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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S7 E22 "Marks and Recreation"

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Rebel without a mark.
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The CMC are helping Kettle Corn try to paint to see if that's her special talent and get her cutie mark. When her time is done, they find a line of other fillies and colts waiting their turn for the CMC's help to get their cutie marks. The trio realize they don't have the time to help everypony one-on-one, and come up with the idea of starting a Cutie Mark Day Camp over at Camp Friendship, where they can organize group activities to help multiple ponies at once.

They advertise their idea in Ponyville the next day and get several eager fillies and colts. Rumble, watching from a distance, looks concerned about signing up, until his older brother Thunderlane arrives and suggests that maybe the Camp will help him get his cutie mark, giving him something to do while Thunderlane is at Wonderbolts training. Rumble reluctantly signs up.

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At camp the next day, the CMC run their activities and everypony seems open to trying new things, and Kettle Corn discovers her special talent is in writing haikus, gaining her cutie mark. Rumble half-heartedly attempts each one, giving up on each too quickly. The CMC try to ask him what is going on, but he doesn't want to talk and leaves for the day, instead watching Thunderlane practice instead. They try to meet him there, but he has decided that he never wants to get his cutie mark.

The next day at camp, while the others are going through their activities, Rumble arrives and announces that the others shouldn't want to get cutie marks; instead, they should choose to remain blank flanks forever. He goads the others into joining "his" side of the camp, warning them that they will be forced to do what their cutie mark gives them for the rest of their lives, so that if they don't want to happen to get a cutie mark they don't want, they shouldn't do anything at all. Rumble's camp ends up leaving the fillies and colts lazing about all day, fearing that doing any type of activity may give them a cutie mark.

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Confused, the CMC go to Thunderlane to explain what is happening. They find that Rumble really looks up to Thunderlane, and also wants to be in the Wonderbolts someday, so he's afraid that being "put into a box" with a special talent will prevent him from being a part of the Wonderbolts. This gives the CMC an idea.

The next day, the CMC announce they have a special guest that day - Thunderlane, who will help with doing some Wonderbolts-related activities including an obstacle course. One by one, the other fillies and colts (who have gotten bored with doing nothing all day) leave Rumble's camp for the CMC and join in, not wanting to miss out the chance to work with a Wonderbolt. Rumble eventually gives in and comes over, only to be surprised that Thunderlane is preparing a meal. Thunderlane tells his brother that while his cutie mark is for flying and speed, he learned to cook while sharing kitchen duties with the Wonderbolts, and is very glad he did. Rumble realizes that, despite his fears, getting a cutie mark does not prevent him from doing any other activities, and that his life will be filled with opportunities to learn new things. The CMC offer Rumble the chance to run their obstacle course, but he'd rather stay and cook with his brother.


Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: None of the Mane Six appear in this episode, marking this the third time in Season 7 without them.
  • The Ace: Thunderlane joins the Cutie Mark Crusaders at the end of the episode to help convince Rumble that the cutie mark isn't a label. While his main talent is flying, he manages to effectively deconstruct Rumble's philosophy by proving himself competent at multiple things when he joins in on the activities.
  • An Aesop: Nobody is just one thing. We are all complex individuals, and it's unfair to reduce anyone to a label, especially yourself.
  • Appropriated Appellation: For a term that's supposed to be an insult, "Blank Flank" is thrown around incredibly casually in this episode—first by the CMC when they're advertising the Day Camp, then by Rumble and subsequently the rest of the campers during his song.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: While trying to convince Rumble that a cutie mark doesn't restrict you to one thing, Apple Bloom tells him that, despite her talent being to help other ponies with their cutie marks, she still enjoys making potions with Zecora. Rumble asks her when was the last time she did that, and she finds herself unable to answer.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Before this episode, Rumble only had one line of dialogue in "Hurricane Fluttershy".
    • Likewise, Thunderlane has had two lines of dialogue total in the past.
  • Badass Armfold: Rumble does one just before barging into the CMC's day camp and pied-pipering away the other colts and fillies.
  • Beat: The other foals at the camp tell Rumble how cool it is that his brother's a Wonderbolt. Scootaloo brings up that she's "practically" Rainbow Dash's sister... and the others just stare at her for a moment before returning their attention back to Thunderlane.
  • Big Brother Worship: It turns out Rumble wants to be just like his big brother, Thunderlane, and has been avoiding doing new things ever since Thunderlane became a Wonderbolt because he is afraid he'll get a mark that will prevent him from becoming a Wonderbolt himself.
  • Big "WHAT?!": The CMC give one when Rumble first states he doesn't want a cutie mark.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Japanese writing, Kettle Corn's circles can be translated to mean "Maru" or "Zero".
  • Broken Ace: Deconstructed. Rumble is good at multiple things similar to Thunderlane, but makes himself one intentionally because he's afraid of getting a non-Wonderbolt-related cutie mark.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Sweetie Belle points out how frustrating it can be to wait for a cutie mark and asks if Apple Bloom and Scootaloo remember how long it took them to get theirs, Apple Bloom shudders and replies "I remember the nightmares."
    • At one point, Apple Bloom is shown teaching some campers to dance, and seems to have improved greatly since her last attempt at dancing. From the same episode, she also tells Rumble at one point that she still enjoys making potions with Zecora despite her cutie mark having nothing to do with that.
    • The Crusaders hold their cutie mark day camp at Camp Friendship, the same camp the young Applejack and Coloratura once attended.
  • Characterization Marches On: The last time he appeared in "Hurricane Fluttershy", Rumble was nothing more than Thunderlane's little brother who was content to stay in the background. Here, as an Ascended Extra, he is the philosophical enemy of the CMC and openly hostile towards cutie marks.
  • Character Development: Originally, Thunderlane was just characterized as a decent flyer and Wonderbolt in-training who is later spotted being part of the group full-time. This episode establishes him as a Cool Big Bro and a Friend to All Children.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Thunderlane was previously seen in Wonderbolt attire for a second in "Parental Glideance." Him joining the team ends up playing a part in Rumble's reason for not wanting a cutie mark at the camp.
    • The symbol on the day camp flag's matches the one from the capes the Crusaders' used to wear (and were first seen in "Stare Master").
    • One of the colts attending camp is wearing the 'Raripunk' manestyle.
  • Cool Big Bro: This episode cements Thunderlane as one, clearly looking out for his little brother and being willing to help the CMC when things go really bad.
  • Cultural Rebel: Rumble is against the idea that you need to get a cutie mark, and that it is in fact better not to have one at all.
  • Death Glare: Rumble gives a fierce one to the Crusaders when he tells them he doesn't want a Cutie Mark.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Scootaloo uses her slamming closed an expandable telescope as her call to action twice during the episode.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: With Rumble considering the 'handicap' being the cutie marks, that would (according to him) force a pony to follow a path in life regardless of previous dreams and goals.
  • Easily Forgiven: Despite causing all the trouble towards them and driving the campers away, none of the CMC hold grudges towards Rumble.
  • Establishing Team Shot: Rumble and his followers do this at the end of their song.
  • Fish Eyes: Sweetie Belle gets fish-eyed after her loud gasp, following her Motor Mouth explanation to Thunderlane.
  • Flanderization: Discussed in-universe; Rumble's main argument against cutie marks is the belief that they boil you down to one single talent and lock you out of anything else.
  • Foil:
    • Rumble is one to Starlight Glimmer. Both believe cutie marks are harmful, and both use their charisma to encourage other ponies to follow their lead. They even both get songs about why they don't like cutie marks. Both also have a philosophy born out of fear of obtaining a cutie mark that separates them from others they love or respect, with Sunburst getting his mark and going to Canterlot causing Starlight's and Rumble being afraid his cutie mark won't match up with Thunderlane's path of becoming a Wonderbolt. However, there are also a few differences between them: Starlight was preaching against individuality, while Rumble is encouraging the other ponies to be themselves. They're also on opposite sides of the Order vs. Chaos spectrum, as Rumble is the latter by challenging the established view of cutie marks. What's more, they're afraid to try activities for different reasons. Starlight used to avoid activities with the Mane 6 because she feared she would be bad at them. Rumble avoided the activities at camp because he was afraid he'd be too good at them.
    • He is also one to the Crusaders themselves; while they help and encourage ponies to gain their cutie marks, he encourages them to not even try to find their talents.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The fact that Kettle Corn's name doesn't match her talent may be instance of that she's not limited by her cutie mark.
    • Thunderlane, who at one point outright says his cutie mark is all about flying, makes the horseshoe toss on his first try when he drops his brother off at the Cutie Mark Day Camp, demonstrating early on that you can be good at and enjoy things beyond your cutie mark.
