Saturday was the two-episode, one-hour premiere of Season Four of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The episodes were entitled "Princess Twilight Sparkle, Parts 1 and 2".
The story begins with our hero, Twilight Sparkle, trying to adjust to the fact that she is now a princess. There are long speeches, and everyone assures each other that nothing bad will happen. The next day, everyone wakes up to find that giant plants have taken over the country. Oh no! Also, in a subplot which won't be mentioned again, none of the unicorns can use magic anymore.
The next fifteen minutes is Twilight drinking Flashback Potion, to let her see what happened 1000 years ago. This is interesting material, but there's a tiny problem. It has nothing to do with the current plotline. Yes, those parts were all well done, but at the end of the day, they were pointless filler.
So that leaves us a half-hour into the episode, before our heroes decide to fight the current villain, who is...um...a plant/tree thing. No, it doesn't talk or anything. It's just a tree.
What follows is a poorly-done subplot, in which our heroes decide to split up, just so they can reunite later and say they learned that "true friends stick together". This is a lesson they've learned 100 times already, and the entire thing comes across as rather forced. Seriously, it makes no sense for the world's best friends to suddenly split up. "Hey, I know that all six of us our needed to work this weapon, but let's kick the most powerful member off the team for no reason. That can't possibly backfire!"
Almost immediately, the plan backfires, as our heroes are captured by the tree. Fortunately, Twilight returns and saves them! They use their Friendship Cannon or whatever it's called on the tree. This saves the world, turning everything back to normal. Twilight is now confident in her abilities as a princess. The end.
Ugh. As a writer, I don't like this episode. It's just not well-balanced. The first third is overlong, almost as if the writer intended it to be an episode by itself, rather than the build-up to two-parter. The middle third of the episode needs to be changed or removed entirely. I know fans will love the extended flashbacks which show the rise of the series' main villains, but it has nothing to do with the plot! The final third is rushed, putting our heroes through a conflict which logically should have been introduced sooner.
That's how you improve this episode. Remove ten minutes from the first half and give it to the second half, which is the more interesting and important part. The series premiere had one episode building up the villain, and one episode fighting the villain; that's what should have been done here, instead of 2/3 buildup and 1/3 actual action.