Apple Bloom: I don't know... I guess I figured we'd always do stuff together.
Written by: Dave Polsky and Josh Haber
The Cutie Mark Crusaders finally have their cutie marks!
At first, they come up with the idea to go around Ponyville, looking for other ponies to help get their destinies back on track. They come up with nothing, since everypony they talk to is already very self-assured. As they sit on the swingset at their school, they come across Bulk Biceps, who laments that he has a cutie mark problem: his cutie mark is a dumbbell, but he's lifted every dumbbell in Ponyville. The Crusaders suggest he lift things besides dumbbells, and teach other ponies to do the same. He leaves satisfied, but the Crusaders lament that solving his problem seemed far too easy.
After some discussion, the Crusaders try to get each other into the things they themselves enjoy, with Scootaloo showing off her scooter skills, Sweetie Belle practicing her singing, and Apple Bloom demonstrating potion making. In every case, the other two Crusaders fail miserably. This leads Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo to suggest doing things they've always wanted to try alone. Scootaloo wants to try bungee jumping, and Sweetie Belle wants to try crocheting. Apple Bloom, however, had nothing she wanted to do on her own. When her friends leave, Apple Bloom is stuck wondering what she should try. While Apple Bloom tries various activities around Ponyville, none of them appeal to her, and she has a lack of talent or interest in any of them, further depressing her.
Apple Bloom eventually comes across a ballet class, which she immediately asks to join upon seeing everypony dancing with a partner. A spot has opened up in a dance recital later that night because of a young blank flank colt named Tender Taps who is too shy to go onstage, so Apple Bloom is allowed to try out a partnered routine. Once again, she miserably fails. The ballet teacher suggests that she would do better as a solo act, which leads Apple Bloom to leave the class altogether. Tender Taps follows her out, insisting that solo dancing can be fun, even showing off some rather impressive dance moves, but admitting he's too scared to go onstage. Apple Bloom, still in a funk, wishes him good luck at the recital later that evening, and leaves to sulk by herself in the clubhouse.
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo later return, with Scootaloo ecstatic about bungee jumping, and Sweetie Belle interested in crocheting more, even though the one thing she made was horrible. They find Apple Bloom lamenting that she didn't find anything to do, upset that her friends don't want to hang out anymore. Scootaloo corrects Apple Bloom by saying that she didn't mean that they won't hang out anymore, just that they have things they should do on their own, with Sweetie Belle adding that they can do them even if they're bad at whatever they like. This causes Apple Bloom to remember Tender Taps from before, and the Crusaders arrive at the dance recital later that night. Apple Bloom convinces the colt to go onstage, since he can't do any worse than her, with Apple Bloom's miserable dancing helping Tender Taps overcome his stage fright. He finally bursts into a dance routine onstage, ending with wild cheers from the crowd, causing Tender Taps to earn his cutie mark. Later on, the Crusaders resolve to keep trying new things on their own, saying that it will make them even better at helping ponies find their special talents together.
- Absentee Actor: For the first time in the show's history, none of the Mane Six appear in this episode. Rarity gets mentioned twice by Sweetie Belle, but that's it. This is also the first time that Twilight Sparkle has been entirely absent for two episodes in a row.
- Adult Fear:
- The episode touches on a lot of fears that a child might have as they grow into an adult.
- Fearing that you and your friends are slowly drifting apart due to different interests, and there's nothing you can do.
- Believing that your talent isn't as important or useful as you thought it was.
- Being unable to cope with being alone and craving friendship.
- For a moment, Big Mac came very close to stepping on his much smaller sister.
- The episode touches on a lot of fears that a child might have as they grow into an adult.
- An Aesop:
- Don't be afraid to move out of your comfort zone.
- The moral that friends don't have to do everything together is revisited with the addition that just because friends don't want to do something with you once doesn't mean they never will again.
- All There in the Script: The ballet teacher pony with a Russian accent is called Hoofer Steps in the credits.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: All three of the CMC think they have the same answer when Apple Bloom asks "Are you girls thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?" They answer in unison:Scootaloo: Scooting!
Sweetie Belle: Singing!
Apple Bloom: Making potions!
- Art Evolution: Zecora's home in the Everfree forest has had a substantial make-over. Compare the external shot of it here with how it looked in earlier seasons. Indicative of the general art evolution of the series backdrops as a whole in recent years.
- Artistic License Physics: When Scootaloo reaches the loop in her scooter course, she suddenly hops off in the middle of the loop while her scooter continues along the loop around her; when the scooter comes back to the bottom, she lands on it and continues down the rest of the course. The scooter, which is presumably much lighter than the filly, maintains a constant speed throughout this, in violation of the law of conservation of momentum.
