My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro.
Episode directed by Denny Lu and Tim Stuby
Well it took them long enough to jump on the Hangover craze! Every show needs their road trip to Las Vegas (worked for Homer and Flanders), so I guess we’ll have to get the kidified version here. Personally, I would have gone with Fear and Loathing in Las Pegasus route on this, but then again I doubt that Hasbro would go for something like that, amazing as it would be. Can the ponies’ trip to the city of gambling and substance abuse be entertaining even with all the edges smoothed out, or will this be a painful exercise in sugarcoating something to protect the kids’ (and their overprotective parents’) delicate sensibilities? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with the Cutie Map (oh hey! That’s still a thing!) ordering Applejack and Fluttershy to go to the infamous Las Pegasus; EXACTLY the kind of place you’d want to send the two… shall we say prudish members of the group, what with Applejack’s small town farm values and Fluttershy’s inclination towards panic attacks at the slightest provocation. Oh, it can’t be THAT bad, right?
So Las Pegasus is exactly what you would expect from a kids show version of Sin City; namely it’s full of roller coasters, cotton candy, claw machines, and swing music! Truly this is Tartarus on Equestria for two straight laced wholesome ponies like Fluttershy and Applejack! Who is responsible for purveyor of gluttony and loose morals!? Well apparently it’s an Elvis impersonator named Gladmane who owns whatever Not Casino this is and will probably get a stern talking to about the sinful way he gyrates his hips.
Now apparently this guy knows who Applejack and Fluttershy are because he thinks of himself as a “Friendship connoisseur” which probably means EXACTLY what you think it does, but I figure that’s just a cover and he keeps tabs on EVERYPONY who has a modicum of power in Equestria. Now the guy does genuinely seem friendly and generous despite his G-Rated slimy look, so either they’re subverting that stereotype (and the two ponies’ expectations of this city), or he’ll turn out to be the bad guy. I’m hoping for the former, but we’ll have to see how this plays out. The two ambassadors of friendship are given a grand tour of the facilities, including access backstage where they are introduced to one show-pony who doesn’t have a name yet so I’ll just refer to her as Nomi Hooves, and these two who are… interesting additions to say the least.
So who’s exactly going to get this reference other than adults? Siegfried and Roy have been retired for years AND their career ended pretty tragically when Roy got mauled by one of the show tigers. Maybe it’s not THAT tasteless to have generically fabulous Vegas magicians working with animals (in this case prairie dogs), but it seems to be a bit more edgy than the show usually aims for, and it’s honestly not that funny of a visual gag to justify the risk. Anyway, things seem to be just as ship shape behind the scenes as they are to the public which means that Applejack and Fluttershy are still without a friendship problem to solve. Before they can go all Lesson Zero in this town though, they do get their wish and find SOMEPONIES who are actually not getting along. Unfortunately, it was a Monkey’s Paw wish, and the two that are fighting probably shouldn’t be brought back together; lest they combine their efforts for evil. Also, this technically doesn’t count as a friendship problem as much as a family one, but whatever.
Applejack is naturally uncomfortable about getting those two back together considering what she knows they’ve done in the past, and while Gladmane DID indeed hire them to sell tickets, he does agree that when those two work together they can accomplish anything and end up running this town. Well isn’t it convenient that they are fighting, huh? Fluttershy wants to help the brothers, probably because they never tried to take her land away and scammed her grandma, while Applejack is determined to find some other friendship problem to fix. The reason for the Flim Flam fallout by the way seems to be the banes of all successful partnerships; jealousy and pride. Both think the other is talking shit about their own personal shortcomings, and they refuse to speak to each other to work out the issues. Coincidentally, Applejack catches back up with Nomi Hooves who is having a similar issue with their stage manager. Even MORE coincidentally it turns out the magic ponies are fighting over bullshit as well. Clearly SOMEPONY has been worming their way into everypony’s head so that they stay pissed at each other and won’t live up to their full potential which could lead to them taking their acts someone else. You see? You should never trust an Elvis Impersonator! That’s how we ended up with The Identical, damn it!!
