@Background Pony #E406
Yeah. I think the school could have done better if they had actually devoted more time and attention to it.
Maybe the writers were afraid that changing the rhythm of the show in such a big way would alienate fans, and thought they could play it safe by half-assing the school arc rather than going all in. They could have either avoided the controversy altogether by just not including the school at all (though this begs the question, what would
they make episodes about?), OR they plan a season-long arc featuring the school front and center. In this case, taking a middle route doesn’t please the school-lovers OR the school-haters.
The Student Six weren’t a bad idea, but they were very underutilized. I think each of them should have been given their own episode to develop their characters beyond their brief introduction scenes in the season premiere (or, if devoting six episodes is too much, pair them up so you only need three episodes). ‘Hearth’s Warming Club’ served this purpose for Gallus, ‘She’s All Yak’ did this for Yona and should have been in Season 8 (doing school episodes in Season 9 when the school has nothing to do with the season’s story arc seems like filler at best and damage control at worst). When I watched ‘Student Counsel’ and ‘Sweet and Smoky’ I initially expected them to be focused on character development for Silverstream and Smolder, so it felt as though the episodes got hijacked by other characters instead. Ocellus and Sandbar never got enough screentime to really develop them beyond their initial introductions. Alternatively, character development could have been done by having more episodes with the Student Six doing things together with the Mane Six playing supporting roles, and we saw some of that. ‘2, 4, 6, Greaaat’ helped Smolder, Ocellus, AND Silverstream all at once and should have been in Season 8. ‘What Lies Beneath’ was good but could have been better if Smolder and Silverstream had been given more personal fears rather than ‘evil villain who oppressed my people’; for example, giving Ocellus a fear of failure. Even though it’s just grafted straight from Twilight, it’s something that provides an actual opportunity for personal growth. In fact, having the Student Six share traits with the Mane Six would allow the Mane Six to share their expertise. Having each of the Student Six develop a close mentor-student relationship with one of the Mane Six would have been a great way to further the show’s message of learning, friendship, and growth.
Also, I think the Season 8 pilot’s pilot was okay but somewhat nonsensical. Making a plot about school accreditation, of all things is kinda out there, but suspension of disbelief can make anything work as long as it has consistent internal logic. The main flaw with the episode in my opinion is that they spent the first half building up Neighsay and the EEA’s rules as a big obstacle and then just anticlimactically dismissed it at the end. It would have been a lot better with one simple fix: instead of having Twilight & co. just ignore the EEA completely, they could have just had them petition Celestia to pressure the EEA into giving Twilight a second chance and allowing her to bend the rules as an experiment, or something like that. Actually give the EEA authority so that all the worrying you did at the beginning was justified, rather than retconning them into being paper tigers to deus-ex-machina your way to a conclusion.
It also doesn’t really make sense that the Mane Six would have the time to supervise a boarding school when they already have day jobs; especially Applejack and Rarity, who both had several episodes about how they were so overworked that it was damaging their relationships. Are we supposed to believe that they magically have lots of free time to teach classes just due to optimizing their work schedules alone, especially when Rarity now has to supply not just ONE shop, but THREE. Having a throwaway line or two about hiring additional help and tacking a few new background characters into future scenes at Sweet Apple Acres and Carousel Boutique would easily plug this plothole that, in my mind, greatly undermines the entire concept of the friendship school.