The Flim Flam Brothers are back in town, this time selling a “miracle tonic” they advertise will cure any problem. Granny Smith ends up buying a bottle and, soon after, is claiming she feels better than ever; enough to actually take up swimming again after an accident she suffered as a younger mare high-diving ruined her career of being a champion “aquapony”. Applejack is suspicious and soon discovers that somepony seemingly “cured” during the sales demonstration, a pony named Silver Shill, was actually part of the act and faking being infirn in the first place. Yet when she confronts the Flim Flam Brothers, they point out that even if the tonic does nothing, Granny thinks it does and feels better as a result, and telling her the truth might make her go back to feeling terrible again. As a result, Applejack decides to keep her mouth shut about the tonic and even publicly says: “it seems to work for Granny”. Yet she soon regrets that as her reputation of being the most honest pony in Ponyville causes the Flim Flam Brothers to use that statement to sell even more tonic as her “seal of approval”, and ponies are soon buying it due to trusting Applejack’s word. What’s worse is Silver Shill uses her action as a “pass” to start selling the tonic directly himself even though he knows its fake. Finally, Granny, thinking the tonic is actually making her better, guzzles a bottle of it and attempts to go back to high-diving and nearly seriously injures herself before Applejack stops her. Finally realizing the error she’s made, Applejack publicly admits to lying about the tonic working and attributes Granny’s apparent “cure” to being getting over psychosomatic symptoms. On seeing Applejack come clean, Silver backs up her story of the tonic being fake and quits working for the Flim Flam Brothers. As a way of saying thank you to Applejack, he gives her the one and only bit he scammed off of a pony by selling him fake tonic on the promise that he’ll track down the pony and give him a bit back. Applejack writes in the diary that even if you think telling the truth will hurt someone, it’s important to be honest when it looks like someone will act on belief in a lie. She doesn’t notice Silver’s bit gives off a rainbow shimmer…
This was the last “Key of Harmony” episode although we didn’t know it at the time. Twilight still had to get hers, but that would happen as part of the season finale and the actual opening of the chest would follow soon after.
And after all of the generally-great Key of Harmony episodes that had been seen so far…the conclusion was rather “underwhelming”. I know I’ve said it a couple times now, but…damn…Applejack episodes! Why? Why can’t they ‘work’?!
There’s little doubt this is the “weakest” out of all of the Key of Harmony episodes, which is surprising because it brought back some of the most charismatic “villains” to help liven things up with another number. And it was written by the same person who did “Castle Mane-Ia” and “Simple Ways” as well. But that being said, this episode is still better than both of those, so…in a way, it’s actually an improvement.
It’s still quite “decent”. This may not be a “great” episode, but it’s certainly not a poor one either. It does a good job with the moral and following the “Key of Harmony formula”. Applejack gets her honesty put to the test when it looks like it’s preferable to tell a “little white lie” to keep from making a loved one feel bad, but comes to regret it when her lie expands out of control. While the Flim Flam Brothers song in the episode isn’t as great as the one in the cider episode and it seems, in a way, to be trying to rip off of that one at a few points, it’s still catchy and entertaining. Silver Shill is definitely the most “mundane” out of the various ponies that learned a lesson in the Key of Harmony episodes and didn’t become anyone’s favorite, but he still does the job. And considering the other episodes Josh Haber has done, I don’t really blame any “lack of skill” on his part for this episode not being better as this episode, in my opinion, was a vast improvement over his previous two. It’s just…dealing with Applejack, and Applejack never really comes across as terribly “interesting” and there’s not really much in this episode to write home about.
We all knew at this point that each girl would need a Key of Harmony episode, including Applejack, and this one manages to just barely rise above “phoned in”…which is probably as good as we can hope for.
Again, Applejack is the only member of the Mane Six who appears in the episode.
Another episode featuring a flashback to Granny Smith as a younger mare, as well as footage done in “black and white” like an old film reel, similar to “Family Appreciation Day”. The flashback itself is an allusion to an event called “horse diving”, an old Atlantic City show event that was popular in the 1880s up until World War II.
One of the sick background ponies is interesting…it’s “Donnie” from “The Cutie Pox”. Apparently the creators didn’t want to make any more ponies and finally decided to use the ones for that inside joke.
The fact that the Flim Flam Brothers are throwing another “stage showtune” along with selling a “snake oil” tonic, not to mention using a conartist to pretend to be sick, is all reminiscent of a similar sequence in Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon”.
The second appearance of the Flim Flam Brothers from Season Two. As I noted in “The Super Speedy Cider Squeezie 6000”, it’s not until this episode that they actually become con men.
“Granny Smith tested and Applejack approved” is a knockoff of the famous tagline for Kix breakfast cereal: “Kid tested, mother approved”.
2.5 Stars out of 5