On Your Marks
SPOILER ALERT! Those of you who have not seen the show, be warned. This review is going to contain spoilers about the episode. If you have not seen it yet, watch it right now and read my review in 20 minutes, or prepare to have some of the critical plot mentioned before you view it. I am assuming many of you are bronies, or fans of the show, and you are reading this review for an interesting insight on an episode you have seen countless times already (as have I), in which case, continue reading, and enjoy!
“On Your Marks”, which first aired on April 9, 2016, begins with the Cutie Mark Crusaders (CMC) meeting in their clubhouse. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle are all very obsessed with their new cutie marks, but eventually decide that they should do something other than stare at them. While suggesting an idea, Apple Bloom gets so caught up in doing things to get a cutie mark, that she forgets she got hers!
After deciding that they need to help ponies with a cutie mark problem, they go off in search of somepony to help. This desperation to find a problem reminds me of Twilight Sparkle needing to find a friendship problem in “Lesson Zero” and I almost thought that the CMC were going to create a cutie mark problem, just when Bulk Biceps appears with a cutie mark problem.
The CMC solve his problem easily. I thought this was going to take the whole episode, but after suggesting Bulk lifts something other than dumbbells (and then teaching others to lift things as well), the problem is solved. They realize that the CMC will not have a reason to exist since cutie mark problems are so hard to find and easy to fix, that there is usually not much to do.
Apple Bloom suggests that they look all over Equestria for cutie mark problems to fix, rather than just searching Ponyville. This would have fit perfectly with the new toy theme, “Exploring Equestria”, but the others are not on board with this idea. Instead, they decide to do things for fun. Scootaloo chooses scootering, Sweetie Belle chooses singing, and Apple Bloom chooses potions. It turns out that the only pony good at each activity is the one who suggested it.
Since it is so hard for the Crusaders to find something to do together, Scootaloo proposes that they don’t, at least not all the time. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo both have activities they want to try on their own, but Apple Bloom can’t think of anything to do on her own. She looks for something awesome to do, and sings a slow, southern-sounding song about needing to do things alone. I love the sound of this song. It is one of my all-time favorites, and takes on a different tone than nearly every other song, which are fast and happy.
Also, note that in the art class shown in the clip, everyone is painting ponified versions of famous pieces. A lot of fans, myself included speculated Apple Bloom would get an art related cutie mark, since she did a great job building the crusader clubhouse. Her piece (a portrait of Tree Hugger) is still cute, in a strange way, but I now understand why she didn’t end up with an art related mark.
When coming across a dance class where the ponies are dancing together, Apple Bloom wants to join. The partnered dance routine sounds like friendship, and Apple Bloom really doesn’t want to do anything alone. She is told she would be better as a soloist, but she did a surprisingly good job.
After she leaves the dance studio, she speaks with Tender Taps, a pony from the class who was too shy to preform at the recital, despite wanting to. He dreams of having a cutie mark related to preforming, but is too terrified to dance in front of an audience. This is clearly the cutie mark problem that the crusaders need, but Apple Bloom is too sad to notice.
When Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo return to the club house after having a great time pursuing their own hobbies (crochet and bungee jumping, respectively), they find Apple Bloom sitting in the dark. The others explain that they still want to hang out with Apple Bloom, just that they don’t have to when one of them wants to do something that the others do not. Apple Bloom says she liked dancing, but was not good at it, but her friends tell her that she doesn’t have to be good at dancing to enjoy it. This leads to her mentioning Tender Taps and his shyness.
Finally, it dawns on Apple Bloom that this is a cutie mark problem they need to solve. The CMC go to the recital, and Tender Taps is in the back. Still, he is too terrified to dance in front of other ponies. Apple Bloom suggests they go out together, because no matter what, he will look good dancing next to her. Sweetie Belle gives the two some poorly crocheted costumes, and Scootaloo uses her bungee jumping to change the background.
With Apple Bloom’s encouragement, Tender Taps is able to dance in front of a crowd at the recital. Everyone loves his performance, and he does indeed get his cutie mark! He thanks the CMC for their help and tells Apple Bloom he hopes she keeps dancing. She decides that she will, as she enjoys it and can only get better. I am glad she found dancing to be a fun hobby, and although I am surprised it wasn’t art, as long as she is doing something she likes, that is all that matters.
The CMC decide that doing things on their own might not only allow them find other ponies to help, but may also give them the skills they need to do so. With a hug and hoofbump, the three crusaders end the show, announcing that the CMC will never be the same…. They will be even better!
CMC episodes are always a favorite of mine, and this one did not disappoint. It had a relatable lesson (it is okay to do things on your own and not be with your friends all of the time). I also really loved the song that Apple Bloom sang. That was my favorite part of this episode. Also, Tender Taps is a super cute new character, although I am not sure we will be seeing him again.
I look forward to next week’s episode, “Gauntlet of Fire,” and I think it will hopefully be related to the Goblet of Fire from Harry Potter, and we can see a super cool pony tournament!