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Recap / My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S8 E12 "Marks for Effort"

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Getting Cozy with the Crusaders.

Written by Nicole Dubuc

The Cutie Mark Crusaders, having heard about the Friendship School, go to secretly check it out. When they observe all the fun activities going on, they decide their normal Ponyville school is boring in comparison, and try to talk Twilight Sparkle into admitting them as students. However, Twilight tells them that they already know about friendship, so they should continue their normal studies with Cheerilee instead.

The three decide to fake that they do need friendship lessons, first by trying to convince their respective big sisters, and then faking an argument in front of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, but inadvertently let the ploy show through their friendship. Dejected, they go back to their clubhouse to plan, when they hear crying outside. They find a pegasus filly, Cozy Glow, who is a student at the Friendship School who has been struggling with the work, particularly with her current assignment of helping three Ponyville residents. The CMCs offer to help, and soon Cozy has successfully completed the task. Thankful for their help, she tells them that there's a big test coming up, and the CMC readily offer to help tutor her. Despite several bumps, they eventually get Cozy Glow up to speed and feel she's ready for the test.

On the day of the test, the CMCs wait near the school to hear the results, but Cozy Glow reveals she failed it. Not only that, Twilight demands to see the CMC in her office. There, Twilight tells them that she knew Cozy Glow was being tutored by them, and puts the blame on them for teaching Cozy Glow the wrong information as another ploy to get into the school. The CMCs try to be honest, but Twilight sends them back to Ponyville. Cozy Glow, having overheard this, goes to talk to Starlight Glimmer as the guidance counselor, and admits she purposely failed the test and blamed it on the CMCs, believing that it would have made Twilight enroll the Crusaders in the school to relearn their friendship lessons. Starlight lets Twilight know, and Twilight, in turn, brings the Crusaders to her office, along with the other Mane 6. Twilight explains what Cozy told Starlight, and the misunderstanding, and that in return, she officially announces them as honorary graduates of the school, and offers them the possibility of being tutors to any students that need it. The CMCs thank Twilight and the others, and go off to spend time with Cozy Glow, while Twilight thanks Starlight for being a good counselor.


