Season 7, Episode 21: Marks And Recreation
Written By May Chan
Wanting to help as many young ponies as possible find their Cutie Marks, the Cutie Mark Crusaders invite a host of "blank flanks" to their own "Cutie Mark Day Camp"...but they're surprised to find one camper by the name of Rumble who doesn't want a cutie mark. When this episode was announced, the concept definitely sounded intriguing and...while the idea of addressing how one feels obligated to follow one path for their entire lives was already done before with Troubleshoes Clyde back in 'Appleloosa's Most Wanted' from Season 5, I was keen on seeing whether the show staff could improve on their previous attempts with this episode. But did they? The answer is...yes, yes they did!
When it comes to the story, I was surprised to discover that the writer for this episode was May Chan-the same person who wrote 'Not Asking For Trouble' from earlier in the season...and considering what I thought of her previous installment in the series, I was unsure as to whether or not she could redeem herself with an episode about the Cutie Mark Crusaders. For what felt like it was gonna be a re-hash of Season 4's "For Whom The Sweetie Belle Toils" in terms of what goes on between Thunderland and Rumble, it seems that she managed to succeed in making the story better in touching upon the subject of feeling stuck in a box when you get your cutie mark like I said earlier. However, the humor feels to have taken a step backward from her last episode since it felt very hit-or-miss; the miss being the repetition of Kettle Corn's obsession with circles...but it makes up for it with a very catchy new song by the name of 'Blank Flanks Forever', which brings me to my next point.
As for the animation, I've gotta admit that many of us Bronies and Pegasisters were definitely not expecting the team at DHX to bring back Camp Friendship from Season 5's "The Mane Attraction"...but seeing as it was an episode that was praised heavily and critically acclaimed, it only made sense to bring it back and give us a chance to really get to see what the campsite looks like and I've gotta say that it looks incredible with activity areas like the horseshoe toss and the archery range-they even brought back the stage where Applejack and Countess Coloratura performed "Equestria, The Land I Love"-one of the most beautifully heartwarming songs of the entire franchise, but I still question how one plays guitar with hooves. Speaking of songs, the animation of DHX really got to shine during the song for this episode titled 'Blank Flanks Forever' which was a nod to old jazzy showtunes...but how does one snap their fingers with hooves?!?
And when it comes to the characters...much like the return of Camp Friendship with the animation, many of us Bronies and Pegasisters were not expecting May Chan to write an episode that not only starred everypony's favorite crusaders but also gave a chance for the brotherly duo of Rumble and Thunderlane to really shine in the spotlight-great to see more of the side characters and fan favorites getting more attention! You can really feel and understand what Rumble is trying to convey to everypony about how you're stuck doing one thing for the rest of your life once you get your cutie mark while at the same time understand what Thunderlane is trying to tell his younger brother about how one job will not define who you are for your life entirely and it won't be what people will remember you for-bravo to all of the voice cast from Michelle Creber as Apple Bloom to Vincent Tong as Rumble for some marvelous performances!
Overall, 'Marks And Recreation" was a marvelous episode that was full of surprises for the fandom to enjoy and I give it a rating of a 9.5 out of 10.