If you value your purity, do not thread the internet. Not because of spoilers, but because this episode had the liberty of using things like tenticles and Discord in a maid outfit, so you should probably expect stuff like that popping out of the clopper side of the fandom. But because this site doesn't like dirty humor, I will not be making jokes about the Princesses and their encounters with thorny tenticles.
Anyways, back to the episode, I find it rather humorous and weird that all of a sudden Twi can't fly worth a damn despite the fact that she did so well in season 3 finale. But hey, lets be fair, she could have crashed through the window. The first half of the episode is spent doing pretty much Twilight being melodramatic about her position saying that it just doesn't feel right. Well I don't know what would give you that idea! Hasbro has a sneaky way of making everyone accept something, but you seem immune to the affects. She says something is missing when her friends go back to Ponyville to prepare. So it's kind of humorous when she gets her letter from her friends she pretty much tosses it to the side and says "It's nothing". Way to throw away that "missing thing" you stupid twat!
So because the princesses are inept in everything they do they get taken away by vines and the everfree starts to overrun. Suspecting this is Discord's doing they bring him in to question, but he claims he's innocent, though having way to much fun with it. Gee, I wonder who the antagonist is. It might be Zecora for all we know; well no, that's not it either, because sadly, she's the most useless part of the episode.
You'd think someone who lives in the Everfree would have more interest in saving her home would do more, but all she really did was bring plot device potion for Twilight to use her dark magic on (which I'm still wondering why she can use that with ease) and turn it pure as she enters a flashback. Literally, all Zecora was there for was to send Twilight on an acid trip. I know Zecora is hard to write with all the rhyming and stuff, but if you're going to use her, actually use her.
We are then taken back to the past where we see what all went down, and it's a nice history rehash of what happened pre-season 1. It was also nice to see Celestia back when she didn't suck as hard, and just only mildly was bad. Development wise, we learned a little more about them and the world and I appreciate their attempts to do so, even if it was kind of forced.
And then we reenter the Everfree, and this is where I have to adress this whole Applejack thing. For one, she started having this defacto leadership kind of vibe going on with her, which kind of makes me think she wants to be the new leader when Twi is off to Alicorn land. But also, and I swear, every... other... damn... scene where she's talking to Twilight they close up on them with Applejack sounding like Katara talking down to Aang. Yes, we get it AJ! You're really really close to Twilight. You starting to act a little... I don't know... obsessive. This might just be my goggles on, but does anyone else think that she was a little too close to Twilight. It's like one frame they're talkng, then AJ wraps her hooves around her, and in the final one they're eye to eye with AJ's half lidded and her whispering sweet nothings.
The tree for the elements is all that was needed to solve the problem, which honestly served no real challenge. It kind of deus ex'd itself together. Though it does make an interesting situation, as now they no longer have their elements (until the season finale ;) ) and now they need keys to unlock the truth that they call making a season long overarching story. We also find out that the antagonist was... gasp... Discord! Well no crap! I could have told you that 20 minutes earlier. Hell, Spike practically told you! Is it me, or has Spike gotten slightly smarter while the others got slightly dumber? At least in this episode. The ending is also pretty abrupt. Like, really abrupt, but that's not really that bad since throughout the episode, much didn't really go on anyways.
I'm conflicted with this episode actually. I watched it and really enjoyed it, but the more i think about it, I feel as if the redemption sticker I was gonna tag on hasn't 100 percent been earned yet. There were too many conveniances for the sake of conveniances, and I really think the characters had a bottle of OOC on hand. Why the bloody hell would you send Twilight away? They tried to validate it, but it really doesn't work when you have another princess in another castle that could easilly fit the bill if things go bad. But overall, despite my gripes, this episode was pretty good. Far better than MMC and a hell of a lot better than EG, but it still falters from it's own plot. It's so close... so close to getting it right, but it falls just short of being on that season 2 plane, a plane I doubted they would reach to begin with but it kinda hurts seeing a season just at the tip and barely able to reach because a chain is holding it back.
Also notice how Alitwi hasn't come up. Yeah, that isn't even an issue in the episode. It was actually subtly done despite her being alicorn princess.
The final verdict on the episode is a 7.5/10. It's a pretty good episode, that could have been better given a stronger writting and maybe another episode to add onto it. It's a good promise for the season, and I think it can raise on up, but as an opening, it's one of the weakest so far (next to Crystal Empire). It has a way to go, but seaon 4 is on the right track. Let's hope it stays that way.