- Ash Face: Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, after their attempt at mixing potions explodes in their faces, have their fronts covered in soot and their manes and tails blown straight.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo get a little distracted looking at their cutie marks while Apple Bloom is trying to give a speech. Apple Bloom briefly falls victim to her own cutie mark's allure as well.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Apple Bloom gives one at the end regarding how the Cutie Mark Crusaders will be post-gaining their cutie marks.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When thinking of new things to try, the Crusaders suggest trying square dancing, mountain climbing (complete with yodeling), and square dancing after having climbed a mountain.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Sweetie Belle imitates her sister's accent when she mentions that Rarity thinks "Crochet is knitting's poor cousin."
- Call-Back: To the Crusaders' original talents; Scootaloo's love of riding her scooter, Sweetie Bell singing, and Apple Bloom making stuff.
- The Cameo:
- Tree Hugger appears as a painting model in the art studio scene where various ponies are currently painting her.
- The audience at the dance recital includes Lyra, Bon Bon, Octavia, Cherilee, Doctor Hooves, Button Mash, and Derpy.
- Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: While casually discussing their options, Sweetie Belle changes into a square-dancer outfit, Scootaloo into a Tyrolian getup (think Apple Strudel), and Apple Bloom into a mix of the two, just in the time it takes for the camera to change focus.
- Chekhov's Hobby: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo's new interests help them during the recital.
- Comically Missing the Point: Bulk Biceps, unsurprisingly. When talking about how the CMC need to find a cutie mark problem and he has a cutie mark problem, all he's trying to do is commiserate with them, not realizing that they can help each other. Later gets a dramatic Call-Back.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Leonardo da Vinci pony from "Princess Spike" reappears among other well-known artist parodies currently painting Tree Hugger.
- The CMC's interests, which had long been hinted as their cutie mark talents, make a recurrence: Scootaloo's scooter, Apple Bloom's potion-making, and Sweetie Belle's singing.
- Apple Bloom's interest in dancing despite not being good at it returns, and becomes important to the resolution of the plot.
- Diamond Tiara can be seen in the background interacting amicably with other colts and fillies at the baking class Apple Bloom tries, continuing her HeelFace Turn from "Crusaders of the Lost Mark". She seems to have made up with Silver Spoon as well.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Apple Bloom reflexively ends her declaration of what they're going to do today with how it'll bring them one step closer to their cutie marks. She doesn't realize her mistake until Sweetie and Scootaloo pointedly show her their flanks.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The Crusaders thought they had put this trope behind them. But now that they have their marks, they realize they never thought of what would come afterwards.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: Apple Bloom is too absorbed in her own feelings to realize that Tender Taps has exactly the kind of problem she's been looking for.
- Epic Fail: Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle's attempt to follow Apple Bloom's instructions to make a plant-growing potion blows up in their faces. Also factors into the other two activities in that Failure Montage.
- Exposition Diagram: The page image is a Venn Diagram.
- Failure Montage: Three of them. First, the Crusaders try unsuccessfully to find a pony with a cutie mark problem. Then they fail to find a common activity that the three of them can enjoy without screwing up. Finally, Apple Bloom has one on her own set to song about trying various things, finding enjoyment in none of them.
- Foreshadowing: When Apple Bloom starts singing after the other two Crusaders leave, she drags away one activity idea picture to reveal a picture of a pony dancing, which lingers for a few seconds. By the end, Apple Bloom decides that dancing, though difficult for her, is the one thing she wants to do outside of her cutie mark talent.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Among Apple Bloom's failed activity ideas in her Room Full of Crazy is an image of a Pony in Black looking at a alien spacecraft.
- Funny Background Event: Tender Taps eagerly shows his new cutie mark to a couple random ponies passing by, who are left a bit confused.
- Furry Reminder:
- Tender Taps lets out a whinny in excitement when he gets his cutie mark.
- Bulk Biceps refers to his face as a muzzle.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Apple Bloom keeps dancing in the air until she notices she actually went past the stage, and then falls to the ground.
- Hand Behind Head: Tender Taps makes a hoof-behind-head gesture as he starts to explain how he loves dancing but is too shy to do so before an audience.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Sweetie Belle tries to have Scootaloo and Apple Bloom perform together as her attempt at figuring out an activity for all of them to do. They do not impress (Sweetie Belle even snaps her baton in annoyance). The show has Apple Bloom do her solo song, "On My Own", virtually one scene later but we can blame that on the Musical World Hypotheses.
- I Can't Dance: Apple Bloom feels that her attempts at dancing are terrible but she wants to get better.
- Informed Flaw: While Apple Bloom's attempt at dancing with a partner was undoubtedly a disaster, when she tap dances at the recital separate from Tender Taps she doesn't actually do too badly until she falls off the edge of the stage.
