Friendship University  

88 members have voted

  1. 1. Like or Dislike?

    • Rarity: I don't like to judge solely on appearances, buuuuuut... *camera switches to show FU's gaudy façade* what kind of friendship school is this?! (I HATE IT! >__<)
    • Star Swirl: The only pony I see who is up to something is the pony in this picture, and it is not the princess I know. (I dislike it!)
    • Twilight *deadpan*: Sorry, "Plainity," but I'm pretty sure this…isn't enough of a disguise. *closes closet door* (…meh…)
    • Flam: Well, well, well, Miss Plainity, keep it up and you'll be ready for our next level in no time! *crowd gasps in awe as Plainity sits back casually with a big grin* (I like it!)
    • Twilight *reading postcard*: "Of course, if I ever go to a school again, I'll make sure it's yours. In friendship, Star Swirl." (I LOVE IT! <3)


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14 hours ago, Truffles said:

Like the cost of textbooks and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) conflict-of-interest between the professors and the authors of those textbooks. Many of which cost $50-$90 - and that back when I was in enrolled almost 3 decades ago. o_o

Hmm, interesting. I can see why there is a conflict of interest...though my school does it from time to time (I actually have a text co-authored by my computer science professor sitting in my room right now), most of the books I bought weren't written by my school's professors (except for maybe a couple of custom editions). I don't think it's wrong per se, but it might make you question the school's motivations. Honestly thought, as long as the text teaches the right material and there's a valid justification for using that text and not another, I think it's fair game.

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While not the most comedic of episodes this one interaction really got a good laugh:

Flam: Plainity, my star pupil?

Rarity: Not Plainity, but...Rarity!

Flim: Who?

That kind of self awareness is fantastic. It kind of makes me wish we didn't have the scene where their disguises fooled the student because this scene would emphasize how much it didn't even matter they used disguises.

Also it makes sense Rarity only experienced Flim and Flam in SSCS6000 and to them she was just a random townspony helping out the Apples. All their other appearances it was just Applejack or Fluttershy. Nice use of previous character appearances.

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1 hour ago, PacificGreen said:

Hmm, interesting. I can see why there is a conflict of interest...though my school does it from time to time (I actually have a text co-authored by my computer science professor sitting in my room right now), most of the books I bought weren't written by my school's professors (except for maybe a couple of custom editions). I don't think it's wrong per se, but it might make you question the school's motivations. Honestly thought, as long as the text teaches the right material and there's a valid justification for using that text and not another, I think it's fair game.

I suppose the one plus to having a textbook written by the professor is you know for sure they'll have an innate knowledge of the material, lol. But yeah, it was just one of those gray areas you experience in life that makes you suspicious but not enough to make a big fuss over it. If I had really been obsessive about the cost I would have gone scrounging around campus looking for used books for sale instead of buying them new from the university bookstore. Sadly, Mosaic was just released right before I graduated so there was no world wide web or search engines to help look for cheap used textbooks online, lol.

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This was a pretty good episode to frank. I'm pretty surprised Flim and Flam's 'university' actually worked on Star Swirl. He was the last pony I expected to fall for that crap, but it shows the scam really worked especially with it's location (Las Pegasus is like Las Vegas in real life; all about the money). It also looks like like Flim and Flam have yet to change their own ways from past seasons, I wonder why they haven't gone to jail for it yet.  

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9 hours ago, PacificGreen said:

Yeah, that's one thing I'm not liking too much about this season - Neighsay is just a generic racist for the sake of plot. I think they're trying to justify it by having him be fearful of the other races waging war against them, but it's not very convincing. 

At this point I'm actually seriously considering the idea that Neighsay might just be Chrysalis or Tirek in disguise (since we know they'll be returning later in the season, if not the series).

The thing is racism generally isn't rational "X stole our jobs", "X is getting an advantage over us because they're X", "X are lazy, firebreathing jerks who keep setting hardworking pony buildings on fire.", "X is a scary, forest dwelling weirdo who dyes her fur in stripes.". It doesn't matter if its true or not or even if someone tries to present evidence that your beliefs are not the case they generally wont let go of their fears/beliefs easily.

