The first Cutie Mark Crusader episode of Season Two, though it mostly focuses on Apple Bloom.
Today the CMC plan to get cutie marks in bowling. In fact, Apple Bloom is so certain that all three of them will get bowling marks, she starts brainstorming a new name for their group before they even set hoof inside the bowling alley. Her hopes may have been set too high, as Sweetie Belle gets a gutterball, and Scootaloo's attempt sends her ball careening around the alley like a pinball. Apple Bloom's turn is immediately followed by cries of "A bowling cutie mark!" but not for her, as her ball didn't even manage to knock over one pin. The other two are able to shrug off this failure pretty easily, but Apple Bloom is more bummed out than usual. The other two crusaders attempt to cheer up their friend, but nothing works. Not a cupcake, a party, or even a new hat. All Apple Bloom wants to do is wander around in a desolate haze, and she wanders right into the Everfree Forest, despite her friends' warnings.
It doesn't take long for Apple Bloom to run into trouble, though thankfully all that happened was tripping on a rock and chipping her tooth. And fortunately, Zecora was nearby and just happens to have a remedy for chipped teeth. As the potion brews, Apple Bloom vents her frustration at not being able to get a cutie mark, and Zecora prescribes patience. That's something Apple Bloom's heard before, and she doesn't take too kindly to hearing it again. But Zecora's potion does the trick, which gets Apple Bloom to thinking. If Zecora has a potion to heal almost anything, surely she can mix up something to make cutie marks appear. But Zecora just tells her there's no such thing, and goes on to work on her next brew, to bring back a rooster's crow. She adds a few petals from a flower called Heart's Desire, explaining that it will bring forth the rooster's talent. As this fact runs through Apple Bloom's mind, Zecora steps out to pick up another flower she needs for the potion, leaving the young filly alone.
the image of a round ring. According to Apple Bloom, the ring is a loopty hoop, a toy that Applejack made for her a while ago. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon scoff, as hula hooping is hardly a "special" talent, but Apple Bloom shows off a couple of tricks using the hoop, garnering praise from all the other ponies. So amazing are her tricks, in fact, that everyone ignores the school bell. Even Cheerilee insists she continue, though by turning it into a lesson. And so Apple Bloom instructs them all in loopty hooping, before getting sucked into showing off her tricks again.
In the middle of using the hoop to hover, another cutie mark appears on Apple Bloom's flank: spinning plates. Diamond Tiara accuses Apple Bloom of faking the cutie marks, but she's able to spin the plates and the hoop without any trouble. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo enthuse at their luck of being friends with such a special pony, and Apple Bloom takes her act into town, class in tow. She involves the nearby ponies in her tricks (including most of the mane six), and is cheered by all.
After a full day of hooping and plate spinning, Apple Bloom is ready for bed. However, as Applejack discovers, a third cutie mark appears, a pair of shoes, compelling her to tap dance (while still spinning plates and hooping) against her will. Applejack attempts to stop her, but brute force doesn't work. So, it's off to Twilight's, to see if she can help. Luckily for them, she happened to read about strange pony illnesses the other day, and as usual, Spike knows just what book it was in. A few flips, and Twilight has the answer: Apple Bloom's contracted the Cutie Pox, a mysterious illness that caused the ponies afflicted to act out the talents displayed all over their bodies. Unfortunately, there's no known cure but time, as the cutie marks will eventually vanish. But there's no telling how long that will take, and Apple Bloom gains another cutie mark: speaking French. Seeing that the pox is progressing, Twilight realizes they need to see if Zecora can mix up a cure.
sculpting appears, quickly followed by chimney sweeping, accordion playing, lion taming, playing chess, fencing, and more. Watching this crazy display, the other ponies in town start to think Apple Bloom has been cursed, but Spike sets them straight about the cutie pox. Which is worse, as the very mention of the disease's name sends all the ponies back to their homes, bolting the doors. Zecora happens to show up then, and assumes that the ponies have gone back to their zebra-fearing ways. Since they were just about to go see her, Applejack wonders if she has a "zebra sense." But no, Zecora is in town because her supply of Heart's Desire has gone missing. She asks Apple Bloom, but the pony is mum on the subject (too busy window washing).
Zecora does have a cure for the cutie pox: the seeds of truth. When planted and fed true words, they'll grow the cure, she says, giving Apple Bloom the stink eye. This is missed by Applejack, who simply plants the seeds and calls for somepony to tell the truth. No one will speak up, even as Apple Bloom suddenly develops a whirling dervish talent. As the silence grows, Pinkie Pie cracks and confesses to eating three corncakes when she said she only ate two. When nothing sprouts, she confesses it was really six. Still nothing. Finally Apple Bloom, sick of spinning, admits that she didn't really earn her cutie mark. This not only stops her spinning, but the mound with the seeds begins to move. Apple Bloom further admits that she used the Heart's Desire to mix up a potion, and the seeds grow into a plant with a beautiful flower.
Apple Bloom bolts down the flower, and one by one the false cutie marks disappear. The other members of the CMC venture forth to make sure Apple Bloom's okay, and Apple Bloom apologizes for lying to them about her cutie mark. She also apologizes to Zecora for stealing the Heart's Desire, but Zecora forgives her, reminding her that making mistakes is how one grows, after all. And just like that, she's gone.
Twilight asks Apple Bloom to write this week's friendship report, and she accepts. Through her misadventure, she learned that taking a shortcut for what you really want doesn't lead to true satisfaction, since you know that you didn't get it fairly. Being honest (and patient) is the way to go. However, just because she's learned to wait doesn't mean she has to just sit around, and she and the rest of the CMC are off again, this time to see if, based on her little escapade, Apple Bloom might have an aptitude for potion making.
new background ponies, and pony versions of characters from The Big Lewbowski. Plus I just love the concept of a bowling alley in Ponyville. But this episode was a lot of fun in and of itself, even if I don't think I'd rewatch it all that often. It's always nice to see Zecora again. Weird how Apple Bloom was able to mix up a potion that perfectly matched an ancient disease on the first try. Then again, it was probably mostly the effects of the Heart's Desire. Which is probably also why everyone, even the teacher, was so enamored of Apple Bloom's hooping talent. Not only did it make cutie marks (and matching talents) appear, but it compelled everyone to watch, reflecting (perhaps) a desire in Apple Bloom not just to have a cutie mark, but an amazing one at that.
Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are aghast
Twilight with Rarity's 'do