Get on up, look around;
Can’t you feel the wind of change?
Get on up, taste the air;
Can’t you see the wind of change;
— “Wind of Change” by the Bee Gees
(CAUTION: This review includes SPOILERS of the episode which aired on Discovery Family on March 24th, 2018. If you do not to know the result this review, look away now.)
It took the show one minute into Season Eight to declare the events of the Movie canon. With so many creatures who may not know anything about friendship, Twilight decides to open a friendship school.
She has the full support of Princess Celestia, but needs the full support of the Equestria Education Association (EEA) for accreditation. The EEA’s Chancellor Neighsay implores Twilight to do things by the book. The rest of the Mane Six will be teachers (second jobs for all of our heroines) and Starlight is the guidance counselor. The school isn’t exclusive to ponies such as Sandbar, there’s also a griffon named Gallus, a dragon names Smolder, a yak named Yona, a changeling named Ocellus, and a hippogriff/seapony named Silverstream.
Each of the Mane Six has a way to teach that gets the students interested, but Twilight insists everything gets done by the book, which is quickly the reason things are going “by the book”. After the student six cut class go on a “mental health break”, Neighsay arrives for an inspection. Things go off the rails as Ocellus makes an ill-timed decision to change into a giant insect and Neighsay is appalled that Twilight even has non-pony students. Long story short, the school is shut down.
In part two, Starlight sets Twilight right by writing their own rules. The rest of the Mane Six and Spike buy in—now they have to find the students or there is going to be a war. The “Student” Six didn’t want to be away from each other, so they take refuge at the Castle of the Two Sisters. However, they are not alone as they are threatened by bushwoolies puckwedgies. The Mane Six make the rescue and reopen the school going rogue against Neighsay by declaring it a “Friendship School” and probably hinting at what’s to come in the Season Finale.
Class is now in session. In a way it makes sense because instead of having the Mane Six and Starlight travel all around Equestria (which they had been doing since Season Five) and beyond (read: The Movie) to spread the gospel of friendship, why not have everyone come to them in Ponyville? It also represents, not necessarily a change in direction for the show as the Mane Six are now officially teachers, it’s safe to say it has been heading that direction since Season Four. It’s just now official.
It also shows that the show has not run out of ideas and it is blending in the worldbuilding from the previous seven seasons and the movie to create more worldbuilding. The world has gotten larger and larger and now the show is adjusting accordingly. It is ready to take on a social issue such as racism. Well, it has been handled in a sense better in some episodes (i.e. Hearth’s Warming Eve) than others (i.e. Over A Barrel). We now have a chancellor (played brilliantly by “The Brain” himself, Maurice Lamarche) who is what passes for Equestria as a racist (maybe a fascist as well).
What’s promising is that we finally have an overarching premise for the first time since Season Five and a majority of fans have said that and Season Four are the two best seasons of the show. Both those seasons had overarching storylines.
The opening two-parter is back as a setup for the start of a new season. “Return of Harmony” remains the benchmark for season openers, but given the direction and quickly declaring the Movie canon, this Season Premiere belongs in the top half of Premiers by comparison by giving its main characters new purpose and keeping the show fresh even in its eighth season.
Ranking the Season Premieres:
1. The Return of Harmony
2. The Cutie Map
3. School Daze
4. Celestial Advice
5. Princess Twilight Sparkle
6. Friendship is Magic
7. The Crystal Empire
8. The Crystalling