This review was held back in honor of Memorial Day.
A couple of years ago in her follow-up review on Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep, Lily Peet sarcastically commented that she was looking forward to how My Little Pony would handle puberty... and then Molt Down came around. Will it actually be good?
The short answer is... yes, surprisingly!
One of this episode's greatest strengths is that Spike feels relatable and not being constantly brought down to size; in the case of the "molt," it's an inconvenience and he never knew it happens to dragons. Of course, I'm pretty sure Smolder wasn't scaring him on purpose and was simply joking with him, but then again, she didn't grow up around ponies and wouldn't understand how he was feeling.
What was also nice was seeing Twilight show genuine concern for Spike when he gets stone scales around his face. After a couple of episodes where she came off as an incompetent idiot, this is definitely a breath of fresh air. Though wouldn't Spike have known by now Twilight wouldn't abandon him?
Rarity and Zecora were also great; the former's brief deafness problems are pretty amusing, and the latter's guidance roles make me appreciate how lucky Zecora is to be a side character. She works best when she's playing off another character in, for example, A Health of Information and Magic Duel. It's also why I'm glad Edward is moving to Wellsworth because chances are he'll never be poorly written again, but I've explained why already, so let's move on.
But now let's talk about the main takeaway of the episode; Spike getting his wings. Well, it would be a nice surprise if A) it wasn't leaked by greedy fans, and B) Hasbro didn't reveal that information in a teaser! In the case of the latter, this is practically Magical Mystery Cure all over again, only this time, fans weren't thrown into a tizzy about the show being "ruined".
Personally, I'm glad and disappointed that Spike got his wings; glad in that after eight seasons, we finally get to see him physically grow up, and it looks as though there's big plans for him later in the season.
The disappointment comes when you consider that Twilight got her own wings at the end of season three. In the last five years, fans have adjusted to this so much that we tend to forget that Twilight started out as a unicorn (or maybe they don't, I'm not sure). Heck, the Crusaders got their cutie marks in the middle of season five, and that was an afterthought. With Spike? By the time Generation 4 comes to an end, it'll be too little too late to get fully used to him having wings.
That being said, it was nice to see Spike standing up to the roc to save Rarity and Zecora from its clutches, and the ending, though predictable, was pretty satisfying. Though it does make you wonder how everyone else reacted to his wings...
After a brief slump in the middle of the first half, it looks like season eight is back on track again. Spike is definitely growing as a character (we can't call him a baby dragon anymore) and getting his wings shows that there's a bit more story potential for him. Maybe have him stand up to Garble one day?