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29 January 2012

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000" REVIEW

There comes a time in your life when you lose your faith on something. You can lose your faith in humanity. You can lose your faith in Hollywood. You can lose your faith in a family member, a friend, a celebrity, your partner, or even worse, yourself. However, despite how much you can lose your faith and how desperate you are, there is something you should never lose your faith on. And that something is Chuck Norris. What!? Did you expect me to make a super deep metaphysical introduction before going into the review? It's My Little Pony for Luna's sake. If you start quoting Tsun-Zu on your reviews you are definitely doing something wrong. Lets get to it!

For those who are new to this blog, I will warn you of this conveniently placed TL;DR paragraph that will serve you all as a mean to measure my opinion on the episode in case you don't want to swim through my wall of text. Is the episode good in Friendship is Magic standards? Yes. Did I like it? Well...Yes and no. And if you want to find out which one wins, you better keep reading.

So this episode starts with Rainbow Dash grabbing Fluttershy out of her cottage and taking her to the line in waiting for Sweet Apple Acres' delicious Cider. That's right! It's Cider Season in Ponyville and all the ponies are anxious to get their hooves and their tongues on that delicious drink. I have to say I really like that set up. The Apple Family as a business hasn't done much besides, well, organising the events in the premiere episode of Season 1 and offering the games area in Luna Eclipsed. So seeing them actually selling something as a family business made me happy. This cider has the quality of being delicious, cheap, and everypony loves it. The only problem is that they take forever to make it. According to Granny Smith and Applejack the process to make this cider is traditional and it takes dedication, so its quality is top notch. However, Rainbow Dash is not keen on having to wait an entire day to get her hooves on a glass, and rages about it. It's during this fit of rage when the one shot characters of the day make their entrance.

I was hoping so hard for one of them to go "I. Drink. Your. Cider!"
Introduce the worst pon-I mean, my least favori-I mean, these absolute motherf-I'm sorry, allow me to return to my "professionalism". As you can already tell, I am not keen on these characters at all, but I will be fair with them. The Flim Flam brothers (I see what you did there Mitch) show up at the scene of the cider drought, with a steampunk cider press and a song taken from the Sherman Brothers' book. Yes, I might not like them, but I actually love their musical number. The first time I watched it, I was rather confused by it. I blame it to a combination between my inability to catch fast paced words and the sound quality of the stream; but after listening to it a second time, I really enjoyed it! It has a Mary Poppins vibe and let me tell you, I freaking love Mary Poppins! So anything that reminds me of one of my favourite childhood movies is already good on my book. The other thing of them that I liked was their machine, the one that gives title to the episode, The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, which is what you will get if you ask Doc Brown to build a cider press in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Crazy bronies are claiming this machine to be an anachronistic piece of technology, and I just roll my eyes and enjoy watching that thing work. I love machinery, so this contraption is a joy for me to watch in action.

However, not everything they have is good. They bring a product that all the ponies in Ponyville are crazy for, at the same price, and in bigger amounts, which puts the Apple Family in a very spiky situation. If they join the Flim Flam brothers and their unfair share of benefits, they will lose Sweet Apple Acres; if they fight against them for the rights to sell the cider, they will lose the rights to sell and so lose Sweet Apple Acres too. The Apple family, being stubborn as a family of mules, decides to fight against the Flim Flam brothers in a contest to see which one of them produces more cider. At the start things seem to be really bad for the Apple family. Their traditional methods give slow results, while the Brothers produce a lot more cider faster than them. This motivates Twilight to take action and use a loop-hole to help Applejack. She presents her and her four friends as "Honorary Members" of the Apple family, to which the Flim Flam brothers agree, stating that even with all the help on Canterlot they will still lose. What they don't count with is that these six friends know how to work as a team, and for once Applejack allows them to help. It's good that she learnt how to swallow her pride after season 1. Working together, they manage to raise the productivity from one barrel per three, to five barrels per three. The Brothers see this and they also take action, eliminating the quality control and throwing in their cider every single thing their machine catches. Rainbow Dash sees this and encourages the Apple Family to do the same. But Applejack sticks to her standards and keeps making cider, faster, forcing their friends to the edge of exhaustion, but without sacrificing quality for it.

