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File:Vlc-2012-01-30-17h51m00s58 8574.png

 Flim: Well, lookie what we got here, brother of mine

It's the same in every town.

Ponies with thirsty throats, dry tongues

And not a drop of cider to be found!

Maybe they're not aware

that there's really no need for this teary despair?

Flam: That the key that they need

To solve the sad cider shortage you and I will share!

  Written by M.A. Larson

Sweet Apple Cider Season is starting! Rainbow Dash has been waiting all year for this, and she's determined to get some cider before they run out, as happens every cider season going back for years - and especially to beat Pinkie to the punch, as she's always the first in line, and buys multiple mugs full. But despite Rainbow arriving at dawn, Pinkie is at the head of a long line of ponies who camped out, so it plays out the same as every year: Pinkie gets her several mugs, and the Apples sell the last barrel just before Rainbow reaches the counter, with other ponies still in line who are none too pleased about the situation. Rainbow Dash riles up the crowd to berate the Apples for never having enough cider.

Cue the Flim Flam brothers rolling into Ponyville. They charm and schmooze their way into the town's good graces and introduce The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, which they claim can make enough cider to satisfy all of Ponyville in a fraction of the time the Apples can even make their daily batch! The Apples maintain their position that quality is more important than speed, but the brothers quickly prove that their machine can make very good cider, thanks to its built-in quality check system that only uses the best apples and automatically discards the rotten or bruised ones. The brothers offer a "partnership," but when the Apples refuse their blatantly lopsided deal, the two groups make a bet: Whoever can make the most barrels of cider in one hour gets exclusive selling rights in Ponyville! This means if the Apples lose, they'll lose the right to sell cider in Ponyville, and without that money to tide them over in the winter, they won't be able to afford to run Sweet Apple Acres!

Once the contest starts, the Apples aren't doing too well, but Twilight and the others join the Apples and help them get a lead on the Flim Flam brothers. Fearing that they will lose, the Flim Flam brothers double the speed of their machine, which causes the machine to suck in an entire apple tree at a time. This makes nearly all of the apples pass as "bad" in the machine's quality control, so to increase productivity, they turn the quality control off.

The hour is up, and the Mayor counts the barrels...and the Flim Flam brothers have won by a considerable margin.

Having lost their rights to sell in Ponyville, the Apples are despondent. The Flim Flam Brothers openly mock them for their loss and decide to rename the farm Flim Flam Fields, much to the visible upset of Rainbow and Ponyville. The brothers then celebrate by letting everypony try the cider. But since the quality control was turned off, no one likes the brothers' rotten-apple- and twig-infested cider, and they refuse to pay for it! Seeing that their product isn't wanted, and also fearing an angry mob, the Flim Flam brothers promptly skip town, returning Sweet Apple Acres to the Apple Family.

As the episode draws to a close[1], Applejack writes her letter...

 Dear Princess Celestia, I wanted to share my thoughts with you... *ahem* I didn't learn anything! Ha, I was right all along! If you take yer time to do things the right way, yer work'll speak fer itself. Sure, I could tell you I learned somethin' about how my friends are always there ta help me, and I can count on them no matter what, but, truth is, I knew that already too.


Tropes present in this episode. (YMMV tropes can be found here.)

  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: "In this ve-RY community."
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The titular cider press.
    • The Twins plan to rename "Sweet Apple Acres" to "Flim Flam Fields".
  • Adult Fear: No scary monsters in this episode, just a couple of shady businessponies almost making the Apple family lose their jobs and home.
  • An Aesop: Subverted in that Applejack already knew the Aesop all along.
  • Annoying Laugh: Flim and Flam
  • Artistic Licence Economics
  • Artistic License Physics: At the beginning of the episode, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy fly sideways, with their bodies vertical to the ground at high speed towards the Cider Stand, in order to have a conversation on the way.
    • Although this could simply be momentum. Rainbow Dash was pushing Fluttershy through the air until that point (fast enough to make her scream) which means that both have the same velocity. When Rainbow lets go, they should still be travelling at the same speed for a while until air resistance slows them down. They're not so much flying as staying airborne.
    • Not to mention that Flim and Flam dance on their hind legs during part of their Villain Song.
  • As You Know: Rainbow Dash explaining Cider Season and how Pinkie always takes the first spot in line to Fluttershy.
    • Also when the town complains that the Apples never make enough cider each day.
  • The Atoner: While for the first half of the episode Dash is on the side of whoever can get her some sweet sweet cider first, once Twilight calls on the rest of the Mane Six to help the Apples save their farm, Rainbow Dash is the most aggressive about helping speed up the pressing process. [2]
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Flim Flam brothers do win the contest, but the crappy cider needed to win is what drove them out of town and allowed the Apple family to keep their land.
  • The Bet: The Flim Flam brothers and the Apple family bet over the exclusive right to sell cider in Ponyville.
  • Big No: The citizens of Ponyville do it three times, each one louder than the next, to show their utter dissatisfaction with the Flim Flam Brothers' cider.
  • Call Back:
  • The Cameo: Doctor Whooves is seen a couple times, but specifically one shot with a tie, running the hourglass for the competition. Sibsy, one of the storyboard artists, affirms that this was an intentional nod to the fan-named character.
    • He is also seen earlier standing next to Derpy Hooves, fandom-recognized to be his friend/lover/adventuring companion. Coincidence?
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Once the Mane Six and the rest of the Apple family start to outpace the cider machine during the cider contest, Flim and Flam skip the quality control process to get back in the lead. Though this wins them the contest, the resulting product is so terrible that they get run out of town, which would have happened anyway if they lost. At least if they had lost on even terms, it wouldn't have completely ruined their business.
  • Comically Missing the Point:

