Daniel Ingram, I love you. Has any episode of MLP:FiM ever featured so many beautiful songs?
I'll be honest and say that although I tried very hard to refrain from forming any opinion until after I'd watched the episode, I was not sure about the whole "Twilight becomes an alicorn" thing. In a way, I'm still not sure what to make of it, but I can accept that it's the way things are now.
I DO have to applaud the show for moving forward, that's for sure. Many series portray an ever-static world with characters that never change, progress or (often enough) even age; I'm very glad that MLP:FiM is different. I never thought that this was what was in store for Twilight, mind you; I imagined that she would move on to become a member of Celestia's court, serving in various positions, as an ambassador, on diplomatic missions etc., and that she'd eventually end up as a high-ranking advisor, the princess's trusted vizier, but while I never thought she might become an alicorn, I much prefer this over her staying Celestia's-student-learning-about-magic-i
It's been said that part of the reason why this has happened is that it'll give Hasbro even more opportunities to sell pony toys. I think this is one reason why people reacted negatively to it; they felt it would compromise the series, that Hasbro was willing to sacrifice the show on the altar of sales figures. I think it may well be true that Hasbro wants to sell (even) more toys and that the decision to make Twilight an alicorn was at least partly due to that, but at the same time, I think they recognize that the series is what defines the characters and the world of Equestria, and that any changes for the worse made to the series would strike at the core of the MLP brand.
There's another reason why people have had reservations about this change that I've seen, and that is that it's been seen as an abrupt, sudden change. Of course, when you think about it, it's unclear exactly you'd foreshadow such a change. I think Hasbro/DHX actually have tried to cast Twilight more into leadership roles over the course of the series, and have tried to have her grow from a bookish unicorn that's inexperienced in the real world to a more experienced pony, mature and skilled in dealing with people, capable of bringing out the best in them: but it's not been so explicit, and either way having Twilight become an alicorn and a princess is not the culmination you'd naturally expect there.
But I'm wondering if it all hasn't been planned for a long time, still, for at least one reason: her name. Luna and Celestia are the princesses of night and day, respectively — isn't it amazing how well twilight fits in there? And it was Twilight who was ultimately responsible for reuniting Celestia with Luna, as Celestia herself noted at Twilight's coronation in this episode. Twilight, connecting day and night? That IS rather symbolic.
It's also been said that this episode's really only the first part of Twilight's transformation, BTW; I'm looking forward to the next ones. A lot of things may have changed, but there's a whole new path ahead of her now, one that she never imagined in her wildest dreams. As much as one may debate the pros and cons of Hasbro making this change, it has got to be an exciting time for Twilight.
Outside of all this?
The story itself was very compressed, but I think the fact it was mostly driven by songs helped a lot there; it wasn't meant to be told in detail, and that was OK. Wet mane Rarity was adorable, and seeing Pinkie's Pinkamena aspect again was very nice as well. I often think Pinkamena is utterly misunderstood by many bronies: contrary to how some fanfic characterizes her, she's not actually psychopathic, much less violent. Instead, she's the somber, at times even depressive aspect of Pinkie's personality, characterized by sadness and anxiety, futility and toil, perhaps hopelessness. I can relate to that side of Pinkie a lot, more so than her usual cheerful personality (particularly when it's so exaggerated as to become outright manic); I don't like seeing her suffer, but I think it adds depth to her character. Behind all the laughter, there have got to be quiet, introspective moments, too, mood swings and blues.
I've been told that Derpy could be seen in the crowd in the background at Twilight's coronation; I didn't spot her myself, but I'm glad she's not so completely exiled as to be entirely invisible now. Seeing Twilight's family again was also nice; I have a rather soft spot for her parents. (And sweet Luna's mane, do THEY have to be proud of their offspring — first their son marries a princess, and then their daughter turns into one!)
Rarity outdid herself again with the Mane Six's dresses; they were all very beautiful designs, and so were the princesses's (hmm, I wonder if Rarity earned herself some royal warrants of appointment yet). Cadance sported her "official formal crystal empire mane style" again; I can't say I'm a big fan of how THAT one looks, but who knows, maybe she isn't, either. *s* I think this is also the first time we've seen Celestia with an crown as opposed to a Tiara, isn't it? (Fun fact, BTW: in heraldry, a crown that has stars on top of the rays proceeding from the circlet is called a "celestial crown".)
I very much enjoyed seeing Star-Swirl the Bearded mentioned again, and further cemented as one of the great unicorn mages in history.
Heh, "liquid pride". I'm ever so slightly sad that Shining Armor didn't manage to say "of course I'm crying — how could I not when I'm so happy for you, Twily?", but this is the next best thing (and it was pretty funny). I think it's important that boys in particular be taught that having feelings and openly admitting them is not something to be ashamed of.
And an afterthought on Twilight's coronation: the whole process raises interesting questions about alicorns and princesses. Judging from Celestia's announcement of Twilight's coronation, and the latter's reaction thereto, it seems that the two are not necessarily linked. Every previously-existing alicorn may have happened to be a princess, but Twilight didn't automatically become one. So what is the relationship there? Are all princesses by necessity alicorns, at least? What sort of rights, responsibilities and powers does being a princess entail? For that matter, what powers come with being an alicorn? Is Twilight immortal now (or at least effectively immortal), the way that Luna and Celestia are? (For that matter, is Cadance?)
Oh yeah, and as for the music again? I really hope there's gonna be an official "Music of MLP" collection some day, featuring not just all the show's songs but also, on bonus discs, piano versions thereof (much in the same way that is done for Final Fantasy, say), background music, and more. Put it in a slipcase with a booklet full of background information, and I'll buy it in an instant.