But hey, Saturday wasn't a total bust; at least we got another new episode! Click below to see my slightly-delayed thoughts on it. As usual, I'm saving the true analysis for the legions of episode reviewers who enjoy doing that; what follows are more "reactions and things that caught my eye." Onward!
-First thing's first:
Carrot Top! And her sister! And they're wearing those green headband-bows! The rest of the episode could have garbage, and I would still have been thrilled to see this part. I swear, the matching headgear makes these two the cutest thing in a world which is primarily defined by how cute it is.
-It does slightly annoy me, though, that we still can't definitively say that Noi (or whatever your preferred fan-name for Lil'Top is) is CT's sister, since the episode is literally all about how the "sisters" part of "Sisterhooves Social" is enforced with all the strictness and diligence of speed limits; as long as your sort of in the ballpark, you're fine.
-The other big news to me that nobody else seems to be excited about was that this episode featured the first explicitly gay character we've seen on the show! How is this not a bigger deal? I mean, sure, Lyra and Bon-Bon are BEST FRIENDS and all, but this was the first time we saw a character who was explicitly attracted to a member of his same gender. Amusingly, I suspect this only came to be because the writers didn't stop to think through how two standard cross-dressing jokes--"man attracted to man in dress" and "nobody's fooled by the man in the dress"--would interact. But hey, I still thought it was a neat moment for the show.
-I sympathize a lot with Mac in this episode. It's always hard to realize you're not as central to someone's life as you used to be, and it's also tough for an older sibling to cede the spotlight to a younger one--to let go of that "senior, therefore more important" dynamic. When you're not as central to someone's life because you're ceding the spotlight to a younger sibling, though? That's a rough place to be. It was easy to root for Mac, and I think that made the fact that the crossdressing portion of the episode was so full of stock jokes go down a little easier for me; even if the humor was unoriginal, it wasn't hard to root for Mac.
-Plus, you know, the crossdressing portion of the episode was where the Top sisters were.
-That all said, I've seen a lot of people praising the end, where Big Mac gets his little speech. Personally, I though it ended the episode on a disappointingly sour note: Big Mac feels extremely passive-aggressive to me, not-so-subtly blaming Apple Bloom for his bad mood. I mean, I understand why the end was structured the way it was; Mac needs to make his feelings explicit for the benefit of the audience, and Apple Bloom needs to have a chance to see how much her opinion means to him. But telling someone you're sad or upset because they don't look up to you the way they used to puts all the burden on them, and ending all that with a "I just want to be alone" is... well, the point is that it came across as a massive guilt trip for Bloom. Even if she did kinda deserve one, Mac is literally the one pony who can't (shouldn't) give her one over this.
And it could have been so easily fixed! If Mac had spilled his feelings to Granny Smith, or AJ after she got back, or heck, to anyone else, and Bloom had overheard them and come up to him afterward to comfort him, that would have felt much less manipulative. Having Smith/AJ/anyone else talk to Bloom after talking to Mac (the talk with Mac presumably being off-screen, for reasons of both time and redundancy) would work, too.
-One last thing: take a look at this shot, right after Mac's "disguise" falls apart:
Let's look a little closer at the bottom left corner, shall we?
Last year it was Rarity and AJ tag-teaming the course. This year it's Big Mac wrecking-ball-ing his way through every obstacle.
Carrot Top doesn't even care about winning the race anymore. Just once, she'd like to take Noi to a Sisterhooves Social where the Apples don't ruin everything. Just once.
Is that so much to ask?