Following the events of “On Your Marks”, the Cutie Mark Crusaders have gained a widespread reputation for their ability to help other ponies get their Cutie Marks and find their purpose in life. However, they get their biggest challenge yet when they are confronted with Gabrielle “Gabby” Griffon. Pretty much the only innately friendly griffon in Griffonstone, she oversaw the Cutie Mark magic that Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie displayed in their own visit when helping out Gilda, and since then has become obsessed with the idea of having a Cutie Mark of her own so that she can share the “magic of friendship” as well among the other griffons. The CMCs are at a loss as Cutie Marks are exclusive to ponies, but as Gabby is so excited and determined to get one they attempt to at least help her find her true purpose…with the extremely remote and highly unlikely chance that she’ll obtain a Cutie Mark from it. Unfortunately, this fails as well when Gabby shows off that she’s talented at everything, and in the end the CMCs are reduced to tears at their first failure to help someone else. However, not long after, Gabby suddenly bursts in and surprises them with a Cutie Mark on her flank, surprising but also enthusing them that they apparently succeeded. Yet when Gabby is eager to run off after showing them, they suspect something is up. When they finally catch up to Gabby stalled by helping push a wagon out of the mud, they discover the Cutie Mark is in fact a painted-on fake, yet Gabby says it wasn’t to make herself feel better but rather to make them feel better after she saw how depressed they were at their inability to help her. At that point, the girls realize that what Gabby really excelled at the whole time was in assisting other ponies, and they realize her true purpose is helping others; just like them. Prompted by that, the CMCs carve out a matching CMC emblem with a trophy in the center for Gabby to clasp her mail bags with, giving her a “Cutie Mark”, declare her the first griffon member of the CMCs, and even make her the first griffon ever to receive a “cute-ceanera”.
This is yet another one of those episodes that is a bit better on looking at it a second time. Back in Season Five we got “Tanks for the Memories”, which was a metaphor for death. This one…well…it’s not so clear. It’s not necessarily terminal illness in spite of the name, but it can be anything that someone wants that they can’t have. And that, unfortunately, is life.
We all like telling children growing up that they can be whatever they want to be, and when they’re young that’s mostly true. It’s also true that determination, perserverence, and dedication will take you past what the world says is an impassible limit…sometimes. Yet as everyone gets older they start to see their own mortality in focus and realize that some doors that are before them are ones they can never open. And for some people, unfortunately, the doors are shut early on while they remain open for everyone else.
With that in mind, I don’t think the lesson of this episode was as “on the head” as it could have been, but it was still nice. The point is ultimately not to become so obsessed with things you can’t have and cling to a fool’s hope on them so much that you lose sight of everything that you can change and do have control over. It’s kind of a mature lesson and one that we all hope we can learn later rather than sooner, but it’s still something we’ll all be faced with one day. Nevertheless I think it’s one that people might not get much impact from unless they’ve had to deal with it personally.
Aside from that, it was a rather dialog-heavy episode in spite of the montage toward the middle, and focused more on character rather than events. And with the CMCs, who normally aren’t as “animated” as the Mane Six, it doesn’t provide too much to write home about. Gabby is alright as a one-shot character, but…I guess it kind of proves the old adage that “characters who are nice people are boring”. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm and personality of the characters got me wondering if the CMCs really would manage to succeed…and what they were going to do if they failed. So I was emotionally invested, and that’s always a good sign.
So, with that in mind, another fairly good episode. How odd the CMC episodes turn out the highest consistent quality…
This title is a confusing one. “The Fault in Our Cutie Marks” is a knockoff of “The Fault in Our Stars”, and made me wonder if this episode would take the bold step of having a terminally ill character. While that ended up being untrue, after some research it seems to refer to the fact that one’s destiny is still in one’s hands in spite of the unchangeable things in their lives.
The “dinosaur” Petunia digs up has a skull suspiciously like a horse…
Tender Taps cameos. In the very next shot, the Big Macintosh color-swap pony from the Season One opening passes by in the background.
Gabby Griffon is voiced by Erin Matthews. She’s done a lot of voice acting, with her most recent one being Cidney Auron in “Final Fantasy XV”.
The events Gabby witnesses in her flashback are from Season Five’s “The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone”.
This is the second time Zecora has appeared this season (the first being in another CMC episode, “On Your Marks”), but with no lines.
Ponies have baseball…right. Gabby has opposable thumbs for batting and catching, but how do other ponies do it?
Although this is really a CMC episode in general, Scootaloo gets called out.
3.5 Stars out of 5