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Recap: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic S4 E21 "Leap of Faith"
New episode, same old Con Artists.

Pony: Applejack, are you saying you lied?
Applejack: ... I am.

Written by Josh Haber

The Apples are enjoying an afternoon swim, but Granny Smith stays on shore, claiming that a career as an "aquapony" in her younger days has left her too sore to enjoy the water. As they hit the road, the trio find themselves in the midst of a crowd of injured, sick ponies, all headed for a nearby circus tent. The Apples investigate and find that the source of the crowd is the Flim Flam Brothers, shilling a "Flim Flam Miracle Curative Tonic" which cures all ills. They demonstrate by giving the tonic to a pony with crutches named Silver Shill, who promptly discards his crutches and dances out of the tent after a single sip. Granny Smith is sold on the tonic, but Applejack and Big Mac are worried, given their history with the Flim Flam Brothers.

The next day, Granny Smith is swimming again, claiming that she's feeling much better. Applejack and Apple Bloom go back to the Flim Flam Brothers' tent to investigate. There, they find Silver Shill yet again dancing out of the Flim Flam Brothers' tent without his crutches. Applejack follows him and discovers an area filled with various wigs, crutches and props — Silver Shill was in on the act, and the tonic is useless. She confronts the Flim Flam brothers, who smoothly acknowledge that the tonic might be bogus, but it still makes Granny Smith happier. Applejack has no choice but to agree.

Later on, Apple Bloom suggests that she and Granny Smith enter a Ponyville swim meet together. Granny Smith is initially hesitant, but Applejack points out that if she can swim in a lake, a pool should be no problem. The Flim Flam Brothers take the opportunity to sell more tonic, even using Applejack in their sales pitch. Applejack hesitantly tells the crowd that it seems to help Granny, which is enough to convince several residents of Ponyville to buy it.

Apple Bloom and Granny Smith perform their swimming routine flawlessly. During the applause, Applejack spots Silver Shill in the crowd, selling some of the tonic. Silver Shill admits he felt bad about lying, but that he's learned — through Applejack — that honesty isn't always the best policy. Just then, Granny Smith announces her intentions to break the Ponyville diving record, leaping from a great height into a tiny pool of water. Applejack sprints after her and catches her with a rope just before she hits the ground. Granny is irritated that Applejack should stop her when she has the magic tonic, forcing Applejack to admit before the gathered crowd that the tonic does nothing, and that she regrets her role in shilling it. She says that while there's nothing wrong with believing in yourself, it's wrong to make other people think they can do what they can't through selling snake oil. Silver Shill steps up to confirm her story, and the Flim Flam Brothers sheepishly make their exit. Inspired by Applejack's honesty, Silver Shill gives her all the profits he's made by selling the tonic — a single coin — and promises to make reparations to the pony that he cheated.

Later, Granny Smith is doing a little more diving (from a much safer height this time), while Applejack writes in the Mane Six's diary. She muses that honesty is difficult when the truth will hurt, but it's always better to tell the truth than participate in a deception. Applejack walks off to join her family members, while the coin she got from Silver Shill shines with a rainbow shimmer...


Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor:
    • Applejack, once again, is the only member of the Mane Six who appears. Notably, this is the only episode to introduce one of the magic keys that hasn't featured all six in some capacity.
    • This is also the second key episode where Spike is absent, with the first being Rainbow Falls.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: The Flim Flam Miracle Curative Tonic. It's nothing but apple juice and beet leaves.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Horse diving was a real thing.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Makes a brief appearance in the intro to Flim and Flam's song.
    Flim: And if we haven't captured your interest just yet, by the time we've finished, an unfortunate phenomenon practically guarantees that we will!
    Flam: A phenomenon? What's that?
    Flim: It's a circumstance perceptible by the senses, but in this case...
  • Amusing Injuries: Averted. All the injuries, including Granny Smith's flashback and the probable results of her dangerous High Dive Hijinks, are Played for Drama.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Granny Smith's belief in the "miracle tonic" leads her to attempt a suicidal dive. Even if this stuff was amazing as it claimed to be (and in a land like Equestria, this isn't that far-fetched to consider), that jump would likely still cause severe injuries at best.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The opening of the Flim Flam Brothers' sales pitch does this in reverse.
    Flim: Welcome one and all to the demonstration of a lifetime!
    Flam: A demonstration of a better life!
    Flim: A demonstration of a better time!
  • Call Back:
    • The Flim Flam Brothers, from "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", return, and just like in their debut episode, they rile up the crowd with a song and dance. They even chant "Tonic! Tonic! Tonic! Tonic!" just like they did for the cider.
    • Yet another magical trinket is obtained; five down, one to go.
    • Granny Smith's "saggy old hip" is referenced as one of her frailties in the beginning of the episode.
  • Call Forward: Courtesy of Flim's CCG card flavor text, which was out long before this episode even aired!
  • The Cameo:
    • Derpy is in the stands at the water show, clapping cutely.
    • The pony with braces, momentary visible in Discord's song, is present, along with the stallion with "a terrible cold" from "Hearts and Hooves Day".
  • Commuting on a Bus: This episode marks Derpy's first appearance of the season in her former role as a minor background pony, and her first appearance since "Rainbow Falls" and "Pinkie Pride", in which she received substantially more screen time.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bon Bon's voice from the last time the Flim Flams showed up ("Mine's got rocks in it!") comes from the pony who's convinced by Applejack's endorsement.
    • At the Medicine Show, some of the mares' hats have parasprites in them.
    • The Lebowski-pony modeled after Donnie from the opening of "The Cutie Pox" reappears wearing bandages.
    • Big Macintosh's arm floaties and ducky inner tube from "Pinkie Apple Pie" also return.
  • Crying Wolf: Inverted version. Applejack's reputation for honesty is so solid that ponies will believe whatever she says, even if it's not true.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The con of the Flim Flams should, by all means, be a lot less profitable than the cider-making machine they used during their previous appearance if they had tried it again in another town. Of course, since Sweet Apple Acres are implied to be one of the biggest apple farms around, it's also possible that they couldn't make any profit with it in other, smaller farms. The sad part is that the machine the Flim Flam Brothers developed actually works as advertised, but because of the events of their previous appearance, which resulted in a contest that saw them panic despite having a fairly healthy lead, it's more than likely that they've simply been disillusioned with their one product known to actually do what they said it did and moved onto something they think will actually be more profitable than something that actually works.
  • Depending on the Writer: Granny Smith is considerably less spry at the beginning of this episode than she has been in previous episodes, especially "Pinkie Apple Pie" and "Apple Family Reunion".
  • Double Aesop: Both Applejack and Silver Shill learn that honesty is always the best policy.
  • Double Meaning Title: "Leap of Faith" applies to both the proverbial leap that Granny and others do in accepting the tonic, and the literal one that Granny attempts to do at the end.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In-Universe example — Silver Shill says he used to feel guilty about lying to other ponies about the tonic before Applejack "taught" him that honesty isn't always the best policy. It's later subverted when Applejack's later honesty disproves the moral he had learned before.
  • Foreshadowing: The beach umbrella and beach ball in Big Macintosh's wagon at the beginning of the episode, the buoys on the pool lane dividers, and the tiny pool Apple Bloom pushes out for Granny Smith's final dive all feature the colors of the Friendship Rainbow from other Key episodes.
  • Funny Background Event: When Big Macintosh goes fishing, he casts a whole apple into the water tied to a fishing line. The next time the apple is on screen, it's just an apple core.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One shot shows a pony's swollen rump, and if that weren't enough, his cutie mark is a boot.
  • Grossup Close Up: Some of the aliments during Film and Flam's show prompt this.
  • Hammerspace Mane: Granny Smith keeps extra bottles of the tonic in her mane.
  • Heel-Face Turn: After seeing Applejack admit she had been lying all along, Silver Shill decides he's had enough and reveals the faulty tonic.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Who knew Apple Bloom was a good swimmer?
    • For that matter, who knew Granny Smith was (and still is) good at aquabatics?
    • Or that Big Mac was a bit of a prankster?
  • High Dive Hijinks: Granny Smith's high dive attempt.
  • Hold Up Your Score: The judges at the swim meet do this. Lyra Heartstrings even holds one upside-down, but corrects herself. Even played with in Heartstrings' case. The first time out, she's shown scoring another pony very harshly compared to the other two judges (she gives a 3, the others give a 7 and an 8). The second time out, the other two judges give Granny Smith and Apple Bloom 10s, and she holds up "01", prompting a glare from another judge. It's assumed she's just being harsh again, before she turns it right-side up to a 10.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from being found out to be con artists and fleeing Ponyville a second time, the Flim Flam brothers get off scot free. There's never any indication the money they swindled was ever refunded.
