Here's my thoughts on the latest MLP:FiM episode, Apple Family Reunion — reposted from broniesaremagic as usual, and cut for spoilers, but since you clicked through, here you go. :)
Well, I sure loved this one! Very nice story; I enjoyed seeing what was essentially a slice-of-life, rather than something ground-breaking or earth-shaking (not that grand struggles against dark villains like Sombra don't have their place, too).
Plot-wise, the reunion as such went pretty much as expected, of course (really, who didn't see it coming that AJ would be overdoing it in her attempts to create a memorable experience?), but that's not a bad thing. I wish that there'd been more time to portray the "real" reunion, after the raising of the barn, with the Apple family just spending time together and enjoying themselves, but I know it's difficult to fit the show into its allotted 22 minutes as it is already.
I'm also glad to see that the show's (still) not shying away from portraying emotion, e.g. when Applejack was crying after everything came crashing down (the collapsing barn was a good metaphor for reunion up to that point, BTW). I very much felt for her; she worked so hard, and she wanted it to be the Best Reunion Ever, and then everything went wrong. OTOH, I think it's testament to both Applejack's strength and her personality that she spit in her proverbial hooves, rolled up her sleeves and fixed things: the barn, and the reunion with it (still the same metaphor, but reversed now!). Just like her valuing honesty, and just like the work ethic and dedication she's displayed in many episodes (including this one), I think this is one of her defining character traits: never give up. And if you want results... well, you'd better get to work!
Speaking of the raising of the barn, the song was lovely; upbeat, uptempo, and uplifting, the perfect song for working together at a family reunion and raising a barn and enjoying yourself in the process. And Applejack also deserved a song of her own. :) (Looking forward to the remixes that will no doubt come, too. And I still hope there's gonna be an official collection of MLP:FiM songs on CD some time — there isn't one so far, right?)
Seeing Granny Smith as a young mare was nice. She was a very pretty pony (I always thought that based on the old pictures previously seen of her already), and the family resemblance to AJ is definitely there. And it was also nice to see that she's not being portrayed as a stereotypical oldtimer, essentially alien to the rest of the world, with the old-cootiness ratcheted up to 11 — the way that Abe Simpson is, for instance. She may be old, and she may be a bit quaint at times (e.g. when making zap apple jam), but she's still just as much a normal pony as everypony else. That said, I do find her accent hard to understand — does anyone else have this problem? (I'm particularly curious to hear from folks that are actually native English speakers there.)
Of course I also enjoyed seeing the rest of the Apple family — including Babs. I liked her in this episode, and I'm glad to see that she's part of the show's continuity now, and that she and Applebloom and the rest of the CMC are indeed good friends now. (Also, speaking of Granny Smith and Babs: heh, 7-legged races!)
What else? There were quite a few funny references; the painting inspired by "American Gothic" caught my eye, and I couldn't help but feel that both Dashie on the raincloud à la Derpy in "The Last Roundup" (complete with lightning!) and Applejack with a wet mane were deliberate nods to bronies. Yay! :D
And heh, "fruitbats". ^^ The strawberry bat was awfully cute; for that matter, so was Big Macintosh with his nostrils flaring (when he smelled those apple fritters). ^^
I also liked having the episode with a letter to Celestia again; it's a nice tradition, and I'm sure Celestia appreciates these continuing reports. (And what's more, I like the fact that it acknowledges the ongoing backstory of the show; like Babs' appearance, it again shows that continuity is cared about!)