The Filly Who Wouldn’t Grow Up: “Bloom & Gloom” review

I think I may be afraid of growing up. And that is a terrifying revelation to come to in your late 20s.

This is something I only recently noticed. Because next year, I’ll be graduating college for the second time, and I have no idea what’s going to happen. After all, my last college diploma didn’t do so well for me, if I’m honest.

For a start, I’ll have to move out of the college dorms, and I have no idea where I could move to and be able to pay for. I mean, if I don’t find a well-paying job, I might have to live is some shitty share house again! I don’t want that! Mainly because I don’t want another surly and obnoxious roommate whose major hobby is calling me a ‘fag’!

Though that’s unlikely to happen, regardless.

But can that really be defined as a fear of growing up? I’m not sure. I think it’s just fear of the unknown… fear of uncertainty… fear that I won’t be able to support myself. I’m not afraid of working, I’m afraid of not working. And given how the economy has been going these past few years, it’s not looking up.

But more than that, what if I get a job I hate? Alright, I’m getting paid, but I’m miserable at the same time, so it wouldn’t really be worth it. There comes a stage where you have to admit that the job you have is worse than starvation. I really hope I never reach that point. Then again, I’m learning IT, which is slowly making me want to live among the Amish.

Am I alone here? Almost certainly not. There are probably many people around the world genuinely afraid of what their future holds… and many ponies.

Yes, Apple Bloom. The precocious little filly who’s been spending the last several years desperate to lose her virginity– Uh, I mean, get her cutie mark, is now deathly afraid of it. Oh how times change…

I know what you’re thinking, does this count as a major character shift? I don’t think so. Sure, her last major appearance dealt with her proving how responsible and ‘grown up’ she is, as her sister continues to talk down to her. So this episode, showing her suddenly feeling deathly afraid of that very thing might seem like inconsistent characterization. In reality, it’s just a new revelation hitting her like a ton of shrapnel. All triggered by news from Manehatten: Babs Seed got her cutie mark.

As we can see, it’s a pair of scissors.

“So, she’s good at cutting stuff?” – Scootaloo

Well, she did look pretty chavish. And she’s from ersatz-New York, so do the math. I’m just glad it wasn’t a switchblade.

I kid of course. No, her special talent is cutting hair, which comes slightly out left field, but alright…

Anyway, they discuss the implications of this. Such as the idea of being surrounded by manehair all day.

“Can you imagine getting stuck with a cutie mark you didn’t like?” – Sweetie Belle

I thought the whole point of a cutie mark was that that was unlikely to happen.

Then there’s the fact that Babs can’t be a Cutie Mark Crusader anymore.

She’s expelled from the Crusaders? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just promote her to ‘senior’ member? Or maybe they mean she graduated, and isn’t an active part of the Crusaders anymore. But she could still take on an advisory role, couldn’t she?

I’m probably overanalyzing this.

But all their discussion starts to unnerve Apple Bloom, and I assume Sweetie Belle picks up on this, which is why she tries to reassure Apple Bloom by saying that her cutie mark is likely to be apple-related. And how can that go wrong?

Then Scootaloo starts to list the ways that could go wrong.

Girl needs to talk less.

Of course, I’m assuming quite a bit, because otherwise, this entire opener is a bit of a non-sequitur. I mean, we have Apple Bloom’s emotional shift, going from abject excitement to total anxiety in a matter of seconds. Then, Sweetie Belle telling Apple Bloom not to worry, when she didn’t really look that worried about anything at that moment. One has to fill in a lot of the blanks in their head.

Later that night, it’s bedtime for Apple Bloom, and as she cries about all her anxieties, Applejack calms her down and tells her to sleep, since all this can wait until the morning.

The next morning…

Spoiler warning: it’s a dream. Of course it’s a dream, there’s no way she’d get her cutie mark in her sleep, unless she found her special talent in a dream, and she didn’t, so it’s a dream.

