Which is pretty weird, because true to my tradition, I avoided learning anything about the episode until actually sitting down to watch the darn thing, so until today, all I had to go on was that title: "Twilight Time." Which, to be perfectly honest, doesn't tell you much of anything at all.
Just between you and me, I think I was secretly hoping it'd be another time travel episode, because I adore time travel stories and thoroughly loved "It's About Time" (still my favorite episode of the whole series), so another episode in that same vibe would be heartily welcomed by yours truly.
But nonetheless, there was something about it that struck a good vibe with me. Something that, going by title alone, clued me in that it would be an enjoyable episode, one worth watching and remembering.
And I was right.
Then it was what this episode established in the MLP universe.
First off, might as well get this covered now, is the fact that in the background of Twilight's library for the whole episode, one can see a complicated diagram hung on the wall of that dang puzzle box introduced in the season's premiere, showing that Twilight at least is still working with it behind the scenes, and that her attempts in trying to figure it out have gotten quite technical, judging from the complicated stuff displayed on it.
But then again, it is Twilight. Everything is technical to her.
But yeah, a reminder that the crew have not forgotten their supposed story arc for this season, which I have to confess has turned out to really not be the sort of story arc I was hoping for, but still a step in the right direction.
Second, in acknowledgement that Twilight is a princess now, the episode addresses how this change of status has affected everyone's views of her. In regards to the adult ponies of Ponyville, I'm going to reckon that they adjusted to it quickly and calmly which is why we've seen so little of it in the first place, but upon thinking about it, I suppose this makes a certain degree of sense. I mean, think about all of the other crazy things that take place in Ponyville on a regular basis: Nightmare Moon's return, parasprite swarms, rampaging dragons, Discordian tomfoolery, cutie-pox, invasions from the Everfree Forest, love poisons, even time travel fallout! After all of that, seeing one of their own, who typically isn't that social anyway AND a known student of Princess Celestia, get promoted to princesshood would seem kind of "oh...that's nice. On with life!"
However, for the children of Ponyville, that's another story. It's implied in this episode that most of them don't really know or interact much with Twilight, which wasn't a big deal for them--she was just another pony after all--until she became a princess. Now the intrigue of her being a princess is added to the mix, and Twilight's become something of a celebrity to them...only being children, they aren't sure how they can get the chance to really interact with their perceived celebrity.
Which is where the CMC come into the picture.
See the CMC have been busy as usual hunting for their illusive cutie marks with the usual lack of success, so at some point in what I assume to be the relatively recent past they struck an arrangement with Twilight to get some private tutoring in various subjects they (currently) have interest in that she can assist with.
This alone presents breakthroughs for all three of the crusaders in their development and growth as characters and fillies. For example, Sweetie Belle starts learning magic. MAG. IC. Actually, legit, levitating-brooms-and-everything magic like we see other unicorns do, which is massively groundbreaking for Sweetie as this is seriously the first time she's ever done much of anything with magic in the series, EVER. And by the end of the episode, she makes serious headway, too, so I am utterly tickled pink to see such a massive breakthrough take place for a character that has spent so long getting there. And Scootaloo and Apple Bloom make breakthroughs too, probably not as groundbreaking as Sweetie's, but both developing their characters and skill sets, moving them ever closer to those cutie marks they're seeking for (for the first time now, I'm seriously considering if the show's crew are legitimately considering giving them their cutie marks before too much longer). Scootaloo gets no new progress in terms of flying, but as we already had an earlier episode that discussed at length, that's okay. Instead, she tries her hooves at machinery and assembling, attempting to assemble a unicycle and a scooter during the course of the episode (and succeeds). This fits in with her interest in wheeled gizmos of that nature...though one would think it'd be Apple Bloom who'd be doing this sort of thing. But no, she tries her hooves at potion making, which strikes me as a surprisingly good fit, honestly, because she HAS show past interest in the field. Remember, it was Apple Bloom, and Apple Bloom alone, who first showed any real interest in Zecora, the best darn potion-maker in the Ponyville area, and has continued to hang around Zecora afterwards as a friend, watching the zebra work her trade. AND, don't forget, she did make a potion ON HER OWN to try and get her cutie mark prematurely. Granted, that didn't work out, but she still has the experience, in addition to the experience she and the other crusaders have in making love potions/poisons (which DID work. A little too well, but it still worked). So Apple Bloom as a potions whiz-to-be? Yeah, I can see that.
