MLP - "One bad apple" - Review.

Once again, this review will contain spoilers. Those of you who have not seen the episode yet, you have been warned.

Our episode begins with Applebloom at home worrying about finding the right outfit for the arrival of her and Applejack's cousin, Babs Seed. Applejack informs her that she need not try to hard to impress during their first meeting, given that, like her, she has no cutie mark. This revelation causes Applebloom to run out and find her friend, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, leading into the episode opening sequence.

After the opener we find that the three young ponies plus Applejack are waiting at the train station. The three are excited at the prospect of having a new member to their club, as they see the train arriving. Babs arrives and the three immediately greet her in their typically over-enthusiastic way. They invite her to their clubhouse and offer her an invitation to join their club. Despite the crusaders' best efforts to make her feel like it's a good idea, Babs seems less than thrilled at the prospect.

In an attempt to impress her, they take her to a float that's being made on the farm in preparation for an upcoming local event. Before Babs can respond however, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon show up to make fun of the crusaders as usual. When their attention draws to Babs, they make fun of her for her being a "blank flank", which Applebloom defends her over. Then, much to everyone's surprise, Babs goes over to Diamond and Silver and begins mocking the crusaders, even going so far as to wreck their float. After this abrupt rejection of the crusaders' offer, the three leave, leaving the crusaders distraught.

Back at their clubhouse, the crusader wonder what to do, with the idea of informing Applejack of Babs' behaviour rejected for fear of being branded as "snitches". They then decide to simply avoid Babs until she goes home in a few weeks. This leads into the episode's song which shows how difficult avoiding her is as she seems to hound them at every turn. Things get at their worst when Babs and the other two eventually drive them out of their own clubhouse, claiming it for themselves.

With the idea of telling someone still being rejected, they decide instead to fight back. To do so they decide to embarrass her at the upcoming celebration. In the middle of the night, the crusaders gather in the barn and begin some sort of construction project, via an A-Team style montage (complete with a variation on the theme song). The next day the celebration begins, and the crusaders trick Babs into riding in their newly-constructed float. Their pride in tricking her is short-lived however as Applejack, not knowing their plan, informs them that Babs has been through a rough time lately.

It turns out Babs has herself been the victim of bullying back in her home town and this visit was to try and get away from it for a while. Realising that this was the reason she joined in with the other bullies, the crusaders immediately feel terrible for what they've done. With Babs having driven the float away down the street, the crusaders run after her to prevent their trap from going off. To try and catch up they hitch a ride on Pinkie Pie's float, but that doesn't work out too well as Babs drives them off the road before they can warn her.

The traps sets off while Babs is still driving it and the float rolls uncontrolled down a hill. To save her, the crusaders bump her out of it, leaving them inside when it reaches the bottom, leaving them covered in mud. Back at the farm, the crusaders confess everything to Babs, apologizing for having tried to get back at her. This, in turn, leads to Babs apologising for her behaviour towards them during all this. After making up, they officially make her a member of their group.

And so our episode ends with Babs saying her goodbyes and heading back to her home town.

So then, how did the CMC's first episode of the season fare?

Well, I've made it no secret in the past that I have not been a big fan of the CMC episodes when all they do is focus on the same thing over and over again, finding their cutie marks. However, I have gone on record as saying that I'm fond of their episodes when they focus on different things. And this episode certainly qualifies as the latter. As a person who, over the years, has been both an observer of, and been on the receiving end of, bullying, this episode's story helped me a great deal in identifying with what the young ponies were going through.

Being the target of someone's bad attitude, especially when you're not entirely sure why it's happening, is a story that I think a lot of people can relate to, and this episode certainly did a good job of handling it's subject matter. In most cartoons when the story is focused on some sort of bullying behaviour, the solution has always been to try and out-do the bully or get back at them somehow. Here however, we instead get a deeper look into why this situation happened, and an attempt to try and reconcile with the person rather than making them an outright villain. I liked that.

However, I will say that on the character of Babs Seed, I was unsure of why the show would introduce her character for the purposes of this story. If they wanted a bully for the CMC, that's fine, but the problem with that is that this show already has a character that could have served that purpose. Diamond Tiara, the CMC's classmate who's been making things difficult for them in past episodes. I can't understand why they would need to bring in a new character for this role instead of using the one they already had.

But having that character influence Babs in her behaviour was, I think, a very realistic piece of writing. Many times in real life a bully will be born not out of some malicious feelings towards the victims, but because they've been pressured into it some way. They may not be bad people themselves, but they're easily influenced by peer pressure into being as bad as others. To have her be a victim of bullying herself, and to show how that can lead to being corrupted into bad behaviour, was a very good part of the story, showing just how much this problem can affect a person. I'm sure many of us have known one or two people in our lives that have gone down that road, and Babs, as a result, comes across as more of a tragic character because of this, which is certainly a thumbs up on the part of the writers.

I also believe that it was an interesting choice to make the bully in question a relative of one of the CMC. Having Babs be Applebloom's cousin did a great job of showing not only that bullies can come from one's own family, but that even in this harmonious world, not everyone is perfect. That even in a family like that of the Apples, there can be some disruptive individuals.

