Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 54: Crusaders of the Lost Mark

Introduction

< Part 53 | Part 54 | Part 55 >

Season 5, Episode 18


Season 5 Episode 18: Crusaders of the Lost Mark

This review contains spoilers for things that happen up to the season 8 finale, and for things that don’t happen for the entire rest of the show.

In five words: Cutie Mark Crusaders’ ultimate payoff.

Premise: In the show’s third musical episode, the Cutie Mark Crusaders discover a surprising secret about Diamond Tiara’s upbringing after they made her lose a school election. This is definitely the only notable thing that happens in this episode. Totally.

Detailed run-through:

Something unique about this pivotal episode is that it was scored entirely by Daniel Ingram, the usual composer of the musical numbers. I didn’t learn that until I wrote this post, and it explains why the background music transitions so seamlessly to and from the songs. Having the same person handle the background music and songs suits this musical number-heavy episode well, setting it apart from most of the show—not that I’d ever want to discredit William Anderson for his scoring work.

Similarly to Magical Mystery Cure, this episode starts off with a musical number—technically with a few lines from the Crusaders, but set to background music that clearly starts a song. The song is called “We’ll Make Our Mark (Prelude)”, and the Crusaders sing about how they aren’t going to give up on getting their cutie marks. Something I really admire about this episode, at least from what I’ve been told about it, is that the previews and trailers made absolutely no hint at the Crusaders earning their marks, and fans were caught completely by surprise when it happened. This is a MASSIVE contrast against Magical Mystery Cure, whose previews shoved alicorn Twilight Sparkle in fans’ faces.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 53: Brotherhooves Social

Introduction

< Part 52 | Part 53 | Part 54 >

Season 5, Episode 17


Season 5 Episode 17: Brotherhooves Social

In five words: Big Mac’s day in spotlight.

Premise: Feeling down about how his youngest sister perceives him, Big Macintosh fills in for an unavailable Applejack at the Sisterhooves Social and pretends to be Apple Bloom’s cousin named “Orchard Blossom”.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Big Macintosh going about his day, helping Granny Smith look through boxes in the attic for an item she misplaced. He looks down to see Applejack and Apple Bloom playing and laughing with each other. In any other context, this would be a happy scene, but for Big Macintosh it’s easy to tell that this stings hard. I really like that this episode starts with a mundane scene: it sets up how much Big Mac’s life contrasts against his siblings’ wild adventures.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 45: Tanks for the Memories + Appleoosa’s Most Wanted

Introduction

< Part 44 | Part 45 | Part 46 >

Season 5, Episodes 5-6


Season 5 Episode 5: Tanks for the Memories

In five words: Rainbow Dash sequentially experiences grief.

Premise: When she learns that her pet turtle Tank will hibernate through the winter, Rainbow Dash tries to stop the season from happening so she won’t have to say goodbye. This matches heavily with the five stages of grief.

Detailed run-through:

Season 5 has tons of fun callbacks to early seasons, showing how far the show has come.

The start of this episode provides a snappy little recap of how the seasons work in Equestria, something we learned in two close-by season 1 episodes. Rainbow Dash notices that Cloudsdale is coming to Ponyville, meaning that winter is soon to start, and she’s super excited about this because it’ll be her first winter with Tank by her side. Season 5 has several episodes that take place a year (or maybe two) after episodes in the early seasons, and this one occurs a year after Fall Weather Friends. Or maybe if you’re willing to shuffle around the order of episodes in seasons 1 and 2 (like Winter Wrap Up and Hearth’s Warming Eve), you could argue it’s two years after? Whatever, mulling over numbers isn’t the point of these reviews.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 44: Bloom & Gloom

Introduction

< Part 43 | Part 44 | Part 45 >

Season 5, Episode 4

Warning you now: this review is even longer than the last one (believe me, I didn’t plan that). It’s slightly longer than that of The Best Night Ever, for reference.


