Season 4 was starting to bore me. Episode after episode I found myself not liking it as much as I wanted to, and on occasion I found myself alone in disappointment. However, not only was this week's episode absolutely fantastic, it clarifies several of the problems that I had with earlier episodes.
This episode make me love the CMC. Now, "Somepony to Watch Over Me" and S3's "One Bad Apple" came close, but this episode is the one that really raised them to the level of the other characters for me. For once, I'd be delighted to see more episodes starring these three characters. I get it now, guys. I finally care about these three characters. I mean, before I felt this was just another diversion from the actual main characters, but for the first time perhaps ever, the CMC feel like main characters. If that's not praise, I don't know what is.
This episode is sort of like "Twilight Time" done right. Sweetie Belle is again doing something that I initially found unlikeable, but soon enough the episode works to clarify her feelings. Without spoiling, I can just say that Luna is used to provide a more mature perspective on Sweetie's feelings, which makes them much more clear while doing wonders for understanding Sweetie as a character. Then the episode doesn't wait until the end for Sweetie to learn her lesson, which makes her much easier to root for. But the most important part is the clarity that makes Sweetie's motivations considerably more understandable to someone like me who can't relate.
This episode also sees the return of something I'd been missing for most of the season: A feeling of risk-taking. A sequence in the middle has a notably unsettling scene, something which I had been missing for a while. In addition, this is the first episode in a while that didn't feel to me like "just another MLP episode". The story, for once, is actually really good. It develops characters and doesn't serve mostly just to have a set up for humour, something "Filli Vanilli", "Maud Pie" and "Simple Ways" were particularly guilty of. This episode feels fresh, despite not actually doing too much different when I think about it.
This is my favourite episode in a while, and I don't think I'll be retracting that statement later like I did with "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies". For once, I'm actually excited for the next episode. I haven't felt that way in a couple weeks. A CMC episode is one of my favourite episodes of the season. Yes, you read that right. See you again next week!