In Daring Do's final episode, Ahuizotl reveals himself to have been a temple guardian all along, desperately working to preserve native artifacts. This reveal flips the story on its head, because means Daring Do's heroic acts have not really been heroic at all....yet Daring herself doesn't seem to realize this. While Dr. Caballeron admits to having plundered artifacts to get rich, Daring Do says "The only reason I've been taking the artifacts is because I thought I was protecting them."
I think that's really interesting.
The episode condemns Caballeron as a run-of-the-mill thief (and he is), but Daring is framed as the good guy unwittingly doing a bad thing. She's not a thief like Caballeron! She was protecting the artifacts!
Protecting them by prying them right out of Ahuizotl's hands. And taking them back home, to be privately displayed in her home, and in a museum. A museum that most certainly charges admission for ponies to see these rare wonders of the world. Said museum probably compensates Daring for providing new items. And then Daring goes home to write about her adventures robbing native temples, to the joy of her countless fans (and their eager wallets). The historical sites she's robbed are often left in destroyed shambles.
......Let's be real. Daring Do is a thief. She's as bad as Caballeron, if not worse, because she stole under the facade of doing good. In her final episode, she doesn't even vow to return the artifacts, she just pledges not to steal any more of them. Gosh, Miss Do, how noble.
In the future, Daring Do and Doctor Cabelleron, having vowed to renounce stealing from temples, find themselves in a bit of a slump. Unable to pilfer priceless artifacts and beat up monsters, Daring no longer has material for her books, and her character begins to fall out of the public eye. Unable to smuggle treasures along the black market, Doctor Cabelleron is rapidly going broke. Neither pony is adjusting well to mundane civilian life- even the romance they began now feels like going through the motions. The pair decide to team up and have one last adventure- a trip to see their old friend, Ahuizotl.
They're surprised to find that Ahuizotl now has a strange little pup tagging along at his ankles. Where did it come from? Daring is immediately concerned- how on earth can a beast like Ahuizotl raise a baby? Doctor Cabelleron mirrors her concern, and together, the two concoct a plan.
Daring and Cabelleron, as Ahuizotl's good, good friends, do an excellent job convincing Ahuizotl that a jungle was no place to raise an infant. Ahuizotl is a temple guardian, and danger simply comes with the territory. From dangerous animals to quicksand to poachers, how could Ahuizotl hope to keep his son safe on top of protecting the treasures of the ancient temples? If Montezuma was taken by Daring and her husband, however, they could give him a luxurious education, a normal life- if Monty was allowed to grow up among ponies, he'd fit in just fine among them, make friends, be seen as just a regular person, not a fearsome monster like Ahuizotl....
At first, Ahuizotl rages furiously against the idea, but his resolve wavers as they pick at his insecurity over being a new father. Can he really do a better job raising Montezuma than ponies could? Is he, out of his own petty selfishness, going to doom his son to the same lonely, thankless existence he himself leads....?
So regrettably, painfully, Ahuizotl gives his son up. For what he believes will be a better life. For what he was assured would be a better life.
Montezuma screams and cries for days, but Daring and Cabelleron are convinced he'll adjust to a happy new life with them in no time.
Daring Do likely did believe she was doing the right thing. She tried to give Monty a good life, full of everything a pony foal gets. While not the kindest or most patient mother, she treated him decently (so long as he behaved). More importantly, adopting Montezuma got the public spotlight back on her again after she'd had to stop her temple-robbing adventures. Daring was praised as brave, kind, and noble by many ponies, and wrote tirelessly about the challenges of raising such an abnormal child, with her new books and articles raking in cash. Daring recommended every pony consider adopting a non-pony child and raise them up the same as any pony.
Cabelleron, meanwhile, enjoyed touring his family across Equestria, offering up Montezuma to museums, zoologists, and wealthy ponies curious about the strange little spawn of Ahuizotl. Creatures across the world were indeed willing to pay top dollar to see Monty, and Cabelleron was blessed with more profit than stealing trinkets ever could net him.