Season 5 Episode 4: Bloom & Gloom

You know the drill. Cutie Mark Crusaders episode, spoilers for the big thing that happens midway through season 5.

In five words: Nightmares tease Crusaders’ running mystery.

Premise: Apple Bloom has a cyclical series of dreams where she earns her cutie mark, and nightmarish things happen each time. Luna eventually comes in to alleviate her worries.

Detailed run-through:

Over time, the Crusaders’ clubhouse has gradually gotten more decorations.

The first Cutie Mark Crusaders episode of season 5 begins with these three being exactly the same goofy kids I remembered. Apple Bloom hosts a meeting and does a roll call that the other two point out are unnecessary, demonstrating the trio’s endearing flavor of pseudo-formality that shows they have high dreams but don’t know what they’re doing. And this brings me to something I recall thinking when I first watched several Cutie Mark Crusaders episodes in the last season: are these three ever going to get their cutie marks? Season 5 has several episodes that build up this mystery before giving it a glorious resolution in an episode I plan on going through in extreme depth, like Magical Mystery Cure levels of depth if not more.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 37: Somepony to Watch Over Me + Maud Pie

Introduction

< Part 36 | Part 37 | Part 38 >

Season 4, Episodes 17-18


Season 4 Episode 17: Somepony to Watch Over Me

In five words: Apple Bloom struggles with trust.

Premise: Apple Bloom is left to watch over Sweet Apple Acres while the rest of her family is gone, but Applejack frustratingly won’t stop being overprotective. Apple Bloom thus sets out on her own to prove herself capable of being on her own.

Detailed run-through:

To start the episode, Apple Bloom and her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders listen in on an unintelligible conversation between her immediate family, then Granny Smith breaks the good news: Apple Bloom has been deemed old enough to watch over Sweet Apple Acres on her own for the afternoon. Apple Bloom keeps up a serious image through this big decision, but as soon as she thinks her family can’t hear her, she and the other two Crusaders break into excitement. This scene establishes the episode as one focused on the difficulties of growing up and gaining your family’s trust, an experience that’s familiar to many viewers of the show. To younger viewers, this episode is likely to be immediately relatable; to older viewers, it’ll more likely bring back older memories, or maybe even remind them of their own children or younger family members.

While the other Apples prepare for their journey to deliver pies to some dangerous places, Applejack gives her sister a long, detailed list of chores and instructions to take care of. Here’s where I’ll address probably the most common criticism of this episode: Applejack being extremely overbearing.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 36: Twilight Time + It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies

Introduction

< Part 35 | Part 36 | Part 37 >

Season 4, Episodes 15-16

Looking at the lineup of season 4 episodes left for me to analyze, here are the ones that I’m the most excited to go through:

  • Episode 18, Maud Pie (because I think Maud Pie is awesome)
  • Episode 19, For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils (because I think Sweetie Belle is cool)
  • Episodes 25-26, Twilight’s Kingdom (the absolutely epic season finale)

The rest of the remaining season 4 episodes I’m not nearly as excited to go through; I’ll have fun with them for sure, but the really exciting ones are listed above. And then when I get through season 5, I am looking forward to analyzing pretty much every episode of the season. You can expect my season 5 reviews to be some of the most long-winded ones yet.


Season 4 Episode 15: Twilight Time

As with several other episodes involving the Cutie Mark Crusaders, this one contains spoilers for midway through season 5. Also a few for the season 4 finale. Plus a bit of early season 6.

In five words: Crusaders exploit Twilight’s big name.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders come to Twilight Sparkle to help them learn skills, but they get carried away in using Twilight’s princess status to their advantage.

Detailed run-through:

We haven’t been to Twilight’s place that often in season 4. It sort of feels nostalgic being in here now.
Also, I like how this scene teases the mystery of the chest with six keys.

This episode starts with the Cutie Mark Crusaders at Twilight Sparkle’s place practicing skills they want to learn: Sweetie Belle with magic, Scootaloo with assembling a unicycle, and Apple Bloom with brewing potions. Each of the Crusaders is at least partly hoping to get their cutie mark through these activities, and they’re all reluctant to read detailed instructions. I think there’s something interesting to analyze from each Cutie Mark Crusader’s choice of activity to learn.

