, , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Apple Bloom is sad because two spoiled and stuck-up bullies in her class, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, are having a party to celebrate the appearance of their “Cutie Marks”, the “brand” on the flank of ponies which shows what their special talent is and is a sign of coming of age, and will use the party as an excuse to make fun of her for being a “blank flank”. Desperate to get a Cutie Mark, she goes to her sister Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle in attempts to get her Cutie Mark to show up before the party, but all end in failure. Unfortunately, she still ends up at Sugarcube Corner, forgetting that this was where the party was supposed to take place, and tries to sneak out without showing her flank off, but ends up accidentally revealing it. When Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon start to make fun of her, two other fillies who are also “blank flanks”, a unicorn named Sweetie Belle and a pegasus named Scootaloo, appear and stand up for her and make a speech about how having no Cutie Mark means you’re still free to become whatever you want to be instead of confined to a role. The other students end up flocking around the three and they upstage Diamond Tiara at her own party. Twilight Sparkle observes and writes a letter to Princess Celestia about how sometimes the things that you think will make you an outcast can help you make friends and realize how special you are, while Apple Bloom and her new friends form a “secret club” devoted to getting their Cutie Marks: the Cutie Mark Crusaders (CMCs).


And with this episode, the show is fully “underway”. Not only does it introduce a number of nuances to life in Ponyville, but it also features the first appearance of the “secondary cast” of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic – the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Although they technically cameoed in the very first episode, here is where they get underway…although this is pretty much still an Apple Bloom episode alone. And as one…it does very well. Apple Bloom’s lines, antics, and even her cute country accent are all spot on and make this episode all around enjoyable as well as a bit endearing.

And, naturally, this early in the series…the CMCs haven’t “worn out their welcome” yet…which would happen by Season Three.

The CMCs, in my opinion, were included to fit a younger demographic and to have “less magic, more reality” in the show. Almost all plots involving the CMCs have to do with problems that real kids face, and are usually far more plausible than ones with magic or destruction. Hence, a side effect of any episode featuring them is to keep the show “grounded in reality”. The problem with episodes featuring them is that they are some of the more poorly developed characters. In most episodes they are just “generic kids”. They have some funny lines, but none really stand out. In this episode, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle might as well be the same character. Apple Bloom’s only real character when she’s not looking for her Cutie Mark is to play off of Applejack as the little sister who hates being babied by her older sister. Scootaloo didn’t have any episodes to herself until Season Three, but before that she was viewed as the more tomboyish of the group as well as having the same inferiority complex as Rainbow Dash and propensity for action. Sweetie Belle, unfortunately, is the weakest of the group, with nothing really “standing out” about her character other than her eagerness to “assist” seems to end in disaster. The only side of her we’ve ever seen is when playing off of her own big sister, Rarity.

Another annoyance is how everyone in Ponyville except the CMCs appears utterly oblivious to the constant bullying, and no one ever tries to put a stop to it. Now, one could argue that bullies are a “fact of life”, but modern society doesn’t really seem to try and endorse that view but wants to organize against them, at least in public schools. Yet here it’s just “dealt with”.

Still, a good episode all around with lots of laughs, cuteness, and an introduction to the “other side” of Ponyville.

Fun Fact:

This is not the first appearance of Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle…or even their first time interacting with Apple Bloom. All three were huddled in fear in the pilot episode when Nightmare Moon appeared.

However, this is the first appearance of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.

Ms. Cheerilee had been both in the opening credits and a background pony for a few episodes already. This is her first time as a real “character”.

The picture of “80s” Cheerilee managed to incorporate itself into the IDW comic when Cadence and Shining Armor are having flashbacks.

Am I the only person who thinks, if I was Apple Bloom, I wouldn’t go to Diamond Tiara’s party if she was giving away a billion dollars as a door prize? For that matter, why would anyone head to anything she held? She even insults people she invites.

Applejack claims something to the effect that she knew all along that she would run Sweet Apple Acres one day and so she knew what her Cutie Mark would end up being. This is quite a bit different from how she actually got her Cutie Mark in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles”, when she had to learn that for herself after trying to abandon the farm.

Apple Bloom’s “sad face” is one of the most classic expressions in the series.

Rainbow Dash’s story about being the first to get her Cutie Mark in her class is also incorrect, as in “The Cutie Mark Chronicles” she’s racing against ponies her age who already have theirs. Of course, in her case, she was likely stretching the truth.

Out of everyone’s advice, it seems Apple Bloom and the other CMCs stuck with Rainbow Dash’s for the rest of the series.

Although the brief “Cupcake Song” that Pinkie Pie sings in this episode isn’t one of the more memorable of the series, the Team Fortress 2 parody done by Heavy is a classic.

Still no cross-eyed Derpy.

At one point in the episode, a background pony with grapes and a strawberry for a Cutie Mark approaches the punch bowl, quickly looks around and makes sure no one is looking, and then takes a sip. The fans soon named the character Berry Punch (or, alternatively, Berryshine) and fancanon made her the town drunk.

The “rotating first person table” at the end may have been a knock off of “That 70’s Show”.

One of the few episodes where the letter to Princess Celestia is not about one of the Mane Six.


3 Stars out of 5