 Twilight: Isn't it exciting? The first day of cider season!

Spike: Yeah! That means it's only 30 days until sapphire season! [licks chops]

    • Also, Pinkie Pie, going on a rave about how good this year's cider was to Rainbow Dash, who's already frustrated and upset at not getting any… despite Fluttershy trying to warn Pinkie.
  • Continuity Nod: Applejack is perfectly willing to accept help from the other mane cast, a clear nod to the lesson learned in "Applebuck Season".
  • Cool Train: The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 is this.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfluffle: Cider is considered non-alcoholic by default in the United States, and the alcoholic variety is specifically referred to as "hard cider." In other places, however, "cider" is alcoholic. So, to the amusement and/or horror of viewers outside the US, this episode appears to be about ponies getting drunk.
    • That said, in parts of the episode it's referred to as fresh cider, which is a way of calling it non-alcoholic. Besides, alcoholic cider requires fermentation over a period of several months (although some brands take much longer). Given that either side's cider-making process amounts to only scratting (grinding down the apples) and pressing over at most a few minutes, there is no way that cider could become alcoholic.
  • Crowd Song: The whole town pretty much gets in on the Flim Flam Brothers' song by the end.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Flim Flam Brothers make a ridiculous number of economic blunders, though two huge missteps really take the cake:
    • If they had only been willing to split the profits with the Apple Family more fairly, the Apples' finances would stay in the black, Sweet Apple Acres would become a long-term supplier, the Flim Flam Brothers would have formed a profitable business venture, the town would finally get a decent supply of cider, and everypony would have been happy. Instead, they insist on driving the Apples out of business and taking their farm.
      • Even if they offered fairer terms, they were wrong to suddenly confront the Apples with an offer for a major piece of farm equipment, never an easy matter in family-run agriculture. If the Brothers were willing to let the Apples look over even a written rental agreement with Twilight Sparkle, they could have been able to bargain a profitable arrangement with some patience.
    • Even if they insisted on running the Apple Family out of business, they could have done so easily with a little patience. With the ability to produce the cider on the spot where customers were already lined up, they had possibly the best predatory pricing scheme in history. Instead they insist on a contest, a much larger and more dangerous gamble with the same payout.
      • This is assuming they really would have been able to get their own supply of apples to produce the cider with.
  • Expressive Hair: Not just Pinkie, but Flam's mustache droops when things start to go south for the Brothers.
  • Evil Plan: The Flim Flam brothers run one of these on the Apples throughout the episode. First they offer them a blatantly lopsided deal for the family providing them apples, then they show up the next day right after the family used their supply to capitalize on all the dissatisfied customers, and finally they goad the Apples into betting the farm on a contest they had no chance of winning as well as providing them a large amount of apples for free. No matter what happened, the Flim Flam brothers would profit off of the Apple family. The Spanner in the Works is that they steadily drive off a widening proportion of their customer base in the process, until they have nobody left to buy from them.
  • Expy: The Flim Flam Brothers, of... every snake oil salesman in television history, Harold Hill in particular.
  • Fainting: Rarity, at Flam's "Whadya say, sister?" swoons back with fluttering eyelashes, and Spike has to catch her.
  • Fandom Nod: One of the most interested ponies in watching the cider-making, and the one that Flam points out as having a "dry throat, thirsty tongue"? Berry Punch. Cider is frequently alcoholic (though there are no apparent alcoholic beverages in Equestria). This one is most likely intentional, since the artist explicitly states that she loves Drunk!Berry Punch.
    • Doctor Whooves manning an hourglass, in addition to wearing a tie like the Doctor incarnation the fandom associates him with. Confirmed as an intentional reference.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Evil might be too far for them, but the Flim-Flam brothers both are polite and charming...while not gloating and rubbing the Apples' faces.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Flim and Flam do this for each other, when not speaking in unison.
  • Frothy Mugs of Cider (non-alcoholic!)
  • Funny Background Event: The "Jumping Lyra" gag, after being absent thus far in Season 2, finally returns. Can you spot her? [3]