For Sweetie Belle, I’m not sure what the common fan consensus is on how long it usually takes unicorns to learn magic, but my view is as follows. Unicorns typically learn magic through tons of practice, and Sweetie Belle never had much reason to use magic while growing up. But now that she’s getting older, she feels that it’s her duty as a unicorn to properly learn magic, and through enough determination, she admirably figures it out by the end of this episode.

But while Sweetie Belle’s motive is to rectify her lack of a fundamental unicorn skill, the other two Crusaders are pursuing activities that relate more to their usual interests. Scootaloo wants to branch out her interest in athletic stunts by assembling vehicles on her own, while Apple Bloom, the one who perpetually flits between various interests, wants to hone in her potion-making interest a little more.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 33: Pinkie Apple Pie + Rainbow Falls

Introduction

< Part 32 | Part 33 | Part 34 >

Season 4, Episodes 9-10

I may as well say here that since writing my review of Rarity Takes Manehattan which came out last week, I have kind of maybe gotten obsessed with Coco Pommel and how adorable she is. She hits a sweet spot of character cuteness by being meek and cutesy but not a full-out exaggerated smushy baby. After so many years, I finally know what it’s like to fixate on a minor character in MLP, like so many fans are prone to do. Maybe it’s weird for me to say, but I think part of the charm of this show is that every character, no matter how minor or trivial, has some set of fans out there who think they’re the coolest thing ever. Slice of Life a season from now is a celebration of that fact, and I plan on going as hard as I possibly can when reviewing it.


Season 4 Episode 9: Pinkie Apple Pie

In five words: Genetic relationship cemented as ambiguous.

Premise: Pinkie Pie discovers evidence that she may be distantly related to Applejack, and she sets out on a journey with Applejack’s family to discover if she really is.

Detailed run-through:

You know what I find incredibly satisfying? When the very first scene of a MLP episode has something I can pick apart in depth, so that I don’t need to start with some empty fluff. This episode is a good example thereof.

Pinkie Pie: Whatcha doin’?
Twilight Sparkle: AAA!
Pinkie Pie: “AAA!” yourself! But that doesn’t answer my question, silly.
Twilight Sparkle: Just some genealogical research.
Pinkie Pie: Ohhhhh. (falls out of bookcase)
Pinkie Pie: (whispers to Spike) I don’t know what that is.
Spike: Genealogy is the study of family history! You know, where ponies come from, and who they’re related to.

While Rarity Takes Manehattan is one of the most adult-oriented episodes so far, by which I mean one more easily digestible for adults than for children, this one feels like a blast from the past with the strong amounts of slapstick humor and Pinkie Pie not knowing what a complex word means, leading Spike to explain it as though this were an educational TV series. By which I mean a show that was always unambiguously educational and didn’t just have an educational mandate of some sorts marked by an “e/i” symbol that was dropped after season 1. Not that this is a bad thing at all—it’s nice for MLP to vary the pace with its episodes.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 31: Flight to the Finish + Power Ponies

Introduction

< Part 30 | Part 31 | Part 32 >

Season 4, Episodes 5-6


Season 4 Episode 5: Flight to the Finish

In five words: Bullying gets better of Scootaloo.

Premise: The Cutie Mark Crusaders prepare an opening routine for the Equestria Games, but when Diamond Tiara mocks Scootaloo for her inability to fly, they’re discouraged from going further.

Detailed run-through:

Been a while since we last were at the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ school.

To start this episode, Cheerilee brings two special guests to the class she teaches: Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash. They announce that the kids may get to take a part in the Equestria Games, specifically through a competition where they each need to come up with a flag-carrying routine, and the winning team gets to perform it in the games. This is the point where I remember that the Equestria Games are the other overarching plot of season 4—the one that doesn’t involve finding the keys for the mysterious chest, that is. But those plots do intersect in Rainbow Falls, which is a few episodes from now.