To use a real life example that I hope wont trigger any red flags as its just an example avoiding a lot of the more hot trigger issues that I again hope people wont raise as we don't want this locked. Several decades back a professor came to our country for a series of lectures but because of reasons I wont go into (again trying to avoid red flags) the governement didn't want to let him in. So they used a "must speak A language to the satisfaction of the customs agent" clause to keep him out. The catch was it wasn't our main language English that they used because he spoke that fluently just as he spoke multiple other langauges that they tested him on to keep him out. Instead they just kept giving him language tests in different languages till they found one he failed on and could go "No you have failed out entry test you can't enter the country". The fact that the vast majority of people in our country would have failed the ENGLISH test much less the multiiple other languages was irrelevant. They didn't want him in and so they used a loophole to keep him out.

It's the same with Neighsay he has belief non-pony = dangerous creature and he's going to bend, twist and distort the facts to match what he believes and justify his actions. Anyone who tries to convince him otherwise is (a) naive and gullable or (b) on the side of those dangerous creatures in the first place so he doesn't need to listen to them. In his own mind he's probably a hero trying to protect ponies against the dangers the inexpereinced Twilight is exposing them all to inspite of pressure from Celestia herself he carries on his noble crusade.

3 hours ago, TransitPony said:

This was a pretty good episode to frank. I'm pretty surprised Flim and Flam's 'university' actually worked on Star Swirl. He was the last pony I expected to fall for that crap, but it shows the scam really worked especially with it's location (Las Pegasus is like Las Vegas in real life; all about the money). It also looks like like Flim and Flam have yet to change their own ways from past seasons, I wonder why they haven't gone to jail for it yet.  

Probably because they've not done anything "illegal" unethical, manipulative, cynical, etc but not illegal with the possible exception of their miracle tonic (which would depend on Equestrian laws on that subject). The cider squeezy did exactly what they said it would, the bet with Applejack was presumably legal she choose to wager her farm on their ability to match the cider squeezy, the tonic is iffy as I said I should look up what happened to the people who did that in our world, las pegasus was again quite legal broadcasting the truth of what was happening and taking over the venue then selling exactly what they said an empty ring that ponies can imagine whatever they like in and finally a friendship university teaching real lessons made by the princess of friendship that they got accredited by the EEA. Admitedly graduation was based on how much you paid not actually learning the lessons but that's not illegal just unethical and makes the lesson itself pointless still even Twiligh was happy for them to carry on exactly as they were if they stopped charging for lessons/lesson progress.

EDIT

Hmm a quick google search indicates the earlier 19th century medicine shows were not only not illegal but that the customers felt they got their monies worth from the associated entertainments that came with them. So while Flim and Flam may have not given their money's worth in entertainment their selling a miracle tonic that was just healthy vegitables may not have actually been illegal and given what went into some of the tonics in our world (mercury) could have been a lot worse.

Edited by Senko

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13 minutes ago, Senko said:

The thing is racism generally isn't rational "X stole our jobs", "X is getting an advantage over us because they're X", "X are lazy, firebreathing jerks who keep setting hardworking pony buildings on fire.", "X is a scary, forest dwelling weirdo who dyes her fur in stripes.". It doesn't matter if its true or not or even if someone tries to present evidence that your beliefs are not the case they generally wont let go of their fears/beliefs easily.

To use a real life example that I hope wont trigger any red flags as its just an example avoiding a lot of the more hot trigger issues that I again hope people wont raise as we don't want this locked. Several decades back a professor came to our country for a series of lectures but because of reasons I wont go into (again trying to avoid red flags) the governement didn't want to let him in. So they used a "must speak A language to the satisfaction of the customs agent" clause to keep him out. The catch was it wasn't our main language English that they used because he spoke that fluently just as he spoke multiple other langauges that they tested him on to keep him out. Instead they just kept giving him language tests in different languages till they found one he failed on and could go "No you have failed out entry test you can't enter the country". The fact that the vast majority of people in our country would have failed the ENGLISH test much less the multiiple other languages was irrelevant. They didn't want him in and so they used a loophole to keep him out.