But what is it a cutie mark of? Well obviously, she’s a fumigator. And it just so happens there’s a fumigator nearby who’s so happy that he can retire by teaching Apple Bloom how to be a pest pony.

Her job is to catch Twittermites.

They’re some type of electric fly. And so far, the only creature on this show to be named after a website. Which is why they also sound like some hideous disease. Catch Twittermites, and you’ll start developing hashtags.

So the old pest pony releases a swarm of them, and leaves it up to Apple Bloom to catch them all. Which she does, and she’s good at it.

Badass.

But then, for some reason, two idiots show up.

And of course they tease her about her cutie mark. Which they really have no right to do, as I’ve mentioned before, since they have the world’s shittest cutie marks. And you’d think Apple Bloom would use that against them, but apparently, she doesn’t think of it, and instead just runs away in tears, knocking a jar of Twittermites to the ground.

She eventually recovers, and finds herself in a dark and gloomy forest, where she laments her shit cutie mark. Which causes a mysterious droning voice to ask her why she’s keeping it.

Then, at Apple Bloom’s request, all it takes is a gust of wind to erase her new cutie mark.

Starlight Glimmer? I mean, that was my first thought. It’s a similar M.O..

And on that note, is this going to be a recurring theme throughout the season? With ponies getting their cutie marks erased for various reasons? Because if so, it’s going to get old.

Nonetheless, the now thoroughly de-marked Apple Bloom arrives back in town, to see it has all gone to shit.

Ah! The Twittermites have escaped! They’re destroying everything! They’re sending abuse to Anita Sarkeesian! It’s horrible! And it’s up to Apple Bloom to deal with it, since the only other pest pony in town scarpered.

Except, she’s not a pest pony anymore…

So, she’s suddenly become shit. She could have used her talent to save the town, but gave it up because it wasn’t what she wanted.

… There’s a lesson there.

And eventually, after her tenth or twelfth electrocution, she wakes up… with another cutie mark.

Alright, potion making! And she’s excited. So she rushes off to tell her friends, who are happy for her… then they expel her from the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

How dare that bitch get her mark before us.

Yeah, it’s another dream. And this becomes especially apparent once she’s kicked out of the clubhouse (the clubhouse on her family’s farm, I might add) and immediately finds herself in the same forest as before, being harassed by the same anti-cutie-mark ghost, as she laments how her cutie mark cost her her friends. But then again, if they shun you for having a cutie mark, they’re pretty shit friends.

So of course Ghost Glimmer wipes Apple Bloom’s dream mark, and when she returns to her friends to celebrate, turns out they earned their mark in the interim. And what are their marks? Well, we don’t get to see them, because they’re subtly placed out-of-frame. I’m sorry, did I say ‘subtly’? I meant ‘awkwardly.’ But regardless, it leaves Apple Bloom alone in the clubhouse.

It’s obvious the dream is intentionally fucking with her at this point.

She wakes up and the third dream just gets ridiculous.

What does a dolphin have to do with anything? But more importantly, it’s not an apple. So her dream family evicts her.

The fourth dream goes completely batshit, and that’s when a familiar face finally steps in.

She come back to remind her of something. Something she once knew… I just hope she has something more elegant than shooting Apple Bloom in the head.

By the way, that was a fucking good film!

Yes, it’s Princess Dom Cobb again. This time, waiting until the final act before making her appearance. And good on her, because the first time, she overshadowed our heroine; and the second time, Sweetie Belle really needed some direct guidance so Luna’s role was necessary. This time, all she’s really there to do is calm Apple Bloom down, so she doesn’t lose herself and become an old mare, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.

No, I will not stop with the Inception references, shut up!

So Luna manages to end Apple Bloom’s dream-panic, by telling her that the anti-cutie-mark ghost was actually her shadow. Some type of subconscious projection shadow thing. I mean, I get the fact that it’s a subcon, but what I don’t get is why it took the form of Apple Bloom’s own shadow. I guess to symbolize the fact that one can’t run from their fears?

