Recap: MLP: Friendship Is Magic S1 E23 "The Cutie Mark Chronicles"

Twilight Sparkle gets extra Adorkable

Pinkie Pie: You're looking for Rainbow Dash? If I was her, I'd be at Sugarcube Corner! Of course, if I was anyone I'd be at Sugarcube Corner. Hey! I have an idea! Wanna go to Sugarcube Corner?

Written by M.A. Larson

The Cutie Mark Crusaders fail to gain their cutie marks by zip lining, and end up covered in tree sap again. It happens a lot. Apple Bloom decides it's time to go see somepony else for cutie mark advice, and Scootaloo has just the pony in mind:

Scootaloo: We can start with the coolest pony in Ponyville...
Apple Bloom: Applejack!
Sweetie Belle: Rarity!
Scootaloo: Come on, guys; I said "cool". You know what I'm talking about. She's fast. She's tough. She's not afraid of anything.
Apple Bloom/Sweetie Belle: Pinkie Pie?
Scootaloo: No! The greatest flier ever to come out of Cloudsdale.
Apple Bloom/Sweetie Belle: ...Fluttershy?
Scootaloo: NO! Rainbow Dash!

Scootaloo proceeds to lead the other two into town, running into the other main cast ponies along the way and learning that Rainbow Dash is likely hanging around Sugarcube Corner. Their stories are as follows...

Applejack: As a young filly, Applejack didn't want to spend her whole life on the apple farm, so she set out to live with her sophisticated Aunt and Uncle Orange in the big city of Manehattan. After a short time acting and living as a sophisticate, Applejack starts to feel uncomfortable and homesick. One morning, while she looks wistfully out the window, she sees a rainbow leading back to Ponyville. Taking this as a sign, she heads back home to Sweet Apple Acres, and earns her cutie mark by embracing her apple-farming heritage.

Fluttershy: When Fluttershy was at summer flight camp, she was the weakest flier out of all the young pegasi there. As such, she was bullied a lot, until one day when Rainbow Dash stood up for her, challenging the bullies to a race. During the race, Fluttershy gets knocked off a cloud and plummets towards the ground below, only to be saved by a swarm of butterflies. Fluttershy, having never been near the ground before, is instantly enraptured by the creatures she sees. Suddenly, a huge explosion scares the animals into hiding. As the explosion subsides, Fluttershy coaxes the animals out of hiding, discovering her knack for communicating with them in the process. As she settles down with the woodland critters, her cutie mark appears, though we don't find out what happened with the Pegasus race...

Rarity: While trying to perfect costumes for a school play, Rarity's horn is magically drawn to some mysterious source. After a while, it leads Rarity to a huge rock in the middle of nowhere. Rarity's underwhelmed by this result, to say the least, until a nearby explosion cracks the rock in two, revealing it to be full of colorful gemstones. Inspired, Rarity incorporates the gems into her costumes. During the performance that night, the crowd is amazed by Rarity's designs, thus earning Rarity her cutie mark.

Twilight Sparkle: During one Summer Sun Celebration in Canterlot, Twilight was inspired by Princess Celestia's raising of the sun, and she set out to learn as much as she could about magic. Eventually, Twilight's parents decide to enroll her in the princess's special academy for talented unicorns. While Twilight is excited at first, she starts to panic during her entrance exam, and finds herself unable to summon up enough magic to hatch a dragon egg. Suddenly, an explosion from off in the distance startles Twilight enough for her to not only hatch the egg (revealing a certain purple-and-green baby dragon...), but also for her to lose all control of her powers, causing pandemonium in the exam room. Celestia herself arrives on the scene, calming Twilight down. The princess tells Twilight she has amazing powers, but needs to control them so as not to be a danger to herself and to others. To ensure this, Celestia decides to take Twilight on as her own personal pupil. To top off the exciting news for Twilight, her cutie mark has just appeared as well.

Pinkie Pie: Back when Pinkie was a filly, she lived a dull, humorless existence on a rock farm with her family. One day, an explosion shook the farm, followed by a rainbow. The beautiful sight of the rainbow was enough to make Pinkie smile for the first time, and she was determined to make everyone around her just as happy. So, the next day, she throws her very first party just for her family. The results make her parents and sisters smile for the first time, giving Pinkie her new purpose in life and her cutie mark.

Pinkie Pie: ...and that's how Equestria was made!
Scootaloo: Wha...huh?!

Rainbow Dash: During the aforementioned race with the bullies at flight camp, Rainbow Dash discovered she had a real need for speed, and an even greater need for winning. In an attempt to get herself ahead of one of her opponents, she flew faster than ever before, creating the very first Sonic Rainboom in the process. Needless to say, this impressive maneuver wins Rainbow the race and her cutie mark.

At this point, the main ponies besides Rainbow Dash realize certain similarities in their stories, and come to the conclusion that the Sonic Rainboom that lead to all of their cutie marks was thanks to her. While Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle are heartwarmed by the stories and the love the main cast shows each other, Scootaloo remains unimpressed until she too is dragged into a hug with her friends. Twilight's letter to Celestia says that she learned that you may not be as alone in this world as it feels, and that your future friends may be closer than you think.

