Ms. Cheerilee is taking her class on a bird-watching field trip to the Foal Mountains with Applejack and Rarity acting as chaperones. While nearing the end of their checklist, she mentions that any student who manages to spot an extremely rare bird called a Turul will get no homework for a week as a reward; getting everyone to eagerly look for one. When the CMCs think they spot one, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon immediately try to close in on it, hoping to get the reward first, and Snips and Snails follow after out of sheer curiosity. As a result, the entire group ends up getting lost. Diamond initially tries leading the way back herself, but doesn’t know the way and gets the group more off track. Apple Bloom suggests they stay in one place until the others find them, but their yelling attracts a bear, and by the time they manage to evade it they’re more lost than before. Sweetie Belle, Snips, and Snails try using their combination of weak magic to send a signal flare, but it fails, and Scootaloo (obviously) proves unable to fly to higher ground for a vantage point. The group begins arguing with each other, with Apple Bloom pointing out Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon have done nothing to help the situation and are still concerned with mocking the “blank flanks”, and end up climbing up higher to try to get to a higher vantage point. Everyone but Diamond ends up following, yet in the end, out of fear of being abandoned, Diamond runs after them only to trip and nearly fall off the mountain. Apple Bloom goes to help only to fall as well, leaving them both dangling over the side.
By reluctantly working together, the others manage to get a tree branch lowered to rescue Diamond Tiara and Apple Bloom, and continue to hike up the hill. They get caught in a downpour heading up and nearly get in an argument again, until both Diamond and Apple Bloom admit to one another they don’t know what to do now. They finally reach the top but don’t see anyone, and after shouting for help only nearly gets them buried in an avalanche, they end up taking refuge in a cave Diamond Tiara checks out for them. Snips and Snails end up having enough magic talent to build a fire, but when they talk about rationing food they start arguing again; resulting in everyone talking about their respective pressures. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon admit they’ve always been told by their families that they’re better than everyone else and feel pressure to live up to that; the CMCs admit they feel inadequate trying to live up to the example set by their “older sister” figures; and Snips and Snails admit they hate always being thought of being the “village idiots”. Although they argue again soon enough, the group shares a few moments of mutual understanding. The next day, both Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara go out to look for signs of anyone, and end up spotting the Turul, who cries out and then flies away. The others wake up and ask them what they saw but decide, so that neither one will get the credit, to claim they saw nothing. Soon after, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and the Wonderbolts arrive to affect a rescue. The CMCs believe they all learned to appreciate each other better and think this is a chance to turn over their relationship…only to find Snips and Snails are nonchalant about the whole thing and Diamond Tiara tries to take credit for seeing the Turul as soon as she’s back to Ms. Cheerilee. They end up wondering if they’ll get their Cutie Marks for patience.
The worst part of this entire arc is the timing, and illustrates the danger that IDW has inherited in trying to run comics on series that are currently in circulation. Comic books take considerable time and effort to bring from conception to publication, and the length of time between the plotline idea and actual release can be considerable. Even worse in that IDW’s deal with Hasbro/DHX Media only allowed them to get general feedback on whether or not storylines they envisioned were something the writers were currently considering for a plotline. Although Hasbro/DHX Media and IDW have tightened their relationship in recent years, working closely hand-in-hand on the “Legends of Magic” to have concurrent releases both on the comic stand as well as on the show itself, for now the lag really killed this plotline. “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had aired almost four months prior to this arc being released, and while a lot of the events of this two-issue arc are somewhat canon with events on the show, the truth is it still portrays Diamond Tiara in a slightly more negative light than she deserved: having some of her character traits be out of genuine flaws rather than being cowed and impressed on by her mother.
On the second reading, it’s not really as bad as I thought, although the mere fact “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had already come out makes it hard to see Diamond Tiara in a negative light considering how much she changed. And it does allow Snips and Snails a chance to expand on them a bit more, as they had gone so largely untouched in the series that occasionally the writers seem to forget they’re foals (such as in bits with Trixie or when Snails joined the Hoofball team in Season Six). And it was honestly a nice bit where the CMCs ended up having to work with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon and they learned they both feel pressure to live up to standards imposed on them.
What ruins it to me is that the story is forced to obey the “Elastic Principle”, which I pointed out in my trope suggestions. At the end, the CMCs and Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon have to be the roles of victims and bullies again, with no real ground having been gained. That was an inherit difficulty of this entire arc as the IDW Comic is forced to obey that principle to not violate show canon, but it was made much worse by the fact they could have let it slide if they had foreknowledge of “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”. Aside from that, while there is a bit of good drama in this, there’s a bit too much. While there’s a few jokes here and there, it fails to have a lot of the entertainment value in terms of wackiness or zaniness. It’s very dialogue intensive and survival drama. Most of the humorous interest comes from panels with unique art style, which is nice but not really entertaining.
In conclusion, if you take “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” into account, this arc really falls flat. If you ignore it and take it in and of itself, it’s…alright, but still hampered by needing to be back where they started at the end and not really leading to any growth of anyone. As such, I can only rate it as average.
While most of the IDW Comic manages to keep up with the show pretty well, this issue was, by far, the worst timed of the entire series. The first issue was published in January 2016, while “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” had aired in October of 2015.
The title of this arc is a knockoff of “Don’t You Forget About Me” which gained notoriety for being the ending song to “The Breakfast Club”. Like this arc, its plotline involves classmates from different backgrounds and “cliques” coming to understand each other.
The scene where the group is hiding from the bear while it’s trying to sniff them out might possibly be an allusion to a similar scene in “The Fellowship of the Ring” where the hobbits are hiding from the Nazgul.
After the snow falls on the group, Apple Bloom has a “snow hat and beard” similar to Gandalf the Grey in another Lord of the Rings allusion.
2.5 Stars out of 5