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Synopsis:

On seeing themselves swamped with a large number of “blank flanks” needing their help, the Cutie Mark Crusaders decide to open up a Cutie Mark Day Camp with the idea that they can get all of the colts and fillies needing their help to try new things together just as they did. On starting it up it seems to be a success save for one colt named Rumble, the younger brother of Wonderbolt Thunderlane, who looks bored and disinterested with the whole experience and, unseen by the CMCs, intentionally fails every activity. When they try to encourage him, he only grows hostile toward them and the idea of a Cutie Mark, surprising them by saying he’d rather remain a blank flank. The next day, his brother forces him to return to the day camp, but Rumble uses the opportunity to prey on the insecurities and fears of the other camp goers by telling them a Cutie Mark will force them to do something they don’t like to do forever and keep them from doing anything else. Before long, he leads the camp in a revolt to create “Camp Blank Flanks Forever”, dedicated to never getting a Cutie Mark. Angry and frustrated, and unable to talk to Rumble, the girls turn to Thunderlane instead, who reveals that all Rumble has been doing since Thunderlane became a Wonderbolt is either watch him practice or practice himself. The CMCs realize Rumble is scared of getting a Cutie Mark in anything besides being a Wonderbolt, thinking it will ruin his dream or be something he hates by comparison. The girls take Thunderlane back to camp with them to be the “guest participant” in the day’s activities, which soon not only sways the other campgoers into coming back but even Rumble when he sees one of the activities is a Wonderbolt obstacle course. However, he sees Thunderlane isn’t running it but is instead cooking, revealing after he became a Wonderbolt and had to start cooking meals at the barracks that he actually liked doing that a lot too. Realizing that even with a Cutie Mark you can still find new interests, Rumble decides to help out his brother with cooking as well instead of running the course, and agrees to try out the rest of the activities at camp from now on as a willing participant.

Review:

Well, every season has got to have the “one episode” I just can’t stand. And all things considered it could have been worse.

There is one good thing about it. Although this is a Cutie Mark Crusader episode, and most of those tend to highlight a new one-shot character, this episode solidly focuses on the one-shot characters in a similar way that “Top Bolt” did. Thunderlane had been named since Season Two and now he got a bit of screen time. Heck, they even gave a one-shot like Rumble his own song. A lot of fans appreciated that, and I can respect it.

Unfortunately, that’s about all I liked about it. The plot, well… Before I get into that, I have to focus on my biggest peeve for this episode: Rumble.

I don’t much really care for Rumble as a character. A lot of people likened him to Starlight Glimmer for his dislike of Cutie Marks and using a song to persuade the masses, but the relationships don’t stop there. Both of them ultimately had a personal issue to deal with and, rather than deal with it maturely or responsibly, they not only hid their fear behind aggression and hostility but attempted to manipulate the doubts and fears of others into rallying to their misguided cause. Rumble is younger and has less maturity so you can forgive him a little more than Starlight, but it still plunged him into severe unlikeability for me. Especially when he took out his personal anger on the CMCs. As I said in my separate devotional, I’m ashamed to admit I acted like “Rumble” at least once in my life. I’m not proud of it and I shouldn’t be, regardless of how I was feeling.

Yet what further got my goat was seeing that so many fans liked what he was spouting during his song and thought it all had a point, in spite of the fact it was all stuff Rumble was only endorsing to try and get out of getting a Cutie Mark he didn’t want. There have been debates in the past among the fandom over the nature of Cutie Marks and what it would mean to get one that you didn’t care for and be “stuck” doing that forever. And on the show, it’s been demonstrated that even those with Cutie Marks are sometimes confused as to why they have them. A number of fans seemed to take this as an allusion for being forced to do a job or career that they didn’t like and desiring the freedom to “be themselves”.

What I think a lot of them are missing is that all of these concerns have already been addressed by the show canon, and were put out poignantly in Season Five’s “Bloom and Gloom”. All of Rumble’s “points”, which, again, weren’t points at all but simply excuses he was making, were moot because they were predicated on a Cutie Mark being a cause and an individual being an effect. In reality, the opposite is true. Luna stated it succinctly: a Cutie Mark is merely a reflection of who you are. You don’t get a Cutie Mark to randomly tell you what your destiny is. You get a Cutie Mark when you discover what your true calling is. And like the episode showed, being talented at one thing doesn’t mean you stop doing anything else. Twilight loves to read and her Cutie Mark is in magic. Applejack loves rodeos and competitions and her Cutie Mark is for growing apples. Shining Armor’s Cutie Mark is for being a defender and when’s the last time he’s done anything involving guarding anything? 😛

Yet I think fans flocked to this for the same reason they did to “Flutter Brutter”. In spite of attempts to say the bronies don’t conform to a fandom, most of us strike me as the kind of people who spend too much time around the house not actively seeking a job, career, or even a good major in college and instead prefer to just “be ourselves and keep our options open”…which many (not all, but many) times translates into apathy, lack of ambition, or even laziness. Perhaps that’s the reason they identified with Rumble.

But even aside from him and the fact that the moral had already been addressed and the CMCs should have known better how to respond to it, I didn’t care for much of the episode. Since the song was 100 percent wrong, I didn’t like it that much even if it was a change of pace. I thought the CMCs were a bit dense that they couldn’t tell the difference between a failed attempt and not even trying. And the resolution was muddled. The real reason this is more a background pony episode and not a CMC one is because they don’t really provide the solution. Thunderlane does that in a heart-to-heart. What they do, on the other hand, is simply seduce the “Camp Blank Flanks Forever” goers back onto their side with a celebrity.  In a way, that makes the real moral of the episode that kids are easy to bribe into believing whatever you want them to. It may be true, but, in the words of Marge Simpson, “that’s a pretty lousy lesson”.

For all these reasons, this is my pick for the low point of Season Seven.

Fun Facts:

A bit of lack of communication between writers seemed to lead to a continuity error. As mentioned in “Fame and Misfortune”, the CMCs alluded earlier to the idea of a Cutie Mark Day Camp, but this episode makes it seem like a fresh idea.

Camp Friendship was the camp Applejack and Countess Coloratura went to in “The Mane Attraction”.

Thunderlane is in the Wonderbolts. No fair. How long did it take Rainbow Dash to get in? 😛

When asked if she remembers how long it took them to get their Cutie Marks, Apple Bloom answers: “I remember the nightmares”, an allusion that all three girls had episodes with nightmares prior to getting their Cutie Marks.

Another allusion to “Old Ponish”. That got a light of weight this season.

Most of the fans quickly realized that Rumble’s song, “Blank Flanks Forever”, reminded them of a song from the “A Pony Kind of Christmas” CD, in particular a song “Last Year I Got Coal for Christmas”. That song was sung by an unnamed colt known simply as “Pop Fly” who had the same voice actor as Rumble, Vincent Tong.

Rating:

2 Stars out of 5