I was a bit surprised to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders take center stage here, because they just appeared two episodes ago in “Bloom and Gloom.” (Though to be fair, one could count that solely as an Apple Bloom episode.) So, this is actually the first traditional CMC adventure of Season 5. Unlike most cartoons where little kids get the focus, the fillies in this show are almost always engaging. Since they’re young, (and basically represent the show’s original target audience) it’s interesting to see them learn lessons as they grow. This time the team once again seek to get their cutie mark by attempting to capture Trouble Shoes. It was entertaining, but somewhat disappointing regarding the antagonist. (Note: spoilers will be in this review.)
Here’s the official description from Discovery Family:
When notorious outlaw Troubleshoes Clyde returns to menace the Appleoosa rodeo, the Cutie Mark Crusaders realize that bringing him to justice might be the key to finally getting their cutie marks.
Since Dave Polsky wrote “Over a Barrel,” it makes sense he would return for another Wild West-themed episode. Since most adventures take place in the village, it’s always a nice change of pace when a story takes place in another setting. The story’s real adventure begins the route of every western: with the sheriff announcing that there’s an outlaw on the loose. Unfortunately, the story quickly shifts gears when the Cutie Mark Crusaders go on an adventure and find out that the outlaw, Trouble Shoes, is actually not bad at all. To me this is a major disappointment since the previews hyped this guy up as some notorious outlaw. The sad thing is that he has the design, the stature, and the voice…but the writing instead goes the other way.
My Little Pony is great for its true lessons, but sometimes it could be best to go another route. In this case, it would have been far more entertaining to see the Crusaders involved with the sheriff and Applejack in apprehending the villain. The klutzy nature of Trouble Shoes is also overplayed. (Slipping on a banana peel.) That’s not to say the lesson wasn’t good, of course. How about other things? Applejack’s cousin Braeburn makes his return from “Over a Barrel,” and he’s definitely a solid character to have around. Though, it is silly how he literally fell asleep after telling Applejack that he would watch the fillies. But, the interaction between cousins is fun to watch. (This does make me think how little the relatives of the Mane 6 have been explored!)
Overall, as far as Cutie Mark Crusader episodes go, I would say that this is in the lower levels. It’s not bad at all, but at the same time not too notable. Trouble Shoes is like a bad impression of Eeyore, which is rather disappointing considering the hype. (The reason why he’s “Apoolosa’s Most Wanted” is because apparently he trips over things, making the town a mess.) The lesson is pretty solid however, and the setting is fun. (We need another Mane 6 adventure in the Wild West.) Applejack was good throughout, and it was definitely cool seeing the sheriff since we rarely see police ponies in Ponyville. (If any at all. Though, I gotta question Sheriff Silverstar not right away setting out to find the missing Crusaders after Applejack let him know the news.)