  • An Aesop: Using deceit to get your way won't work. It's better to be upfront and honest.
  • Apology Gift: Twilight never tells the CMC straight up that she's sorry for accusing them of sabotaging Cozy Glow's studies and banning them from the school. Still, the invitation to her office, the presentation of honorary diplomas, and the offer of tutoring jobs make it clear that she wants to set things right with them.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The Crusaders pretend to be mad in front of Pinkie and Fluttershy as a way to get into the school. It works for a moment, but they stop acting when they think it's working, and the plan fails.
  • Body Wipe: Cozy Glow's eyes take up the final frame of the episode, upon which there is a Fade Out.
  • Call-Back:
    • Applejack leads some of the students in a game of buckball.
    • Twilight's "friendship through the ages" lecture features an illustration of Chancellor Puddinghead, who is depicted as a stallion.
  • The Cameo: Sugar Belle briefly appears after Cozy Glow and Apple Bloom help Big MacIntosh finish his chores, allowing him to spend time with her.
    • All of the Student Six appear in the Cold Open, with Ocellus getting the only speaking line among them.
  • Cassandra Truth: The CMC try to convince Twilight that they didn't sabotage Cozy, and they're right. She sabotaged herself.
  • Cat Up a Tree: A variation where Pipsqueak's kite is stuck in a tree and Cozy Glow has to fly up and get it for him.
  • Chess Motifs: Cozy Glow's Cutie Mark is a rook, yet she doesn't show any interest in playing chess. She does, however, manipulate everypony like The Chessmaster.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Spike is still getting used to his new wings, and the closet where he talked with Smolder about the molt is briefly seen.
    • Starlight Glimmer has kites in her office, Trixie-themed stickers on her filing cabinet, and a few rock/mineral samples (from Maud Pie) on the bookshelves.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Of all the places in or near Ponyville for Cozy Glow to have a good cry, she just happens to find her way to a secluded part of Sweet Apple Acres outside the Crusaders' clubhouse, just when the Crusaders are discussing their schemes to convince the Mane Six that they belong in Twilight's school.
  • Crocodile Tears: Cozy Glow runs off crying after shouting she failed her test, but since she later admits she failed on purpose she was actually faking, even if her tears looked very real.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cozy Glow gets one moment that seems like this, even if the delivery seems innocent. When the Crusaders share their food with her and ask what aspect of friendship it represents (generosity), Cozy's answer is intelligence.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Starlight Glimmer is bored out of her mind in her office, since nopony seems to need a guidance counselor. When Cozy Glow enters to ask her for advice, she tries her very best to appear professional, though her excitement at being needed and a few hints of her past self still shine through.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Big Mac is extremely eager to begin his date with Sugar Belle, suggesting a booty call.
  • Easily Condemned: Twilight bans the CMC from the Friendship School after Cozy Glow failed her test, assuming the worst of them despite knowing their special talents being helping other ponies out, by accusing them of sabotaging her.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Cozy Glow speaks with a downplayed version of this, especially when the Crusaders first meet her. It's especially noticeable when she says the words "trouble" and "friendship".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Though she doesn't seem to be evil, Cozy Glow is unable to understand why the Crusaders would want to help her, thinking that they obviously want something in return.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: On cue from Twilight, Spike brings the three honorary diplomas on a cushion in what is obviously meant to be a solemn moment... except he just trips and the scrolls roll at the hooves of the Crusaders. Spike then gets up, looking sheepish, while Twilight is embarrassed.
  • Foreshadowing: Note there are some odd occurrences with Cozy Glow that suspect something's up with her.
    • When the CMC offer to tutor her, she is suspicious and asks what's in it for them.
    • Her cutie mark is a chess piece (specifically, a rook).
    • When trying to guess the Elements the first time, she guesses Generosity as "Intelligence" and Magic as "Control".
    • She doesn't sip out of Starlight's empathy cocoa, suggesting she has a Lack of Empathy.
    • After Starlight comments on her deviousness, Cozy replies, "I guess I still have a lot to learn about friendship."
    • Two quick freeze-frames show Cozy flash an ominous expression, such as when she correctly guesses magic, and right before she reveals to the CMC she failed, she very briefly displays a smirk.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Cozy is about to reveal she failed her test, for a very brief moment her face displays a smirk as she turns her head, hinting at the idea that it's been planned.
  • Fruit Cart: Apple Bloom has a bucket of apples on her head and deliberately dumps them out when she pretends to get hit by Scootaloo.
  • Get Out!: After believing the Crusaders taught Cozy the wrong answers on purpose, Twilight outright throws them out of the school.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Cozy Glow intentionally fails her test so that the Crusaders can become students. It doesn't work; Twilight instead scolds the Crusaders for supposedly teaching Cozy incorrectly, and kicks them out of the school.
  • Got Me Doing It:
    • When celebrating Cozy Glow getting an A on her homework, Apple Bloom borrows her "Golly!" Catchphrase.
    • When Cozy displays a Slasher Smile when correctly naming the Elements of Harmony, Sweetie Belle smiles back in the same way.
  • Group Hug: After getting an A on her homework, Cozy Glow excitedly tackles all three of the CMC hard enough to drive them back several feet and knock them silly.
  • Hard-Work Montage: We get one showing the Crusaders trying to teach the Elements of Harmony to Cozy Glow.
  • Human Ladder: More like "Pony Ladder", but the Crusaders form one so that Scootaloo can see what's going on inside the School of Friendship.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The "study session" of the Crusaders and Cozy Glow starts with cards sporting the cutie marks of the Mane Six wiping the screen, and another scene transition later uses butterflies.
  • Implausible Deniability: Even after Rainbow Dash removes her Paper-Thin Disguise, Scootaloo puts it back on and tries to pretend she's somepony else.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Though this is a typical CMC episode where they try to get into the School of Friendship, Cozy Glow's role in the episode plays a big part in the season finale where we learn she's nothing like what she is on the outside.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: People may find Twilight's banning of the CMC from her school harsh because they taught her all the right things and had no idea what was going on. However, Twilight had every reason to think they set Cozy Glow up to fail, since she knew that the CMC were tutoring her outside of school hours and she also knew that they had the right answers. Not only that, the Crusaders weren't being trustworthy either, since Apple Bloom was slacking off, and Sweetie Belle was pestering Rarity. On top of that, all three of them slipped into the school uninvited. Twilight was already annoyed with them as it was, so this so-called sabotage was the last straw. In fact, when somebody gets mad, they can blow things out of control.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Rarity threatens to call Sweetie Belle "Repeatie Belle" if she doesn't stop begging to go to the School of Friendship.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A variation occurs when Scootaloo expresses excitement over brooms and buckets in a janitor's closet.
