Monday, 19 September 2016

Episode review: S6E20: "Viva Las Pegasus"

Siegfried, Roy, Fluttershy and prairie dogs
Fluttershy has some absurdly cute faces in this episode. Yes, even more than usual
Could it be true? Were we actually going to visit a city that wasn't Manehattan? I was looking forward to this episode for that reason alone, but it didn't hurt that its writers – Kevin Burke and Chris Wyatt – had shown their colours with "The Times They Are a Changeling". The title was an obvious Elvis reference, but last week's title had no bearing on the plot so I wasn't assuming anything. Past the break for the review itself!

This is another really good episode; the string of so-so eps we endured in the early part of the season seem mostly to have disappeared, which is wonderful. It gave us the first real team-up episode for Applejack and Fluttershy, for a start; unlike many, I quite like "Bats!", albeit less than I once did, but AJ and 'Shy were at each other's throats for a good part of that one. The two ponies turn out to work really well together, and I'd be very happy to see them join forces again in the future.

I am immensely amused by Gladmane's name, since a deeply unpopular potential housing development in my area is being pushed by a company called Gladman. The show villain is a fun character, and turns out to be where the Elvis stuff went – "Wise ponies say" and all that. Still, although he is perhaps a slightly one-dimensional villain, he is so in the service of the story, so I think it works well enough to carry him through the episode.

Gladmane is unhappy with Flam
Given everything, you have to wonder whether Filthy Rich is involved somewhere
I must give a mention to the visuals in this episode: the designers and animators really earn their corn this time around. This is one of those eps where you have to watch several times just to see everything that's happening in the cloud city (with platforms for non-pegasi) – and that doesn't just mean the DDR machines! The US's weird obsession with pretending gambling doesn't exist actually helps in a way, as it provides a slightly unreal sheen to proceedings that suits a non-Earth setting.

The supporting cast at the resort are tremendous fun, "Scooter" and all. The Siegfried & Roy ponies (despite being called "Trainer 1" and "Trainer 2") are brilliant, and the use of prairie dogs instead of tigers is just perfect. This, as well as the trapeze artist's talking rabbit, also gives Fluttershy the opportunity to use her animal communication skills in the cause of defeating Gladmane's devious plans. (Background visuals matter: in another scene, a clearly suspicious Gladmane glances back at "Impossibly Rich".)

This, of course, is where Flim and Flam come in. They're much more fun in this episode than the rather dreary "Leap of Faith", especially as regards Applejack's antipathy towards them. Giving the brothers disharmony between them is an interesting twist. Even so, a more interesting twist is the resolution: it's inevitably a little hurried in a cartoon this short, but I love the way the ponies fool Gladmane into thinking he's won, when in fact that's all part of the plan.

Applejack and Fluttershy get some food
"I do not drink... apple juice"
I can't think of much I dislike about "Viva Las Pegasus". Some people have expressed unease with the fact that AJ and Flutters used a con to unmask Gladmane (on the grounds that two wrongs don't make a right), or that Flim and Flam aren't reformed at the end, but these don't bother me. Maybe I'm just a terrible person. :P There's no song, but we've had enough of those recently. Would it really have killed the team to think up some actual names for the Siegfried & Roy ponies, though? Still, all in all a really entertaining and different ep.

Best quote: Applejack: "Gladmane has left the building!"

  • Applejack and Fluttershy make a brilliant team
  • Visually attractive, with rich and varied designs
  • Clever use of Flim and Flam to unmask the villain
  • Gladmane is generally pretty amusing
  • Siegfried & Roy ponies!
  • Not all that Equestrian in tone at times
  • That "use your imagination" thing at the end seems a slight stretch
  • "Trainer 1" and "Trainer 2"? Come on!


  1. If I had to pick something about this episode that bothers me, it's that Applejack doesn't really need to be there in any active way. She's just around because she has history with Flim and Flam. Other than that, she just walks around. It would be nice if the episode used her skills in some way.

    I liked this episode well enough, but not to the degree that most everyone else did, it seems. I dunno. Maybe I'll need to view it again. I just prefer when MLP uses its own imagination and doesn't ape from our world beyond a winking reference. I'm not charged by the Siegfried and Roy ponies, for example. I don't hate them, but they do nothing for me. I prefer the acrobat which feels sort of Cirque du Soleil to me.

    1. It does need to be Applejack who finally persuades Flim and Flam to join them, though, "because you never lie!" (Okay, not actually accurate -- AJ's just really, really bad at lying convincingly.)

      I liked this episode well enough, but not to the degree that most everyone else did, it seems.

      Over on UK of E, I'm actually in the minority in liking it so much -- the general feeling seems to be "it was okay, but nothing special".

  2. I'd add something to your list of yays: It's not freakin' Manehatten, AGAIN!

    (Seriously, in a cartoon about a magical land full of talking ponies, a direct analog of NYC is like a turd in a punchbowl.)

    1. I've never been to the real NYC, so it's pretty much a fantasy city to me anyway. :P But yeah, I was getting a bit sick of Manehattan in any case.