After a two month hiatus, barring a pair of not-so-Summer Surprises that July, we're back to reviewing the eighth season of My Little Pony, starting with A Matter of Principals.
This review contains spoilers for those who did not see the episode in Australia; viewer discretion is advised.
When Discord joined Starlight's group in To Where and Back Again, I always found that strange since the two had never interacted up to that point. You could argue that they met offscreen, but I don't think it holds enough water for me to believe that. So now that we got Discord and Starlight starring in their own episode, how does it hold up?
I will start by saying it is a vast improvement over Nicole Dubuc's previous script, as well as the last two episodes, one of which was the absolute worst the season had to offer at this point. A Matter of Principals is definitely the improvement that Yakity-Sax wished it was.
One of the greatest strengths of the episode is Discord's character; he still wants to make friends but hates being left out, largely in part due to his trickster nature. It's a habit he just can't break, and it drives Starlight up the wall when she tries to run the School of Friendship the way Twilight normally would. And who could blame her? (Starlight, that is.) That being said, it does say a lot that Starlight owed Discord an apology for ignoring his feelings of jealousy, considering that he's a trickster who normally causes more trouble than her or anypony else.
Discord's attempts at bringing in substitute teachers to "help" Starlight were rather out the blue, but still very funny - seriously, who has a tree for a teacher?! That being said, it does lampshade a problem that's been brewing since School Daze; who's in charge of the School of Friendship whilst Twilight and company are out and about doing other things? It does feel like Twilight doesn't always think her plans through, however well intended they are. Perhaps Neighsay was right after all?
Another issue the episode raises is that Starlight somehow knows about Spitfire. (Trixie and Maud I can understand.) How did the two meet, and how did Spitfire get convinced to be a teacher at the school when she has an academy of her own to run? I know it's not a major plot hole in the episode itself, but it still raises questions.
Nicole Dubuc is back on form, as is season eight - let's hope it stays that way this time! I was hoping for a Starlight and Discord episode, and thankfully, she managed to deliver, and then some. Their characters make sense, the third act is one of the funniest of the show, and the twist at the end was rather unexpected.
One thing I will ask for the writers; just don't make the Young Six afterthoughts for future episodes. Please. They have a lot of potential to be great characters, and it'd be a damned shame if they don't live up to it!