It's the same with Neighsay he has belief non-pony = dangerous creature and he's going to bend, twist and distort the facts to match what he believes and justify his actions. Anyone who tries to convince him otherwise is (a) naive and gullable or (b) on the side of those dangerous creatures in the first place so he doesn't need to listen to them. In his own mind he's probably a hero trying to protect ponies against the dangers the inexpereinced Twilight is exposing them all to inspite of pressure from Celestia herself he carries on his noble crusade.

I understand. I too think he also thinks he's just protecting Equestria by having a "no non-ponies attitude". I just think his racism feels like a plot point that lacks context or background, and it feels basically tacked on, just so it's clear we're supposed to hate him. As a result it kinda detracts from other (actually valid) points he raises in the premiere, because honestly, without that racism, he'd just be a generic bureaucrat.

That's a pretty sad tale with the professor though. :( Sorry to hear that happened.

Edited by PacificGreen

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I want to argue that Flim and Flam are embezzling money from the school, but it's hard to embezzle money from yourself, and I doubt Neighsay cares. 

 

"Twilight, you are not the kind of pony to let emotions cloud your judgement!" - this phrase is demonstrably false. 

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Was it just me... or did this episode seem shorter than usual?  Just, I finished it and I was like, wait.. it's over?  Shouldn't it of been longer?  Though speaking of longer, the Friendship U song I personally thought went on for a bit too long.. maybe it was stretched for the run time?  I dunno.

But aside for that... I mean yeah, not a bad little episode.  It was enjoyable.  More clash with the EEA guy... and dang, school shut down in at least a few days after his approval of it... here I thought EEA had hire standards ;)  

Anyways, didn't expect Flim and Flam to be the ones running it.  Including that for a bit there, despite what the info said... thought maybe Starswirl had started the school.

Moving on, again I was even almost wondering if there wasn't going to be a scam... I mean, it would of been interesting.  Ah well.... Oh, and why is Starswirl giving more credit to Twilight for wanting to see the Pony of Shadow's (forgot his real name) as just needing a friend.. when it was Starlight who convinced them of it... Twilight didn't even go along with it until after she saw him trying to escape... granted she was showing doubts but it was still more a 'Starlight' thing and not a Twilight thing.

Then again he probably just had "Ember-itist"  I mean those two are soo hard to tell apart.  Purple Ponies with purple manes with sparkly cutie marks.. They're practically twins!!  :D

One final note... I wonder if Flim and Flam having her friendship itinerary will come back later.  She did voice her question about it but it wasn't resolved and usually the show will meet it with a half hearted "You shouldn't worry about it" if it really is just nothing... So we'll see.

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If Neighsayer has his way Equestria would shut off their borders and would be closed off from the rest of the world.

Edited by R.D.Dash
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It’s becoming more obvious that Cozy Glow is working with Neighsay. Whether or not she’s a real pony or a changeling has yet to be seen. She just so happened to be there when two big plot points cane up, the leaflets for the university and Twilight wondering how Flim and Flam got a copy of her book. Neighsay being there with Flim and Flam was no coincidence.

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It was cool seeing Starswirl not only standing up for Twilight and against Film and Flan, but it was cool seeing his travels and seeing he and Twilight kept in touch. Maybe he'll run into Tempest/Fizzlepop and Grubber.

I wonder what happened to Stygian and the other Pillars.

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On 8/11/2018 at 9:33 PM, Truffles said:

No surprise he holds a grudge against her - she did something no other pony ever did: She broke his seal that was keeping her school closed. I'm sure he feels quite disrespected by her, even if she didn't mean any disrespect.

And he still seems pretty focused on wanting schools to be ponies only, like with how satisfied he was with Friendship University being ponies only with the students.

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Loved it!

 


I'm wondering though. The line that's interesting is when Starswirl says he spent 1000 years having bad feelings about a pony until Twilight changed his mind. Obviously he's talking about Stygian, but what makes the big difference between knowing when to forgive somepony and when not to trust them? Starswirl thought the Flim Flam bros. would be just like Stygian, not knowing anything about them, but this time the suspicions were right.

