MLP Friendship is Magic, Season One, Episode Twelve, "Call of the cutie" Review

Welcome back everyone.

Once again this review will contain spoilers. Those of you who haven't watched this episode yet, you have been warned.

So our episode begins in the Ponyville school where the teacher is explaining an important concept, both to the student and the audience. Cutie marks. They are the symbols which are seen on the hind legs of the pony characters when they've reached a point in their lives when they've found what they're supposed to do in life and what they're special talent is, be it dancing, cooking, building etc. However, one of the students, Applejack's younger sister Applebloom, finds that she's one of the only two in her class who has yet to receive her mark. This leads to much mockery by her fellow students, leading into today's title sequence.

As the episode begins proper, Applebloom and her friend Twist, the other mark-less student, are getting concerned about an upcoming party they've been invited to by one of their classmates. Specifically the classmate who has been mocking them about not getting their marks yet. Applebloom goes to Applejack about this but the older sister assures her that it will come in it's own time and that she herself was also the last in her class to get it, much like many of the Apple family. This leads to Applebloom thinking that because most of her family have marks related to apples in some way, hers must be as well. As such she soon joins Applejack in trying to sell some of the family apples in town to see if that gets the mark to appear.

Unfortunately her attempts to sell the apples ends pretty badly. Applejack recommends that she might feel better if she goes to the party with Twist as she also has no mark yet. However, when she goes to speak to her about this, it turns out that Twist has gained her mark since the last time they saw each other, having found a talent for making confectionary treats. Now feeling more depressed than ever, Applebloom sits next to a well feeling sorry for herself. In comes Rainbow Dash asking what's wrong. When Applebloom explains the situation Rainbow says she can help, having been the first in her class to get her mark. She explains that when she was younger she discovered she had a real talent for flying, far more so than other pegasus ponies, when she was in a race with some of her classmates, leading to the discovery of her mark.

What follows is Rainbow Dash helping Applebloom in a number of activities to help her discover what her mark is supposed to be, as shown through a training montage that was just begging to have some 80's music in the background (no joke but I honestly had to restrain myself from singing "Eye of the tiger" during this sequence). Activities such as hand-gliding, karate (no, you read that right), and roller-skating. Most of this attempts end in failure on Applebloom's part and as she's getting more upset about the whole thing, Pinkie Pie comes in to ask her if she wants to help her in making some cupcakes. Applebloom agrees and the scene eventually leads to today's song, which I'll discuss later.

However, it seems Applebloom is not very good at this either, much to her disappointment. Twilight comes in asking what's going on and Applebloom asks her to use her magic to help the mark appear. Twilight refuses at first given the belief that magic cannot make a mark appear before it's time. But after Applebloom's pleading, she relents and tries. Despite Twilight's efforts, no mark appears. Given this, Applebloom decides then and there not to go to the upcoming party. However, it seems that the party in question was occurring in the very building she was making cupcakes, much to her shock.

The next scene involves Applebloom making various attempts to leave the party without anyone noticing her. She almost makes it to the exit before Applejack arrives, preventing her from doing so. Soon, the mocking classmates from earlier taunt Applebloom about her as-yet nonexistent cutie mark, right in front of the whole party. This leads to the arrival of two new characters, a young pegasus named Scootaloo and a young unicorn named Sweetie Belle. They promptly defend Applebloom over these taunts ad explain that being without a mark means that she could potentially be good anything and she still has the joy of finding out for the first time what she's meant to do in life. Turns out that these two also have no marks and that they were hiding much like Applebloom because like her they felt embarrassed.

After this they introduce themselves to each other and the three become friends, declaring that they will now endeavour to find what their special talent in life is, dubbing themselves the "cutie mark crusaders" (this series is going to give me diabetes isn't it?).

And so our episode ends once again with Twilight narrating a letter to the Princess about today's lesson, which I'll talk about later.

So how did this episode do?

Well, as the first episode not to focus on one of the main six ponies, I though it did okay. It was a good story for the character of Applebloom, as well as the introduction of the other two crusaders, who really do have good chemistry together and do come off as genuine friends with each other. I also think this episode does a good job of introducing the audience to the concept of cutie marks, which is something that hasn't been talked about that much before despite staring us in the face since the start of the series.

