The Cutie Mark Crusaders have their first meeting following the events of “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”, only to realize that their old purpose of trying new things to get Cutie Marks is now irrelevant. Instead, they try to live up to their purpose of finding problems involving Cutie Marks and purposes to solve, but only manage to find a rather simple-to-fix problem with Bulk Biceps. Fearing that they won’t find any problems to solve, the CMCs decide to once again try new things, this time with the intention of running into other ponies with Cutie Mark problems, but all of them prefer to do different things. Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle suggest breaking up and each one individually finding something they like to do instead, making Apple Bloom unhappy as she believes she now has to do things on her own without her friends. After a day of doing activities she’s not too great at, Apple Bloom finally goes to a dance hall for fillies and colts, thinking she can make friends by dancing with somepony else. Yet her own “technique” is so wild and erratic that the instructor says she’s more suited to being a soloist. As she sorrowfully leaves out, a Cutie-Markless dance student with incredible talent yet no self-confidence named Tender Taps tries to encourage her, but she’s so caught up in her misery she hardly notices. When all the CMCs return, Apple Bloom is at first cross against Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle for having fun without her, when she realizes she misinterpreted what they said earlier to think they didn’t want to hang out at all anymore when they were merely suggesting they try what they like individually, and she realizes that just because you’re not good at something doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it personally, and just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you always have to be great at it. On realizing this, Apple Bloom not only realizes she enjoyed dancing but that Tender Taps had a Cutie Mark problem. The CMCs return to the dance hall and, with Scootaloo using a new affinity for bungee jumping to change the set, Sweetie Belle using a new affinity for crochet to make costumes, and Apple Bloom using a new affinity for dancing to act as partner, they’re able to get Tender Taps to give a stellar recital and get his Cutie Mark in performing. In the end, the CMCs realize splitting up to try different things is not only a way to gain more interests for themselves but a way to find more ponies in need of their help, and Apple Bloom declares that the CMCs will now be “even better” than before.
The first Cutie Mark Crusaders episode of this season is pretty much par for the course, but there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. As I said earlier, I’m not a huge fan of CMC episodes as they seem rather mundane, but the quality level on them is consistent and never bad, so that’s always a plus. This one is really more of an Apple Bloom episode, but I think it qualifies as CMCs as a whole.
In terms of being an after-school special episode, it finally hits on a lot of things that should have been obvious to the CMCs in their own journey, and which are fairly good lessons. You don’t have to be “the greatest” at something to enjoy doing it, and even if you have something you’re the greatest at you don’t have to do it all the time. It doesn’t seem like too much of an important lesson, but…I kind of think it is. As I’ve said before, the Internet culture of today seems to grow more and more polarized all the time. There seems to be an idea that everything is either fantastic or crud with no room in between. In that sort of situation, it’s important to remember that you don’t always have to be a pro to have fun doing something. I dare say it’s possible to be terrible at something and still like it.
Aside from that nice little lesson, the episode was pretty good. The pacing was nice, the various activities were kind of fun to watch, Tender Taps was a nice character for a one-shot, and the CMCs got to do their normal playing off of one another. “Out on My Own” is kind of different from most of Ingram’s songs, but I liked it and I thought Michelle Creber did a great job singing it. Finally, it also managed to do something that “Magical Mystery Cute” struggled with after it concluded: found a way to keep the CMCs in the show and relevant after finally fulfilling their original purpose.
So all around, another nice episode and a good way to bring the post-Cutie Mark CMCs back into the series.
At this point, I think Claire Corlett, the voice actor for Sweetie Belle, is starting to sound “older” as well, much like Michelle Creber for Apple Bloom.
When Scootaloo fails to sing the musical note right, she still thinks she nailed it. This is likely an allusion back to Season One’s “The Show Stoppers” when Scootaloo constantly overestimated her ability to sing. Similarly, Apple Bloom was the one who liked dancing in that episode even though all she knew was karate, so it makes sense she wants to dance for fun now although she’s no good at it.
When each CMC introduces the others to an activity, each one uses the formula: “It’s a ____ and a ____ and a ____.”
Zecora’s first appearance this season, although a non-speaking role.
As a guy who goes on whitewater trips from time to time, I think it’s a bit rough starting Apple Bloom off as the rudder. :X
Berryshine is one of the ponies mashing grapes. No real fan thinks she’s out to make juice. 😛
Tree Hugger makes a cameo as the art model. I’m sure most of the ponies in the studio are parodies of famous artists, but the only one I recognize is the pony with a melted clock for a Cutie Mark. That one’s clearly Salvador Dali Pony.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon look like they made another friend.
Anyone else think it’s kind of weird that Apple Bloom just walks into a dance class and immediately gets offered a chance to perform at a recital the same evening?
Lyra and Bon Bon are sitting next to each other in the audience. 😛 Also, Button Mash is back, apparently no longer the subject of controversy following Season Five.
This might be off base, but the song that Tender Taps and Apple Bloom dance to vaguely makes me think of “Catgroove”. That song was used in an infamous Youtube video for MLP:FIM where shots from the show were paired with the song. It also plays instead of the credit music…again.
3 Stars out of 5