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So, November 23rd has come, and so has the episode. The hype is still coming, but the premiere is out. Anyway, this a review/summary/critique that is long because... well, just because. A lot of things have been revealed and confirmed- leaks, etc. All these are inside- and spoilers, of course (duh).

SPOILERS from HERE DOWN.

Well, the episode starts out with that 30-second clip from the Hub. Twilight is struggling to fly, and she lands herself on a tree and in the dirt, making the MMC flight scene just a little bit... odd. Applejack calls Twilight "Princess", to which she expresses distaste. This line kind of gets rid of that "oh-so-special-and-different" Twilight that many were dreading after the last season. After this, Twilight's friends go to Ponyville to set up for the Summer Sun Celebration, while Twilight does the exact same thing in Canterlot. We get a little bit more flying humor and a typical Spike while Twilight worries about contrasting royal duties with her friends. Celestia appears and talks to Twilight about the Summer Sun Celebration while Luna raises the moon (one of the released pics comes from here), saying she disliked having to perform it in absence of her sister. Luna half-raises the moon, and Celestia walks offscreen. A vine spouts from the floor and captures Celestia. This has a good setup, so far. Twilight wakes up to the half-sun, half-moon (from the promo) and is shocked to learn the Celestia and Luna are gone. She gets her first taste of real leadership, much to her fright, while commanding the royal guards. She and Spike fly to Ponyville, while Twilight's friends try to deal with the Everfree spreading. Twilight conludes that the strange and chaotic events are evidences of Discord's handiwork, and take the Elements to stop him. They summon Discord while he's taking a bath and singing "Winter Wrap Up", and confront him while Discord... is Discord. He protests his innocence, but the friends are ready to imprison him again. Fluttershy stops them, and Discord suggests they talk to Zecora. (Another released pic here). She provides a random potion that only Alicorns can use (then why would she have it?) so she can look into the past and figure out what caused this. Twilight uses dark magic on it and drinks to see Nightmare Moon's original transformation (animatic). Many of the leaked pictures fit in here. Nightmare Moon chases and injures Celestia, but Celestia uses the Elements to banish her. Interestingly, the Element of Magic is still shaped like a star. Twilight returns but is befuddled, so she drinks more potion, and witnesses Discord's first defeat. We also get to see which of the sisters had which Elements, as well as Discord hilariously talking off Celestia's tail. Discord's first pose when turned to stone is explained- he's laughing. Twilight looks even father back, and finds the sisters first discovering the Elements. And they are alicorns, so.... They take the Elements from the Tree, Celestia explaining that the Tree keeps the Everfree Forest under control. Twilight realizes this and takes off into the forest with her friends. Eventually, the tell Twilight to turn around so that if they are not successful, Equestria can still have a ruler. We see some great Princess vs. friend here. Twilight returns to Ponyville, but Discord convinces her to go back. They find the tree, and permanently relinquish the Elements to destroy the vines. Twilight then is given a box with six keys, and Celestia and Luna are freed. What's inside and how to open it is probably going to be the drive of this season. When they return, Discord explains that he created the vines from some seeds just prior to his first defeat, and that they couldn't invade because the tree resisted them for a thousand years. Twilight is angry to not be told, but Discord has an excuse, as usual. Twilight, Luna, and Celestia all perform at the Celebration, and Twilight does her own flying explosion, which is kind of like a Sonic Rainboom but shaped like a magenta star. Oh, I think Derpy is here too.

Ok, so after that, what do I think? I thought this was an interesting intro to this season. It seems there is going to be some getting out of Ponyville (Daring Don't, Castle-Mania, Power Ponies), so I'm definitely looking forward to that. This is probably to find the keys for the box. McCarthy did much better with the rushed plots (except where Twilight leaves and returns to her friends) and everything was much more developed. As a pattern, the villian was from a thousand years ago. Twilight is definitely developed here (yay!), and totally shows no indication of this Mary Sue thing. All of her friends are the same friends, but Applejack has a dominance of speaking lines. The Elements going away was to be expected-they make for redundant plotlines. The Nightmare Moon scene had me thinking it was the present, but that is explained with out disagreeing with S1E1. Finally, we'll have a drive for this season- the box (of all power). The only thing that kind of disappointed me was the villian not having any lines, instead of Sombra's five (or six, can't remember), and something with rear ends (the vines whack Big Mac in the rear multiple times when he tries to uproot them, and Discord rubs his butt with a towel in Twilight's face-think there were some other times as well). In all, I'm ready for this season, and don't think it will stink. 8.5/10

What do you think? Did I make you go tl;dr? Did you like how the episode played out? Let me know!