I debated doing one of these; I think everyone else watched this episode a month ago, and have probably forgotten it by now. But dangit, I just got to see it for the first time this weekend, and I am gonna talk about it! Get my thoughts, after the break.
-I'll be straight: I loved this episode. Maybe it shines a little brighter in my eyes, coming right on the heels of Princesses Have Trivial Jobs, Bitch About How Hard Their Lives Are While Acting Like Spoiled Toddlers (at least, I think that was the episode's name...). Maybe it just caught me in a good mood. But whatever; the point is, this is the clear high point of S7 so far for me, and it's not even close.
-Based on the decidedly mixed reaction to the yaks last time they were on the show, I'm going to go ahead and assume that I'm about the only person who loved it, though :P Seriously, why does nobody else think that SMASHING is funny? They are pitch-perfect ponifications (yakifications?) of the way I play barbarians, ogres, and ogre barbarians, no less. Violent, headstrong, unwilling/unable to admit fault, but still basically nice guys as long as you can handle them on their own terms. I wouldn't want them in every episode, obviously, but I find them tremendously entertaining in principle.
-Plus, the Mongolian-ish aesthetics, on both the decorations and the village itself, just look nice. There's something to be said for a consistent, evocative aesthetic; Ponyville and Canterlot both had it in the show's early going, before they became more generified, as have places like Appleloosa, but in recent seasons the show's locals have tended away from that, I think.
-For all that Twilight and the other girls felt entirely superfluous at the start (Pinkie asking Twilight to use her Princess-ness to make her the OFFICIAL friendship ambassador really just highlighted how little the show's managed to do with her ascension), it did give Pinkie the opportunity to start the show off on the right foot, showing that she's been written as "good Pinkie" rather than "insane ramblings Pinkie" or "lolrandom Pinkie." A combination of cheery demeanor, physical humor, and earnest friendliness are her hallmarks in her best episodes, and all are on display here.
-I don't have much to say about Pinkie's visit to the yak village, other than that I loved it. It was cultural silliness with a heaping dash of machismo thrown in, and it kept me grinning throughout. The main conflict didn't feel too ridiculous to me either, for that matter; I think we all know people who mistake pointless suffering for stoic virtue, and who see asking for help as a personal failure. Heck, I am that person, a bit more often than I'd like to admit. And as Pinkie finds out, pushing at someone who's in that mood will just make them dig in their heels all the harder.
-The one thing I didn't like about the episode was the main six fixing the village by themselves in a single night. Ponies are OP, nerf now plx.
-Seriously though, this could have been an opportunity for Twilight to use her Princessness: either directly (alicorn magic! Oh wait, for the last few seasons that's just meant "ineffective lasers"...) or indirectly (put those Winter Wrap-Up organizational skills to use, and mobilize all of Ponyville to come help! The girls could still take the last balloon out together, and be the only ones who get caught, so you wouldn't need to change the ending otherwise; plus, then you'd have an excuse for a Carrot Top cameo!). It really is jarringly implausible to me that ponies are so massively more powerful/effective than yaks as this would indicate, and doesn't match up well with any of what we saw in this or Party Pooped.
-I did like the moral at the end, though it probably could have been spelled out a little more clearly. I can see kids missing it entirely, or thinking that the lesson is "do what other people want without them asking." But the actual lesson is a good one, and given that I have a bad habit of getting hung up on morals, I'll definitely take it.
-And I'll say it again: the humor here was totally on-point. Right through to Pinkie breaking the fourth wall at the end, there's just a steady stream of physical humor, sight gags, playful show-appropriate violence, and comic bellicosity that a absolutely loved. Thank goodness for that! Sometimes, when I'm in a bad stretch of episodes (i.e. a stretch of episodes I don't like; same thing, right?), I end up questioning whether I still even enjoy MLP, or if I just like what it used to be/the fandom/the fanwriting. It's good to have confirmation that yes, I can still totally get down with a good episode!