    • Also, Rainbow Dash flies around making hilarious expressions during the song.
  • Graceful Losers: The Apples surrender the field with a fair amount of grace, though Applejack may have suspected that the crowd would reject their competitors' low-quality cider.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: As this is a kid's show, the Apple Family's cider is presumably non-alcoholic. Yet they serve it in tankards foaming over like beer. On top of that, when the ponies drink it, they make some interesting faces.
  • Gratuitous French: During the Flim Flam Brothers' musical number, they refer to themselves as "nonpareils", or "without equal" in French.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Lampshaded, as Fluttershy blushes and appears to try to cover herself up when Rainbow Dash barges into her bedroom and removes the covers from her bed.
  • Heel Face Turn: Rainbow Dash initially supports the Flim Flam brothers, until she sees what jerks they are. At that point, she is willing to kick their flanks, but AJ stops her.
  • Homage/The Jimmy Hart Version: The first act is pretty much a loving nod to Meredith Willson's The Music Man. Not only do we have the the barbershop quartet-style outfits, red-and-white striped manes, and the use of the song to lure the rest of the town into the confidence scheme; the song itself shares many similar musical elements with the Ear Worm-worthy "Ya Got Trouble" from the musical, including the eloquent vocabulary and the backing beat of the crowd shouting "Cider! Cider!" Younger tropers may recognize the homage from a more recent work, the Monorail song from The Simpsons episode "Marge vs. the Monorail."
    • The episode's plot itself is an homage to the American folk tale of John Henry.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Sam Vincent plays Flim and Scott McNeil voices Flam.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: The Flim Flam Brothers, first by accepting the Mane Cast's choice to help the Apples, then turning off quality control, ultimately leading to their downfall. They also made the contest explicitly about quantity over quality -- claiming they could make cider faster, not better. They won on quantity but ended up with a product that wouldn't sell.
  • Honor Before Reason: Granny Smith risked her farm and livelihood on a silly bet just because the Flim Flam brothers called her a chicken. The same farm that was built through years of effort, on the lands that were granted to her father by Celestia herself.
    • Actually, she never bets the farm, only the right to sell cider, hardly the Apple Family's only business. Once they win, the Flim Flam brothers just ACT like they've won the farm, and nobody calls them on it. They're just that slick.
  • Huddle Shot: The Apple family gets into one when deciding whether to work with Flim and Flam. They sneak in on them.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Once again, Pinkie Pie is the one behaving this way. Between her "hope they don't run out" remark in the cold opening and her gabbing about how amazing the cider was in front of Rainbow Dash (she bought at least ten cups of cider), she acts pretty insensitive. Of course, Pinkie makes up for it in the end.
  • Jerks With Good Publicity: The Flim Flam Brothers are charismatic, their cider-making machine is a true wonder, and their abundant machine-made cider is as good as (maybe even better than) the cider squeezed by the Apple family, so they win everyone's support as soon they arrive in Ponyville. It isn't until after they cheat the Apple family out of their farm and deactivate their machine's quality control system to produce faster (but vastly inferior) cider that everyone finally realizes the kind of jerks they are. Their public Kick the Dog moment doesn't help matters in the least.
  • Kick the Dog: The Flim Flam Brothers openly mocking the Apples for losing their livelihood, laughing in their faces. In-Universe, this not only enrages Rainbow enough that she'd have beaten the stuffing out of them if AJ hadn't stopped her, but it seems to cause the entire town to have second thoughts.
  • Know When to Fold'Em:The brothers could tell an angry mob was likely to form, with them as the targets. So they did the smart thing and left for another town.
  • Ludd Was Right: Subverted. Even Granny Smith is willing to admit the Flim Flam Brothers' machine makes good cider (she never says it, but the look on her face after she tries it says enough); the problem is that the Flim Flam Brothers themselves are greedy, dishonest businessmen who offer the Apple family a "deal" that would financially ruin them, threaten to put them out of business when they sensibly refuse, and only manage to win the contest by churning out vast quantities of undrinkable product. The machine itself is never presented as being inherently malicious; only its unscrupulous creators are.
    • And the way they drive it. They owe Granny a fence.
