A cutie mark appears on a pony's flank when he or she finds that certain something that makes them different from every other pony! Discovering what makes you unique isn't something that happens overnight, and no amount of hoping, wishing, or begging will make a cutie mark appear before its time.
Written by Meghan McCarthy
Apple Bloom is at school one day, listening intently to her teacher Cheerilee delivering a lecture on "cutie marks", the picture on a pony's flank that helps represent who they are and what they can do. Apple Bloom is one of the last girls in her class to get a cutie mark, alongside her nerdy friend Twist. This makes them a prime target for teasing from Diamond Tiara
and Silver Spoon,
a pair of bossy, spoiled, upper-class fillies who already have their cutie marks, and are only inviting Apple Bloom and Twist to Tiara's "cuteceaņera" so they can lord it over the "blank-flanks".
Desperate to get her cutie mark before the big party, Apple Bloom tries to earn her mark by helping her big sister Applejack with the family business. Unfortunately, she's a little too young to help with harvesting, and her hard-sale at the apple stand does more harm than good. Applejack suggests Apple Bloom go to the party with her fellow blank-flank Twist, but much to Apple Bloom's chagrin, she finds her friend has already earned her cutie mark, which prompts a passing Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon to rub in the fact that Apple Bloom is officially the last girl in her class to earn her mark.
Apple Bloom is sent into a funk, until Rainbow Dash offers to coach Apple Bloom in all manner of activities until she finds what her special talent is. One frantic, slapstick montage
later, and the only thing Apple Bloom has earned is a distaste for sports and a few bruises. Fortunately, Pinkie Pie needs some assistance making treats at Sugar Cube Corner, and Apple Bloom brightens at the prospect of earning a cutie mark in baking. Unfortunately, Apple Bloom's attempt at making cupcakes only demonstrates that cooking is definitely not
her special talent, and the only thing she gets on her flank is some spilled flour.
Desperate, Apple Bloom begs Twilight Sparkle to conjure up a cutie mark for her, but as Twilight demonstrates, even magic can't force a cutie mark to appear before its time. Bloom is all but ready to give up on going to the cute-ceaņera after all... unfortunately, she'd forgotten in her haste that the party is being held right there at Sugar Cube Corner.
Right now, in fact.
Apple Bloom tries to hide her lack of a cutie mark and sneak out of the party, but despite all her efforts she's found out. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon start to mock her for being "not special", only for two other blank-flanked fillies, a unicorn named Sweetie Belle and a pegasus named Scootaloo, to rush to her defense. They, and Twilight, point out that still having the potential to become anything can be regarded as special too, turning the crowd turn positively interested towards Apple Bloom, much to Diamond Tiara's and Silver Spoon's annoyance.
Apple Bloom: You don't have any cutie marks either? I thought I was the only one!
Scootaloo: We thought we were the only two!
The trio resolve to become fast friends, and to help each other find their purpose in life as the "Cutie Mark Crusaders". Twilight, meanwhile, is inspired to write a friendship report about how something you think will alienate you from others can actually lead you to making good friends.
Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):
- '80s Hair: Schoolfilly!Cheerilee.
- Absentee Actor: Spike and Fluttershy; although Carousel Boutique appears, Rarity is absent as well.
- Adults Are Useless: Suddenly popped up in this episode where it hadn't been present before. Cheerilee doesn't stop the teasing and mocking going on in her classroom, Applejack does the out-of-touch-adult thing of referring to her little sister's tormentors as her friends, and everyone who's not a filly is generally wildly unhelpful (although Rainbow Dash seems to be giving it an honest try and several of them are giving relevant and accurate information), except for Twilight's speech at the end. Probably one reason some of the Periphery Demographic wasn't too impressed with the CMC.
- Alpha Bitch: Diamond Tiara, with Silver Spoon as the Beta Bitch.
- Batman Gambit: Pinkie Pie clearly wants Apple Bloom to attend the party, and knows the filly's desire to get a cutie mark "right now!" will keep her focused on baking batch after batch of terrible cupcakes until the party starts.
- Begone Bribe: Doctor Whooves ends up buying an apple just so that Apple Bloom would stop hounding him.
- Bittersweet Ending: Appebloom doesn't get a cutie mark, but she makes new friends.