Happy little family~
Montezuma does indeed have toys and books and games....but friends? The family never stays in one place long enough for him to make any, and Daring and Cabelleron keep him isolated besides, fearing him hurting somepony on accident. Montezuma's questions about his background are met with dismissal, his parents tell him that they adopted him when his real father, the monstrous Ahuizotl- tried to feed him to his jungle cats. His parents, meanwhile, keep up correspondence with Ahuizotl, making out like Monty is having such an idyllic childhood that it'd be a shame to drag him to the jungle to meet his father.
The older Montezuma gets, the more bitter and sullen he becomes. Everything comes to a boiling point when one day, poked and prodded at by a pack of rich foals, teenage Montezuma bites a pony, and they nearly die from his venom. Daring and Cabelleron, furious about the bad press, lock Monty away "until he can remember how to behave"....but Montezuma breaks out of his enclosure and runs away. Lost and alone, he decides on a single goal- to find the father that dared to discard him.....and kill him.
Of course, when he finally does find Ahuizotl, the truth is revealed. Ahuizotl, crushed at learning how Monty was really raised, vows to lever let his son go again, and Monty finally discovers what it's like to have a loving parent. Ahuizotl is overjoyed at reuniting with Monty, quickly filling his son in on their culture, history, and species. Montezuma is glad to have found his real father, as well as a place in the world (among the local tribe of Aztec ponies, Ahuizotl is greatly respected as their temple guardian). But the more Montezuma learns about why he was adopted, the angrier he becomes. Ponies like Daring Do and Cabelleron think they can plunder his home for riches with no consequence....so Montezuma decides to start stealing back. His business is stealing ancient artifacts and treasures from museums and private collections and returning them to their proper home- and if no home can be found, they are given to Ahuizotl for safekeeping. All this has left Equestrians baffled and terrified- why is a monster stealing and stockpiling their rightfully excavated treasures? Some of the artifacts are immensely magical and powerful, with potential to be used as weapons. Ponies are frightened- Daring Do and Cabelleron included. Authorities rapidly proclaim Montezuma to be an enemy to Equestria....
tl;dr: daring do and cabelleron are hella ethnocentric and greedy and accidentally create a supervillain. turns out the road to hell is paved with good intentions
pictured: Baby montezuma and his papa, Montezuma first being taken by Daring and Cabs, and young adult Montezuma reuniting with Ahuizotl.
"Perhaps it is best to leave that riddle unsolved, child."
Sphinxes are among the last true immortals of the old world, and The Sphinx (she has no given name) is the very last of her species. After reuniting with Ahuizotl, Montezuma's very next goal is to travel to locate his mother. When Montezuma manages to rouse her from her slumber, he asks if she knows who he is......and the Sphinx replies of course she does. Then she asks him if he'd like to solve her riddle, because if he doesn't, she is going to eat him.
Fortunately, Monty manages to solve it, and the Sphinx agrees to have a chat. Unfortunately, she is not the motherly type. The Sphinx is unimaginably old, aloof, easily bored, and entirely unpredictable. She is the ultimate housecat. Between her general disinterest in him and her habit of speaking in riddles, Montezuma finds her incredibly vexing. At the same time, he is drawn to her, because again, she's the ultimate housecat. He wants to pique her interest. Wants to stump her ancient mind. Wants her to acknowledge him.
Montezuma isn't dumb enough to test the Sphinx's patience by visiting too often, but he does pop up now and again, typically bringing a new riddle for her to solve, or to ask for advice. The Sphinx holds wisdom beyond that of any pony, and sometimes, (if you're willing to stroke her ego), she just might dispense something useful. A bit of guidance, a powerful trinket, knowledge long lost to history....
Sometimes, though, Montezuma visits and they don't talk at all. Monty will just curl up somewhere close by (not within pouncing range) and have a nap while the Sphinx sleeps. Sphinxes are solitary predators and intensely territorial, but more and more frequently, the Sphinx finds she doesn't entirely hate the company.
MAN the way you explore how these characters end up hurting or doing wrong by each other because they are fallible and often caught up in their own biases (rather than just being inherently Bad People) continues to create such compelling stories. i love this design and concept, and would def love to see more of monty's exploits as an up and coming new "supervillain" in the pandoraverse.