Anyway, they get together with Twilight to study up on these areas during what they start referring as "Twilight Time," hence the episode's title. They don't seem to think much of it, though, until an attempt to put Diamond Tiara in her place results in it slipping out...and now suddenly Diamond Tiara is interested getting them to get her and friend(s) close to Princess Twilight. Because, you know, she's a princess and all, and princesses are cool to hang around. The CMC, being the opportunists they are, attempt to use this, repeatedly, to their advantage, even to get to bask in some class-wide fame of their own for awhile, but it rapidly gets out of control as now all of their fillies in their class want in on "Twilight Time."
They manage to keep the peace, and out of trouble, ever so briefly by managing to get Twilight to agree to try and accommodate them all...until Twi learns the CMC had been using it as ploy to get added attention from their classmates for a change. But when they prove to her they actually HAD gone into "Twilight Time" so to learn originally, they work it out. The lesson being, don't exploit the good intentions of others to boost your own status quo, and one the side, that studying and hard work has its rewards as all three of the CMC succeed in their present studies by the end of the episode. All is well.
So yeah, good episode, decent lesson, presented well, with a well-balanced storyplot that was not all that stereotypically straightforward, and HUGE brownie points for giving all three of the CMC a push forward in their own growth and development, something they've long needed, though if they'll actually stick with it I guess we'll see.
Although there is also another, more incidental, lesson for the bronies to get out of this episode. Many of the bronies have been criticizing this season's lack of focus or even acknowledgement of Twilight's new status as princess, but this episode actually demonstrates a little bit why this might be the case; it's not really Twilight's thing. Look at her all throughout this episode. Sure, she's very tolerant of the exuberant fame she gets from the children, but you can tell from her underlying tone that it makes her uncomfortable, and if it wasn't for her desire to keep everypony happy, I doubt she would've played along. She also kept shirking to take much of any the credit, shifting it off her shoulders, occasionally onto somepony else (the CMC in this case) and seems flabbergasted by the idea that anypony really cared enough about her to give her this much attention, ask for autographs, and so forth. She also made it abundantly straightforward that she did NOT approve of anypony only trying to get close to her, just because she's of high status now. Not only does she not like anypony viewing her differently, a subject she herself has spoken out on in past episodes/works, preferring to be seen still as "just Twilight," she doesn't like the undue attention or anypony attempting to mooch off her. Furthermore, many bronies voiced discontent with these same ideas when Twilight was revealed to be going Princess anyway, but these are all subjects that would HAVE to come up, lots, if the show played more heavily into "Twilight-is-a-princess-now,-adore-her" theme. So in a way, the show's crew are both keeping Twilight in character AND meeting the overarching wishes of their fans by avoiding making too much of a hullabaloo over Twilight's princessdom, so maybe we all should be cutting them some slack for it.
Of course, you can still make the argument that if the show's attempting to keep Twilight's princess-status so downplayed, why did they make her a princess in the first place? It's a question, I must admit, I cannot deny is perfectly valid. I blame Hasbro, as it was likely them pushing for a new marketing avenue that brought that on, but nonetheless, the show's made the best of it, and it at least meets MY satisfactions, and for the demands of this review that I'm doing the writing on, that's good enough for me. 'Cuz, you know, I'm the one that takes time out of my day to write it.
Did like Pinkie's one and only scene in this episode:
-- "Hey, what's going on out there?"
-- "Oh never mind, they're gone"
-- "They're back!"
-- "Never mind, they're gone. La-la-la-la-la..."