  • Musical Pastiche: When the Crusaders are called to Twilight's office by Starlight, the teachers file in to a tune reminiscent of "Marche fun├Ębre" from Fryderyk Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2.
  • My Beloved Smother: Starlight has a small shade of this when she gives Cozy a pillow, throws a big blanket over her, and offers "empathy cocoa." She stops before she goes any further.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Cozy Glow has this after she inadvertently gets the CMC banned from the School of Friendship when she flunks her test on purpose.
  • Not the Intended Use: Sweetie Belle tells Cozy Glow to make Mrs. Cake sprinkle shakers in one color each, so that she won't have to use rainbow sprinkles all the time. Mrs. Cake uses them all at once to make rainbow sprinkles anyway, leaving Cozy Glow completely flabbergasted.
  • Obviously Evil: Played with. The episode drops numerous hints that Cozy Glow is up to something nefarious or at least is more than she seems, but nothing comes of it... this episode, anyway.
  • Ocular Gushers: Cozy Glow announces she failed her test by crying with a huge stream of tears.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Crusaders react like this when Twilight tells them to meet her at her office. The first time it's played straight, as Twilight blames them for Cozy Glow failing her test. The second time it's subverted, as it turns out they aren't in trouble after all because Twilight now knows the full story.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Scootaloo watches Rainbow Dash teaching a class while wearing Groucho glasses. When she speaks up, Rainbow recognizes her immediately.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Starlight Glimmer doesn't get to do much in her role as a guidance counselor, which leads her to be overjoyed when Cozy Glow comes forward with a problem. By the end of the episode, her position has led to the resolution of a problem, with Twilight pointing out that this is exactly why the school needs her as its guidance counselor.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: When Cozy Glow confesses to Starlight her plan of making it look like the Crusaders were bad at friendship in order to get them accepted into the school, Starlight is briefly impressed by how "devious" it was. She ends up having to put on a poker face and do a backspace while trying to rein it in.
  • Rewatch Bonus: On first viewing, Cozy Glow's sobbing when the CMC first hear her seems genuine and she seems to be just a slow learner when they try to teach her. On a second viewing, it's clear she's working a Failure Gambit the whole time and her sobbing at the beginning is a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. No wonder her Cutie Mark is a chess piece.
  • Sabotutor: The CMC are accused of doing this to Cozy Glow when she completely bombs a test after several days of tutoring. In reality, she threw the test in the hopes of getting the CMC into the School of Friendship.
  • Saying Too Much: After sneaking into Rainbow Dash's class, Scootaloo excitedly finishes Rainbow's story about a session with the Wonderbolts. Since Rainbow had never told that story to her students before, Rainbow is immediately suspicious.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shutting Up Now: When Cozy goes to Starlight's office to ask for advice, Starlight is so excited to see someone need her help as the guidance counselor that she rambles for a while, before saying "I'm babbling" and focusing on Cozy Glow. She also quickly shuts up when she comments on how devious Cozy's plan was.
  • Slasher Smile: Oddly, Cozy Glow briefly shows one of these after correctly naming the Elements of Generosity and Magic. Sweetie Belle returns it.
  • Springtime for Hitler:
    • The Crusaders' staged attempt at convincing Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie that their friendship is on the rocks is a straight example. They fail when they share a hug and cheer over what they believe is a good performance, prompting a celebratory Group Hug and a shower of confetti from Pinkie.
    • Cozy Glow's attempt at getting the CMC into Twilight's school by deliberately failing the test and blaming her tutors is a Failure Gambit Gone Horribly Right example, ending in Twilight banning the CMC from her school and further forbidding them from speaking to her students again.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: The CMC don't get to attend Twilight's school as students, but they receive honorary diplomas and are given jobs as official tutors.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The Crusaders are told they can't become students at the School of Friendship because they've already mastered the curriculum. At the end of the episode, they still aren't let in, because that fact hasn't changed. However, they do get honorary diplomas and a chance to tutor students in need of help.
  • The Triple: Used when the CMC are complaining about their situation while cleaning Cheerilee's classroom.
    Scootaloo: [sighs] I still don't get how Cozy failed her test after all that studying.
    Sweetie Belle: Or how Twilight could blame us for it!
    Apple Bloom: Or how gum can be so sticky!
  • Verbal Backspace: When Cozy comes clean about her failed plan to help the CMC get into the school by intentionally failing her test, thus making her tutors look so bad at friendship that the school would have to let them attend, Starlight seems almost impressed with her logic for a moment and even calls the plan "devious". She then catches herself and tries to default back to acting professional.
  • Verbal Tic: Cozy Glow likes to say "Golly!", possibly hinting at her being inspired by Shirley Temple.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: As the CMC are walking out of her office in shame, Twilight one at point has an almost regretful expression, implying that she thought that maybe she went too far in punishing them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Twilight invokes this when she thinks the CMC intentionally set up Cozy Glow to fail, believing they cruelly pranked her out of spite for not being allowed to attend the school.
  • Wing Ding Eyes: Cozy Glow briefly has some of the Elements of Harmony in her pupils while the Crusaders are helping her study.
  • Your Mom: One of the fake answers Cozy Glow puts for her test. When asked "Who is the Princess of Friendship?" Cozy answered "your mom."


Video Example(s):


Repeatie Belle

The part where Rarity calls Sweetie Belle "Repeatie Belle" is improvised by Tabitha St. Germain.

How well does it match the trope?

4.3 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThrowItIn

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