So basically, The Apple Family is BioWare, and the Flim Flam Brothers are EA.
By the end of the contest, the Apple Family has produced a lot less barrels of cider than the Flim Flam brothers, and so they give up their rights to sell cider in Ponyville, which leads to the most conflicted part of this episode for me. It all starts when the Brothers start laughing at the Apples. It might sound like a smug laughter to some people, but to me they sound like morons who just discovered how someone laughs. Then it's followed by an incredibly over the top scene where the Mane Six cry and hang their heads low between their shoulders, as they leave. That scene alone rubs me the wrong way. This is a show that gave me a lot of great moments where I cry at, but for the first time I felt like I was forced to be invested, which made me care even less. However, as much as I disliked that scene it does lead to another part that I really liked. As you see the Mane Six leaving, Applejack looks at the Ponyvillians and says:

"Go ahead everypony, enjoy your cider. Isn't that what you wanted?"

The looks on the background ponies' faces are priceless. They look at each other, mouths hang open, brows held low, aggravated and reluctant. You can see how bad they feel for what they just did. They basically forced the Apple Family out of business because of their greed and their gluttony for cider. I could see how that guilt broke them. It doesn't matter if the Brothers did the best cider in the world; to the Ponyvillians, it would've tasted like vile refuse. That was a great touch, as I actually prefer a subtle scene before an over the top one.

But of course, the Ponyvillians drink the Brothers' cider and it's filled with rotten apples, twigs, rocks, branches, and it overall tastes terrible, something caused by their elimination of the quality control. Seeing as their business and their machine has been ruined, they leave the scene to never come back again, banished to that limbo where Trixie and Gilda live in now. With them gone, the rights to selling in Ponyville return to the Apple Family who, thanks to this competition, now have enough cider to provide the entire town. The episode ends with probably the best lesson on friendship ever written in the show's history.

"Dear Princess Celestia, I would like to share my thoughts with you. *Ahem*. I didn't learn anything! I was right all along!"

Now, regardless of how helpful or unhelpful that is for the target audience, that is a genius reversal. Sometimes there is no need to teach a lesson at the end, as it's been taught throughout the entire episode. We see Applejack and her family stick to their guns and aim to provide the best quality for their product. Working hard on something without rushing through to make it the best possible. This is something she knew from the very start, so why bothering sending a lesson about it? There is the whole "Sending a letter to Celestia" part mostly to clarify the moral to the kids who watch this, but also to laugh at the way they deliver the Aesop with every episode. It was a great ending after such an odd conclusion, something I really appreciated.

Dash in the other hoof, doesn't.
So that was "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", and to tell you the truth, the good moments still outweigh the bad moments. Okay, lets be fair here, there's no good or bad moments, there's just moments I liked and moments I didn't like.

I will start with those I didn't like first, so I can get to the good parts faster. Allow me to repeat myself: I didn't like the Flim Flam brothers. Well no, let's be fair. From an antagonist point of view, they are not as charismatic as Prince Blueblood, but they still have some meat to their characters; they are definitely not one dimensional. It's how they were dispatched what pissed me off. I was hoping for them to be chased out of Ponyville with pitchforks and torches, but what happens in the end is that they just leave and that's it. I am quite angry that they didn't got what they deserved, but I think I know why: It's because I'm a man.

Let me explain.

These two brothers are not different from The Great and Powerful Trixie. They are two show offs who relish on vanquishing the competition through ridicule. The reason why Trixie is so loved however is because she is a female character, and most of the men like bitches like her. So her popularity in a fanbase that is mostly male was quite understandable. I guess I am going through what many other female fans went through when they saw Trixie for the first time, which worries me as now it's my turn to suffer through fanart after fanart of these two assholes. To the fans of them reading this, I just have this to say: I'm sorry. I'm a man. And I am asexual. I don't like dicks.

I also didn't like how overly melodramatic that whole thing felt towards the end. Seriously, watching the HD version of the episode was, I mean, wow. I literally uttered "Jesus..." when Twilight starts crying. Twilight starts crying! I mean yeah, you worked your ass, you are tired, you are exhausted, and you basically went through hell to get the cider in place, but does that warrant crying? But it's not just her. When the brothers win, everypony cries. Pinkie Pie is the most obvious one of course, but Applejack cries too, the background ponies cry, Granny Smith cries! Oh God, it's too much. And it's all pointless, since they are all happy and cheerful in the end. Twilight goes from "solitary tear, sniff" to "This is awesome, let's celebrate!" Personality disorder much? I'm sorry, I'm just being mean. I like being mean at Twilight, that makes me love her even more. However, this scene comes from the guy who pulled my strings with Sonic Rainboom and Secret of my Excess, which leads me to the next disappointing point.

