When we last left off, we learned the Crystal Empire had returned and that King Sombra, the one who took over and enslaved everypony in the Empire, had return to take over it again. Now it's up to Twilight and the others to stop him and save the Empire. The episode begins with Sombra's spirit and shadows taking over the Empire, but Princess Cadence regains consciousness and uses her magic to repel him. His horn gets cut off in the process and lands in the kingdom, slowly corrupting the land again. Twilight decides she'll go alone this time to find the Crystal Heart while her friends keep the festival going and all of the Crystal Ponies distracted. Spike though hears about what Twilight is doing and teams up with her to find the heart. Meanwhile, Sombra's horn is making black crystals grow in the Empire and is slowly corrupting the land again. Twilight's friends try to keep things in check, but a lot of ponies are determined to see the Crystal Heart again and it's up to Applejack to keep them away from it. In the throne room of the palace, Twilight finds a clue that helps lead to an underground cavern and while there finds a door. After dodging her a few times, Twilight enters and discovers she's in Canterlot again and meets an angry Princess Celestia, who tells her she failed the test. Twiligth tries to make sense of the situation, but Spike calls out to her and she finds out that it's all an illusion. Spike looks at the door and sees Twilight telling him she doesn't need him anymore. She breaks Spike free of the spell and both learn it's a door that reveals their darkest fears. Twilight uses another spell to open the door and both she and Spike go in to discover a long staircase that leads to the Crystal Heart. At first, they seemed to be going nowhere, but Spike offers some advice that helps Twilight solve the mystery and find the heart. Twilight and Spike both find the heart, but she gets trapped in King Sombra' black crystals. Meanwhile in the festival, Twilight's friends accidentally reveal the heart they have is a fake and Cadence faints again, allowing the magic barrier to fall again. Sombra's spirit comes again and Twilight tells Spike to get the Crystal Heart back before it's too late. Spike agrees to do so, but on his way down he is forced to jump and accidentally loses his grip on the heart. In a last and desperate move to save the Empire, Shining Armor picks up Cadence and positions her in the path of the heart. He throws her and she is able to catch Spike and the Crystal Heart before Sombra could. With the heart back now, all of the Crystal Ponies power it up to vanquish Sombra again and save the Empire. After everything is back to normal, Twilight feels like a failure for how she didn't pass her test and knows she's probably going to be expelled. In Canterlot Palace, Princess Celestia lets Twilight know that she did pass because she was willing to sacrifice herself for others. The episode ends with Twilight and all her friends singing again as they take the train back to Ponyville. This was a really great season opener and I loved every bit of it. I loved the tender moments between Spike and Twilight. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash jousting was pretty awesome. Pinkie was hilarious throughout the episode. Best of all though, Spike is actually the true this time around. He saves the day and he even gets his own stained glass like the others did and gets praised for it. As a fellow Spike lover, this was a huge victory for him and I loved it. About my only complaint is the fact that Sombra gets defeated too quickly and he isn't as fleshed out as the other villains in the show. Considering though how his horn is shown flying off in the distance at the end, it seems to signal his return later on. All in all, a very solid start to the season and another promising season starts.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10