Given the many issues of the opening two parter, I thought a more in depth look at just a tiny part of the opener, could help reinforce my points about emptiness. So lets talk about how the topic or themes of leadership are handled. My hope is, by going through this less prevalent aspect, to examine it’s usage with minimum confusion.
Twilight is now a new leader of Equestria, to what capacity we still don’t know, but the opener does bring up her role of leadership. Overlooking the Summer Sun Celebration is just a ceremony, the first time Twilight has to lead is when the two royal sisters disappear and the royal guards ‘await her command.’ because “We're officers of the Royal Guard. We take our orders from royalty”.
First off, isn't there a captain of the royal guard? Shouldn't he (or she, given Shining Armour has probably left his post) direct the guard in some capacity should the Princesses be unavailable? Regardless, given what little we know about the guard or situation, Twilight probably gives the best order; for them to search and update her if they find anything. The problem and solution don’t have much depth to it but at least Twilight is in charge of something and is leading. The only issues I have with how this is implemented is that this moment has no impact on anything later on. We do not see the results of her decision, nor is her decision explored with any depth.
The reuniting of the party and flashbacks don’t have much to do with leadership either. Whilst Twilight sees the alicorn sisters using macguffins, this does very little with leading their kingdom.
Leadership crops up again as a reason for the M6 to split up. AppleJack brings up the point that Twilight is a princess and “I just don't think Equestria can risk losing another princess.”. Rarity agrees by saying “Equestria will need somepony to lead in their absence.”. This need to preserve Twilight as a leader perplexes me. Thematically, our journey up to this point has brought up next to nothing about leadership and what was brought up is simple and has been completely forgotten about. The reasoning they present suffers from the similar problems of the guards that it is either so simple or unexplained that it lacks any impact.
In universe there’s several issues with this implementation, given the state of perpetual height of the Moon and Sun, Equestria will probably be in dire straights with or without leadership if they cannot stop the Sun from continuously heating that side of the planet. There is also Princess Cadence, who the guards did list as a potential royal they take orders from, who could also lead Equestria. Splitting the party has many many more faults but I'm just going to focus on only this theme.
Next scene, where Discord instantly tells Twilight the obvious. He doesn’t even bring up the point of leadership. He instead talks about her being important and needing to be safe, and that’s it for leadership in these two episodes.
The guard scene had a sense of importance to it, that never really played into anything else in this story. It is a bone with very little meat on it, due to how vague our understanding of the scenario at play and the impact it has on the universe.
The issue of needing a princess to lead after the Rockadile scene suffers a similar problem. It is meant to be impactful, but there’s no meat on the bones or feeling from the story thus far to reinforce this impact in this regard. This issue is all the more important, given the story implications of splitting the party. The guard scene may ultimately be pointless, but here the separation of the main 6 is a bigger deal (at least if it wasn't instantly resolved by counter argument by Discord).
The scenes may have tried to be impactful by raising the issues of leadership up to Twilight, but these issues are just displayed rather than explored, and that’s why I felt so hollow from the experience. The issues they represent aren't explored or felt by the audience. This isn't just leaving room for interpretation, or demanding too much from a kids show. This is a matter of a topic being raised in a vacuum to enact major changes in the plot. The absolute lack of any attempt to tell us anything deep or complex makes it feel artificial and contrived, which is my main complaint with most of this episode.