A more thoroughly entertaining episode than the previous.
Stare Master is an episode which has rubbed me the wrong way for the longest time. Despite that, every time I watch it I find myself enjoying it more. It's a genuinely entertaining episode with a fair number of laughs to be had.
What bothered me about the episode is that it is possibly the single most blatant example of shoehorning Twilight into the story to write the lesson, and considering that they almost bypassed that in the previous episode, it's particularly annoying. Twilight has very little reason to be in this episode, having no real purpose except to be turned to stone by the cockatrice. This episode could have gone by near-identically if Twilight was replaced in the story by something else.
This is a major Cutie Mark Crusaders episode, and as I've said my opinion on them tends to vary by episode. Unfortunately, this is an episode where they tend to get under my skin, with all their cutie mark obsessing and screaming and such. When left to their own devices, they deliver a number of clever jokes, but as soon as there's someone older around, they devolve into irritating running around and screaming. I guess they act like kids do but I don't much care for it.
The episode contains a lot of Fluttershy, and she's given some of her most adorable moments here. Of particular note is her iconic squeak when smiling. The Crusaders occasionally fall into cuteness as well, but as said, more often I personally found them irritating. Closer to the end, Fluttershy shows off her "stare", managing to frighten the cockatrice into reviving Twilight and a lost chicken. It's always exciting whenever Fluttershy displays strength, and this is anything but an exception, perhaps being my favourite "badass moment" from Fluttershy.
So, Stare Master is a pretty good episode. It's still somewhat safe, but less so than "Sonic Rainboom", and it has a lot more good jokes. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are a bit of an annoyance, but there's plenty of entertainment to be had, because the writing is very clever. It's a very enjoyable episode.