So what's the big difference?

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1 hour ago, Toastypk said:

Loved it!

 


I'm wondering though. The line that's interesting is when Starswirl says he spent 1000 years having bad feelings about a pony until Twilight changed his mind. Obviously he's talking about Stygian, but what makes the big difference between knowing when to forgive somepony and when not to trust them? Starswirl thought the Flim Flam bros. would be just like Stygian, not knowing anything about them, but this time the suspicions were right.

So what's the big difference?

I think the best I can say is intent.

No one's perfect and someone can make mistakes or slip back when trying to change it's what makes a difference between say Discord and the Flim Flam brothers. Discords a being of chaos and causes problems even when he's trying to be helpful but that's the thing he tries in his own way to be helpful. With Fluttershy refusing to use the elements he undid his tricks because he didn't want to lose a friend. Even when he betrayed them to Tirek it was obvious being on the other end of being betrayed by him had made an impression and he had tried to help in his own way at other times. He wasn't perfect, he fell back into old habits but he was trying to balance his chaotic nature with being a friend when it was all new to him. The Flim Flam brothers on the other hand have been given multiple chances and shown that they don't want to change. Its not that they make mistakes or slip back into old habits it's that over nad over again they never even consider another way even when its offered to them.

Its a hard line to see sometimes especially with someone like Discord or even Trixie but you need to try and judge "Are they genuinely trying to change" and understand that they might not be perfect. In fact Trixies quite a good example. When Starlight meets her and befriends her it gives her something she's never had before herself someone who wants to be her friend and you see Twilight having a lot of trouble believing that she's changed. In the end its the realization that Trixie is genuinely hurt over the idea of losing Starlight's friendship that she realizes she needs to step back and let Starlight make her own choices as well as that she was right Trixie is not the same pony who took over the town with the Alicorn amulet.

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This episode was fairly good.

Pros:

  • The humor in this episode was pretty solid, though mostly dependent on catching all of the lines of dialogue. Not as strong as "A Matter of Principals" on this front, but it was still solid.
  • Flim and Flam's songs are always good, and the song in this episode is far from an exception to that.
  • Flim and Flam were actually done pretty well here. Sure, they are almost universally hated characters, but here they were better than usual. 

Cons:

  • This episode has a lack of substance. The episode seemed to be slightly shorter than normal, that's understandable, but half of it is taken up by the song and Twilight and Rarity's attempt to disguise themselves. There really wasn't as much there as there should have been.
  • There is no reason for literally every pony in the school not to have instantly recognized Twilight in her "disguise"...
  • I know Neighsay was designed to be hated, but this episode took it a bit too far. Seriously, if he went any further trying to make Twilight out to be a terrible pony, I'd have probably had to skip half of the episode, because it was already borderline unbearable. Not to mention, his speciesism was even more blatant here than it was in the premiere.

 

Considering all of these, I rate this episode a 7.5/10. I liked the way they handled Flim and Flam here, as well as the humor, but the lack of substance and Neighsay's one-dimensional spitefulness made it pretty far from a slam-dunk. If the humor didn't work well, I would be expecting to call this more along the lines of mediocre.

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I'm not gonna lie, that episode gave me lots of chuckle. Especially that callback to Twilight's eye patch lol, and that Rarity disguise is pretty cool.

Even though it's obvious that Flim and Flam will never be redeemed (unless they will in the distant future), I'm pretty impressed on how much they somewhat improved in their lies. And I love how they handle Starswirl and not making him the airhead of the episode. He is relatively new in the whole lesson of friendship and still searching for more new things in friendship, so it made sense why he trusted Flim and Flam in their friendship school.

