If you're going to take the time to read this, I ask that you read it all of the way through. I realize that it's going to sound like a overly critical approach to the show, but I promise that I have good things to say in the middle of my criticisms.
I'm not sure if any of you are like me, but I have many great memories that were made on Saturday mornings. Whether it was Bugs Bunny so many years ago, or My Little Pony today, Saturday morning cartoons have always been something that I have selfishly indulged in.
MLP did something amazing for me that I wouldn't give up for the world. A terribly overdone and overused statement perhaps, but that doesn't detract from the truthfulness of that statement.
Every Saturday, I would be on the edge of my seat, waiting ever so fervently to absorb the latest episode of ponies. It was exhilarating to me. While there may have been an overarching story, each episode was it's own entity - no prior experience was required to watch (although the first two episodes definitely help). If I was in a certain mood, it was a fairly simple task to find an episode that would resonate with me. Once I was done, I could go read some fiction works, listen to some music, or hop online and chat with other fans.
There was a magical connection that was made between me and the characters in the show. To paraphrase another article, the Mane Six are very much like college age humans. All of the characters live away from their parents. All of the characters have made their own circle of friends. They all host parties with one another, consult with one another, find joy in one another, and connect with each other in both mind and spirit. (That was an over-simplified definition, but I hope that you grasp the concept.)
In short, MLP connects with us because it's how we're meant to connect with one another. It's personal and simplistic. No unnecessary lines. No overly hyped drama. No outside interference that's too large to overcome.
But today...no, for most of this season, something was different. For the first time, I didn't wrack my own nerves waiting for an episode. In one or two cases, I almost feared it. What happened? Where did the connection go? Why did I find myself not actively seeking out the YouTube episodes of MLP?
I used to feel their emotions. I used to put myself in their shoes, er, hooves and really get into an episode in a silly and fun way. I used to really enjoy thinking about what it would be like to talk with Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and the entire herd of characters that I can't possibly fit in this post. Why don't I connect with my favorite characters like I used to?
Don't hear me wrong: I still enjoy every episode without question. I still cheer whenever I see a possible Derpy appearance, and I still find myself having a heart attack over Fluttershy and her HNNNNGGGGG adorableness. It's just different this time around.
Not every episode was that way - I had a very, very strong emotional connection with the show when Rainbow Dash took Scootaloo in as her sister. To me, that was a classic, well drawn, and well executed episode that will remain in my mind.
I feel as if I'm no longer here because someone wants to draw me into an experience, but instead I'm here because someone wants to show me a story.
In season 1 and 2, it was about the small (or large) everyday experiences of Twilight Sparkle and the crew and what they had to do to overcome them. They were life experiences that weren't totally out of the realm of possibility, even here in real life. I often found myself saying "I know a person like that!" or "Hey, I've been in that situation before!".
But in season 3, I was taken for a bit of a drive. Someone sat me down and said: "Here, this is the story of Twilight Sparkle's trip to becoming a princess."
It was a beautiful story (and I have to admit that alicorn Twi is so gosh darned' CUTE!), but I can't relate with the story.
I understand late nights and studying in libraries. I understand what it's like to be on tight deadlines. I understand hard, physical labor outdoors. But can I truly "get" what it's like being a princess? To have Princess Celestia herself bow down to Twilight?
I am left in the dark and without a reason. Season 3 was brilliant as a whole. It had some of the best episodes, and some of my favorite moments. But I'm (unfortunately) left feeling a bit distant from Twilight and the gang, in the time where I really should be connecting the MOST before a long break from ponies.
At the end of season 2, we had alicorns, new brothers, and an entirely new antagonist, yet I could relate to the weddings, the planning, the last minute rush of possible things that could go wrong, and the inevitable joy when the bride and groom are married.
But I'm still not quite sure if I can connect with what has been handed to me to finish season 3. Perhaps i would have if there would have been more backstory to it (as it was a very solid concept), but this season ending was half of a good episode + half of "suddenly, an Alicorn!".
We got to see, hear, and feel Alicorn Twilight as a character for a grand total of five minutes before the season ended. That's too big of a change and not NEARLY enough time to help get people acquainted with the new setting and variables. I have so many questions about Twilight and her friends; don't leave me hanging!
In the end, while I might be able to say that season 3 was my favorite season, I may have to hand that crown over to season 2.
I do have to admit that there's a tiny piece of me that's giddy with excitement over all of the "newness" given to us, I'm very much looking forward to season 4 and seeing what it brings. I do, however, hope that we're able to make a return to the classic MLP storytelling. (Even if we have a new princess and a new location, that doesn't change how relatable the writers can make it in the end.) In either case though, I have a very high degree of respect towards the writers and how they have gotten us this far. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
How curious...while I was relatively uninterested before, I now inadvertently find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, just waiting to see what the new season brings.
Perhaps Alicorn Twilight was a good change after all.