When the Mane 6 are not taking up the screen, chances are the Cutie Mark Crusaders have taken the center stage. They’ve had quite a few episodes dedicated to their adventures. Sometimes a story will feature them, but star one of them, such as Sweetie Belle in “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” and Scootaloo in “Flight to the Finish.” This time Apple Bloom takes the spotlight. Season 5 is off to a solid start, with no major complaints to be had thus far. This episode was very good. It’s somewhat disappointing, but while having a good message to come out of it. (Disclaimer, unlike previous reviews, this one will be spoiler-filled.)
Here’s the description from Discovery Family:
Apple Bloom starts to feel the pressure of finally earning her cutie mark, which causes her to have nightmares of her getting one that doesn’t suit her and ruin her life and she doesn’t know if she’ll ever wake up.
The story starts out with an interesting question, “What if somepony doesn’t like their cutie mark?” That’s something which doesn’t come up too often. (That question is answered well enough at the end.) Obviously the mainly hyped thing was Apple Bloom finally getting her Cutie Mark. This is truly monumental. In fact, one of the most monumental occasions of the entire show….except that it didn’t happen. Writer Josh Haber pulls a fast one on the viewer, using that disappointment to deliver a message stating that one shouldn’t be ashamed of the personality and talents that have been given to them. In essence, it doesn’t matter what your cutie mark is, because a true friend will accept you. It’s a quality message, at the expense of being back to square one.
With most of the episode being a dream, most of the positives and negatives I had are rendered null and void. The “Twittermites” are pretty awesome critters. The entire sequence where they pretty much destroy all of Ponyville and the barn was excellent. Though of course, it didn’t technically happen. Because of this, we don’t even know if those insects even exist in the real world. Still, it was a pretty cool animation. Some of the best parts was Apple Bloom in her dream sequences talking to a mysterious force (her shadow) who supposedly fixes her problems, but ends up making them worst. Whoever did the voice effects did a great job of making it sound genuinely frightening. It’s also a solid allegory of how your shadow will always be there trying to make you go the other way, thinking that’s it’s better when it’s actually worst.
The episode shares a similarity with “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” in that Princess Luna shows the error of a fillie’s thinking inside a dream. Obvioiusly she was a highlight, with one of the best quotes from the show yet, “Sometimes we can worry about a thing so much, the fear can make us feel we’re trapped in a nightmare.” Applejack has a nice role in the beginning. She’s known for being the toughest of the ponies, so it’s always nice seeing her soft sisterly side, such as when she sings the lullaby to Apple Bloom here.
Overall, while sadly not delivering the big event, “Bloom and Gloom” remains a solid watch. Whenever a show can use dream sequences to effect it deserves a thumbs up. It has a solid message and also a fantastic quote from Princess Luna, whose surprise appearances never fail to be awesome.