Overall, a B+ for me :P  

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Well, that was positively the most predictable thing ever created.  I was really hoping that the university was going to be a legit place, with the creators behind it being good faith ponies who genuinely cared, believed that Equestria could support a second school, and simply wanted others who don't live near Ponyville to have the opportunity.  I was hoping that the story was going to be Starswirl focused, with Twilight feeling hurt that he didn't go to her school, and then we'd find out that Starswirl was embarrassed to be her student, since he's her idol and has a reputation for being the wisest pony to ever live.  I was hoping that the episode would end with a touching heart-to-heart between Princess Purple and Jingle Bells.  But I just knew it was going to be a bullsh*t school.  I just f*ckin' knew it!  I watch these with my mom, and before we put on the episode, I told her that I was predicting it was going to be Flim and Flam.  I hate Flim Flam episodes.  The first time it was fine, but now it's just predictable and annoying.  I really hate those guys.  It can't be a coincidence that their school's initials are FU.  Oh, they knew what they were doing.

That was a total waste of time.  It was Trump University.  All that was missing were the hats that say "Make Equestria Great Again!"

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On 8/12/2018 at 2:45 PM, Truffles said:

I suppose the one plus to having a textbook written by the professor is you know for sure they'll have an innate knowledge of the material, lol. But yeah, it was just one of those gray areas you experience in life that makes you suspicious but not enough to make a big fuss over it. If I had really been obsessive about the cost I would have gone scrounging around campus looking for used books for sale instead of buying them new from the university bookstore. Sadly, Mosaic was just released right before I graduated so there was no world wide web or search engines to help look for cheap used textbooks online, lol.

I wrote a flashback scene in my film here http://cripvideoproductions.com/astrokeofendurance.php with a professor that tried to sell a very expensive book to his students roughly based on a real interaction with a professor I had. I got the impression the books don't sell many copies outside of an academic setting so they try to teach with their own book to get at least some use out of it. Its fine for the professors to share their accomplishments with us and they definitely should share our knowledge with us but when their are limited financial options for students it certainly does get irritating and some professors admitted to me outright that part of the college system is designed to squeeze as much money out of students as they can LOL. 

 

On 8/12/2018 at 9:48 PM, Senko said:

The thing is racism generally isn't rational "X stole our jobs", "X is getting an advantage over us because they're X", "X are lazy, firebreathing jerks who keep setting hardworking pony buildings on fire.", "X is a scary, forest dwelling weirdo who dyes her fur in stripes.". It doesn't matter if its true or not or even if someone tries to present evidence that your beliefs are not the case they generally wont let go of their fears/beliefs easily.

To use a real life example that I hope wont trigger any red flags as its just an example avoiding a lot of the more hot trigger issues that I again hope people wont raise as we don't want this locked. Several decades back a professor came to our country for a series of lectures but because of reasons I wont go into (again trying to avoid red flags) the governement didn't want to let him in. So they used a "must speak A language to the satisfaction of the customs agent" clause to keep him out. The catch was it wasn't our main language English that they used because he spoke that fluently just as he spoke multiple other langauges that they tested him on to keep him out. Instead they just kept giving him language tests in different languages till they found one he failed on and could go "No you have failed out entry test you can't enter the country". The fact that the vast majority of people in our country would have failed the ENGLISH test much less the multiiple other languages was irrelevant. They didn't want him in and so they used a loophole to keep him out.

It's the same with Neighsay he has belief non-pony = dangerous creature and he's going to bend, twist and distort the facts to match what he believes and justify his actions. Anyone who tries to convince him otherwise is (a) naive and gullable or (b) on the side of those dangerous creatures in the first place so he doesn't need to listen to them. In his own mind he's probably a hero trying to protect ponies against the dangers the inexpereinced Twilight is exposing them all to inspite of pressure from Celestia herself he carries on his noble crusade.

Probably because they've not done anything "illegal" unethical, manipulative, cynical, etc but not illegal with the possible exception of their miracle tonic (which would depend on Equestrian laws on that subject). The cider squeezy did exactly what they said it would, the bet with Applejack was presumably legal she choose to wager her farm on their ability to match the cider squeezy, the tonic is iffy as I said I should look up what happened to the people who did that in our world, las pegasus was again quite legal broadcasting the truth of what was happening and taking over the venue then selling exactly what they said an empty ring that ponies can imagine whatever they like in and finally a friendship university teaching real lessons made by the princess of friendship that they got accredited by the EEA. Admitedly graduation was based on how much you paid not actually learning the lessons but that's not illegal just unethical and makes the lesson itself pointless still even Twiligh was happy for them to carry on exactly as they were if they stopped charging for lessons/lesson progress.

