Anyway, due to school work that needed to get done, I didn't get a review for last week's episode out, so to get caught up, I'm doing it now and doing this week's episode together in one post!
-- "Dun dun duuuuuuuuuun!"
Last week the Flim and Flam brothers make a reappearance in Ponyville, this time attempting to sell a supposed and doubtfully miraculous "curative elixir." Granny Smith, feeling nostalgic for her youthful days, tries it out and it seems to work, but Applejack, having her doubts, quickly uncovers evidence that it's all a fraud. But since the elixir seems to be making Granny Smith happy regardless, Applejack is now faced with an ethical dilemma; keep quiet and let Granny Smith stay happy, or end that by calling the whistle on Flim and Flam?
This week, however, Rainbow Dash is set to take a Wonderbolt history test that will help bring her ever closer to her goal of becoming a Wonderbolt. Only problem is that she knows absolutely none of the history and none of the study tactics her friends come up with to help her seem to work in helping Rainbow learn a subject she isn't terribly interested in to begin with. Her friends really want to help...but how?
First off, I was tickled pink to see Flim and Flam back again to try and swindle Ponyville out of it's hard-earned bits. However, even I have to admit, they're definitely a bit more obvious and, shall we say, heartless about it this time around. I mean, when you really get down to it, it was pretty obvious they were swindlers from the beginning in "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000," so much so I really don't see why it's a point of such debate among the fans (a subject for another day, though), but that time they were crafty enough about it that it was hard to be able to legally stop them. This time, they are much more obvious that it's all a facade that it's a bit surprising that the ponies of Ponyville don't call them out on it themselves sooner.
In fact, why are the ponies falling for Flim and Flam's trickery again? Didn't they learn from their last encounter? For that matter, why are Flim and Flam back in Ponyville anyway? Last time they got caught and chased out of town for it. Didn't they learn that coming back to Ponyville was a bad idea because there were higher odds there of getting caught again?
But I guess if they did, they wouldn't be back for another episode, now would they?
Also liked their song. Obviously attempting to repeat that of the first song, but they aren't quite as successful with it as they were the first time around, but hey, it's still catchy. And best still, unlike most MLP songs, in which the whole episode halts progress so to have the dang song, this one does not, and furthers the overall plot of the episode at the same time. So it's both a fun song and helps tell the story at the same time. All of the MLP songs ought to be like this in my opinion.
As for the episode's plot, it is somewhat generic and overdone, being the same-old, same-old snake oil story, but I do have to give it credit it that it gave it some of a twist in that Applejack catches on to the charade quickly, but then opts not to reveal it to everybody because she saw that, fake or not, it was making her Granny happy, could in theory do the same for other ponies, and was otherwise not causing much of any real arguable harm for anypony, and was instead seemingly making ponies happier than they were before, and Applejack is faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not messing all of that up was really for the greater good.
As usual, Flim and Flam should've left it at that, but being the opportunists they are, they use Applejack's silence to their advantage to sell more elixir, start making claims that it could do far more than it actually could, and were making false claims about Applejack's support to it. And Applejack can't stand for that, comes clean, confesses that in a manner she had lied about, apologies, and sets things straight before anypony gets hurt believing the elixir could do something it couldn't, yadda-yadda. But in reality, it was Flim and Flam who had lied, taking Applejack's words and skewing them for their own benefit, and Applejack, somewhat unfairly, gets more of the blame for that than she probably should've.
But Applejack, for her credit, takes it in stride anyway, and never brings the subject up, either truly believing the blame wasn't unjustified, or figuring it was easier to just take the blow for the greater good rather than trying to muddle up the matter by explaining things in full and possibly not helping in the end, so maybe there's a lesson in that as well.
Overall the episode was, I'd say, average. Definitely not a bad one, but nothing really worth writing home about either (in fact, I almost decided not to review it at all (seeing I was late to do so and all) and hope nobody noticed). I was amused to see Granny Smith's swim wear to be period-accurate (yes, people used to SWIM in outfits like that back in the day) though, because I'm the history buff that I am, and I'm glad to see somebody on the show's staff was doing their research.
Now, the second episode, "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3"...
This one I like more, if only because, again being the history buff that I am, it promotes there's a need to know your history. Which there is, but that's another story.
But trying to get Rainbow Dash to see that is a whole different matter, especially seeing that she struggles to learn it the traditional ways. To be honest, I can't blame her. History CAN be dull sometimes, and reading it (or getting it lectured to you) can get wearying after awhile (and I speak from experience). Furthermore, and more importantly, not everybody learns the same way, and this is something the world at large likes to forget something for the sake of convenience. It can cause problems because at times people struggle to learn what they need to under the norm, and then they seem...well...stupid. But as Rainbow so kindly proves by the end of the episode, this isn't true at all, they just absorb the information in different ways. The trick is figuring it out.
So the episode is really one long trial and error session figuring it out, and I'm sure everybody could relate with Rainbow and these failed attempts at times. I myself could relate with the highlighting (if I highlight in my studies, I end up highlighting everything like RD did) and the flashcards (which never really worked enough for me to be worth the effort of making them). The end solution Twilight comes up with in the end is, to be sure, unique, but every effective.
So basically the show is a friendship episode; friend A is in a pickle, so all of the other friends try to help in their proper way, so everybody makes an appearance. It's nicely balanced too; Rainbow and Twilight are the two of most focus, but everybody gets a chance at the spot light, and it leaves things feeling nicely balanced, and that's something you always want when writing anything, so if you do that much, you've succeeded (also spoken from experience).
Pinkie's rap song caught me totally off guard. I seriously did not see that coming. I'm not really a fan of rap, but it's definitely not the worst rap song I've ever heard (though generic) so I could roll with it too. Reminded me of the nineties I grew up in. Mixed feelings about that. But Pinkie did rock that fedora.
Didn't really know where Rarity was going with her approach to studying, but hey, it had fashion, so I suppose it covered the Rarity stereotype accurately.
I'm sure the Applejack fans are a bit miffed that she came off as pretty much useless in this episode, but while I won't deny that, I did find that and her apple trivia fit her character. She's by no means stupid either, and much like RD, as her own way of learning info, but it just wasn't applicable to the situation, and AJ's not really one who'd know a diverse number of alternatives. So I'm rolling with it.
I loved Rainbow, Owlicious, and Spike's little ditty during Twilight's lecture. That was fun, cute, and original, and worth seeing.
Helicopters are now canon in Equestria.
Liked the backstory the episode gives for the Wonderbolts, for the universe building it provides for the show. Every show needs some universe building now and then, and MLP is certainly no exception. Overall I say the episode was not stellar too, but less average than the one before it at the end of the day.
So apparently we aren't getting a new episode next week, but the week after. So 'til then, fillies and gentlecolts.
Poor Spike and his unappreciated playwriting and directing skills (I personally thought it wasn't bad, it just needed more rehearsing and maybe better actors).