Admittedly, when I first heard the Flim Flam Bros. were coming back, I was surprised. To me, I didn't think they were that popular enough to warrant a return, but maybe I'm wrong here. Now don't get me wrong, they're pretty good villains, show the complete opposite of Applejack's honesty, and have a charm to them. Speaking of which, Applejack is the center of this episode since it makes more sense for her to confront them again.
Josh Haber is the one writing this episode, who's done a fantastic job with Applejack in the episodes he's written her. So is this better than when we first met the Flim Flam Bros? Well let's take a look.
We open to a small lake in Sweet Apple Acres, where the Apple Siblings are playing around in the water. After a splash of water hits Granny Smith, Apple Bloom asks her to come in and play. Granny explains though that during her younger days, she was a great swimmer. Okay, Founder of Ponyville, came up with Zap Apples, and now a swimmer extraordinaire? Is there nothing Granny Smith hasn't done yet? Anyway, she explains to Apple Bloom that while trying to break the record for the high dive, she hurt herself so bad, it caused her severe aches and pains and could never go into the water again. Suddenly, we see that Jaws apparently exists in Equestria, for Big Mac scares Apple Bloom with a shark fin on his head while the theme plays.
Later on, the Apple Family is headed home, but Apple Bloom wants to see if she can become a great diver like Granny. The elderly mare tells her though that it's very dangerous, but speaks, most likely inadvertently, that it's not because she wants to be young and confident again. Suddenly, a group of ponies walk by, many of which have injuries to them, and the sound of music can be heard. Wanting to check it out, Granny and Apple Bloom go with the crowd, with Big Mac and Applejack following suit.
We see a large big top tent, where everypony is going in to see what's going on. Suddenly, the curtain opens to a machine and two shadowy figures can be seen, announcing their thanks to everypony for coming out. When they do come out, we see the Flim Flam much to the disgust of Applejack and Big Mac, but oddly not anypony else. The brothers tell everypony about a tonic they've come up with that can cure aches, pains, and make elderly ponies feel young. After a song number that ends very abruptly by Granny Smith, she buys the tonic.
Cut to the lake again, where the Apple Siblings are fishing. Apple Bloom asks about the tonic, but Applejack says she's not so sure about it. Suddenly, Granny Smith is seen swimming down the river, but the siblings see it as her in mortal peril. They try to save her, even Big Mac uses his yoke as a lifesaver, but Granny comes out fine. She tells a worried Applejack that after taking the tonic, she felt like she could swim.
This prompts Applejack and Apple Bloom to go investigate the tonic and ask what's in it. Just as they approach the tent, they see a familiar pony come out: the first pony to actually try out the tonic and claims it works. Realizing something is a miss, the Apple Sisters give chase to the fleeing pony. When they eventually corner the pony, whose name I forgot, Applejack sees that he was part of the act, but the stallion gets away.
Applejack runs into the tent and confronts the Flim Flam Bros. and tells them about how she knows that one pony was only an actor. It's here we see the tonic is made of apples and beet leaves. Applejack is ready to tell everypony about the truth, but the brothers make her feel guilty about taking Granny's happiness away from her. This causes Applejack to lie to Apple Bloom about the tonic and go home.
The following day, Granny is seen playing in the water and doing some water tricks with Apple Bloom. Because of how well she's been doing, Apple Bloom asks Granny to compete in a swim meet with her. At first, she's hesitant to do this, but Applejack encourages her to do it so she can be happy. Back at the tent, Granny buys a whole case of tonic, much to the delight of the Flim Flam Bros. The other ponies ask Applejack if the tonic works, to which she says it works for Granny. This makes everypony believe the tonic does work and makes Applejack feel bad.
We cut to a pool, where Apple Bloom and Granny are preparing their routine. Applejack tells them to be careful, but Granny shrugs it off as she feels more confident. After winning the competition, Applejack sees the same pony who was part of the act before selling the tonic. She confronts him about it, to which he says that he was going to abandon this job, but after Applejack lied about the tonic, he believed that honesty wasn't the best policy. This makes her feel bad about the lying she did, and wants to make things right.
