(This is a review I wrote for my school on season three's premiere ep's.)
Good things:1.The Crystal Empire and ponies. I've always been a fan of world building episodes,and this is one of the best examples of that. The design of the Crystal Castle and all the little houses that reside in the empire are just beautiful. It made me want to live there! I also love that fact that such a marvellous Empire is more or less a prison for our main characters, considering the fact that King Sombra is waiting just outside of the empire. The Crystal ponies also make this episode shine (no pun intended) in my opinion. they just have really cool designs,and you end up feeling really sorry for them,but are also kind of unnerved by them. I especially love the ballad of the Crystal Empire,since it we got to learn about even More of the culture and some of it's historical aspects.
2. Some of the things about King Sombra. He's intimidating. I love his design,and he has a great presence when he's on screen. Heck, he has a great presence off screen as well,since the Crystal ponies talk about him so much. You can really feel the dread when this guy finnaly makesh is way into the Empire at the end of the ep.
3. This was Twilight's episode. Above all else,this was the aspect I loved about this ep the most. Twilight's character development was terrific here,they made her as likeable as ever, but still gave her flaws,such as seeming to only care about passing her test. By the end of the episode,you really want to see her succeed,and when she doesn't save the day herself,you can feel the elif but slight disappointment that her character probably feels. Which makes it all the more rewarding when you find out that her letting the honour be Spike's was actually part of the test. Twilight has always been a great protagonist,and this episode really showcased that. This episode was Twilight's,and no pony else's.
Honourable mention:That friggin door scene. What an emotional moment for both Spike and Twilight. The part where you see Twilight's fear was simple but affective. I say simple only because I feel like we have already established this scene in other episodes like Lesson zero. The plot device where she feels like she failed Celestia is nothing new. But when it looks like Celestia disowns her, That really hits you hard. it doesn't help that immediately after we get a pretty dark vision of Twilight actually failing her test via stain glass window. But while Twilight's scene was sad,spikes scene was friggin tragic. It was just Spike begging Twilight not to send him away. We didn't even actually see his vision,but his sincere and heartbroken reaction is enough to make an impression. This scene also ended beautifully,showing us just how close Spike and Twilight have become over the past two seasons and it let's us reflect on just what it took for them to get here. It's simply a beautiful moment to a wonderful scene.
Bad things:1. Most of the things about King Sombra. Now don't get me wrong,King Sombra had a purpose to be in this episode, and he served his purpose well. But unfortunately,he's not that memorable as a villain. Whereas the prevouse villains are what made people love the episodes they were in because of their personalities, King Sombra is just…evil. And that's pretty much al there is to it. His backstory's not that interesting, his motivations aren't that interesting, even his design,which I praised earlier,gets less interesting because for most of the episode he's just a big dark cloud with a paper-looking king Sombra head. (Or sometimes just his eyes.) And after all that,what can they possibly do to make this guy even More cliched? How 'bout defeating his the Exact Same Way you defeated all the other villains!? I'll admit,it's always epic looking to go out in a big explosion, but come on,this is the fourth time in a row that they did this! (and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon,Sunset Shimmer in Equestria girls was defeated the same kind of way.) it's just lazy writing in my opinion. And for a show that I often praise as being creatively written,that's disappointing.
2: "Just a test!?" Really? The entire adventure revolves around a test? To me,that makes things seem less dangerous. I feel like it would have been more interesting to have had Celestia just say "The Crystal Empire has returned, and I know little to nothing about it. Go make sure it's safe and/or inhabitable." But instead, it's just a test designed to see if Twilight's ready to move on to the next level of her studies. (which I won't give away here, but trust me, you will need some Red Bull.) I just thought it was a poor way to execute what could have been an even more epic and exiting story.
So that's the Crystal Empire. Initially,I didn't like this one. I actually thought it kinda sucked when I first watched it. But after thinking about it and watching it again ,I've discovered that there are some good things about it. The characters are still the same ones we love,and the Crystal Empire, as i said before, is an AWESOME addition to Equestria. Out of all four of the two parters that we have,I'd say this is my least favourite,but it's still not all that bad. Here's to a hopefully awesome season 3!!!!!