  • Magitek: The Flim Flam Brothers' machine runs off their own magic.
  • Mare versus Machine: Of the "quality vs. quantity" type.
  • Meaningful Name: "Flim Flam" being another term for a confidence scheme.
    • Lampshaded by the Flim Flam Brothers threatening the Apple family, saying that they'll need to get jobs that aren't so perfectly suited to their names.
  • My God What Have We Done?: Nothing is said, but the town's reaction to seeing the Apple Family lose their livelihood (and the Flim Flam Brothers' Kick the Dog moment), something that only happened because they were too impatient to wait for more cider, is pretty much this.
  • Mythology Gag: This isn't the first time My Little Pony has had two competing juice stands. An episode of My Little Pony Tales, "The Great Lemonade Stand Wars", did it first, including contrasting the main characters' charming little wooden stand with their competitor's sleeker, shinier, mobile one. This time, however, Bon Bon is on the other side of the counter.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Downplayed Trope with Fluttershy blushing at her covers being ripped away.
  • Naked Ponies Are Funny: Rainbow Dash pulls the covers off of Fluttershy's bed, causing Fluttershy to cup her hooves over her "chest" and blush with embarrassment. No real reason for it other than Rule of Funny.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Maybe not as fast as some, but if the family name is Flim Flam...
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Look at you, Ponyville! Because you were so insensitive and impatient for the Apple Family to make more cider, you nearly made them lose their home and livelihood! In their defense, they realize this in the end.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: By goading the Apple Family into a contest, the Flim Flam Brothers end up causing them to make enough cider for the entire town.
  • Nopony Calls Me Chicken: Granny Smith doesn't take kindly to being called this and ends up betting Sweet Apple Acres in a cider-making contest.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The competition is over and Twilight and Applejack collapse in exhaustion. Having chosen not to cheat even in the face of temptation, Twilight compliments Applejack on how proud she is of her and how such integrity would not go unrewarded. Cue victory being handed to the Flim Flam brothers.
    • Of course, Twilight was perfectly correct. It just took a little longer than expected for the Apples' honest labor to pay off.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Nobody seems overly concerned with the massive loss of apples that were used to produce Flim and Flams shoddy batches of cider.
  • Ocular Gushers: Pinkie Pie, yet again.
  • Off-Model: Cheerilee is briefly seen in the beginning of the episode with pink eyes.
  • Oh Crap: The Flim Flam Brothers when they realize that not only is nopony going to pay one cent for their cider, but the entire town is furious at them.
    • The Flim Flam Brothers also have one when they realize that Applejack's friends are helping enough that they might lose the competition.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Hoof: Apple Bloom just doesn't know when to shut her mouth. Granny Smith certainly doesn't help any by betting the farm.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: The Flim Flam Brothers win the contest, but they've thoroughly alienated everyone in town, and they used not just so many bad apples, but chunks of apple trees that no one will buy from them.
  • The Quiet One: Big Macintosh gets one line in this episode beyond his characteristic "Eeyup": a firm "No deal" to the Flim Flam Brothers.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Granny Smith weathers the brothers' provocations with relative grace (unlike Apple Bloom), until one of them calls her "chicken."
  • Real Estate Scam: Near the end, the Flim Flam Brothers reveal their intention to bankrupt the Apple family, force them off their land, and construct "Flim Flam Fields".
  • Recycled in Space: The American folk legend of John Henry beating a track-laying machine risking to put hundreds of men out of work, as retold in the form of a cider-making competition. With ponies.
  • Rule of Funny: Why is Applejack sending a letter to Celestia when she hasn't learned anything? Because it's funny, that's why!
    • Fluttershy covering her naked body, even though it's already been pointed out they are naked anyway.
  • Rule of Perception: Once the competition is in full-swing, the amount of cider barrels on both sides is never shown in comparison to one another until the very end to give the impression that the race between them is close.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Flim and Flam are twin brothers, yes? Take a look at their cutie marks. Flim has an apple slice. Flam has an apple with a slice having been taken out of it.
  • Running Gag: Rainbow Dash failing to get a drink of cider.

