I did manage to make time to watch the new MLP episode, though! Click down below the break for some thoughts on it, post-48-hour cooldown.
-I've seen a lot of mixed reviews of this one. Some people love it... and at the other end of the spectrum, I've seen more than a few people compare it to Mysterious Mare-Do-Well, which is most assuredly not complementary. At least as far as Dash's characterization goes, I think some of those MMDW comparisons are pretty on-the-mark: both episodes reinterpret Dash's ego and obliviousness as an actual inability to place the needs of others ahead of her own. I get that the writers wanted to do an episode about losing a pet, but the fact that 1) Tank isn't actually dying, and 2) Tank wants to hibernate, really mess of Dash's characterization. Because if she was trying to help/protect/save Tank, that'd be one thing. But instead, she spends the entire episode trying to thwart her pet by ruining the weather for everypony else. She's literally (trying to) inconvenience or harm everyone, for her own completely selfish purposes. Dash may be arrogant and self-centered, but putting herself ahead of everyone else collectively and individually stretched those traits well past the breaking point, for me.
-Part of what bugs me about that, incidentally, is how easy it would've been to fix: they could have had Tank want to spend the winter with Dash, but have to go to sleep. Then, boom: now Dash is trying to help her pet, instead of abusing her
-On the plus side, lots of good one-liners and sight gags. "Applejack cries on the inside" is the obvious highlight, and is one of my favorite single moments in the show to date, but there was plenty more. Dash and Tanks' themed slippers, Dash telling Pinkie that she should hibernate (remember, they were using "hibernate" as a one-to-one stand-in for "die"...), the Who's On First homage, Dash being casually racist against scaly things (I just wish she'd actually said the words "you guys all look alike")... there were a lot of great throwaways and incidental bits in this episode.
-The "winter is coming" line wasn't one of them, though. I mean, I don't mind a GoT reference, but why'd it have to be such a lazy one?
-Another thing I wasn't a fan of: the faces. Yes, I know I've whined about the hyper-exaggerated faces for years, now, but I still don't like 'em. The doofy, over-the-top expressions pretty much ruined the crying scene, which by rights ought to have felt important but ended up looking like a poorly-thought-out joke (not to mention a ridiculously overextended one; there were a few pacing issues in this episode, but nowhere did they stick out more than there), but they were by no means isolated to that scene.
-Another thing I was a fan of: Fluttershy. I love, love, love what the writers have done with her this season, and I just pray we don't backslide into "old" Fluttershy later on. Her reserved but unwavering self-assurance is a logical outgrowth of the past few seasons, and it makes her infinitely more interesting than the vapid retread she had (mostly) been since season two. New Fluttershy might by my favorite main character.
-In all, I thought this was a pretty bad episode with some pretty great moments. That still places it miles ahead of really poor episodes from the past, like MMDW or Bats!, though, so I won't complain too much. Goodness knows, this isn't the first time one of the show writers has turned Dash (or any of the girls, for that matter) into a self-serving villain for an episode, and it hasn't ruined the show yet. And besides, I'll forgive a lot for a Who's On First homage.