Nother Nonymous No.36829524
File: 1544368286002.jpg (49.68 KB, 480x265, Celestia_Rev_20_2.jpg)
In Season 1, they didn't know if there would even be an S2 or S3, much less an S9; and when Faust left, whatever ideas she had for long-term development went with her.
The showmakers confronted two options at that point: keep things static -- with RD perpetually trying to become a Wonderbolt, the CRC vainly trying forever to get their cutie marks, and so on -- or develop the characters and the situation. They chose the second option.
There were three ways to develop the show (again, with no assurance of continuation beyond the next season): (1) Let the Mane Six follow and realize their individual dreams, inevitably drifting apart from each other as a result; (2) keep the Six tightly bonded, focused on preserving the power of friendship and using it to defend ever greater and scarier threats to Equestria; or (3) have them break into cliques and explore the tension between them.
I might have chosen (3). "The Return of Harmony," the last episodes planned under Faust's direction, suggests that she might have chosen (2). But (1) was the easiest path and the one that left the most doors open for the show's uncertain future, and the post-Faust show staff took it.
The result was a dispersal of focus, a progressive all-over-the-place loss of central themes and ideas. Twilight joins the Royal Household and is afterwards only coincidentally lodged in Ponyville. Rarity has business interests all over the map of Equestria. RD spends a lot of time with the Wonderbolts. And so on. To try to strengthen and supplement the weakening bonds between the Mane Six, the showmakers have thrown in a continuous stream of new characters, gimmicks and threats: the Map, the School, extended families for everybody, the Changelings, Tirek, and so on and on.
Starlight was part of this new glue: a fresh body double for Twilight to replace the fading viewpoint character. It hasn't worked very well. Most of the changes in the characters and the world have been corrosive. The magical atmosphere of myth and legend that pervaded the first two seasons has largely evaporated. Celestia, once an omnipotent being to whom all abased themselves and who ruled the heavens and the earth, has become a busy, repressed bureaucratic ruler of one nation-state among many in an expanded world that is no longer the Magical Land of Equestria. The Mane Six (and Celestia and Discord) had a mythic and archetypal heft to them, now lost. Remember all those S1 and S2 memes drawing analogies between Celestia and various deities (see pic), or likening the Mane Six to the Four Humors, the Four Elements, the Seven Deadly Sins, and other collections of archetypes? No more. Now the show is a typical sitcom (minus the adult jokes), and its characters are distinguished by the sorts of catchphrases, buzzwords, and shallow quirks that distinguish characters in a typical sitcom.
Starlight should never have been brought on board as a focal character without establishing some sort of archetypal force to her. She could have been the counterpart to Discord -- a powerfully magical creature bent on sucking the freedom and magic out of the world and imposing a suffocating rigidity, a sort of evil Apollo to Discord's evil Dionysus. Too late.
Things could have been worse. The people at the top of the show's decision tree have steadfastly kept the ponies horselike quadrupeds and struggled to keep the technology under control, with mixed results. No humans have been introduced. The show continues to produce some fun episodes and to be generally worth watching. But the magic has pretty much gone away. It isn't wholly due to Starlight's role and character, but those are part of it.