i agree on most points, but i think the episode itself can, for the most part, survive decently when looking past them.
hoo'far was just strange, he wasn't completely malicious which was nice, but he was just kinda there and his intentions were vague. he was oddly polite, but still continued to ask for a trade even though he knew she didn't want it. even a bit more time spent with him would've been better. as compared to that guy pinkie traded her cannon with, much better since he was actually a proper character in the episode.
as for the episode build-up, on one hand, it's annoying to not get to actually see saddle arabia, but on the other hand, it's okay as a conclusion to the episode since it was failing and they literally ran out of money. overall, it's annoying, but within context, i'm okay with it. i'd still prefer even just a single end scene with them making it there and performing for a bit, as kind of a conclusion to their strengthened friendship
starlight really comes across poorly though; it's like the writers really want to hammer across that she's spontaneous and quick to act, but then don't put any guilt on her or even make her feel bad. starlight should've felt like absolute shit after trixie revealed how much she cared about the wagon.
the biggest highlight, and probably the best part of the actual episode for me, was trixie and starlight's interactions, it was nice to see ponies being like friends, although we were quick to lose that and they start bickering really quickly. i really can't pinpoint my overall thoughts on the episode very well, and i can't really say i found anything overtly sour, so i think a 6/10 is fair, 8/10 if compared solely to the rest of this season>story sets up an activity, ponies do it, then go home and nothing changes
noticed this too, it's as if the writers are afraid to change the status quo or advance any characters, any reference to past events feels like off hand remarks more than actual experiences.