Oh, and happy Easter, I guess, if you're into that sort of thing. But below the break, we talk about only the important stuff: my opinions--arranged mostly as a mass of "here's something I think"s rather than as a cohesive review or summary--on the S7 opener!
And Carrot Top.
-I've honestly been dreading this season more than any other that I remember--though I know I was pretty down going into season four as well, so maybe I've just forgotten some of the apathy I felt then. But the thing is, I still don't enjoy Starlight Glimmer, I still can't really enjoy the show when she's playing a major role because they screwed up her reformation (and everypony's reaction to it) so badly, and as a result? I knew coming in that two Starlight-centric episodes was not going to be something I enjoyed. I wasn't lying up above: about 90% of the reason I convinced myself to watch these was to look for Best Pony cameos, and most of the rest was a combination of obligation and a desire to keep up-to-date for fandom-related purposes.
-I wish I could say I was pleasantly surprised by either episode... but I wasn't. Neither were awful in a void, and both had individual elements I enjoyed, but neither were able to transcend the fundamental flaws with which previous cannon had saddled them, for me. It's hard to get excited about Starlight completing her friendship studies when Starlight's been shown to be such a ridiculous failure at friendship in the first place, isn't it? It's telling that, when pressed for a single friendship lesson Starlight had actually learned, ever, Twilight drew a blank, and instead awkwardly segued to how she'd shown "leadership" when she helped take down the changelings. I guess bossiness is an acceptable substitute for friendship these days--though Starlight herself has become pretty darn passive, as we see in All Bottled Up. But we'll come to that; let's talk about Celestial Advice first.
That's right, Carrot Top scored herself a free front-row ticket to the award ceremony! It was surprisingly easy; all she had to do was sign a form indicating that she was willing to stand next to "a bug-eyed green monstrosity that, not two weeks ago, would as soon have devoured you as looked at you." There were surprisingly few volunteers, especially considering the quality of the after-award canapes!
It is, admittedly, hard to appreciate a ceremony when one feels compelled to stare straight ahead while trying to project as little emotion as possible, just in case somepo- something gets hungry. "Be the vapid used-chariot salespony, be the vapid used-chariot salespony," Carrot Top repeats to herself like a mantra. "Spike's full of love; eat him first. Be the vapid used-chariot salespony..."
-One thing I'll definitely give the episode credit for: Celestia. When I first watched it, I was disappointed but not surprised by how emotive she was; she is over a thousand years old, after all, and canon be damned, I can't stop picturing her as someone who's basically calm and collected when the world isn't about to end. But after thinking about it a bit, I reckon that most of what we saw was probably an act; she's being very obviously sarcastic (playfully so) in places to guide Twilight down from her panicking, after all. Why should we assume her depiction of herself nervously pacing around the castle and talking to herself isn't equally... let's say, "exaggerated?" We know Celestia's not above out-and-out lying to help a pony; why not make up a relatable story to get Twi back on the right track?
-Plus, "There's no wrong way to fantasize" is the single best line of either episode.
-Discord, on the other hand, felt wasted. One joke, stretched too far, and too little for his character to do. I am always disappointed when Discord gets wasted, but... ah well.
Of course, just because Carrot Top had to stand by the ex-ling at the ceremony, that didn't mean she was going to actually mingle with the nasty buggers. Her and the ponies self-segregated the very instant it was socially acceptable to do so, and staked out a few tables for "normal folk" to eat and chat at. Caramel's suggestion that play paper football with Thorax's antlers for goalposts was considered, but quickly discarded. Partly out of desire not to cause an international incident, but mostly because he was moving around too much.
-Maybe the most annoying thing about this episode is that it really did trick me into thinking that something--something would be done to make Starlight more palatable for me. I knew they weren't going to ship her off forever (she's in the very next ep, after all), but I did start getting excited about moving her away from the castle, maybe getting back to the main six, and to hopefully at least stop bringing up every single time she's on-screen that she's lauded for completely failing at all the basic precepts with the main six spent the first couple of seasons learning. Very bait-and-switch-y, to have it all come back to status quo at the end.
What's this? Carrot Top front and center of a still shot? At last, it's her chance to shine, her chance to--
-Now, on to All Bottled Up, aka "at least Trixie's still funny."
-Okay, there was more than that; Snowflake was wonderful, most notably. But really, this felt like a whole lot of filler from the main six--isn't it really easy to picture a S1-S2 episode built around them all going through an adventure room, learning to work together, etc.? But instead, we got a non-arc out of them that ended up being nothing but setup for a blah song (I'm really annoyed by how, in the last two seasons the animation for the songs has gotten so lazy; the repetition here and in Spice Up Your Life, the lack of backgrounds and stock poses in The Times They Are A Changeling, and so on). Meanwhile, the rest of the episode is built around Starlight trying to use magic to solve her problems instead of interacting with another pony as equals. GEE, WHEN HAS THIS EVER COME UP BEFORE. I feel like Starlight is S1 Fluttershy re-learning not to be scared every other week, except if Fluttershy also was a sociopath and consistently avoided any consequences for her actions.
-But like I said: at least Trixie was amusing. I didn't think some of the more valley girl moments fit her all that well, but the self-absorption and smugness make her a great foil.
-There's probably a lot more I could say, but really, these two episodes felt like 45 minutes of blah to me. I didn't hate them, but I can't say I really enjoyed watching either of them, either. And I'm certain I'm going to dislike the Flurry Heart episode that's up next (even if the preview clips confirm that Carrot Top will be in it!). Well, here's hoping that *looks at calendar* April 29th will bring the first FiM episode of the year that Chris can get excited about.