A fairly strong entry into the third season.
Around the time it aired, "One Bad Apple" was one of the more well-liked episodes of the third season. It continues the trend of breaking out of the rut the CMC had been in previously, and boasts an entertaining story with good character development. The new character, Babs Seed, proved fairly popular, and the episode remains the runner-up for the best CMC episode.
The new character, Babs Seed, is fairly well fleshed-out. Her initial personality displays a fair amount of personality, which makes her decision to start bullying more believable, especially with the explanation given later. Her character development away from being a bully may have come too fast, but it still provides possible insight into what may cause bullying. Even if the character is not a perfect representation of the many factors that can lead to bullying, Babs' own motivations make her a good character in her own right.
The show taking on bullying was perhaps inevitable, partially due to its target audience and partially due to its growing ambition. The story is a commendable take on the subject, and as mentioned provides some good insight on a potential motivation of bullies. The subject is perhaps too complicated to take on in a 23 minute cartoon, but the writers still do a good job of it.
The story is more notable for its strong evolution of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Their lack of a cutie mark is no longer the main cause for a conflict. In this episode, instead the cutie marks simply serve to set up the main conflict. From here, the Cuite Mark Crusaders learn that by taking revenge, they become bullies themselves, a lesson that they seem to take to heart. What makes these later CMC episodes so much better than the first batch is that actions actually have consequences and characters actually learn things. It makes for considerably more satisfying stories than the CMC repeatedly failing to understand patience.
The song, "Bad Seed", is widely regarded as the best of the season, and I have to agree-though, that's partially a result of the relative weakness of most of the other songs this season. It's a catchy little tune with some fairly clever wordplay, and the sequence features one particular image that's become famous for its cuteness. "Bad Seed" is probably one of the most memorable songs of the season.
Now, there are of course some laughs to be had. This episode is relatively pun-heavy, and while that will induce many groans, it also brings with it some excellent comedic timing. "One Bad Apple" isn't the most joke-dense episode, but what is there is pretty funny, and timed fairly well.
This episode is pretty good. Characters grow, some laughs are had, and there's a great song. It's really hard to pinpoint much that pushes this episode up and beyond to make it "great", but it's thoroughly enjoyable and the CMC are characterized better than they've ever been up to this point. As far as S3 episodes go, this one's been relatively forgotten, and it does live in the shadow of more interesting episodes, but it's a strong episode nonetheless.