Tropes present in this episode (YMMV tropes can be found here):

  • Ad Break Double Take: The line "Well, Ms. Sparkle?" is said immediately before and after the commercial break.
  • Adorkable:
    • Twilight's usual levels are taken Up to Eleven during and right after her flashback.
    • Fluttershy is also revealed to have been a quite gangly and awkward filly.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Aunt Orange tousles Applejack's hair in a condescending but affectionate way when she comes to Manehattan and says "y'all."
  • Audience Surrogate: Played with; the inherently saccharine nature of the episode is made more palpable with Scootaloo (and Spike) deflating the excessive sweetness.
  • Backstory: The entire point of the episode.
  • Batman Gambit: According to Word of Faust, Princess Celestia suspected Twilight as an Element Bearer and substituted the regular entrance exam with the dragon egg test to confirm.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Everypony thought that the Sonic Rainboom was impossible until Rainbow Dash performed it.
    "Most people thought the Sonic Rainboom was just an old mare's tale but on that day, the day I discovered racing, I proved that the legends were true; I made the impossible happen!"
  • Big Applesauce: Manehattan.
  • Big "NO!": Scootaloo's reaction to Fluttershy offering to sing another (cutesy) song.
  • Big "YES!": Twilight, both in her flashback and as she's telling the story.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: "And that's how Equestria was made!"
  • Brooklyn Rage: "Outta the way, ya rube!"
  • Call Back:
    • Fluttershy's filly self is taller and ganglier than the designs for the others, which seems to support her claim that she's a year older than Pinkie Pie.
    • "Sonic Rainboom" was about Rainbow Dash's second Sonic Rainboom, and that she performed the first one when she was a little filly. This episode shows that very first one. The music played during the race also happens to be same music that played during "Sonic Rainboom"'s Sonic Rainboom.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In her flashback, Rarity says "Dumb rock!" similarly to the way her sister Sweetie Belle said "Dumb fabric!" in "The Show Stoppers".
    • At her first attempt at a party, Pinkie Pie plays the same music she later on uses to lead away the parasprites in "Swarm of the Century".
    • The Mane Six's Cutie Mark stories all contain allusions to the elements they represent in the Elements of Harmony:
      • Applejack had to be honest with herself that she belonged at Sweet Apple Acres.
      • Fluttershy calmed the woodland creatures with kindness.
      • Rarity was generous with her gift for finding gems and used them in her costumes for the school talent show.
      • Pinkie Pie shared her newfound talent for throwing parties to make her family smile and laugh.
      • Twilight Sparkle passed her exam by hatching her first friend outside her immediate family.
      • Rainbow Dash demonstrated her loyalty to Fluttershy by challenging the bullies to a race.
  • Captain Obvious: There's this gem from Fluttershy:
    Fluttershy: You'd never guess, but when I was little, I was really shy.
  • The City vs. the Country: Applejack relates how when she was younger she decided to leave Ponyville and live the sophisticated life with wealthy relatives in Manehattan.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Everyone really was at Sugarcube Corner. Including the ponies to whom they'd already spoken.
  • Cold Open: "I've never even heard of a pony zip-lining before."
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Cutie Mark Crusaders, as usual, but especially Scootaloo. One can't help but admire her unwavering dedication to ignoring the Aesop.
    Scootaloo: Argh! These namby-pamby stories aren't getting us any closer to our cutie marks! They're all about 'finding out who you are' and boring stuff like that!
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The CMC ask the Mane Six how they gained their cutie marks and found their place in the world.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: One of them interrupts Fluttershy's story just as she falls from the clouds. Though since she clearly lives to tell the story, it's sort of a Did You Die? situation.
  • Contrived Coincidence / Because Destiny Says So: Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom not only helped her get her cutie mark, but was also responsible for helping all the other mane ponies gain theirs.
  • Cool Big Sis: When asked who was the coolest pony in Ponyville, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle both initially answered with their sisters. Awwwww...
  • Cooldown Hug: Princess Celestia calms down Twilight using one of these, although it's more of a shoulder-tap than a hug. After all, they can't really hug being ponies and everything.
  • Country Mouse: Applejack trying to live in Manehattan.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: At the end of the episode, Rarity says that the mane six have been "BFF's Forever" without knowing it.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Spike sits there blinking happily when enlarged, and then chomping on his tail and gurgling when turned back to his normal size. Justified because he's a newborn and was asleep in the egg, so he has no idea of the chaos going on.
  • Fish out of Water: Applejack, realizing she was too country to live in Manehattan without changing herself into someone she isn't.
  • Flashback: Six of them, one for each of the mane cast.
  • Foreshadowing: Fluttershy briefly mentions how Rainbow Dash was the reason she got her cutie mark.
  • Framing Device: The episode is essentially a series of flashbacks linked together with Cutie Mark Crusaders asking the mane six about their cutie marks.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: Pinkamena Diane Pie.
  • Fun Size: Newborn!Spike. Extra tiny. Extra cute.
  • Furry Confusion: There are horse carriage sounds in the background in Applejack's flashback of arriving in Manehattan. The carriages are never actually shown.
