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- "I now declare this island, which I alone have discovered, to be Carlos Island!"
- —Carlos, in his fantasy
The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top is the first episode of the second season of Scholastic's The Magic School Bus.
The class is trying to piece together a giant globe, with the exception of Dorothy Ann, who is reading the instructions of the globe. Suddenly, Ms. Frizzle flies out of a model volcano and the globe eventually falls apart. Phoebe knows about volcanoes. When Dorothy Ann tells Carlos that the globe was missing one more piece, the two end up arguing as Carlos chides Dorothy for researching rather than putting the globe together and Dorothy retorting that research would've helped put the globe together. Ms. Frizzle says that it was missing an island "so new, it hasn't even been discovered yet!", adding that the earth changes all the time, even under everyone's feet. Carlos eventually gives Ms. Frizzle an idea to discover the island and name it. So Ms. Frizzle decides to take the class out for a field trip.
The class ride The Magic School Bus, which Ms. Frizzle transforms into a two-propellered airplane and Carlos and Dorothy decide to try and find this island, the two arguing over what it'll be named. While they think up names for the island, the bus comes across ashes floating in the sky, which blackens out the bus windows as Liz accidentally lands onto a lever, causing the bus to plunge to the ocean.
Ms. Frizzle swaps out the Bus' wheels for seaplane pontoons and lands it where the island should be. As The Magic School Seaplane continues to ride through the water, Dorothy decides to name the would-be island "Empirical Island". The bus comes to a stop in the middle of the ocean and the class exits the Bus (and stands on its surfboard pontoons) to find that there is no shore in sight. Ms. Frizzle tells the class that they are "a tad early", adding that the class should "get out there and explore" right before inflating a raft in the ocean. Carlos hops onto the raft and splashes water with enough force to cause Dorothy to lose her book bag. She pleads with Ms. Frizzle to let her go after it, but Carlos would rather take the raft and look for the island. Wanting to keep "as much water between him and the bottom of the ocean as possible," Arnold goes with Carlos, with Liz tagging along, while everyone else gets inside the pontoon Bus.
As Carlos sets off to look for the island, The Magic School Seaplane transforms into a submarine and dives underwater to explore the deep as Dorothy looks for her book bag. They come across what appears to be an underwater mountain, which Dorothy states that it is impossible for her to explain since she doesn't have her books. She gets a glimpse of her bag through the window and the bus swims down to the bottom of the ocean to find a sunken ship. The class exits the Bus, wearing their diving suits (which are a bit bulkier than normal), and Dorothy Ann's bag falls inside the ship. Ralphie at first, wanted to get the bag but failed due to the fish with lights coming out of a skull's head. So, Dorothy Ann swims inside the ship to retrieve her bag, only to find that it is caught in the tentacle of a squid, which swims out of the ship. Just then, an earthquake precipitates leading the class to say "It's an earthquake!!", and Dorothy Ann grabs her bag off of the squid's tentacle, only to get inked and lose her bag again. Little does she know, gas bubbles had sent it to the surface, where Carlos and Arnold find it, the former thinking the contents will help locate the island.
Back underwater, Dorothy Ann, oblivious to the whereabouts of her book bag, continues searching for it as the class swim along with her down to the bottom of the ocean, in which the temperature drops into. The class come across what appears to be smoke pipes and Dorothy figures that something below them is heating them since she doesn't have her books to explain what they are. When the class come across what appears to be an underwater canyon, Ms. Frizzle takes them back into the Magic Busmarine and under the canyon.
Meanwhile, Carlos is reading one of DA's books and comes across the information the earth's surface is made out of layered crust-like plates of rocks, which moves slowly and sometimes, one plate jams onto another. Furthermore, when the plate slips the earth moves.
Back underwater, Ms. Frizzle compares the world to a toasted bowling ball with a crust, telling the rest of the class that they are between the edge of two pieces of crust. In order to squeeze between the narrow space of the underwater rock, the teacher transforms The Magic Busmarine so that it is flat enough to squeeze in between the rock and the underwater surface as it gets hot.
When the bus makes it inside, the class discovers that the crust is melting. Ms. Frizzle tells the class that it gets hotter inside the earth's depth and informs that magma is melted rocks. DA thinks about the exploration the class has experienced and finally surmises that the class is inside the heart of an underwater volcano.
Meanwhile, Carlos continues to read DA's books and Arnold is convinced that Carlos is starting to sound just like Dorothy as Carlos tells him that the two are floating on top of an underwater volcano.
Back into the volcano, the magma rises to the top and Dorothy informs the others that when all the molten rock shoots up out of the volcano and hits the air, it cools, which causes it to harden to new rock and build on top of the volcano, thus creating a new island. The Magic Busmarine then comes to a stop on top of the volcano since something is plugging up the volcano. So the class dress into their magma gear and exit the bus to give the rock on top of the volcano a push. When the class struggle to push the rock, Ms. Frizzle uses the bus to crack open the rock and the volcano finally erupts, making a new island as Carlos and Arnold witness it from the surface of the ocean.
As the volcano erupts, the rest of the class land onto the raft with Carlos and Arnold and Ms. Frizzle also joins in along with The Magic Busmarine. The class witness Liz on top of the island and claims the discovery. It was because when Dorothy landed hard on the raft, it bounced up Liz and it sent the paddle slamming into her and sent her flying toward that island. Carlos then offers Dorothy her book bag, saying that he was glad to have it to read the interesting research inside the books. Dorothy also says that she was glad she didn't have her books for a change to learn more about things from experience instead. Dorothy finally suggest that she and Carlos should write a book about the discovery of the island (which she names "Lizard Island") When Carlos and Dorothy argue over whether the book should be by either "Carlos and D.A." or "D.A. and Carlos", Ms. Frizzle states that "unlike the earth, some things never change".
- This is the second episode to focus on the three characters, Arnold, Carlos and Dorothy Ann. The first one is Gets Ants in Its Pants.
- This is the first episode where Dorothy Ann uses her memory instead of her books for the field trip.
- Carlos' voice sounds deeper during some lines, because Daniel DeSanto was going through puberty at that time.
- Bob Ostrom, known for his work on The Loud House, illustrated the book for this episode and later Season 2 books.
- Danny Tamberelli voices Arnold for the first time, replacing Amos Crawley.
- Andre Ottley-Lorant voices Tim for the first time, replacing Max Beckford.
- This is the first episode where Liz would pop out from behind The Magic School Bus closing logo and wave goodbye to the viewers during the end credits.