Season 8 imo is the best season
S8 definitely refreshed my interest in the show because how close Starlight Glimmer resembled the pacing and characterization of Season 1.
I was in my car thinking about this thread moments ago and it occurred to me that the one scene I remember most of the entire series is in the very first episode when Twilight meets Rainbow for the first time. Such lively nonchalant charisma from Rainbow, her ability to whimsically fly, and the slapstick followup really stuck with my memory. To me it was the perfect setting that conveyed the motives of Rainbow, her casual personality, and her foreshadowing of rash decisions. The scene also established more of who Twilight was in how she responded to the whole incident; calm, generally unimpressed, and much more focused on the task than being social (and being social was already mentioned to be uneasy for her).
It's the exposed character that attempts to mix with another character while not fully mixing that I appreciate. (Trixie+Starlight) (CMC on their own) (Rainbow+AJ), there's an acceptable and realistic tension between the characters as they have to make decisions against their own ideas without being total opposites (though the Rainbow+AJ is largely opposites but their quips between each-other is also amusing to me). Furthermore their willingness to "get real" and "level" with other characters is great.
All in all I hope S9 goes back to exploring the unknown. I think it's just not possible for the mane 6 to return to their social struggles in ponyville that was seen in Winter Wrap Up, Read It And Weep, or even A Friend In Deed; the show as of now is not structured to focus on the mane 6 anymore and has expanded the world too far to make much of the S1 technological struggles irrelevant. There was some return to this adventure and social struggle in S8 where the students had to explore the castle and argued but in all honesty I do not foresee the highly probable S9 climax "waging war" on school grounds to be all that fulfilling (it could very well come down to a Harry Potter ending but in ponyville).
I do look forward to what S9 focuses on and I hope it's in the adventure and social qualms and not the increased physical and verbal violence that has come to be more abundant over the years.