Ms. Harshwhinny and Rainbow Dash play off each other in fun ways as they explain the rules of the opening routine. Ms. Harshwhinny insists on keeping a reserved, professional attitude, while Rainbow Dash can’t control her excitement and brags about the time she carried the flag as a filly, which Scootaloo of course swoons over. When Ms. Harshwhinny mentions that Rainbow Dash will accompany the winning team to the Crystal Empire, the Crusaders’ faces light up one by one. To them, this is their chance to see the place they got a taste of when Spike wrangled them up in babysitting antics! And opportunities to go such places don’t come easy for them, being fillies and all.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 25: Wonderbolts Academy + Apple Family Reunion

Introduction

< Part 24 | Part 25 | Part 26 >

Season 3, Episodes 7-8


Season 3 Episode 7: Wonderbolts Academy

This review has spoilers discussing the various villains who get redemption arcs; one who gets reformed only a few episodes from now, and several who don’t get reformed until season 5.

In five words: Rainbow Dash’s friend becomes rival.

Premise: Rainbow Dash gets accepted to the Wonderbolts’ training camp and meets a pegasus who matches her evenly… or so it seems at first.

Detailed run-through:

I love how Twilight Sparkle’s friends are right there, and yet she’s still reading a book.

I think I’m noticing a pattern here. If an episode starts with the Mane 6 having a picnic (as is the case here), it’s soon to be followed by a letter announcing something huge. This time, Pinkie Pie is bouncing like crazy and waiting for the letter to come. Yes, for whatever reason, Pinkie Pie is more nervous about the letter than Rainbow Dash is, even though the letter concerns the latter and determines whether she will get into the Wonderbolts. Rainbow Dash being confident she’ll get in makes total sense, but Pinkie Pie’s nervousness is harder to decipher. Perhaps this is an indication that she cares about her friends’ happiness to degrees more extreme than she usually lets on? Or maybe Pinkie just plays a gag role throughout this episode.

Rainbow Dash reveals she got into the Wonderbolts’ training camp in the most Rainbow Dash way possible. She puts on a convincing act of disappointment while saying she didn’t get in, then says “gotcha”. She is a very skilled prankster and knows herself well enough to fool her friends, much like how she often puts on an act of confidence to downplay her fears. However, in this scene she was always confident she would get in the camp.

Continuing her exaggerated role, Pinkie Pie gives Rainbow Dash an absurdly tight and long hug, then screams “don’t forget to write” through a megaphone at the top of her lungs. I can’t decide if it’s a better idea to appreciate the gags for what they are or try to gather serious implications about Pinkie Pie’s character.

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Cookie Fonster Reviews Every MLP Episode Part 23: Too Many Pinkie Pies + One Bad Apple

Introduction

< Part 22 | Part 23 | Part 24 >

Season 3, Episodes 3-4


Season 3 Episode 3: Too Many Pinkie Pies

In five words: Pinkie’s cloning attempt wreaks havoc.

Premise: Faced with the problem that she can’t spend time with all her friends at once, Pinkie Pie finds a way to make more of herself. This very quickly gets out of hand.

Detailed run-through:

This episode starts with Twilight Sparkle practicing magic, only to be interrupted by a surprise hug from Pinkie Pie. This is yet another scene that I feel indicates these two have a somewhat lopsided friendship. Plenty of times, Pinkie gets on Twilight’s nerves with her zany antics, and their testy dynamic prevails all the way to season 9 in A Trivial Pursuit, but I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Pinkie Pie is bubbling up with her extreme hyperactive energy and didn’t let much of it out in her hug with Twilight. She’s like a bottle of soda that has been shaken up, ready to explode with carbonation when opened, and as such her behavior is more insane than usual. When she sees Rarity made a new fancy dress without having Pinkie Pie around, she panics like crazy about missing out on all her friends’ fun times.

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