I don't know if this is what the writers intended for this, but the concept of the cutie marks and the idea that it will come at a time in your life when you've finally "found your place", seems to be a metaphor for puberty. Like I said, I have no idea if that was the intention, but if it was, then I have to give credit where it's due for presenting the idea in a relatively subtle way. Many other shows I've seen this message in tend to beat me over the head with it, so it was nice to be presented with this idea in a not-so-blunt fashion.

However, there were some elements of this episode I had an issue with. Firstly, how is it that Applebloom didn't know about these other two ponies without marks? I mean we've seen no other schools in Ponyville, so if they're from the same school how come they haven't simply bumped into each other before? And I know it was funny to see Applebloom wandering into the party by mistake, but honestly, just wandering into the place you've been adamant about avoiding the whole time? That makes no sense.

Having said that this was overall a fairly enjoyable episode, both in terms of the general story and as a good setup for what will become one of the more important running sub-plots of the series.

Humour now and there were some really funny parts to this one. Seeing Applebloom fail in her many activities whilst being trained by Rainbow Dash was enjoyable to watch. I know that sounds cruel of me but it's pretty clear the episode was set up for those moments to be funny so don't judge me on this one. However the funniest parts of the episode came during Applebloom's failed attempts at selling apples alongside her sister. Her methods of getting people to buy them, especially with the older male pony character, was especially funny to watch.

Now for the song. This week we have "Cupcakes" sung by Pinkie Pie during her and Applebloom's attempts to bake.....well.....cupcakes. I know it may sound sometimes like I dislike her singing but in honesty, her singing voice actress, Shannon Chan-Kent, does a pretty good job most of the time of sounding like her regular voice actress, Andrea Libman. And here in particular I think she's really getting used to singing these things far more so than other episodes. Overall the song itself was pretty short, about thirty seconds or something, but it's was legitimately fun to listen to and, I must confess, pretty catchy. Though how a pony takes "a pinch of salt" without fingers I have no idea. As enjoyable as this song gets, I have been asked in the past not to mention it to fans. Apparently the word "cupcakes" is something of a taboo words amongst them and I've never quite figured out why as they're all reluctant to talk about it.

The moral of the story is that sometimes the things that set you apart from others are what make you special and that they're nothing to be ashamed of. This is a good lesson for kids to learn. However, the issue I have with it is that it's somewhat undermined by the fact that being without a mark is now not something Applebloom can call her own. There's two other characters here who are like her so she can't really stand out if she's not the only one like that. I know that sounds like I'm nitpicking here but that's honestly something that bothers me about the lesson.

The only real criticism I can throw against this episode overall is that, at times, it can get a bit too "cute" for my liking. I know that may sound odd, especially considering I'm reviewing an episode of My Little Pony, but in all honesty, I think this show tries it's best not to go that path with many of it's characters. Kid characters, especially very young kid characters often come across as being to sugary or sweet for my tastes, as anyone who knows me will tell you, so being exposed to one through a whole episode was, admittedly, something of a chore.

All in all this episode is a good start to the "cutie mark crusaders" sub-plot, with some good humour, a fun little song and a chance to show that this show's creators can make an entertaining episode without sticking to the six main characters. While it may not quote be up to the standards of last week's episode, "Winter wrap-up", I can honestly say that it's worth at least one viewing.

Join me next week when we race to the finish line in episode thirteen, "Fall weather friends".

See you then.

Well if you must know about the word "Cupcakes" just look it up on google. Its a fanfic that someone wrote and its sort of..disturbing. Depending on what kind of stories you have read in the past.

I'll tell you more in a private message if you like to know more without reading it. Anyways good review. Not my favorite episode but a good introduction to the CMC. Anyways keep up the reviews. It's interesting to read someone thoughts on these things.

Outcast107:
Well if you must know about the word "Cupcakes" just look it up on google. Its a fanfic that someone wrote and its sort of..disturbing. Depending on what kind of stories you have read in the past.

I'll tell you more in a private message if you like to know more without reading it. Anyways good review. Not my favorite episode but a good introduction to the CMC. Anyways keep up the reviews. It's interesting to read someone thoughts on these things.

A private message would help. My internet connection's been rather "iffy" these days, Google especially.

I interpreted the message as more of "the thing that set you apart from others can bring you together to another", kind of a misery loves company deal. But that's just my take on it.

Also the "cupcakes" fanfic is kind of mitigated by another fanfic where the events of cupcakes are just a nightmare pinkie had and rainbow dash tries to cheer her up. So take that for what it's worth.

 

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