AKA: "Oh Yeah, I Said I Was Going To Write This, Didn't I?"
In my last Journal, I complained a bunch about the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Season 3 finale. I also said that it could have been done better, and promised to explain how. Are you ready? Here it is:
It should have been a two-parter.
For starters, it already felt like it was going to be. I'm not the only one who noticed, right? We came in on Twilight Sparkle preemptively declaring a Best Day Ever!! and receiving the rude shock that Bad Magic Stuff was happening in Ponyville. Only later did we get a flashback to the cause...but the flashback was staged in such a way that it looked like part of a deleted scene clumsily re-inserted. Basically, the episode felt like we walked in on Act 2 of one episode, rushed through the rest of it, and then crammed the high points of a second episode into the time remaining.
I am convinced that it was intended to be a two-parter and was partially completed as one, but executive meddling forced it to be trimmed down to one episode. Had it proceeded as originally planned, not only would we be spared the awkward cuts, but there would have been time enough for a more nuanced story than we got.
The first episode could have covered the same events as the first half of "Magical Mystery Cure," but more gracefully--instead of jumping in the middle, we would have seen Twilight receive her assignment and tackle it using more conventional research methods before resorting to casting the half-finished spell. Her discovery of the complications and quest to solve them could also have been presented at a more leisurely pace, allowing for a more natural emotional progression and some more detail in the resolution. The moment when the other Element Bearers blast Twilight with magic and she disappears would make a perfect cliffhanger for the second episode.
Said episode could then be entirely devoted to her meeting with Celestia, being transformed into an alicorn...and worrying about what this means for her future. Can she still see her friends? Will they even still be friends, given that she's so far above them now? What if she can't hack being a demigoddess? How could Celestia do this to her without even asking in the first place? These questions were touched on in "Magical Mystery Cure," but glossed over due to the time crunch. The happy ending came too abruptly, and while it's entirely possible that they'll go back to these issues in Season 4, it will feel cut-and-pasted into the wrong place, much like the flashback in the first part of the episode.
In any case, it's water under the bridge now--the episode aired, as a single episode, and felt rushed and forced as a result. My point is that it wasn't inevitable--it was the result of bad planning. Why were two episodes crammed into one? I have no idea--it's not as if the season would have run long otherwise. It's only 13 episodes as it is: half-length. Was it somehow important for it to be exactly half-length? I have no idea.