M.A. Larson, master of build up and rushed up conclusions. Yes, I love his work, and he wrote my favourite episode of all time, but he is quite keen on doing the conclusions in medias res. Let me put you examples of all the episodes he wrote, with the exception The Return of Harmony Season 2 premiere.

- Swarm of the Century: Pinkie Pie drives the Parasprites away, the town is destroyed, the end.
- Sonic Rainboom: Rainbow Dash wins the competition, she flies away with the Wonderbolts, the end.
- The Cutie Mark Chronicles: The six friends find out they have been connected forever, Twilight sends a sappy letter to Celestia, the end.
- Luna Eclipsed: Luna scares some kids, she brings Nightmare Night back, the end.
- Secret of my Excess: Spike reverts back, the town is destroyed, however everything is fine, the end.

I am leaving the Season 2 premiere episodes out because M.A. Larson had enough time on his hands to give a long conclusion, satisfying and in tone, but that was only because he had two episodes to work with. So as you can see, he is awesome at doing build ups and giving pay offs to such build ups, but when it comes to the ending it does feel rushed. This never was an issue, as his build up to pay off ratio masked the whole rushed ending problem. But with this episode, it's different. The pay off this time wasn't that satisfying. In fact, there was no build up at all! Every episode he wrote does have a build up and a pay off, here, let me show you again.

- Swarm of the Century: Pinkie Pie needs instruments, so once she find them all she is able to drive the parasprites away.
- Sonic Rainboom: Rainbow Dash has to create the legendary move, but it's not until her friend is in danger she can do it.
- The Cutie Mark Chronicles: All six stories converge with Rainbow Dash's, connecting the six friends after years of being separated.
- The Return of Harmony: After 26 episodes, the lessons of Friendship bring the Mane Six back to defeat Discord.
- Luna Eclipsed: Luna finally confronts her own fears as she transforms into Nightmare Moon to prove that she definitely changed.
- Secret of my Excess: Find a way to put Rarity and Spike in a situation where Spike confesses his love to Rarity.

See? Brilliant! However there was no build up in this episode. There was a conflict, they solved it, and they moved on. Applejack learnt anything, the Apple family learnt anything, so for them nothing was accomplished. If anything, the ones who learn something were the background ponies and the audience itself, but for the Mane Six, there was no lesson to learn whatsoever. Without lesson there is no pay off. This doesn't make the episode bad, far from it, it just makes it weird.

So now you see the things that I didn't like. How about what I did like? Well, besides all the things I already said I liked, I really liked the competition. I liked seeing the Mane Six working as a team, that was really satisfying and I was totally invested on them. These are characters I do care for, so seeing them work together and hard for a common goal is something I really enjoy. When they all collapse on the ground, breathless, I was feeling exhausted too I was so into it. Or maybe I just like to watch them suffer and getting their flanks kicked, either option is good for me. I liked Granny Smith, who keeps gaining points to become part of my badass tier, and Tabitha St. Germain surely had quite a meta moment when Granny Smith and Rarity had to work together. Did I say I really liked the Brothers' Machine? I retract myself. I frigging LOVED their machine! I am of those who accepts new technology appearing in Equestria and this device is just wonderful. Seriously, go take a look at it carefully. Try to fool yourself on not wanting to drive it and see if it can time travel.

However, coming from M.A. Larson, and from Friendship is Magic, this episode is good but it's fairly weak. Even with "The Mysterious Mare-do-Well" I had some guilty pleasure out of it, with this episode I didn't got all that much. It might be the one I enjoyed the least out of Season 2, but that's like saying I didn't like one cake because the one I had before was served by a topless girl and this one is served by my high school teacher. I still enjoyed the cake and ignored her piercing, error finding eyes, so overall I enjoyed this episode. It was simple, silly and it had a funny ending. If you want something edgier go read one of the many sad fics that end with Applejack setting her barn on fire to cash in the money for the insurance company. Wait, nobody wrote that yet? I CALL DIBS!

I also called dibs on Rarity! Get your filthy hooves off of her you damn dirty pony!!!

- Defining moment: The whole competition, especially when the Mane Six join in. The moral materialises as it progresses. Sadly, what comes afterwards, is not that good.

- Moral: The keys to a good work are patience, hard work, and dedication. If you get sloppy on what you are doing you will end up regretting it. Rushing things through doesn't lead you anywhere but to failure.


