So, um, I was watching this, and I found myself having a lot new to say.
Alright, so "Princess Twilight Sparkle" was the first episode of the fourth season. When I first watched it, my attention was primarily taken by the flashback sequences, which are still eye-catching a year later. However, I found that there's a lot that I missed about it that deserves comment.
The main conflict goes on with Twilight herself, having to deal with the discomfort of her new position. This is a very interesting idea, and for the most part it's executed fairly well. It does a good job of reaffirming that this potentially huge change to the series isn't going to affect the core of what the show is, and is a really good plot in itself. Twilight Sparkle starts out clearly uncomfortable with her status, although apparently she has a bit of a change of heart later on, as by the finale she just wants to know what her place is as a princess. Still, it's nice to see the mane six's friendship reaffirmed despite everything.
This also conveys a fascinating theme about conflicting a new life with an old one, and one about coping with an increase in status. Both of these come to the same conclusion, that the new, higher status life doesn't mean you have to throw away the old life. These are very interesting themes, and some very mature, deep things for the show to handle, and it's a very interesting
On the other hand, there's a few problems with the main story. For one thing, that Twilight's friends think she needs to stay out of danger because of her status is a major problem, and one that really does represent everything that those who disliked Twilight's coronation feared. The only real solution, which is to just ignore the elephant in the room, is the one ultimately taken, which is in the end a good thing, even if it means that this elephant is still in the room.
Annoyingly, one of the bigger issues of the S3 finale is reinforced here with Twilight's cutie mark being on the Tree of Harmony. The implication is of course that Twilight was somehow destined to bear the elements, and this again trivializes and partially lessens the impact of the characters' actions. As I mentioned in my "Magical Mystery Cure" review, it's also a bad thing to be telling kids. Still, most of what I've said about this is mentioned in the aforementioned review, so I have little to add aside from my disappointment that they're still going with it.
However, there's a fair amount of entertainment value to be had from Discord's continued presence, where he still just messes with everyone around him in hilarious ways. It's a nice little bit of comic relief in an episode that takes itself entirely seriously. This serious tone does lend weight to the interesting themes, but it also makes the slow pace be a little dull at times and accentuates the episode's flaws.
Put all that together with how the episode expands the universe and gives more vision to what happened in the past, and it's a fairly strong episode, though it has some troubling ideas and some missteps. Still, it's a mature, intriguing step forward for the show, and if it actually progressed down this route, S4 might have been the best to date.