*Deep breath* There’s a cuteceneara this afternoon and every pony in my class will be there and they’ll all have their cutie marks, and I wanna get my cutie mark, but I'm no good at selling apples, but I really want to go to the party but how can I go to the party if I don't have my cutie mark which my big sister says I’m gonna get eventually, but... I want it now! – Apple Bloom
This episode introduces not only the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but also the Bully Duo of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon. In the opening scene, teacher Cheerilee explains about Cutie Marks, the magical flank tattoos that all ponies acquire once they discover themselves. This lesson is ostensibly taught to the students, but it’s really for the benefit of the audience, and the students who already have theirs find the lesson incredibly boring. Apple Bloom, however, is fascinated. She is distracted by DT, who wants her to pass a note to SS. The second it touches AB’s lips, however, Cheerilee notices, somehow missing that the note came from DT not a fraction of a second earlier. When she confiscates the note, she finds it blank, and DT makes a joke at AB’s expense about the fact that her flank is as blank as the paper is. This scene pretty much sets up the plot of all the CMC episodes to follow. It also has palette swaps of Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, the other CMC members.
While Apple Bloom is still put out about being a blank flank, her friend and fellow blank flank Twist tries to cheer her up by offering her some of her homemade candy canes. DT and SS also appear, inviting both of them to her Cuteceanera despite (or knowing DT, because of) their lack of cutie marks.
Most of the episode features Apple Bloom trying everything she can think of to earn her cutie mark before the party. However, her overeagerness to sell apples at the market not only scares away the customers, but ends with Applejack telling her to go back home. When she stubbornly refuses, Applejack softens and encourages her to visit Twist, so that they can go to the party together. On arriving at Twist’s place, however, an unpleasant surprise awaits: Twist is no longer blank flank, having rather inconveniently realized that making candy IS her special talent. Twist urges her to come with her to the party anyway, but DT and SS happen to be passing by and passing comments, which makes Apple Bloom feel even worse.
Rainbow Dash notices the moping Apple Bloom, and offers to help her get her cutie mark: the key is trying as many things as possible in as short a time as possible. This starts a montage of epic failery, (I know that’s not a word, just go with it) with every attempt at anything ending in disaster, despite Coach Dash’s best efforts. While Coach is pondering what to try next, Pinkie comes past and offers to let Apple Bloom eat cupcakes. Once she is ensnared, however, Pinkie admits that she doesn’t have any cupcakes, but that they should make some, which of course, means a Random Song Out of Nowhere. It’s pretty catchy. Apple Bloom’s talent is definitely not making cupcakes, since they come out burnt to a crunchy crisp.
The baking is interrupted by the arrival of Twilight Sparkle, whom Apple Bloom entreats to make her cutie mark appear by using magic. This also turns out to be a bust, since magic can’t make a cutie mark appear before it’s time (this does NOT prove that cutie marks are entirely immune to magic, as some fans seem to think, only that making one appear prematurely is impossible, since it requires an epiphany on the part of the young filly herself.)
Finally having had enough, Apple Bloom decides that there is no way she will be attending the party without a cutie mark, but suddenly realizes she is already there: it’s being held at Sugarcube Corner! Her attempts to hide are foiled, and even her escape out the door is blocked when Applejack arrives and says how happy she is to see that Apple Bloom came to the party despite the thing with Twist. Then she leaves her to the tender mercies of her “friends”: Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who are happy to have their punching bag in their clutches.
Thinking quickly, she grabs a nearby table cloth and wraps it up into a makeshift gown to cover up her still blank flank. Then she outfoxes DT by claiming that not only does she now have a cutie mark, but that it’s so awesome that revealing it will make everyone pay attention to her and not to DT. Unfortunately, her bluff is uncovered when she trips and exposes her flank. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon start in on her again, when a new voice interrupts with the words: “You got a problem with Blank Flanks?” Cue Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo coming out from under a nearby table.
They come to Apple Bloom’s rescue, saying that her blank flank is a sign of her future potential, and revealing that they too are blank in the flank. The young party guests rally around the three, leaving DT and SS out in the cold. This is probably why DT seems to have such a grudge against them: they outshone her at her own party. But more about that later on. The three blank flanks become firm friends, and start calling themselves the Cutie Mark Crusaders, aiming at finding their special talents together. Twilight closes the episode with a message about how a weakness can be something that helps you meet your best friends.
While the moral is a little bit forced, the purpose of this episode was to introduce the CMC and set up the plot line, which it does pretty well. It’s entertaining while simultaneously making you feel bad for all the bad stuff Apple Bloom goes through. Apparently the universe has a grudge against her. A question that could be raised is why Applejack and Cheerilee are so oblivious to the fact that Apple Bloom is being targeted by bullies. Plot convenience is really the only answer.
Pros: Introduces the CMC; amusing to watch how epically AB fails at nearly everything
Cons: Convenient plot; moral is a little weak.
Highlight: Apple Bloom's kite not only crashes, but also disintegrates!
5 – Celestia Rank: A great episode. It will be re-watched frequently.
4 – Luna Rank: A good episode, but with one or two problems that prevent it from being great.
3 – Spike Rank: An average episode. Positives and negatives are balanced.
2 – Discord Rank: Worth watching once. After that, turn it to stone and put it in the garden.
1 – Nightmare Moon Rank: Send it to the moon!
Stay Sunny Side up!