  1. Good review and I agree on the over the top ending. I disagree, however, on the removal of Flim and Flam. They're business ponies and when no one wants their product, it's just bad business to stay. They cut their losses and ran, like any normal business would do. It's not overplayed like you seemed to wish it to be, which is odd, considering you prefer subtlety to zany.

    1. I guess you are right on that argument, but I think it was them laughing like morons what made me want them to get chased away with pitchforks and torches. If they hadn't laugh so...despisingly, I would've enjoyed their dissapearance a lot more.

      However, now that I think about it, the way they leave reminds me a bit of Jerry Lewis. They just bolt.

  2. I just found this place but I'm already waiting for the fanfic. Lets burn this mother down she says. I agree that since there was no lesson learned it felt a little weird but I say this is much better than her learning the same lesson a third time. Also, I thought the crying at the end was due to the fact that the apple family lost and now they no longer have a place to live. That being said I don't know how you could lose land that was given to you normally. All in all I enjoyed the episode if only because they had RD eat dirt and really just treated her badly in a funny way. NO one does that to my Rainbow Dash ::laugh::.

    1. I loved that part of the episode too. Nice way to play with the Aesop. I still consider the crying too over the top, I felt like the makers were like "It's sad! They are sad! You gotta be sad! Cry! Cry!" I felt like they were trying to carry my emotions by the hand.

      Also, I love Rainbow Dash, and I love to see some slapstick comedy involving her. "Is this some kind of sick joke!?" Of course it is, and it's hilarious.

  3. I really enjoyed this review, and I'll be following your future posts.

    Like the anon before me, I thought your criticism of the ending was a bit harsh, though I agree that it lacked bite after all the awesome build-up. Still, the letter at the end firmly secured this episode as "awesome".

    1. Thank you for following me man!

      Yeah, I was harsh, but it's just my opinion. I really enjoyed the episode, if anything it stirred my emotions, so it had me invested on what was happening. And that was the Best Letter ever written in this show thus far.

  4. What!? You can't heave Rarity, she's MINE! You can heave Ranbow Dash if you want, but I own the marshmallow damsel.

    Also, did you wanted to punch Pikie Pie too? When she was saying how GOOD the Cider was to rainbow dash?

    1. Deal! I will gladly take Dashie, she's my favorite after all XD Enjoy having Rarity turn all your courtains into dresses XD

      I actually like Pinkie Pie here. If anything, she deserves the cider more than Rainbow. She was in line from the previous the night! That's Rolling Stones Fan dedication there.

    2. I don't mind the courtains (they're made of plastic anyway) the problem will be that she mus be a very expensive "partner" (I refuse to cal a fictional pony from a cartoon "Girlfriend"), and she'll problably bankrupt me soner or later.

      Iou have a point there, but I still think that Pinbkie was rubing waaaaay too much in RD's face, even if she didn't mean to offend.

    3. It's rule of funny. In the end, it all comes to what's funnier, and sticking it up to Dash is very funny.

  5. Well that was a good episode, but far from excellent, and as you say, considering the other Mitch's episodes, this was his most weakest episode. I liked how you summarized the structure of his past episodes, but i also i want to add that his other weakness is that he is not so good at using references; I feel that the Flim Flam musical a direct copy and paste of the Music Man, (I know, it was excellent and i couldn't help to like it but, it just feeled so weird) and also how he use blatant references of Godzilla and King Kong in the secret of my excess, is good but it didn't fit that well in the pony universe in my opinion.
    The letter to Princess Celestia was just excellent, I always welcome a good twist of a staple of in any show and anything that trolled to our favorite troll, I just loved it.

    1. I never had the chance to watch "The Music Man", but since everybody is mentioning it I am totally going to check it out now. I'll have to put the videoclub of my city to work for once, now that MegaUpload is gone.

      I definitely agree with you on that one, although Godzilla and King Kong felt like the most homogenous refferences on his scripts.

      And yes, the consensus seems unanimous respect the letter to the Princess. That's because it's awesome.

  6. I pretty much agree with all of this. Great episode (of course every episode is great) with a lackluster ending that's saved by the best letter to Celestia in the series, giving Applejack a time to finally shine.

    1. It was definitely one of AJ's best moments on the series, next to the Slumber party with Rarity, or when she recovers back on The Return of Harmony part 2.

  7. The reason why Trixie is so loved however is because she is a female character, and most of the men like bitches like her.

    Sorry but I found this line a little offensive. I believe Trixie is loved because she was an interesting character. And in the end she did suffer the consequences of her actions due to losing badly against the Ursa Minor, being forced to tell the truth, and being shown up by Twilight.