    • When Rumble announces no more potential cutie mark activities (which basically narrows it down to doing nothing), Kettle Corn (who already got her cutie mark earlier) just keeps on painting. Unintentionally, she's stumbled upon the right idea that you don't have to let your cutie mark restrict you to just one specific talent.
    • The circles that Kettle Corn likes to paint are actually Marus (or Zeroes) in Japanese Calligraphy. At the Day Camp, Kettle Corn gets a cutie mark in Haikus which is one of the seven forms of Japanese Poetry. The circles were actually hinting towards this in a very subtle way.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rumble's anti-cutie mark philosophy is born out of his fear of not following in the same path to being a Wonderbolt like Thunderlane is.
  • Friend to All Children: Thunderlane obviously cares for his little brother, but he also gets along very well with the other campers at the CMC's camp, and they seem to enjoy him getting in on the activities towards the end.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Rumble leads the campers away, and Scootaloo seemingly ready to do something more aggressive to fight back, Sweetie Belle says the best solution is to talk to them calmly. Cut to Sweetie Belle literally screaming at the campers that cutie marks make you special.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: After Kettle Corn gets her haiku-themed cutie mark, nearly everything she says afterward is a haiku.
  • Growing Up Sucks: In a sense. Rumble doesn't seem opposed to growing up in general — he's specifically against getting cutie marks and (as he sees it) being forced onto one path in life defined by his special talent.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Thunderlane is a Supreme Chef along with being a Wonderbolt. Funnily enough, he's a Supreme Chef because he's a Wonderbolt, since the Wonderbolts take turns preparing meals. Thunderlane just started really enjoying it.
    • Rumble turns out to have shades of this, according to his brother. He's actually good at some of the activities the Cutie Mark Crusaders gave him, he just pretended not to be.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: An interesting subversion of this trope occurs when Apple Blooms recounts Granny's saying, "Some ponies have to find their own hay." In Equestria, this would be a perfectly serviceable adage. However, Scootaloo then asks whether it should actually end with "way", not "hay" (as it does in Real Life), and Apple Bloom agrees.
  • Hypocritical Humor: On the first day of camp, Rumble fakes being unskilled at rowing a boat, archery, dancing, and writing poems. Yet during his song, he performs all four activities adeptly.
  • Irony:
    • Rumble believes that being a blank flank is preferable because you're free to be whatever you want, instead of being branded for a specific destiny. The Crusaders don't agree with this, but this is more or less what they themselves said in their first appearance.
    • Rumble's anti-cutie mark philosophy focuses on individuality, but is afraid of getting a cutie mark that won't allow him to become a Wonderbolt like his brother Thunderlane. Rumble's anti-cutie mark philosophy also is centered around cutie marks being used as a label and preventing ponies from trying new things. Rumble is very surprised at the end when Thunderlane proves adept at and likes cooking even though it isn't part of his cutie mark.
    • At one point, Rumble disallows his campers from doing anything that might get them a cutie mark, leading to everypony sitting around, bored, doing nothing. The lone exception is Kettle Corn, who keeps happily painting circles because she already has her haiku-writing cutie mark. In effect, it's her cutie mark, which Rumble calls a "box", that grants her freedom, while her blank-flank "free" comrades are restricted from doing what they like.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Even though Rumble was decidedly dismissive of anypony with a cutie mark, his arguments about cutie marks being "limiting" are enough to convince the other blank flanks to temporarily take his side.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Said by Thunderlane.
    Thunderlane: Lemme get this straight. My little brother up-ended your entire camp? How in Equestria did he do that?
  • Line in the Sand: Rumble divides the camp by plowing a line in the ground to separate out his "blank flank" camp from the CMC's.
  • Mondegreen: Used when Apple Bloom recalls a saying of Granny Smith's.
    Apple Bloom: Granny always says, "Some ponies have to find their own hay."
    Scootaloo: Are you sure she didn't mean "find their own way"?
  • Non-Indicative Name: In a series rife with ponies that have names matching their special talents, Kettle Corn stands out with a name unrelated to poetry yet gets a haiku cutie mark.
  • Order vs. Chaos: Zig-zagged. Rumble's anti-cutie mark philosophy focuses on individuality and ponies being reduced to a label by their cutie marks, thus emphasizing chaos over order. Rumble's problem, however, is one based on chaos, because he's afraid of getting a cutie mark that doesn't have the possibility of becoming a Wonderbolt like Thunderlane is.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Sweetie Belle when she's screaming at the campers.
    Sweetie Belle: Cutie marks! Make you! special!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The CMC try to be this at the camp, but fail after Rumble's song sways many of the campers to his side. They then defer to Thunderlane, who is this by way of gently getting his point across to Rumble (and the other campers) by joining the CMC in the activities.
  • Reconstruction: Thunderlane makes a point towards the end that, while cutie marks may be focused on giving you a specific destiny, there can still be more to life than playing out that one destiny.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: If you consider haiku poetry, Kettle Corn's special talent is for her to come up with these on the fly.
  • Ship Tease: Skeedaddle blushes when Kettle Corn thanks him for his part in helping her find her talent.
  • Shout-Out: The title is one to Parks and Recreation.
  • Smash the Symbol: Kettle Corn covers her cutie mark with paint once she and the other campers are swayed by Rumble's anti-cutie mark song.
  • Split-Screen Reaction: The screen is split in three to show the extremely shocked face of the CMC when they learn that Rumble isn't interested in getting a cutie mark.
  • This Is My Side: Rumble draws a line in the ground to divide Camp Friendship in two; his own "Camp Blank-Flanks Forever" and the CMC's "Camp Cutie Mark". The episode's conflict is symbolically resolved when Rumble, following the rest of the campers, is convinced to cross the line he himself made.
  • Token Enemy Minority: Kettle Corn gets her cutie mark in the CMC camp. After she becomes one of Rumble's followers, she covers it with paint.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Thunderlane accidentally sets Rumble on his anti-cutie mark crusade with an offhand comment about how he can't remain a blank flank forever.

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