- Blatant Lies: At the cute-ceaņera, Apple Bloom claims that she now has a cutie mark but can't show it because it's so incredibly amazing. Diamond Tiara actually buys it when threatened with being outshone at her own party, but the ruse doesn't hold for long.
- Apple Bloom telling Bon Bon that she (Bon Bon) bought those apples.
- Brick Joke: The horribly burned cupcakes that Apple Bloom cooks are later decorated and served to unsuspecting party guests. Hilarity Ensues.
- Children Are Cruel
- Conspicuous CG: The balls Apple Bloom juggles with.
- A Day in the Limelight
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Apple Bloom, starting in this episode.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Cheerilee tells her class about an important part of growing up and is not above including awkward information about herself to make it relatable and interesting. Admirable - except that three quarters of her class had already (visibly) passed the point at which they would have needed that information.
- Later, Apple Bloom is worried about being behind her entire class in that field - especially when she discovers her family has a history of being behind their classmates in it.
- Epic Fail: The Cutie Mark Crusaders' fate is pretty much set in stone from this episode. You almost expect Apple Bloom's kite to catch fire after it crashes.
- Eureka Moment: On learning that getting a cutie mark late runs in the family, Apple Bloom thinks that maybe her cutie mark is related to something else that runs in the family; apples!
- Fantastic Slur: "Blank flank".
- Foreshadowing: "Outshined at your own cute-ceaņera, can you imagine how embarrassing that would be?"
- After spending the entire episode trying to find her talent Apple Bloom quickly improvises a decent-looking dress by using a table cloth. In a later episode, "The Show Stoppers" it is implied that her talent will be related to construction and design.
- On the same note, when the Cutie Mark Crusaders are dancing near the end of the episode, Scootaloo is noticeably more proficient, easily performing a somersault from a standing position. As we see later in "The Show Stoppers", dancing and acrobatics are her talents.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Aside from the whole cutie mark = puberty metaphor, at the party at the end, one of the ponies stops to take a surreptitious slurp of punch straight from the bowl. Her cutie mark includes a bunch of grapes. Wonder how she earned that?
- Gilligan Cut: Poor Apple Bloom.
- Informed Attribute: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon's outfits supposedly "show off" their cutie marks. However, their cutie marks are actually covered up!
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Cheerilee's Embarrassing Old Photo from high school gets a few laughs from her class.
- Just for Pun: "Cute-ceaņera".
- Leitmotif: That background music during the cute-ceaņera, which gets turned into the Cutie Mark Crusaders' theme.
- Lower Deck Episode
- Motor Mouth: Apple Bloom explaining her problem to Rainbow Dash, and again when explaining to Twilight Sparkle. Her exact quote is way too long to put here.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A minor example, but it was Rainbow Dash that told Apple Bloom to keep trying various things in rapid succession in the hopes that she finds her mark. This would be carried on into the Cutie Mark Crusaders' modus operandi.
- Personal Raincloud: When Rainbow Dash remarks that Apple Bloom's got "a dark cloud hanging over her head", she means it quite literally.
- Polish The Turd: In-universe, it appears that this was done with the cupcakes Apple Bloom made.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: Was intended to be one for a spinoff starring the Cutie Mark Crusaders, which never surfaced.
- Record Needle Scratch: Justified in the best possible way, as Apple Bloom trips and runs into the record player, causing the horrible embarrassing incident that the sound heralds.
- Selective Enforcement/Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : The second Apple Bloom's lips touch the note Diamond Tiara is trying to pass, Cheerilee comes down on her like a ton of bricks — ignoring Diamond Tiara being on the other end of it, and then ignoring that DT loudly mocks her in the middle of class, and that the whole thing was a setup. Ponyville's school system clearly has not instituted a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.
- Stealth Pun: Twist makes peppermints.
- Tablecloth Yank: Apple Bloom does this to obtain material for an improvised dress.
- Training Montage: Rainbow Dash puts Apple Bloom through one of these.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Apple Bloom's relationship with Twist seems to be dropped at the end of this episode. They seemed to be best friends at the beginning of the episode, but apparently grew apart once Twist got her cutie mark...
- William Telling: Possibly referenced at the beginning of the episode, with Archer (an Earth pony Palette Swap of Scootaloo with a bow-and-arrow cutie mark) having an apple in her desk.