Monday, 12 September 2016

Episode review: S6E19: "The Fault in Our Cutie Marks"

Gabby the griffon hugging the Cutie Mark Crusaders
Gabby tries to get a cutie mark in creating a neutron star
"The Fault in Our Cutie Marks" was an episode about which there was considerable hype, thanks partly to its being moved to later than its original E09 slot for "legit reasons", which turned out simply to mean ensuring late-season CMC representation. The writer was Ed Valentine, who seems to be something of a go-to for CMC episodes. Sometimes this works well ("Flight to the Finish") and sometimes less well ("The Cart Before the Ponies").

Sadly, the episode fell victim to that curse of My Little Pony,* the dreaded early release. I did manage to resist the temptation to watch a subtitled Polish or Italian version, though, so after the break are my thoughts on the episode as it was meant to be seen.
* And various other shows – but really, who cares about them?

This episode is yet another to follow the recent trend of confining the action (mostly) to Ponyville and providing plenty of echoes of earlier seasons. This works best when, as in "Buckball Season", the writers don't simply regress characters to their S1/2 personalities. Valentine got that right with this episode, since I really couldn't imagine the CMC of three or four years ago dealing with Gabby's problem in the largely clear-headed way that they do.

Talking of Gabby, she's absolutely adorable, and easily the cutest griffon character we've ever seen in the show. She is pretty hyper, almost enough to rival Pinkie, and perhaps that will start to grate if she continues that way in any further appearances. As a one-off, though, I think she works well. I like the flashback to "The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone" to explain her motivation to come to the CMC, though would their fame really have spread that far?

Twilight is thrilled by the (apparent) revelation that griffons can get cutie marks
"Oh, wonderful! This would make a really amazing fanfic!"
The most interesting aspect of this episode to me comes with the CMC having to deal with the fact that they can't fix everyone's cutie mark problem, and in having to try to break this news to Gabby. Scootaloo in particular is written thoughtfully, and (though some may well disagree) I approve of her reference to her personal sadness regarding not being able to fly. I think it's completely in character that she'd think of that when the subject of thwarted dreams is in the air. Nice that it was kept brief, too.

Twilight plays a fine supporting role in this episode. She's in full-on adorkable mode and I love it when she's like that. She's also written like a true scientist: thrilled to discover that her previously accumulated knowledge may be rendered obsolete by an amazing new discovery. She even reminds the CMC that using magic won't bring them cutie marks – a callback to both "The Cutie Pox" and "Call of the Cutie". (Mind you, given AB's history there, perhaps she should have been a bit more suspicious of Gabby's fake cutie mark.)

"Find the Purpose in Your Life" has a rather unwieldy title, and this is unfortunately apposite as it's a rather unwieldy song. When it started, I loved it and thought it might be a nice companion piece of "Hearts Strong as Horses", a song with which it shares a few features. Unfortunately, it's severely let down thereafter by being made considerably too complicated, especially for a CMC song. This isn't the first time that Daniel Ingram has perhaps let his undoubted talents run away with him a bit.

Scootaloo knows what it's like to want something you can't have
This is a really touching scene, the more so for not being dwelt on too long
The ending is fairly obvious, but it was much better than if they'd thrown out years of lore and actually given Gabby a cutie mark. The griffon's excitement at being made a member of the CMC is lovely, too. Of course, she may share Babs's fate and disappear into outer darkness before long, so I hope she can enjoy it first! Is this episode as much fun as "Buckball Season"? No, not quite, and not only because of the lack of Fluttershy. But as long as you don't think about it too hard, it's a nice way to pass 22 minutes. A top-end three. Upgrading to four! It's just too adorable not to.

Best quote: Twilight: "You know what this calls for? A full-scale research project!"

  • Gabby has an infectiously cute character (and design)
  • The CMC not having everything go their way
  • Adorkable Twilight is adorkable
  • Nice flashback to the Griffonstone episode 
  • Fairly predictable in the end
  • The song is too complicated
  • Paeleontologist, surely, not archaeologist


  1. I did like how, for the most part, the CMC dealt with Gabby in a logical and reasonable way, talking through it straight with her before consulting Twilight. Plenty of Scootalove in there too (this season's been good for that).

    I wouldn't say the end was all that predictable; yes, it would've been bad if Gabby had actually gotten a real mark, but I wouldn't have been able to call how she was made an honarary CMC member.

    1. I was pretty sure she'd end up a CMC in some form, but maybe that was just me. :P