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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S6 E9 "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks"

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"I'm just about the most excited any griffon has ever been about anything!"

"What do you think my mark will be? A lightning bolt? An erupting volcano? I don't care if it's a jar of marmalade! I know I'll love it, whatever it is!"
Gabby

Story by Josh Haber and Meghan McCarthy
Written by Ed Valentine
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After helping a young filly realize what her cutie mark means (or rather, helping her parents), the Cutie Mark Crusaders head back to their clubhouse, recounting all the ponies they helped find a cutie mark or learn of their special talents. Just before they arrive at the clubhouse, Apple Bloom sees a griffon perched on top of the clubhouse, looking for them. She introduces herself as Gabby, an enthusiastic, happy-go-lucky mail carrier from Griffonstone who wants nothing more than to get her own cutie mark. After learning of the way the Cutie Mark Crusaders help ponies with their special talents, Gabby flew to Ponyville to seek them out for help. While the Crusaders are willing to help Gabby, they confide in each other that they're not sure if griffons can even get cutie marks.

While Gabby goes off to deliver a letter from Gilda to Rainbow Dash, the Crusaders ask Twilight Sparkle about their problem. Twilight confirms that no griffon has ever received a cutie mark, which further sinks the Crusaders' hopes. Scootaloo vows to try and help Gabby anyway, provided they word things very carefully with her. Even so, Gabby still mistakenly thinks the Crusaders are promising to get her a cutie mark. The Crusaders try their usual tricks, first having Gabby try lots of things to find out what she's good at, then focusing on it. However, she proves to be skilled at everything she tries, making it impossible for the Crusaders to figure out her special talent. Scootaloo finally admits to Gabby that the Crusaders can't help her, and she comes close to tears before flying away. The Crusaders try to apologize, but Gabby is already gone, leaving the three fillies feeling like failures.

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Gabby eventually returns to the clubhouse, showing that she got a cutie mark after all; it's a cauldron, from helping Zecora with potion-making. The Crusaders are overjoyed, saying they should rush to Twilight's castle to tell her. Gabby nervously says that she has to deliver another letter before quickly flying away, the Crusaders running ahead to tell Twilight. However, Twilight says Gabby had already stopped by, but she only left a note and didn't stay long enough to show her mark. Puzzled, the Crusaders go out to look for Gabby and find her helping a pony move his cart out of a muddy rut. Gabby slips and falls in the mud, which causes her cutie mark to wash away. She admits to faking it in order to make sure that the Crusaders didn't feel like failures after all they did. This gives the Crusaders an idea, and they tell Gabby to meet them back at the clubhouse.

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Once there, the Crusaders tell Gabby that even if she can't get a cutie mark, they can still help guide her towards what she's good at. For Gabby, that appears to be helping people. They say that a pony's special talent isn't what they're good at, but what makes them feel good. They give Gabby a pair of clips (styled after their own cutie marks) for her mail bags, induct her as the first griffon member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and throw her a cuteceañera in the town square. Gabby promises to spread the Crusaders' brand of happiness to the rest of Griffonstone, and they ask her to visit again soon.


Tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating:
    • The Crusaders have built up an incredibly good reputation in Ponyville, since they do such a good job helping ponies who undergo existential crises. All of the citizens they've aided in the past are all too happy to point Gabby their way when she comes asking for someone who can solve a cutie mark problem.
    • Gabby not only makes a great first impression with everyone she meets in Ponyville, but in the span of a single musical number spent helping others with their problems, there isn't a single pony left in Ponyville who isn't swayed by her charms.
  • Adorkable:
    • Twilight on learning that she might be the first one to record a griffon getting a cutie mark.
      Twilight: You know what this calls for? A FULL-SCALE RESEARCH PROJECT!
    • For that matter, Gabby is just so cute in her enthusiasm.
  • Adult Fear:
    • While it's Played for Laughs, Petunia's parents' worry that their daughter might grow up to become a pirate reflects the very real fear that any good parent has about their beloved children potentially turning to a life of crime.
    • Wanting something so badly but being unable to have it just because you were born different.
  • An Aesop: Your calling in life isn't what you're good at, but rather what makes you feel good when you do it.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Among the griffons of Griffonstone, Gabby is singularly pleasant and sociable by nature and is made to feel like an outsider whenever she attempts to spread cheer while delivering mail. Seeing Gilda soften up after Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash visit is what drives her to seek out ponies and learn The Power of Friendship from them.
  • All There in the Script: Petunia Paleo's last name is only mentioned in the credits.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: Gabby's name begins with G, like every other griffon we've ever heard of.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Petunia is called an archaeologist despite her cutie mark being a skull and bones as well as digging up a dinosaur, which would make her a paleontologist.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: While there were prehistoric horse ancestors, none of them were half-reptilian in nature.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: A downplayed example, since Gabby never pretends to be a pony, but she uses makeup to fake a pony characteristic, the Cutie Mark. Bonus points for being a reversal of sorts of the Trope Namer fable; a lion-like creature pretending to have equine characteristics.
  • Bad Liar: The only thing Renaissance fledgling Gabby can't do? Lie convincingly.
  • Bear Hug: Gabby scoops all three of the CMC into one when she first meets them, then does it again when she expects they have a plan to get her a cutie mark. She later grabs Scootaloo into one when she says the CMC will do everything they can to help her get a cutie mark.
  • Call-Back:
    • Events of this episode tie directly to the events of "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone", with Gabby seeing how Pinkie's friendly attitude spread to Gilda, and wanted to find out more herself.
    • The episode alludes to "On Your Marks", with both Tender Taps and Bulk Biceps pointing out to Gabby how the Crusaders helped them.
    • Twilight's caution against trying to use magic to get a cutie mark refers to both her failure to give Apple Bloom one by casting a spell on her in "Call of the Cutie", and of the multiple marks Apple Bloom picked up in "The Cutie Pox".
    • Scootaloo's comment about knowing what it's like to have a Dream-Crushing Handicap (while glancing back at her tiny wings) is a reference to "Flight to the Finish".
  • Circling Birdies: The CMC have stars circling their heads after getting dizzy from Gabby shaking their hooves very energetically.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The colt with the large buck teeth from "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" appears, getting braces applied by Gabby.
    • Tender Taps from "On Your Marks" is entertaining a crowd with his dancing.
    • Bulk Biceps has taken the advice offered by the Crusaders in "On Your Marks" and is teaching foals to lift weights.
    • The foal Gabby rocks to sleep during "Find the Purpose in Your Life" is the same one Rainbow Dash saved in "The Mysterious Mare Do Well".
  • Dramatic Drop: Twilight is levitating several books in the background as the CMC are reading the letter Gabby left for them. When her new cutie mark is mentioned, however, Twilight drops all the books in shock from learning that a griffon could have gained a cutie mark.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: Gabby wants a cutie mark. As she and the Crusaders find out, it doesn't matter how badly Gabby wants it; griffons simply can't get cutie marks. However, they still manage to mitigate this via Take a Third Option at the end.
  • Dressed to Plunder: Petunia Paleo's concerned parents have prepared a little pirate's ensemble (a coat, sword and bandanna) in the event their little filly took such a turn because of her cutie mark.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: The reason the Cutie Mark Crusaders can catch up with Gabby when she was leaving Ponyville; the griffon is so nice that she had to stop to help Doctor Hooves.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The "spiny-backed" ponysaurus discovered by Petunia at the episode's start is the first prehistoric creature to be shown on the series proper.
  • Fantastic Racism: Slightly, when the CMC first see Gabby.
    Sweetie Belle: Aren't griffons supposed to be kind of mean and cranky?
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Gabby staying cutie-markless was pretty obvious, since it goes against everything we know about griffons and cutie marks for her to get one.
    • In-Universe, the CMC are completely justified in expecting Petunia Paleo's special talent has to do with archaeology or paleontology.
  • Friendless Background: Gabby felt out of place among most other griffons, who are mostly a bunch of foul-tempered loners who'd reject her attempts to be friends with them all. Downplayed because the griffons treat everyone they meet with equal disdain, so they don't single her out for being different.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: Gabby's full name is Gabriela, but, due to being very friendly, she tells the CMC to refer her by her short name.
    Gabby: I'm Gabriela, but you can call me Gabby, 'cause we already know each other!
  • Funny Background Event: While the Paleo parents laugh, Petunia raises the skull up out of the dig site in her sandbox.
