This episode of My Little Pony brings back the Cutie Map. The plot of Season 5 centered around it, and it’s still a clever way to establish a story. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that it chooses two ponies not randomly, but for a reason. “Viva Las Pegasus” stars the unique team-up of Fluttershy and Applejack. While some aspects of it would have benefited from being a two-parter, it nonetheless is an entertaining episode and one of the best from Season 6.
The Map sends Applejack and Fluttershy to Las Pegasus where they find Film and Flam working in a resort called Gladmane’s, where suspicious dealings are going on.
One of the greatest aspects of this episode is the change of scenery. We’ve seen the suburbs and busy city, but never the casino hotel life of Las Vegas. “Fish out of water” is the popular saying, and it applies here as both Applejack & Fluttershy are uncomfortable in this kind of lifestyle. The pacing is excellent as we’re introduced to a bunch of characters. The most notable is Gladmane, whom goes on to be a great portrayal of a corrupt businessman. The writing by the team of Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt is excellent as they manage to tie everything together in the middle-to-last act in a coherent way.
The Flim Flam Brothers haven’t been seen since Season 4’s “Leap of Faith,” so they were due for a new appearance. The middle and last acts are where they shine, because they get to put their deceptive practices to engaging use. Before that however is the problem. It is highly unrealistic that these two brothers would start to argue because one other pony tells each of them something negative: claiming that one Brother said something about the other and vice versa. The big turnaround also happened incredibly unnaturally. This is the main reason why the episode would have been good as a two-parter. More time was needed to establish the Brothers becoming enemies and reconciling.
The lesson isn’t “in your face” this time around, which is fine. Sometimes these type of lessons are best when the viewer can infer what they are. The verse “Love your enemies” best exemplifies what is seen here. When Fluttershy and Applejack see the Flim Flam Brothers are no longer friends, Applejack is totally fine with it while Fluttershy wants to help. This lesson treads difficult ground, because one can throw the analogy of “hey you wouldn’t help two mass murderers get back together right?” True, but are the Flim Flam Brothers truly evil? Deceptive yes, but evil? The lesson would have been more effective if the Brothers had renounced their practices, that way it wouldn’t have been Applejack and Fluttershy bringing together two “bad” characters. On the flip side, even if you help out an enemy there’s no guarantee they will all of a sudden become a hero. So, at the very least, the concept of putting aside hateful feelings and helping even an enemy is something the lesson succeeds at.
One more interesting thing about the lesson is that Applejack doesn’t help out the Brothers until it helps serve her purpose. She doesn’t express to Fluttershy that it was wrong not to help them. So, what does this mean? Is the lesson a well done one or not? It’s tough to say. In concept it’s good, and its execution seems to be aiming more for realism than trying to make a point. It seemed like the story was less about this message and more about the actual plot, which is definitely fine. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this episode one of the most well done in terms of writing.
Overall, “Viva Las Pegasus” is a great episode. The writing is excellent (one of my favorite lines was when Applejack said, “So all his talk about friendship is just a load of applesauce”) and the story comes together nicely at the end. The subtle unveiling of Gladmane as the antagonist was fantastic. The Flim Flam Brothers are smartly utilized in the final act, which almost makes up for their mediocre portrayal during most of the runtime. It is disappointing that Fluttershy and Applejack didn’t get to interact with each other more, but that’s a minor thing. The episode should go down as a highlight of the Season.