Episode Review: My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic (Season 5, Episode 18) – Crusaders of the Lost Mark
(Warning: This Review contains Spoilers)
So far, Season 5 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has been a mixed bag. The introduction of the Rainbow Power component for the Mane 6, let alone Twilight Sparkle’s new castle and “Cutie Map” on the outskirts of Ponyville, have left many fans still struggling to come to grips with the world changing around them.
Even the episodes have been a mixed grab-bag that have only seemed to bring forth a few strong episodes, and one that acted as a “Thank You” card to the fandom.
Of course, buried in the mix for this season, have been the three little fillies, Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders have definitely evolved over the seasons. Originally seeming like a trouble-making trio akin to Huey, Dewey, and Louie, some key episodes helped develop them into their own characters, and helped capture more fans to their quest to earn their Cutie Marks (aka the symbol on a pony’s flank that tells what their “unique talent” is).
I will admit their last appearance in the episode Appleloosa’s Most Wanted, didn’t do much for me. An episode that played a little too fast-and-loose with its story and comedy antics, I did wonder if we’d have something with the girls that would stand out for this season….and then, Crusaders of the Lost Mark happened.
While trying to come up with a new way to earn their cutie marks, the Crusaders are requested by their classmate Pip(squeak), to help him with their school’s election for Class President.
Their support helps them topple Diamond Tiara’s me-centric reign, but in the moments following her defeat, the Crusaders see Diamond Tiara’s ‘perfect little world’ fall into areas that seem almost impossible to comprehend..leading the three to consider something that seemed impossible to think of as well: helping out Diamond Tiara!
When it comes to Entertainment, every single thing I watch, I secretly ask of it to hit me emotionally. So far, I will say that Crusaders is probably the first episode this season since Amending Fences, that has had me going back to watch it, over and over again.
Crusaders is definitely going to be one of those episodes that will be talked of for some time, and I’m already hearing a lot of people calling it “The Best Episode,” either of Season 5, or “ever.” However, I think some are just on the euphoric high from seeing so many of their wishes granted in the episode.
I can’t help but feel that the episode was the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey walking up to a group of fans and saiying: “I know what you’re all wanting. You want Diamond Tiara to have character development. You want Silver Spoon to stand up for herself. You want the Crusaders to get their Cutie Marks…well, we’re giving it all to you: TODAY!!!”
This episode was written by Amy Keating Rogers, one of the show’s writers, that is probably at the top of most viewer’s lists with quite a few of her episodes. She did write my favorite Season 4 episode (Pinkie Pride), and in a sense, Crusaders feels very much like that episode’s structure, with the musical push of Season 3’s finale, Magical Mystery Cure.
One of the biggest issues I have with the episode, is that it almost struggles to keep too many balls in the air, juggling a storyline that maybe would have worked better over 2-3 episodes. Then again, there is something to be said about structuring the episode into a musical, which was probably the only way to pull it all off in the limited amount of time. Musicals can often get out a lot of information and scenery change, in the span of a few minutes, as we’ve seen from previous, music-centric episodes.
I feel that given all the build-up around the CMC for this episode, that some may plow under what the episode does regarding the character of Diamond Tiara…and the episode does quite a bit with her!
Chantal Strand (DT’s voice-actress) gets a very vocal role here, even showing us she can carry a tune beyond the few bits she sang in Pinkie Pride (she even gets a contemplative bridge scene like Pinkie had too)!
Though she could just be considered a typical mean kid, it was nice to see Rogers delve into reasons why Diamond is who we’ve seen her be. It is intriguing, because many hoped that there could be some form of salvation for Diamond’s “best friend” Silver Spoon…but probably never thought that Diamond Tiara herself could be saved.
Most figured that since Diamond’s father Filthy Rich was a business-pony with a good-natured attitude, her mother probably had some influence on her, and Mrs Spoiled Rich definitely fits that bill.
Spoiled Rich only has two scenes, but she seems the equivalent of a snooty socialite stuck in Ponyville, feeling she is better than everyone else (even vocally doing so in front of Ms Cheerilee, and a number of the kids at school!). Personally, I felt this kind of “mother/smother” storyline, could have explained Sunset Shimmer’s holier-than-thou attitude at the start of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, if we ever explored her character’s backstory.
Probably one of the minor fan-victories in the episode, involved Silver Spoon. After being shouted down and pretty much treated as inferior during Diamond’s election campaign, Silver finally committed the ultimate backstab, by not voting for her “friend”…along with giving DT a few choice words.
But don’t let that distract from the fact that we got some more development of the Crusaders themselves! The episode definitely helps show that they have no qualms about helping out anyone, no matter who they are, or what they look like. Plus, their ability to attempt to help Diamond Tiara, after she’s done nothing but put them down for so long, shows how mature they are.
One strange feeling I got watching the episode, was thinking how it reminded me of a Powerpuff Girls episode. Rogers did write for that series as well…but then again, my feelings may have just been tied to the image of the three girls trying to “save the day,” let alone Diamond reminding me of the spoiled brat character named Princess Morbucks in PPG.
Once again, composer/songwriter Daniel Ingram shows why he is still one of the most exciting components of the series, and Rogers works with him to write lyrics to the 6 songs in the episode. The songs bounce around the realm of showtunes, with many that will probably get stuck in your head quick enough, and leave many online to wonder which is the best (I’m gravitating towards Diamond Tiara’s first big solo piece!).
In the end, Crusaders of the Lost Mark is definitely one of the 5th season’s highlights, even with its faults. I like to think that many who have watched the show during its 5-year run, and who have been keeping close tabs on the girls’ development, could definitely relate to Big Mac’s face in the following scene near the end:
Final Episode Grade: B+
(Final Episode Thoughts: Amy Keating Rogers’ second-to-last written episode for “Friendship is Magic,” gives many fans so much of what they wanted, in “Crusaders of the Lost Mark.” Not only do the fans finally get character development for Diamond Tiara, and a little for Silver Spoon, but the episode also succeeds in finally getting the Cutie Mark Crusaders to where many fans have wanted to see them, for a very long time! Even with so many revelations, and the episode being a game-changing mark in the series for several characters, it does feel like it’s crammed a little too full of information, to be a full “A-game” episode, and could have been more satisfying if the development was stretched out over a few episodes)
(*End of Spoilers*)