- Irony: Apple Bloom laments being lonesome and sings a song titled "On My Own" while trying her hoof at group activities. Not so ironic when you consider that she's not doing them with the other Crusaders.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Apple Bloom has trouble facing the prospect of trying new things without her True Companions. The idea terrifies her, and she is bored with almost everything she tries on her own.
- Mythology Gag: Hoofer Steps (the ballet instructor) has the same color scheme as Meadowlark, Clover's big sister in My Little Pony Tales, who was also ballet dancer.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Pumpkin and Pound Cake are no older than they were in "Baby Cakes".
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Lampshaded by Apple Bloom's final comment of the episode with the CMC not being the same anymore. Inverted, however, when she says they'll be better.
- Performance Anxiety: Tender Taps is a great tap dancer, but he is terrified of performing until Apple Bloom convinces him to go on stage alongside her.
- Plot Allergy: Turns out Applebloom is allergic to bees, stopping her from doing bee keeping with Sweetie.
- Public Exposure: Tree Hugger has a cameo doing nude modeling for painters. Of course, ponies don't usually wear clothes, so it's used more as an ironic gag.
- Reveal Shot: The CMC are having a lengthy pep talk directed at blank flanks to assure them of the their support in finding a cutie mark... but then, Mrs. Cake comes in and points out that it might be a bit early to worry about that, and the camera reveals that they were talking to the babies Pound and Pumpkin Cake.
- Room Full of Crazy: Apple Bloom decorates the CMC clubhouse in failed activity doodles after Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo go off on their own.
- Sanity Slippage: Apple Bloom goes through a brief depression, but one might think that she took lessons from Twilight Sparkle (or Pinkie Pie, given the catalyst).
- Self-Deprecation: The homage to Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait is a subtle jab at the show's use of palette swaps for background and one-shot ponies.
- Ship Tease: A little between Apple Bloom and Tender Taps. In fact, they even dance together at the dance recital on stage!
- Among the artist ponies drawing Tree Hugger are pony versions of Pablo Picasso (who draws her in a cubist style and has cubes for a cutie mark), Salvador Dalí (complete with his trademark moustache and has a melting clock cutie mark) and Andy Warhol (his familiar hairsyle, glasses and black shirt and has a soup can for a cutie mark). The Leonardo da Vinci pony that was previously in "Princess Spike" also is among the artists.
- The Salvador Dalí pony paints a surrealist picture using references to the real Dali's paintings such as The Persistence of Memory◊ and The Elephants◊
- The Andy Warhol pony paints a pop art picture similar to Warhol's famous collage of Marilyn Monroe◊.
- Tender Taps's dancing includes twirling around a lamppost and backflipping off a wall.
- One pair of ponies during the recital are dancing as in the finale of Dirty Dancing; the mare even has an obvious bump on her nose, a reference to Jennifer Grey's rather predominate one prior to surgery.
- So What Do We Do Now?: The Crusaders have succeeded in fulfilling their dream of getting their Cutie Marks. Problem is, they used to do nothing but try to get cutie marks, so now they're at a loss as to what to do with their lives all over again.
- Stealth Pun:
- Bulk Biceps' cutie mark is a dumbbell, and he's always written as enthusiastic and strong, but rather simple-minded. His dialog in this episode makes the Dumb Muscle pun difficult to ignore.Scootaloo: Have you tried lifting other things?
Bulk Biceps: You mean not dumbbells?
- The second position taken by Tree Hugger while modeling? In yoga, it's known as "vriksasana" or the "tree pose".
- Bulk Biceps' cutie mark is a dumbbell, and he's always written as enthusiastic and strong, but rather simple-minded. His dialog in this episode makes the Dumb Muscle pun difficult to ignore.
- Stylistic Suck: Sweetie Belle's crocheting, which she cheerfully admits is "horrible". She uses it to invoke this in costumes for the dance recital to help Tender Taps overcome his stage fright.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- Much as one might expect given the nature of cutie marks, ponies with cutie mark problems or worrying about not getting a cutie mark are not actually all that common. They do exist (such as Tender Taps and Bulk Biceps) and it is an important thing to help them, but it's not going to happen every day.
- The lumps and holes in Sweetie Belle's first scarf will be extremely familiar to any first-time crocheter. She points out to Scootaloo that this is her first time trying it, and she has to practice before she can get better.
- There Was a Door: The floor of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' clubhouse breaks under Bulk Biceps' when he stomps it with a hoof in happiness dropping him through the floor. He then pops his head up through a different part of the floor to ask a follow-up question.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: The ballet teacher, courtesy of her Russian-ish accent.
- Vocal Dissonance: Scootaloo's yodeling sounds like a very baritone male voice. Apple Bloom also yodels a few moments later with the same voice.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Applebloom goes to a ballet dance school that is run by an instructor with an Eastern-European accent.