As for the CMC themselves, I must say that I've had fairly mixed feelings towards them in past episodes. On the one hand I've been of the opinion that several of their episodes have not only been of lower quality than those focused on other characters, but in some cases (like "Cutie Pox") outright painful to sit through. But on the other hand there have been a few instances where episodes focusing on them (most notably "Sisterhooves social") that I've really liked. This episode makes it difficult for me to rate their characters because it sits firmly in-between those two extremes. Like I said earlier, I can certainly relate to what they've gone through, but besides that there's nothing in this episode to elevate the crusaders in my eyes.

However, I will say that I think it was a good story point to have the crusaders make an offer to join their group to Babs. After all, the whole point of their group was to help ponies like themselves to find their special talents, and thus earn their respective marks. As such it makes sense that they'd make an offer to someone in the same position as them. This could prove to be a good way of introducing new characters in the future, as it stands to reason that the three of them cannot be the only young ponies experiencing difficult with this issue.

Their decision to try and get back at Babs was, in many ways, a microcosm of what the episode was trying to get across, that being the message that bullying can be infectious. The crusaders, not knowing what their bully has gone through, not realising that they have become bullies themselves in order to get back at her. The revelation they learned regarding Babs' experiences hit the audience in the face as much as it does the crusaders. And to their credit they immediately realise that they've done something wrong and try to fix the situation, even putting themselves in harms way to avoid putting Babs in danger, which helped their characters a great deal.

And speaking of which, there's an element to this story that's representative of something I've had issue with in many stories. Not just in this show, not just in animation, but in virtually every story-telling medium I've experienced, an issue can be resolved by simply informing others that it's happening. In some big-screen movies for example, a character can get out of trouble by informing the police that people are threatening them, or that they're involved in something bad. The "just tell someone" rule frustrates me because, despite being the smart thing, very few characters actually do it. Instead they simply try and resolve the situation themselves, which often makes things worse.

The same thing happens here. The crusaders have the opportunity to make the bullying stop by simply informing older ponies that they're being harassed. But, again in a very realistic way, they keep silent, choosing to simply bear the brunt of it in silence. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times this has happened in real life. People who cannot bring themselves to tell people that others are giving them a hard time, and end up getting in deeper because of it. So while the "just tell someone" rule frustrates me in many stories, this one included, I can't help but sympathise with this very real reaction.

This week's song, sung by the CMC, acts as a montage talking about how Babs is making the lives of the three young ponies miserable during her visit. It's a fairly short but energetic song that gives a fairly memorable tune that I'm sure I'll be humming long after this episode is over. I have mixed feelings on this one. While it does a good job of showing how difficult Babs is making things for the crusaders, it's not really that good. It repeats itself far too often and I'm not fond of the way it just cuts and pastes entire sections of animation from earlier in the song. Not one of the better musical pieces this show has done so far. In fact, I'd probably put it near the bottom of the list of songs we've seen in this show.

The humour in this episode is a little different than most others, given the somewhat serious subject matter the episode deals with. Nonetheless, despite being lighter on jokes there were still a few laugh-worthy moments here and there. Pinkie Pie's brief scene was funny as usual and several moments involving the crusaders, such as the lengthy initiation at the end of the episode, were amusing. I wouldn't say the episode has a particular moment I found funnier than the others, but there was at least enough levity in here to keep the whole thing from being totally depressing.

Onto the moral of the story now and this week we don't have out usual letter to Princess Celestia, so the lesson isn't quite as spelled out as usual. However it seems to be that you should be careful about how you treat bullies, lest you become one yourself. In addition to this they try and teach how you should inform people when you are being mistreated. I can personally vouch for the worth in both of these messages from my own personal experience, and wholly recommend this as the kinds of lesson kids should be taught, no matter what age they are.

Overall, like last week, there are many qualities to this episode that I both like and dislike. The main characters here are put in a believable situation and the story, while certainly interesting in having it look at different takes on the bullying scenario, wasn't really spectacular enough for me to want to watch it a second time. As I've said many times in this review, the episode does a great job of creating a realistic portrayal of what it means to be bullied, how difficult it is to tell people about it, and even how easy it is for others to become bullies themselves. As such, this episode has, for lack of a better word, a humanity about it that I don't think I've see in any other CMC episode. Because of that, I heartily recommend this episode. It may have it's flaws, but the good element in here are more than worth the bad.

Join me next week when it's long-time-no-see in "Magical duel".

See you then.

I admit despite my dread for it to be a preditable/ cliche episode, it took a different take on the whole bully episode. Sure it was preditable in some places but unlike bully episode as seen on The Simspons (the old one), Doug, Spongbob Squarepant, Recess, Hey Arnold and more, it wasn't to fight back but it went further to seek out the reason for it (why the bully is a bully and is there a way to help the bully?). Even then their take on the bully isn't as dark as it could of been (Babs was bullied at Manehatten for being a blank flank as oppose to say like abusive parent).