I’m guessing…

Anyway, the two of them start talking, and with a few choice words, Luna reassures Apple Bloom that her fears are unfounded. Which, given that it was never really a rational fear in the first place, should’ve taken a bit more than a short chat to get over. I mean, we didn’t even get a fight scene in a rotating hallway– This is bullshit!!!

Although, genuinely, one would’ve expected them to go over the past three dreams, and replay them in a much more rational way. Where Apple Bloom would save the town and earn the admiration of everypony in the land. Then we shift to seeing Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, not shunning Apple Bloom, but congratulating her, and then continuing their Crusading with Apple Bloom as their loyal assistant. And finally, we’d see Apple Bloom’s family embracing her talent for blowing water out of her head. All this would happen with Luna saying, ‘doesn’t this make more sense?’

But instead, all we get is a brief chat before moving on to another crucial issue: Is Apple Bloom alone in being so insecure?

Well, no, and Luna proves it, by showing her a few more dreams.

Again, is there no concept of dream invader/dream invadee confidentiality? There should be!

Anyway, yes, Apple Bloom’s friends are also having anxiety dreams. Though, honestly, I don’t see why Scootaloo would fear becoming a baker. Seems like it would be a job that one could easily enjoy.

Anyway, they all meet in a projection of the clubhouse to discuss their anxieties, which is certainly new. I mean we’ve seen Luna enter the dreams of others, but we’ve never seen her extend this power to getting others to share the dream.

She really is Dom Cobb!

And so, with very little discussion, or even any real explanation between them, they all agree to get over their ridiculous anxieties, and move on.

So, with all their fears alleviated, they wake up, finally content, and the episode ends. And what did I think?

One of the problems with the first episode showcasing Luna’s dreaming powers, was that there was no reason for it. Her role could’ve easily been replaced by Applejack, without having to take it into Scootaloo’s dream. It was really just a bizarre gimmick. The second episode, in contrast, had a reason. Luna used the dream to show Sweetie Belle the various scenarios that could play out. She went quite a bit over the top, but I think it was necessary to drive the point into the young filly’s head.

In this episode, Luna was also there for a reason, to help Apple Bloom escape from the dream, and show her, quite convincingly, that she is not alone. It wasn’t shoehorned in, and it felt needed. She also waited until the end, I’m guessing because she hoped that Apple Bloom would figure this stuff out on her own, which prevented her from overshadowing our hero.

And more than that, there seems to be a thematic link between the three episodes, and that is: Fear. Scootaloo had to deal with the fear of being perceived as weak, particularly toward her surrogate big sister. Sweetie Belle had to deal with the fear of being overshadowed by her big sister. And Apple Bloom had to deal with a fear of rejection, from the town, her friends, and her family, particularly her big sister. And all three of them worked through these fears through their dreams. And I like that. Especially since it’s not uncommon for one’s fears to play out in their dreams regardless of anything else. So it makes a lot of sense.

But in the end, how does this episode compare with the other two dream-based episodes? Well it’s certainly a close second to For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils, but is still miles ahead of Sleepless in Ponyville. This was a great story, with a great premise, but a few of the scenes fell apart and were a bit rushed, particularly those close to the end. It’s like you can tell which parts were written close to deadline.

But overall, it’s an enjoyable little story, and I really liked it. But then again, I’m biased toward the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They are my favourite characters, after all.

But the question that I know is on everyone’s mind is this: Did I learn anything? And I think I did. I learned that no matter what the future holds, I’ll be able to muster through it. Then again, this is something I already learned a few years ago, when I nearly had a complete mental breakdown. For those curious, it was shortly before the season three première. And no, I’m pretty sure My Little Pony wasn’t actually responsible. It was a bunch of other stuff stressing me out, and scaring the shit out of me, that required a major change in my life which eventually led me to enrolling in College once again. And that, I think, placed me in a better situation than I was before.

But the point is, no matter where I end up after graduation, I think I’ll be able to get through it. And at least I know that at worst, I’m not alone. Which is something, isn’t it?

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