Since my very first exposure to My Little Pony was a Cutie Mark Crusader episode, (“Call of the Cutie” to be exact) I’ve always looked forward to episodes starring the fillies. For the most part each installment has been filled with quality and development for the young characters. Last season in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” featured the biggest development for them: they finally acquired their Marks. It was the end of an era for the show, and everyone would be looking forward to seeing what comes next. “On Your Marks” is the direct continuation. Unfortunately it’s all over the place in terms of focus and probably the most mediocre of the CMC episodes.
Here’s the official episode description from Discovery Family:
With their cutie marks finally acquired, the Cutie Mark Crusaders struggle with the question of what to do now. Apple Bloom suggests they embrace their destinies, but she and her friends don’t exactly agree on how.
The first 25% of the episode was a bit on the slow side. We see the fillies contemplating what they should do now that they don’t need to be searching for their destinies. The problem is they had already established in “Lost Mark” that their mission would be helping other ponies get their Marks. When they finally come back to this realization in the title episode, in theory the story should flow smoothly. From here on out the episode takes a bizarre path. They go in search of Cutie Mark problems, even questioning Big Mac. (Keep in mind Apple Bloom has lived with Mac her entire life, so she asking him if he wasn’t content with his apple Mark was pretty off.)
Next, apparently it’s nearly impossible for the three fillies to find something for them to have fun with together. (Which in itself is hard to fathom.) So Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle come to the conclusion that it’s okay for each of them to do things on their own sometimes. Sounds reasonable, but this upsets Apple Bloom for almost the rest of the episode. We must suspend disbelief that Bloom does nothing by herself. Unfortunately, suspending that disbelief is too difficult.
Apple Bloom spends most of the episode moping around. The turnaround comes so unnaturally later because she apparently mistook what Scootaloo said when the latter’s dialogue was extremely plain and clear. At the very least, the first song of the season sung by Michelle Creber is very heartfelt. It makes you forget for a few minutes how unreasonable Bloom is. Before we get to the climax, the story takes some more right turns. It brings in Bulk Biceps and makes the viewer think he’s going to be a focus. Then Zecora’s first appearance of the season and she has no lines to accompany it. By the time the story dives into the actual helping of a Cutie Mark problem, the viewer has to ask, “Why did all this happen before we got to this part?”
Overall, Dave Polsky delivers perhaps his worst episode. There’s no reason why we had to endure Apple Bloom learning it’s okay to do stuff on her own. The best part besides the song is the final act when she and the others help a shy pony overcome his fears and realize his destiny. This is good stuff and should have been the focus for the entire story.