An episode that splits opinion, "Ponyville Confidential" contains elements that have resulted in viewers having mixed opinions about the episode. I've always considered it to be the first genuinely great CMC episode, and that opinion stands here. Even though it's flawed in execution, it's still a very ambitious episode, and its example should be followed.
What I first loved in "Ponyville Confidential" was that its main plot wasn't about the CMC getting their cutie marks. "Hearts and Hooves Day" did it first, but "Ponyville Confidential" continues the trend. These two episodes are a better realization of the common premise of CMC episodes, having their search for cutie marks be the initial catalyst for the event, but having it lead them to learning life lessons. It's considerably more satisfying than the recycling of previous CMC episodes, and that they actually end with a new moral that's actually learned is fantastic.
Indeed, the main conflict of the episode is very strong. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, as Gabby Gums, are faced with guilt over their reckless sensational column. It's an interesting story about the consequences of gossip and rumours, though it's hurt a bit by the fact that Gabby Gums tended to outright fabricate their stories. All the same, the story is a great one, and it's told through characters that are starting to come into their own and be able to carry episodes.
Things get a bit more rocky with the supporting characters, though. Their build up towards rejecting the gossip column isn't nearly strong enough, resulting in a jarring shift between characters eating up the gossip and shunning the Cutie Mark Crusaders for their actions. There wasn't enough room to put all of it in there, and unfortunately, the opportunity for more characters to show growth was missed.
Then again, the episode is fast-paced as is. The story goes along fairly quickly, but it's nothing compared to the rapid-fire visual details that come at an almost constant rate in the episode. Interesting shots, visual gags, and plot elements appear back-to-back, leaving an episode with a ridiculous amount of moments to talk about. If you're following everything that happens on-screen, it's hard to keep up. That the jokes so often hit despite their frequency is something the episode deserves credit for.
"Ponyville Confidential" is a compelling, entertaining episode, with a lot to offer and a great many strengths. The main story is great, there's ambition to be seen here, and the main characters are strong. It's great to see the CMC transition to stronger leading roles, and although the episode definitely isn't without its flaws, it's still a great episode.