  Rainbow Dash: (tearing up) Is this some kind of cruel joke?

    • The Flim Flam Brothers knock over Granny's fence twice.
    • This is the episode that really makes it unquestionable that giving Bon Bon a different voice every time she has a line is deliberate.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Flim Flam Brothers force the Apple family to either accept a deal that would ruin them, or be run out of business. The contest was pretty much the third option.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Even when they are losing the bet (and therefore, about to lose everything they own) the Apple family refuses to start using less than the finest apples to speed up the production of cider. This ends up making them lose the bet, the farm, home and livelihood to the Flim Flam Brothers. It pays off for them in the end.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Although the Apple family loses the contest, the quality of their cider is realized, and the Flim Flam Brothers' true nature is exposed, which (combined with them stupidly serving the bad batches of Cider they made instead of the first, better batches) forces them to skip town.
  • Serious Business: Sweet Apple Cider is so important that ponies line up for miles to get it and are even willing to camp out in front of the farm to make sure they get some before everypony else.
  • Shout-Out: During the Villain Song, there's a pony with long blond hair, with a hammer and lightning for a Cutie Mark. It's at 8:38 here. The fans have named her Mjölna, while the one next to her is QuickFix.
  • Shown Their Work: All through the episode. Cider season? A real thing in apple country, and a very short thing, a matter of a few weeks in late fall. Only selling one day's production at a time? Absolutely; cider has an extremely short shelf life before it starts to carbonate and ferment. The big stone wheel Big Mac turns? A real, and very old-fashioned, machine for cider pressing. Truthfully, the Brothers' machine could probably make three to four times as much cider from a given weight of apples compared to the Apples' methods, making that 75/25 split look a lot more reasonable, although it would also cost the Apple family three-quarters of the apples involved.
  • Single Tear: Shed by Applejack as they abandon the field to the Flim Flams.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: the Brothers definitely share traits of this.
  • Spit Take: Done twice: the first time when the Flim-Flam Bros. realize they're falling behind, and the second time when the townsfolk drink their "cider".
  • Squashed Flat: Poor Big Macintosh gets pulled under and stuck to the treadmill when Rainbow Dash jumps off during the contest.
  • Static Character/An Aesop: Both played for laughs in the letter to Princess Celestia.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: This would be the best way to describe Flim Flams' cider when they shut off the quality control system. When it's active, the machine turns out cider even Granny Smith clearly approves of.
  • Tempting Fate: A minor example:

  Flam: We don't care if the whole kingdom of Canterlot helps! It's a lost cause!

  • Theme Twin Naming: Flim and Flam
  • Ticket Line Campout: Not used for tickets, but pulled off in the same way to wait in line for the Apple family's cider. As Pinkie notes, she decided to camp out and then told a few friends about her suggestion. They then decided to follow her example.
  • Tim Taylor Technology: When they start to fall behind in the contest, the Flim Flam brothers increase the power to their machine. The hyperactive machine sucks up whole trees and mangles the apples. The only way they can produce any cider like that is to turn off their quality control sensor, and that only results in undrinkable sludge.
  • Trope 2000: The eponymous cider maker.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Rainbow finally gets a mug of apple cider in the end.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: The Flim Flam Brothers make a run for it after they realize that no one likes their cider anymore.
  • Villain Song: The Flim Flam Bros. song counts, although it's rather upbeat and causes everyone else to join in singing. Also notable as the first Villain Song of the series thus far.
  • Visual Pun: The Apple family's device for making cider uses actual horsepower.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Awesome: Cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider, cider...
  • A Wizard Did It: Lauren Faust stated, in defining the technology for the show, that if there was a necessary device that needed to work automatically, instead of relying on electricity, she'd claim that one could just assume that some mechanic unicorn infused it with magic. That's exactly how Flim and Flam start up their machine.
  • Working Title: Apparently was supposed to be called "Cider Horse Rules".
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Rainbow Dash cannot seem get a drop of cider. First, Fluttershy, who is in line just in front of her, gets the last mugful[4]. The second day, the Flim Flam brothers offer her a mug, but she spills it when Applejack lassos one of the brothers' barrels of cider.
    • You know she's desperate when she shoves the dirt it was spilled on into her mouth.

Notes

  1. and as Rainbow Dash finally gets a mug of cider
  2. Of course, Dash is aggressive about pretty much everything she does.
  3. Just as Applejack accepts the help of Twilight and her friends. To be more exact, just as those friends "Yay!"ed after that answer.
  4. This being Fluttershy, she was perfectly willing to share, but then everypony started shouting...
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