    • Ponies do in fact pull carriages and carts for a living. It's probably exactly the same thing as being a cab or bus driver. This was shown in previous episode and future episodes.
  • Furry Reminder: When Princess Celestia invites Twilight Sparkle to be her personal protege in her flashback, her dad nods and whinnies.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Scootaloo insisting they need to talk to Rainbow Dash instead of another pony, and cut to them talking to Twilight Sparkle.
    • Sweetie Belle suggests they ask her sister, Rarity, where Rainbow Dash is. Cut to them being used as mannequins for her dress-making.
  • Group Hug
  • Hero-Worshipper: Scootaloo to Rainbow Dash. This is the first episode in which this is apparent.
  • The Monolith: During her flashback, Rarity is dragged by her horn a long distance to a giant boulder, with a fanfare reveal (though she's initially miffed). This also foreshadows her and "Tom" in the second season opener.
  • Mythology Gag: Twilight's mom is essentially the original Twilight from G1, with white fur instead of light pink fur and fewer stripes. It's especially noticeable when you look at Lauren's concept designs for the gang. It also counts as a Mythology Gag to the original concept of the series, where Twilight was supposed to be The Protagonist before being color-swapped into Twilight Sparkle.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Scootaloo mentions that a surprising number of their past Cutie Mark attempts have ended with them covered in tree sap. We never see any of those...or find out how they ended with them covered in tree sap.
    • We're given no indication of how they got stuck hearing Twilight's story, which of course just makes it funnier.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Twilight's parents and Spike are transformed when she starts channeling uncontrolled magical energy, but turn right back when she stops doing it. It's implied that Celestia reversed the changes.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Cloudsdale is a city high above the ground, with no visible barriers to stop pegasi from falling to their deaths. It's a wonder that what happened to Fluttershy doesn't happen more often.
  • Non Sequitur: Pinkie Pie ends her Cutie Mark story with one.
    Pinkie Pie: And that's how Equestria was made!
    Scootaloo: Wha... huh?!
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Pinkie Pie makes her entrance in this episode by popping into the cart that Scootaloo is pulling, behind Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom.
  • Oh, No... Not Again!:
    Scootaloo: It's no use. No matter what we try, we always end up without our Cutie Marks...and surprisingly often, covered in tree sap.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fluttershy's voice actress slips into her Pinkie Pie voice a little bit when singing the "I love everything" song.
  • Power Incontinence: Twilight suffering from this gave her her cutie mark. She made the entrance jury float, turned her parents into plants, and turned the baby dragon she was supposed to hatch into an adult dragon on the nation's capital before being calmed down.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter:
    • The animals Fluttershy encounters in her flashback
    • Baby Spike in Twilight's.
    • The Mane 6 themselves were this in their flashbacks.
  • Rule of Cute: Filly versions of the Mane Cast and Spike.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Applejack's failed attempt at blending in with the "high society" of Manehattan is a definite nod to Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.
    • Princess Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns. Twilight's uncontrollable psychic powers also have shades of Dark Phoenix. Plus she describes the reveal about the Rainboom as "uncanny".
    • Rarity's encounter with a giant monolithic black rock. Complete with a fanfare that sounds similarly familiar.
      • This part also brings to mind the scene in The Road to El Dorado in which the main duo also come before a great big rock (Rarity's complaints about it have a similar tone to Tulio's) after thinking that it led to their main goal (which in both cases, turns out to be true).
    • While Celestia is speaking to Twilight, Twilight goes "Huh?" in three rising, more astounded tones of voice, similar to the Tenth Doctor's Catch Phrase of "What? What? What?"
    • Twilight's glowing eyes and Celestia calm down hug are reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender where Aang would go into the Avatar State and Katara would have to calm him down. Gender Flip on Aang, anyone?
    • At the start of Rainbow Dash's race, a song similar to the theme tune of "The Wizard of Speed and Time" short film plays.
    • Pinkie Pie's opening description of life on the rock farm is reminiscent of the opening of 1984.
      "There was no talking; there was no smiling. [sigh] There were only rocks."
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Applejack went to the pony equivalent of the Big Apple to get her cutie mark.
    • Her aunt and uncle have Orange related Cutie Marks. Applejack learns she's best at her farm instead of in Manehattan, so it's like comparing apples and oranges.
    • Twilight's moral states that everyone has a special connection with her friends. What was the mane six's connection? A Rainbow Connection.
    • Applejack in Manehatten comments she's so hungry she "could eat a-". Unfortunate Implications anyone?
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Filly Fluttershy comes to this conclusion when she ends up on the ground for the first time. She even sings a song about it.
  • You ALL Share My Story: The Mane Six learn that, before they even met, they were already connected by their cutie mark stories and Rainbow Dash's Sonic Rainboom.
  • You Shall Not Pass: A non-lethal example - Fluttershy stopping the CMC's so she can let some ducks cross their path.

... and that's how Equestria was made! Maybe one day we'll tell you about how Pinkie Pie got her Cutie Mark! It's a real gem!

Alternative Title(s):

The Cutie Mark Chronicles