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Meta Four

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"The Fault in Our Cutie Marks" · 1:52am Sep 12th, 2016

First of all...

Best out-of-context screenshot ever, or best out-of-context screenshot ever?

Oh my.


One: The implications of that scene in the cold open, man. The show pulls its punch by showing that Petunia's cutie mark is for paleontology, not piracy. But what if that was a pirate cutie mark? How often do children get actually horrible cutie marks? How often do children get cutie marks that their parents don't approve of?

Maybe it's just a joke, but I like that the parents already bought her a pirate outfit, even though they weren't happy about her being a pirate. Way to support your child's decisions.

Two: Petunia looks like Blue Pinkie Pie. Not as much as Archer looks like Blue Scootaloo, perhaps, but I still can't unsee the resemblance.

Are Petunia and Archer from the same place? Is there a hidden city in Equestria populated entirely by blue doppelgängers of the characters from the show?


Twilight Sparkle: I've read every book on the subject, and I've never read a thing about any creature other than a pony getting a cutie mark.

Canon confirmation that the swirly-bop on Zecora's butt isn't really a cutie mark?

Four: Scootaloo really is the best in this episode. She became my favorite CMC with "Sleepless in Ponyville", and she's held that position ever since. And now, this episode is a great showing for her character strength. Consistently, she's the one who's most gung-ho about helping Gabby—and at the end, she's the one who finds a solution to the problem. And then that brief bit where Scoots compares Gabby's search to her own inability to fly: it was as surprising as it was poignant.

Scootaloo: You know what, Gabby? I promise we're gonna do everything we can to help you get your mark.
Apple Bloom: Why in tarnation would you promise somethin' that just can't be done?

Screw you, Apple Bloom. Were you even listening? Scoots didn't say anything about results, just that the three of you would try your hardest. I suppose Scoots could have laid it on a little thicker about the unlikelihood of their succeeding... but Gabby probably would have brushed it off like she did every other time the CMC tried to tell her it was impossible.


Bake that cake as fast as lightning
She's so good at things, it's frightening
Cutie Mark Crusaders,
I think we've got a problem!

"Sound the alarm! We've got a Mary Sue on our hooves!"

Think about it: Gabby's a non-pony. She's different and just doesn't fit in with the rest of her species. She's trying to do something that's blatantly against the laws of the universe. Her big problem is that she's just too good and instantly succeeds at everything she tries. She becomes another Cutie Mark Crusader by the end of her episode. Her mark is the same theme as the CMC's, with a friggin trophy on it. She even re-enacts a scene from Sunny Skies All Day Long, taking Celestia's place!


And the funniest thing is: it works. I like Gabby. Other fans like her. And as far as I can tell, the fans who dislike her just think her personality is annoying—they don't consider her very existence an affront to the MLPFIM universe, like one does for a bad fanfic character.

Why? I think it's because, as much as she's a Special Snowflake, there are still limits to how far she can warp the narrative to her own ends. The CMC find her enthusiasm off-putting at first, not endearing. And she ultimately has to settle for an honorary cutie mark, not one that actually appears in her fur. So she's still believable as an organic part of the MLPFIM universe.

And we're supposed to laugh at Gabby. With your usual bad fanfic character, you can hear the author saying "This character is so cool. LOVE THEM NOW!" Characters whose subtext say instead, "This character is awesome—laugh at them!" tend to come across a lot better.

Still, either way...

Cutie Mark Crusaders: Come back soon!
Scootaloo: After all, you're a Crusader now. Crusaders forever?
Gabby: Crusaders forever!

"Do you think we'll see her more often than Babs?"

In conclusion:

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Comments ( 4 )

Re: One: Between the father's crossed-rapiers mark and the mother's oyster-and-pearls mark, it's possible that they once were pirates and don't want the same life for their daughter... but still prepared for the possibility.

Re: Three: Depends on whether or not zebras count as ponies for the purposes of cutie marks. And how exhaustive Twilight's sources are.

But yeah, great episode.

4206086 I recall back in "Bridle Gossip", Twilight was pretty insistent that zebras aren't ponies.

I will admit, I would find it both wonderful and terrifying for a woman to look at me like that while holding a pen and pad of paper.

That said, you did a pretty good job encapsulating Gabby's not-quite-sue-ishness. The key part of a sue that makes them terrible, as I understand it, is how much they warp reality and its rules the narrative around them. Gabby is hypercompetent and gets along well with main characters, but it doesn't feel like she's turning the world or its story on its ear to accomplish that. The situation kinda reminds me of Firewall from Through the Eyes of Another Pony, a character explicitly developed to combine traits and tropes that people typically consider to be sue-ish in an entertaining and likable package. It also helped that he got heaping helpings of butt-monkeydum in the process, which goes in line with your line about laughing at the awesome character.

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