be that as it may, I am trying to evaluate it as a story, though. And as a story, it doesn't stand up very well.
Recommendation: Despite its weaknesses, I'd be willing to recommend this to someone specifically seeking a cathartic release after seeing Mare-Do-Well and sharing the author's distaste for it. For any broader audience, though, I'd suggest giving this a pass.
Next time: Of Age, by Paleowriter