Here I look back at Applebuck Season.
As far as S1 goes, Applebuck Season is a notable improvement over The Ticket Master. There's more action, the humour's better and more consistent, and the characters are better. It's not a huge leap forward, but it is definitely an improvement, and certainly lives up to the standard of quality of the first few episodes.
From a technical standpoint, most of the same comments as previous episodes apply. Voice acting seems to be improving somewhat, but the visuals still have a few off moments to the models. Rainbow Dash in particular has a couple moments where she just looks strange, primarily when she's announcing a stampede.
The humour consistently lands in this episode, aside from a cow pun early on. Of the first four episodes, this is probably the funniest. The dynamic between Applejack and Twilight works very well, and Applejack's tired antics are also great.
The episode still gives the impression that the rules of this universe aren't fully thought out, particularly in regards to idioms and the sentient species about. We know that dragons, ponies, cows and mules are basically people, whereas bunnies seem to blur the line a bit more. They're your typical cartoon animal, seeming to think like people but being unable to communicate. The episode's usage of puns is often funny but is also silly in a universe where mules can talk, but that tends to come with the cartoon medium.
The story is somewhat mundane, but compared to The Ticket Master it has more action and is generally more compelling. Characters are also done better, having become seemingly more well-rounded since the previous episode. There's still some development to go, but this is an apparent step forward.
While this still doesn't seem like a huge leap ahead compared to the risks taken in other seasons, it's all around a very enjoyable episode, and shows some improvement over the earlier episodes. In conclusion it's a fairly good episode, even now.