When Applejack is put on the spot about the tonic to confirm if it was true, she sees Granny drinking more of the tonic, causing her eyes to glow a rainbow color. She tells everypony that the tonic wasn't all that was cracked up to be, but before going on, a pony points out to the high dive, where Granny is about to dive. Applejack rushes up and saves her with a rope, which makes the elderly mare unhappy.
Applejack then tells the truth about how the tonic was nothing more than a fake. A pony asks about if she was lying, to which the cowpony confirms it. She says though that she'll work hard to regain their trust. I don't blame Applejack though. If anything, it's the rest of Ponyville who need to blame themselves for not learning their lessons about the Flim Flam Bros. before. When asked about the tonic helping Granny though, Applejack says that she forgot the confidence she had in herself and didn't need some tonic to help her.
During the big speech, the Flim Flam Bros. get away. The pony that Applejack confronted earlier apologizes for what he did, vows to start leading an honest life, and gives her the only coin he made off the tonic scam, which glows a rainbow color. How a key became a piece of currency and just so happens to be the one out of probably zillions is beyond me. Talk about the biggest coincidence of all time.
Later that day, Applejack writes in the diary about how being honest isn't easy, but lying can only cause more pain than telling the truth. The episode ends with Applejack going over to check on Granny, who has taking up swimming again.
In all honesty, this Applejack episode is better than Bats!. She stays well within character, as well as the other Apple Family members, and she wasn't being overprotective like in Somepony to Watch Over Me. The plot, while rather predictable, does show a good sense of how lying can only cloud the judgement of others, which is a good lesson to learn if you ask me.
The Flim Flam Bros. themselves are good villains again. I got to say though that they weren't exactly evil this time around. Unlike their debut episode where they tried to force the Apple Family out, they just lie and deceive about a product. Though the way they made Applejack feel guilty about Granny's happiness was a nice touch of evil there.
The song they sung is pretty good, but not on my top five list of songs this season. It's got the same beat and atmosphere to that of the Cider song in SSCS 6000. The major problem is that the song feels almost extremely similar to that one. It almost felt recycled to even when the ponies are chanting. Except instead of cider, it's tonic this time. Disappointing if you ask me. To give credit where it's due, the song itself is sung well by the Flim Flam Bros. and, as I said before, the beat is rather catchy.
The humor is actually played pretty low in this episode to be honest. There were some general funny moments like Big Mac with the shark fin. Haber does a good job though of keeping it pretty funny, but also a good storyline here.
Once again though, the biggest problem has to be the same one from last week. The citizens of Ponyville again.
Now, to be fair, I can understand why the elderly and ill would want to have the tonic since they want to feel better and rejuvenated, so I'll give them a pass. Who does NOT get a pass though are the other citizens who aren't elderly or sick. They immediately buy into this thing without giving a second thought. I mean, you'd think after last time with the cider incident, they'd be wary of these guys, but no.
And no, don't give me the whole, "Well the Flim Flam Bros. told everypony that Applejack thought the potion worked" bit. They still should've been wary of them. Especially after how the Apple Family was nearly evicted from their homes by the brothers. So last week they were materialistic jerks. This week, they're idiots. All I can say is at least next week, we don't have to deal with them. Methinks they need their brains checked out.
Rant aside, this episode is better than Bats!, the other Applejack episode. The story may be a bit predictable and it's not the funniest episode by Haber, but it's got a good message about lying and finding confidence in yourself. I can't say this episode is better than Apple Family Reunion though. I will also give credit that the Flim Flam Bros. weren't reformed since this gives more potential for them to return and be recurring villains.
Join me next week when Amy Keating Rogers takes on Rainbow Dash, who's trying to get into the Wonderbolts Reserves.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
PS If the Flim Flam Bros. can come back, then why hasn't Gilda been given an episode to return in?!