  • Genki Girl: Hoo-boy. Gabby is constantly overflowing with enthusiasm. She could probably give even Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich a run for their bits. Sweetie Bell wonders if she ever gets tired.
  • The Glomp: The overwhelming hugs are courtesy of Gabby, naturally.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Twice in the episodes, Apple Bloom's usage of the word "apples" can clearly be seen as a substitute for "hell" or another word that kids should not use.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The montage song uses several as scene transitions: The CMC's sheet of paper, an eraser over a blackboard, a mass of bubbles or apples mowing down, kelp or a baseball bat wiping the screen, a flash, water, flowers, muffins, tree leaves... etc.
  • Impossible Task: The CMC having to help a griffin get a cutie mark, which they find is biologically impossible.
  • Irony: "Gabby Gums" was a pen name used by the Crusaders in "Ponyville Confidential" that started off as a harmless gossip column but went too far into divulging very personal information. Gabby is a griffon that is very talkative and tends to say too much when speaking.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Two of them in the title:
    • To the John Green novel The Fault in Our Stars, the story is about a girl dreaming about a future of love and adventure, but having a terminal stage of cancer, making her dream impossible to achieve. This also reflects the episode's central theme of wanting something that is not biologically possible. It also reflects the inspiring yet heart-wrenching dilemma faced by the CMC of trying something they know is not going to happen.
    • The reference in the title also goes all the way back to William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. "The fault in our stars" refers to one's place in life not being decided by the stars (i.e., by fate), but that it lies in ourselves to decide our fates. Similarly, the episode shows that one's place in life is not decided by a cutie mark, but by what someone wishes to do with their life themselves.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: Gabby lies to the Crusaders that she got a cutie mark in order to make them think that they succeeded, all to make them feel better.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Petunia Paleo's special talent is finding and digging up fossils.
    • It's hard to get Gabby to quiet down once she starts talking about cutie marks.
  • My Car Hates Me: Doctor Hooves' cart conveniently gets stuck in the muck on Gabby's flight path home, prompting her to stop and help long enough for the Crusaders to catch up.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Gabby is this to the whole of Griffonstone because she is energetic, friendly and helpful instead of rude, greedy and apathetic.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: The episode deals with the hard truth that cutie marks are exclusive to ponies.
  • Nice Girl: Gabby is an extremely kind and helpful griffon. Worth noting is that the second nicest griffon we have met is Gilda, who is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Noodle Incident: Along with the two jobs we already saw, the CMC have helped a pony named Blue Note discover his skill at jazz music, and judging from their reputation in the town they've done far more offscreen.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Furthering their change in mission from "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", the CMC realize that they can help any of the sentient species in Equestria with finding their purpose in life, even if they can't get a cutie mark.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During the montage song, Gabby implies she built the boat she's currently helming, which would be a far greater achievement than anything actually shown in the montage.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gabby gets quite uncomfortable once the CMC decide they have to show Twilight her cutie mark.
  • Parody Sue: Gabby is cheerful, energetic, helpful, ridiculously multi-talented, and totally adored by everyone she meets. However, she's so good at everything that the Crusaders have no idea what the one thing she's best at is, which is what matters most to her.
  • Renaissance Man: While she's trying to find her special talent, Gabby proves to be extremely good at pretty much everything she tries. This includes music (both writing a melody and then playing an instrument) baking a cake, building a ship, and playing baseball.
    Cutie Mark Crusaders: She's so good at things it's frightening!
  • Shout-Out: Scootaloo catching the dirt Petunia is digging up in a bucket, including getting splattered in the face, is very reminiscent of the malfunctioning porridge cannon scene in the Wallace & Gromit short A Close Shave.
  • Squee!: Gabby's reaction when she meets the Cutie Mark Crusaders on account of how they were talked up by everypony in Ponyville:
    Gabby: I'm just about the most excited any griffon has ever been about anything!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Petunia Paleo's parents are relieved that their daughter's skull-and-bones cutie mark means she'll be an archeologist. When Scootaloo sarcastically wonders if they thought she'd be a pirate, they laugh off the notion after hastily tossing a little pirate's costume away.
  • Take a Third Option: In the end, the Cutie Mark Crusaders give Gabby a pair of sigils matching their own Cutie Marks, to hang on her panniers. Cutie Mark or none, she becomes the first griffon member of the Crusaders, a compromise she's (of course) overjoyed with.
  • Toothy Bird: Like Gilda and other griffons, Gabby has a set of teeth behind her eagle beak, visible in most of her scenes when she talks and smiles.
  • Whateversaurus: Spiny-backed Ponysaurus.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Twilight gets pumped up and ready to do all sorts of research on Gabby's cutie mark, yelling for Spike and running off. We never see if or how she finds out that the cutie mark never happened. The answer eventually comes three seasons later in "Dragon Dropped": Twilight sends letters off to Griffonstone about the first-ever griffon with a cutie mark, and Gabby herself writes her a letter back explaining what really happened. We still don't get to see Twilight's reaction to learning the truth.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: When Gabby teaches pre-calculus, she's written sin x = y on the chalkboard, but the graph next to it shows y = -cos x.

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