What exactly just happened?
Oh dear, "Putting Your Hoof Down". This is a slightly controversial episode, and really, I can see both sides. The script is a mess, but it's oddly compelling. Despite the episode having various leaps of logic, bizarre character moments, and a horribly jumbled plot, it's all oddly compelling. This is the first time I've noticed that the episode was so utterly confused, but I had just as much fun watching it as all the other times, so I don't know what to make of it.
So yeah, writing's all over the place. Fluttershy's leap from a nice doormat to an aggressive bully has no logical progression, with her simply getting too carried away to the point that she randomly starts thinking in a completely different manner than she did previously. It escalates quickly, but the sudden turn makes no sense as a character arc, and in the end where Fluttershy learns to be assertive without being horrible, we don't see how she comes to that point. In addition, Iron Will at no point ever justifies being called a monster, with Rarity and Pinkie being oddly bigoted there, and somehow by the end Fluttershy's bizarre thought processes are attributed to his teaching... even though he never even taught Fluttershy half the things she winds up spouting.
Yet, for all the script's messiness, there's something undeniably compelling about this episode. New Fluttershy commands a strong screen presence, and shaking up an established character so much, however temporarily, is a strange and risky move, and one that does ultimately pay off. The point where Fluttershy realizes how she's acting is a powerful moment, even if it's made nonsensical by the complete lack of a proper character arc. One scene boasts an especially great blend of lighting and depth-of-field effect, and though great depth-of-field effects have been employed before in the show, this often-noted scene accents it with its lighting, giving a near cel-shaded look.
In addition, the script moves briskly, and is filled with well-written lines of dialogue. There are a number of funny jokes, and great moments do abound. The animation is filled with neat little touches, and more often than not looks excellent. Iron Will is also an entertaining new character, and I wouldn't mind seeing him return. And in the end it's just so weirdly messy that it becomes compelling.
"Putting Your Hoof Down" is fast-paced, funny, filled with great lines, stars an excellent side character, and beautiful, but it's also really messy. Yet, the combination of these two things is oddly compelling, and while this isn't really one of the best episodes, it's not exactly one of the worst either. It's an interesting, entertaining episode with a handful of faults. And it's just such an odd episode that it stands out amongst the rest. I like it.