    1. Yeah, I guessed I was going to offend some people with that argument, but it's true! Trixie is a bitch. She is only interesting because she's a bitch with weaknesses, but I never see those weaknesses get mentioned when she's brought up. People remember her for her smugness, not because she couldn't vanquish an Ursa Major.

    2. I think she may fall into the 'Draco in Leather pants' problem, where fans focus on the good points but forget the bad. Though I loved the Flim-Flam brothers but then the Simpsons episode with the Monorail is a personal favorite.

    3. I totally agree with you. Nobody mentions how she ridiculed AJ, Dash and Rarity, but everyone gushes about her showing her weakness at the end of the episode. I am one of those, by the way. I never liked the Monorail episode myself though, maybe that's why this one fell a bit flat for me >_>

  8. Music Man is definitely worth watching. Its a fun musical and this was a big old nod to it. Was also a nod to the Black Friday phenomenon. If anyone doesn't know what Black Friday is: its the day after Thanksgiving sales rush. Folks will, myself included, spend HOURS in line at insane hours to get some good deals. The ponies were far better behaved than shoppers at Black Friday.

    1. Being a spaniard, I learnt of Black Friday three years ago, but I do know of it. I have to agree, it does feel like a "take that!" to the Black Friday mentality.

      Also, if the ponies behaved better it made me wonder how people behave, let me check a video -checks video- holyshit, they are stepping over people!

  9. I basically agree with your review but I'm not sure what you said about Trixie/FlimFlam was correct. I'm female and I like Trixie as her bravado is amusing but I absolutely DESPISE the brothers. Worst. Ponies. Ever.

    1. I think that was my knee jerk reaction to how I saw the Flim Flam brothers, even though I am cooling off on them now. They are still the worst ponies, as they made AJ and her whole family cry, walk away in shame, mock them, and by default made the Mane Six cry (Twilight's tear KILLS me).

      I'm sorry if my opinion offended you. Take it as it is: just opinion. It wasn't my intention to offend anyone.

  10. Hello, first time reader here, but I liked what you had to say and agree with most of what you wrote here, though I think I liked Flim and Flam more then you. Though mostly from their musical number and their design. I lOVE there design. They're a lot longer then the other ponies instead of being just a colour swap like most others that appear and I like their barber shop coloured mains and tails.
    Though in all honesty, I had forgotten about Trixie. I remember Luna, she was great. I remember Discord, who was awesome. I will remember Flim Flam if only for their song and dance routine. Trixie... has faded into the mists of memory for me until you brought her up just now. Maybe she needed a song.

  11. "They basically forced the Apple Family out of business because of their greed and their gluttony for cider."

    Mmm, not so much. In fact, Applejack's little guilt trip on the towns...poines? kind of soured me on this episode. They didn't drive the Apple family to anything - Granny made a foolish bet she wouldn't have been able to win if the Manes hadn't intervened. For all the talk about sticking to your standards and holding the line on quality, the fact is the Apples couldn't meet the demand and the Flim-Flam brothers could. Under normal conditions (the Apples working by themselves using the traditional method versus the Flim-Flams using the machine *with the QC enabled*) the Flim-Flams were able to deliver a product on par in terms of quality and price, and in greater quantity. They weren't using any dirty tricks to do it, just innovation. It was, initially, an honest competition which the Apples were flat-out losing. Of course, bringing in more help and organizing their work force was a fair response, at which point the Flim-Flams would have lost if they'd played it straight. But none of that translates into the customers being wrong for wanting more cider than the Apples were able to deliver, or to blame for Granny staking the rights to cider sales on a contest based on quantity over quality.

    Dirty pool, AJ.

    1. Let me tell you right away that I really enjoyed reading your comment. I love how this show is so prone to start discussion :)

      As for what you say, you're right. I can see your point. Granny Smith pulled a Mart McFly and got her family into trouble. Plus, they could've just refused to allow the Flim Flams to use the apple orchad. I guess I forgot to add that the BG ponies made this episode. It was them after all the ones that rejected the Flim Flams three times and "kicked" them out of town.

      But yes, this was an episode about Technology VS Ponypower, and in the end Ponypower won because of several loop-holes. It's still good though.

    2. I am simply an extreme fan of back to the future and any reference of it make me love the show much more. Granny Smith risked the farm with the bet, yes, but doing it in the Marty McFly way. Even i could forgive her of the global warming if she was the cause.

  12. I'm looking forward to have Flim and Flam back in S4.