  • Magic Feather: The "Miracle Curative Tonic" is just a mix of apple juice and beet leaves, but it has a placebo effect on those who think it works.
  • MacGyvering: When AJ and Big Mac think Granny Smith is in trouble when they first see her swimming, Big Mac takes his yoke off and tosses it at Granny Smith like a life ring.
  • Meaningful Name: See Unfortunate Names below.
  • Medicine Show: The Flim Flam Brothers' new business, with the Brothers as Snake Oil Salesponies and a One-Shot Character as The Shill.
  • Melting Film Effect: Granny Smith's silent-film flashback in the opening ends this way.
  • Metaphorically True: How Applejack initially says the tonic works. While it does let ponies do what they couldn't before, that's only from the confidence boost they get while they think it's working. In other words, because they think the tonic works, it does.
    Mare in a wheelchair: Are you saying this stuff actually works?
    Applejack: It seems to work for Granny.
  • Never Say "Die": Applejack says that if Granny Smith "keeps galavintin' around like a yearlin' she's apt to drop from exhaustion, or worse."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Silver Shill has a Jimmy Stewart accent and a deep-seated nice guy demeanor to match.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever incident or incidents caused so many ponies in Ponyville to get so many injuries at the same time.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Applejack saves Granny Smith from her high dive by catching her with a rope just mere inches off the ground.
  • Off Model: Candy Mane has Berryshine's cutie mark instead of the one she had in "Filli Vanilli".
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Granny Smith wears one. (Actually, she seems to be the only pony to wear any sort of bathing suit.)
  • One-Shot Character: Silver Shill plays a key role in the episode's plot.
  • Out of Order: Episode 20 in broadcast order, 21st in production order.
  • Out Of Character Is Serious Business:
    • When Granny Smith offers Big Mac to go Apple Bucking with her, he responds with a concerned "No" rather than his trademark "Nope". It's not as noticeable as other times, but it still shows just how concerned he is for Granny Smith.
    • Also present when Apple Bloom asks if she can be a high diver, he not only replies "No", he also is the first to speak.
  • Panacea: The Flim Flam Miracle Curative Tonic is marketed as a cure-all, able to mend any injury and restore health, vigor, and youth.
  • Paranoia Fuel / Terrified of Germs: In-universe, the Flim-Flam Brothers try to invoke this in potential customers during their song/sales pitch to make them want to buy their "Cure-All" tonic.
  • Placebo Effect: The tonic winds up having this effect on Granny Smith.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Flim Flam Brothers present Applejack with one when she gets on their case: either she tells the truth and ruins Granny Smith's happiness, or keeps quiet and helps them con ponies out of their money.
  • The Shill: Flim and Flam use an actor to demonstrate their tonic's curative effects. His name is even "Silver Shill".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Despite the lies and exaggerations in the episode, it's no surprise the writers went along with those exact components for the Tonic. Both apples and beet greens do have nutritional value and antioxidants for a healthy lifestyle. If Granny Smith really felt better after drinking it, it's because of its nutritional value and placebo effect rather than it being some magic elixir.
    • The close-up on the mouth of the pony suffering from "bridle-bit cleft" reveals an extremely accurate depiction of horse's teeth.
  • Smurfing: When Applejack chews out Granny Smith for attempting a dangerous high dive stunt.
    Applejack: That was the most fool-pony thing I've ever seen anypony do in all my life!
  • Snake Oil Salesponies: The Flim Flam Brothers, this time actually selling snake oil.
  • Stupid Evil: Flim and Flam come awfully close to watching their best customer get herself killed in public from overconfidence in their product, and they encourage her to try again? Yeah, that'd help sales.
  • Too Good To Be True: Applejack is suspicious of the tonic from the start because it promises more than any product could possibly deliver.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In their previous appearance Flim and Flam, while opportunistic, unscrupulous and shady in their dealings, at the very least still provided a legitimate product (their cider was only bad after they turned off the quality control mechanism to speed up production) and worked within the letter, if not the spirit of the law. Here they're perfectly willing to allow Granny Smith to perform death-defying stunts, knowing that their product is fake and she would probably die in the attempt. It's presumed that they're doing this out of vengeance and, most likely, spite for what the Apple family did to them.
  • Unfortunate Names: Silver Shill is a Nice Pony who acts as, well, The Shill.
  • Variable Length Rope: The rope that Applejack uses to lasso Granny isn't nearly as long when Applejack grabs it.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: In-Universe. The Flim Flam Brothers are able to sell the same con to a returning audience with only a slight change of Silver Shill's disguise each time.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Once it becomes obvious they're outed, Film and Flam use the distraction caused by Applejack saving Granny Smith to beat a hasty exit before the crowd turn their attention to them.
  • Villain Song: Flim and Flam get another one much like their last.
  • Visual Pun: The mares with parasprites in their manes have parasprite hive hairdos.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted, as Applejack is less than impressed with Shill giving her the bit he fleeced, until he says he'll also track that pony down and make reparations.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Silver Shill has a collection of wigs, beards, and crutches so he can dress as a different pony each night the Medicine Show is in town to trick returning audience members.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: A notable example in this episode is Lyra Heartstrings, who is in both the judges' box and the grandstand.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Applejack's reaction when Silver Shill tells her he's learned from her that it's okay to be dishonest.


MLP: FIM S4 E20 'For Whom the Sweetie Bell Toils"Recap/My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicMLP: Friendship Is Magic S4 E22 'Testing Testing 1, 2, 3"

alternative title(s): Leap Of Faith
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