I do agreed why should they take the abuse as the way I see it, being bullied is worse than being a snitch. Since for one thing, they had a good reason to tell Applejack and there was no valuable secret that got to stayed a secret. Yet again, another way to handle it was to get Applejack to be behind the scene and witness Babs bullying on them.

While it is true what you said about Babs Seed had simple joined the wrong crowd, but honestly with that new info reveal at the end, she should of known better then to be a bully but yet again in real life it is not that simple. In saying so maybe since she was there temporary, maybe she thought her bulliness toward them was only a short while than being long term.

I suppose the reason why they didn't went with making well addressing Diamond Tiara as the bully is her character is pretty much created to cause conflict for the CMC for most of their episodes. Not sure if you already notice, her interaction with the three fillies pretty much create the starting point of their episode-

In Call of the Cutie, she tease Apple Bloom for not having a cutie mark which cause her to seek it out.

In Family Appreciation Day, she tease Grammy Smith being senile which cause Apple Bloom to doubt if her grandmother can stay focus on that day.

In Ponyville Confidential she was the head editor and blackmail them to continue to seek out scandals on the ponies.

In another word, she cause the conflict in the CMC episodes so by making her nice well showing remorse of her past action and to aplogise to the CMC, they thereby eliminate some of the fuels for an CMC episode (yes there will still be episodes on them trying to get their cutie marks).

Also I enjoyed the new song as it was very catchy as it didn't felt like the usual musical like song (which is not a bad thing but we have grown accuston to it).

As for my experience of bullying, in my youth as a kid my was somewhat odd. Yes I did get bullied during primary school but I somehow end up making friend with the bully instead. I can't remember how it happen or how but I was a weird kid back then. Yeah I did technically did get bullied in High School but that was a different form of bullying.

EDIT- I almost forgot, I find it odd that Babs Seed is the first recruit to the CMC since past episodes of the show does show there are still a few blank flank fillies in Ponyville. Example that filly who got a cutie mark for being a pro at bowling when they went to the bowling ring. Either that the Ponyville blank flank fillies either reject their offer to joined the CMC, they had previous temporary members (the latter is unlikely seeing how the cememory was all new in the Bad Seed episode) or the CMC could be picky with their potential members.

Okay here's my opinion on the episode.

LoneWanderer:
Okay here's my opinion on the episode.

Can't help but feel you have missed the point of... everything.

But really? You find fault in the insult Babs delivered? She was hardly going to call them a pair of cunts now, was she?

Babs first came on screen - "I really like her mane" :D
I thought it was okay overall. Some bits went well and I liked (such as the thinking spot). Other bits felt more meh and not as good as usual. Not bad, just not as good.
Still worth the price of popcorn though.

The song was one of the best parts of the episode.

The episode was difficult for me to follow, because it was a CMC episode. Although I don't dislike them, their episodes tend to be a little on the Disney Channel Plague. This means that main trio enters a situation which can be quickly resolved by getting help, but instead opt for the embarrassing option. Like in this episode, where they could have told anyone who was older, but because they didn't want to be called snitches because they considered it embarrassing yet they let themselves get embarrassed by the Diamond Tiara trio. In another episode, The Ponyville Confidential, they get stuck on a job they dislike because of fear of being blackmailed, where they could easily have denounced her to Ms. Cheerilee and it would have been the end of the story.

The Plague can work once or twice, but once you use it for every episode it just makes your characters look stupid, as if they couldn't learn the lesson as it has been pounded before.

Captcha: "This is Sparta". No it isnt, its the internet!

My main objection to the episode was that they implied moral failings on the part of someone from New York.
New Yorkers are the most moral people on earth, and Equestria is an ideal fantasy land, so Manehattan should be even more ideal.
That and I hated the song. It was annoying, and it dragged on forever.

I haven't really thought much for this episode until reading this. There were points to it I never really thought about until you brought them up. Though, I still don't find that song any better. Should've made the song shorter and the ceremony longer. Maybe the montage too.

By the way, did anyone catch why Sweetie Belle covered herself in gold sparkles?

Appleshy:
The song was one of the best parts of the episode.

ive heard several people make similar comments and i dont get it. i thought it was the worst song out of all the fim songs. different strokes for different folks but im amazed that i seem to be the only one who didnt like the song. so far this season is doing better than season 2 was at this time. by the second episode of season 2 (i count two part episodes as one episode) i almost quit watching my little pony because i thought the episodes were so bad. they got much much better as the season went on though, and hopefully thats a pattern they repeat this season

Souplex:
My main objection to the episode was that they implied moral failings on the part of someone from New York.
New Yorkers are the most moral people on earth, and Equestria is an ideal fantasy land, so Manehattan should be even more ideal.
That and I hated the song. It was annoying, and it dragged on forever.

im not sure you have gotten to know enough of the people on earth to be able to draw that conclusion :P

i didnt get the feeling they were calling new yorkers immortal though. seemed to me that the manehattan ponies were projected as being as moral/immoral as the ponyville ponies

The episode was bad and 'Hasbro Studios' should feel bad.

 

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