It takes a bit more time for Applejack and Fluttershy to see it, but after having some one on one time with each of their performers and their animals, the answer becomes obvious to them as well. Now clearly they should just buck Gladmane in the face until he quits being an asshole, but I guess we have to bring this episode back to Flim and Flam so that everyone can learn a lesson. Applejack swallows her pride and uses her truthiness magic to convince these two that Gladmane is the one responsible for the rift between them and to then recruit them into stopping Gladmane once and for all! Remember kids. Being a jerk is justification for your livelihood being ripped away from you by self-righteous do-gooders! So what’s the totally justifiable plan that they’ve concocted with known con artists? Well it involves Fluttershy in a green wig, so that’s something.
So the plan here is for Fluttershy to play some big shot bajillionaire who plans on taking over Las Pegasus and is visiting Gladmane’s… hotel I guess (we never really established what this place is besides NOT a casino), in hopes of scouting some talent for her own place. While Flim (the clean shaven one) works Gladmane’s sense of paranoia, Flam (the one with exquisite facial hair) is playing the part of a possible recruit for whatever Not Fluttershy (also known as Impossibly Rich) has planned.
This is enough to put the slime bag into full on Car Salespony mode as he tries to put the charm on Not Fluttershy. He promises her a grand tour, but first requests that Flam meet him in his office where he proceeds to threaten the SHIT out of him which I can only assume is standard practice all over Las Pegasus. What, you think he’s the only jerk wad feigning sincerity in this town?
Everything seems to be going according to plan despite Gladmane’s dressing down of one of his employees, and the next scene is apparently the big moment where Gladmane takes Not Fluttershy on a tour where she starts asking about how he manages to keep his employees without them up and leaving the company. So they’re just gonna come right out and say it? No lead up or cajoling? I’m starting to lose confidence in this plan…
Yeah, even a villain this one dimensional manages to see through their little charade and doesn’t willing give them a confession. Great job guys! I can see why Fluttershy and Applejack REALLY needed your guidance on this one. Presumably Flim and Flam are fired for trying to tank their bosses reputation, but luckily Fluttershy and Applejack haven’t been barred from the building yet and go to his office some time later to try and convince him to change his ways! Well… I’ve heard WORSE plan Bs I guess. The pleas fall on deaf ears as Gladmane explains just how stupid friendship is and how easily he can manipulate ponies with it! Oh, but what’s this? Fluttershy had her hoof on the loudspeaker button the whole time! WHAT A TWIST!!
Turns out Flim and Flam AREN’T incompetent morons and were expecting Gladmane to see right through their awful first plan; knowing that his guard would be down afterwards. Needless to say that the fabulous talents at this rinky-dink establishment have had enough!
And so the day is saved once again due to the power of friendship. No wait… due to the power of manipulation in the NAME of friendship! Same thing. Somehow this leads to Flim and Flam getting ownership of the Not Casino (not sure exactly how that works), and the episode ends with them trying to pull another one of their schemes while Applejack shakes her hoof in anger. Great! They took out Saddam Hussein and let ISIS take over!
This episode was okay, but it didn’t do anything special and it had a few jokes that fell really flat. It felt like they had a light script and rather than expand on the themes inherent in the material, they just threw in a bunch of wacky characters who didn’t add much, particularly the Siegfried and Roy parodies whose joke was not funny and were only around to be gimmicky plot devices. I liked that Gladmane was able to see through their scheme initially which gave him a bit of intelligence, but he wasn’t all that compelling of a character; nor were Flim and Flam all that compelling as temporary good guys. We didn’t really get a sense of what makes them such good con artists (or bad ones if you want to argue) considering how simplistic their plan was and that we didn’t get any real setup. Think of something like Matchstick Men where every scheme is explained as it’s going on so that the audience understands all the pieces that go into it. Maybe doing something like that on a kids show would be a bit much, but what they ended up doing instead wasn’t all that compelling. I doubt that anyone’s really going to remember this episode as a highlight of the season, but for what it’s worth, it DOES give us a new location to explore and it manages to at least be at least watchable which is more than I can say for some episodes we’ve gotten so far.