Well, I was still here this Saturday, and I wanted to share a few opinions. And post pictures of Carrot Top, because natch. As usual, this isn't a comprehensive review of what I saw--more "here's some things that stuck out to me/random thoughts I had while watching." If that sounds interesting to you, see what I had to say about the latest episode, below the break!
-----Or rather, the latest episodes; it was a two-ep return, with Discordant Harmony being the other part. I don't have much to say about it, though. It was a variation on a formula FiM has done many times, and which plays to the show's strengths: pony (draconequus) tries something, goes overboard, is reigned in by friend, triumphs thanks to Magic of Friendship. Big plusses for the episode were John DeLancie (always a plus, IMO), singing ginseng (catchy tune!), and frankly-underdone-but-still-funny-Discord-visual-gags. Minuses were lackluster voicing from the store owner one-off ponies and Fluttershy's initial disappointment with Discord's home. I mean, everything after he starts fading, I get. Her immediately recognizing that this isn't Discord, I get. But her specifically being visibly disappointed because his home isn't "wacky" enough? That seems out of character for her. Sure, she might be suspicious or concerned, but I can't imagine she wouldn't still enjoy a nice quiet tea party with her friend; it's kind of her thing, innit? Whatever, solid enough episode despite that, just not a lot to say about it.
-----The Perfect Pear, though! That I want to talk about! Because my goodness, what a cameo! And from someone who I didn't even know was going to be on that show!
That's right, CARROT TOP IS BACK, BABY! Oh goodness, we haven't seen her since episode seven! That was in May! Oh, it's been so long, I can't even.
Also, I guess the old pony was someone, but let's be honest: the long-awaited return of Carrot Top is by far the biggest thing to take away from the episode's opening. Shame she vanishes after that, though; I suppose it'd be too much to ask for two scenes with best pony in a three-month span, though.
Here we see Carrot Top, a plastic grin plastered on her face, trying desperately to resist the urge to strangle Colton Vines III for hogging exposition duty. As you can see from the picture above, she'd been camping the front of Grand Pear's stall for hours, just in case one of the Apples dropped by and needed a little expositing to, but then Colton just sidled up alongside Apple Bloom and started yammering away. Don't be angry, Carrot; we'll always have "We couldn't fit it all in!"
-----Okay, okay, there was Shatner, too. One of the unexpected benefits of this season's... questionable release schedule has been that, by increasingly disconnecting me from other parts of the fandom, it made Shatner's appearance come as a complete surprise to me. I had to replay that first scene because I knew I recognized the voice, and when I realized who it was, I had to IMDB it because I almost didn't believe it. He did a really good job with the whole episode, too; not too hammy for a cartoon, and not too self-aware.
-----One more Carrot Top note. Notice the scene at the start of Goldie's history lesson, where she intones "A long time ago, Sweet Apple Acres wasn't the only farm in Ponyville. In fact, there was another one just right next door." You know, where it pans from Sweet Apple Acres to the Pear farm? And Carrot Top's house/farm on the hill is literally right in between them? "Only farm in Ponyville" my kiester. The Pears may have invoked the Apples' ire, but at least the Apples notice them.
-----Still not on board with baby ponies and their dead, soulless eyes. That buttercup scene was, like, the opposite of adorable--I kept waiting for one of them to open its mouth as wide as its bulbous, misshapen head and devour the other. Urg. Oh well, at least they grew up to be cute! Goodness knows, we need more frizzy-haired ponies.
-----The "go from pony to pony to slowly assemble the complete story" is another classic standby that tends to work well with FiM's tone and style, and although it was played completely straight here, I thought it worked well. I'm not entirely sure why Cup Cake/Chiffon Swirl needed to drag Mayor Mare into all this--I mean, she was there for the wedding too, it's not like the Mayor had some unique perspective to offer--but I'm not going to object to having a little more attention paid to politics pony. The pink hair callback was a nice touch, too.
-----The romance was sweet, and I like how it wasn't overplayed. Spending more time on tender moments than on grand pronouncements seems like the right call to me. And the song was nice, too!
-----I have to object to Bright Apple's surprise marriage, though. Springing a proposal on your SO is bad enough; springing a wedding? Don't do this, kids, even if your girlfriend is moving cross-country!
-----All in all, a very solid, enjoyable episode. True, I wish it would have told us what happened to the Apple parents (I mean, they're clearly dead, but... when? Why?), or why Grand Pear waited this long to come back to Ponyville (estranged or not, surely his daughter's death ought to have brought him back... unless there's something they're not telling us), or how none of this has ever come up before. But there's still a solid emotional core here, and the tone of the whole episode is consistent and on-point.