I don't know if they were intentionally trying something different, but the design of this escalation seemed very different from past escalations to me. Each level was really short and quick, it was a true escalation without any wildcards drastically changing the goals, and it seemed geared toward being interesting to SA and optimize rather than interesting to complete through any means necessary.
I think I like it! I tend to play escalations differently than the rest of the game: I don't go for SA. It makes it easier to rush through and prevents the repetition from getting boring. Usually, there's still an interesting challenge. I feel like escalations are not normally designed under the assumption that most players will go for an SA rank. But this one was kind of trivial to complete if you didn't go for an SA. And some of the complications, like moving the fish or poisoning the guy, only really acted as complications if you were trying to optimize.
But they made it so that each level was so quick that it wouldn't have been a problem to concentrate on SA and optimization. I'd change the way that I play escalations if there were more like these.