Can you imagine the conversation:
Auizotal: I can't believe you, treating my son like a prop!
Daring Do: Okay, in hindsight, I admit I wasn't the best when it came to raising montezuma, but how could I trust you to do a better job, you got so mad, you tried to burn the world with 800 years of sunlight!
Auizotal: How would you feel if someone kept stealing from your house over and over again, beating you up and his pets!!
Daring Do: I wouldn't burn the world to a crisp!!!
Auizotal: I'M AN IMMORTAL WITH ISSUES, DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!!
I see how the whole temple guardian aspect in season 9 might be out of the blue, but at the same time, re-watching the episodes, it's not totally unbelievable.
Woah, I would like to see the repercussions of Daring Do telling ponies to raise different species that they have no experience or information on. It feels similar to whenever a popular movie would release about certain animals (Finding Nemo, Lady & the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians) and people would go out in droves to get them and most of them ended up abandoned or mistreated.
This: “[Daring Do] recommended every pony consider adopting a non-pony child and raise them up the same as any pony”. Deeply irresponsible on her part. She is considered to be an authority and has a pretty big cloud. Likely, there were a lot of couples who followed her “advice”... while being completely unprepared to cater to the child’s special needs.
Just look how many people adopted dalmatians after watching “101 Dalmatians” and how well that ended. (For those who don’t know, dalmatians are extremely hard to rise, need tons of attention and, in general, have tons of special needs. If you don’t treat them properly when they are pups they will have both mental and physical issues for the rest of their lives.) Just imagine the same but with actual children! I hope nobody got seriously hurt or even died because of parental negligence or even abuse.
what really just triggers me is Daring actually let Cabelleron make money off Monty like a sideshowfreak
(man I wonder how Rainbow would feel if she ever found about what those two did since was Daring's fan)
Ahuizotl: So you see, my son, your mother was actually a great Sphinx of ancient Equestria! Nobody can tell you who to fall in love with....but we managed to make it work......Leaving a whole lot of questions that don't need to be answered.
Montezuma: .....Yeah but how did you and the Sphinx, uh-
Ahuizotl: Leaving a whole lot of questions that don't need to be answered.
I wouldn't be surprised if Daring Do and Cabelleron presented themselves as kind and gentle adoptive parents, to the point even Twi and Celestia were unsure if they weren't telling the truth, no matter their previous worries. You'd be surprised how many abusive parents can look as the "best, kindest parents evah!" to others. Twilight might even offer some advice of her own regarding raising a non-pony child.
And I imagine Celestia and Twi (both mothers of hybrids, mind you, even if Changelings are at least a little "pony-like") would be absolutely FURIOUS once they learned the truth about what happened. Like "Scary as Hell" Furious. "Run For the Hills" furious, for a reason more than the fact this child was basically kidnapped (adoption under false pretense? Manipulating and lying parent and child? Yeah, kidnapping), used, abused and exposed to make profit.
There is one thing more that would hit this pretty close to home to Celestia, Twilight and Luna as well: They wouldn't help but think about what if this had happened to their own children. They are royalty, so Pan, Artemis and Eerie were safer than Monty when it comes down to zoologists and zoos and basically being treated like a circus freak, but that "what if" would come to mind and, well, you can imagine how that would go.
I love that you're fleshing out the idea that Daring Doo is a shitty archeologist, just like colonial era British archeologists! I loved the idea, but the episode didn't flesh it out AT ALL because GODFORBID the ponies look bad! It's really obvious that this story was written by someone white in a first world country. The only issue I had with the episode was that previously, they explicitly showed Ahuizotl as evil by having him use those rings to create a heat wave, although that could have been a mistranslation on Daring's part. I just wish they built this up more, and then then it would have been a REALLY good twist! Especially if they called out Daring Doo on her arrogance of assuming that the natives couldn't protect and preserve their own treasures! This story does make me really sad though. Poor Montezuma doesn't deserve to be treated like a wild animal!