EDIT

Hmm a quick google search indicates the earlier 19th century medicine shows were not only not illegal but that the customers felt they got their monies worth from the associated entertainments that came with them. So while Flim and Flam may have not given their money's worth in entertainment their selling a miracle tonic that was just healthy vegitables may not have actually been illegal and given what went into some of the tonics in our world (mercury) could have been a lot worse.

I agree that racism is not rational and I'm so sorry that happened to that professor! Reminds me of a professor I know who experienced racism from a student to the point where I was scared for the professor's physical safety and how the college admin used an odd loophole to avoid paying him fully for teaching. It was completely irrational and made me want to puke a few times over. 

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17 hours ago, Senko said:

I think the best I can say is intent.

No one's perfect and someone can make mistakes or slip back when trying to change it's what makes a difference between say Discord and the Flim Flam brothers. Discords a being of chaos and causes problems even when he's trying to be helpful but that's the thing he tries in his own way to be helpful. With Fluttershy refusing to use the elements he undid his tricks because he didn't want to lose a friend. Even when he betrayed them to Tirek it was obvious being on the other end of being betrayed by him had made an impression and he had tried to help in his own way at other times. He wasn't perfect, he fell back into old habits but he was trying to balance his chaotic nature with being a friend when it was all new to him. The Flim Flam brothers on the other hand have been given multiple chances and shown that they don't want to change. Its not that they make mistakes or slip back into old habits it's that over nad over again they never even consider another way even when its offered to them.

Its a hard line to see sometimes especially with someone like Discord or even Trixie but you need to try and judge "Are they genuinely trying to change" and understand that they might not be perfect. In fact Trixies quite a good example. When Starlight meets her and befriends her it gives her something she's never had before herself someone who wants to be her friend and you see Twilight having a lot of trouble believing that she's changed. In the end its the realization that Trixie is genuinely hurt over the idea of losing Starlight's friendship that she realizes she needs to step back and let Starlight make her own choices as well as that she was right Trixie is not the same pony who took over the town with the Alicorn amulet.

Yeah., and Stygian was never really a villain to begin with, but things went the way they would because nopony communicated with anypony else. Flim and Flam though are proud scammers and don't want to change.

The idea that there's ponies who can be looked at in better light and there are those who aren't, and that at least with Starswirl, it's hard to tell the difference at first, is interesting. They may not be shadow demons but Flim and Flam are choosing to be how they are.

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This episode covered the most ground so far in Season 8, story arc wise. Chancellor Neighsay returns and exhibits a chance to fight against Twilight's School, this time teaming with the least expected ally, the Flim Flam Bros. The idea of Friendship University posed a real threat and the tension with Twilight finding the bottom of this really made this particular episode interesting.  Her ambitions and her reputation is one the line and we get to see her stand up and to defend it. The Rarity moments where great too, she has so much ranges in personalities being under disguise it just works. The two where really great, when Twilight at the stake of her name and with Rarity expressing her latitude. I think that Chancellor Neighsay only approved and accredited the Friendship University even if it is a scam just to get back at Twilight, not actually caring about learning friendship of others. How vile! 

This episode feels better, more forward and more unveiling mysteriously in a way unlike other the earlier episodes where characters usually re-learns or an issue with a friendship problem just feels too common place now. The show needs more daring, engaging, clever episodes like this one because the end is near for season 8. We need momentum, steam and this episode finally delivers that and is a good start. Seems like Cozy Glow is maybe up to something too...Who knows..?

 

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On 8/14/2018 at 10:00 AM, StitchandMLPlover said:

. I got the impression the books don't sell many copies outside of an academic setting so they try to teach with their own book to get at least some use out of it.

Yes, that is the other half of the equation - the costs to print a limited-run, limited-interest book would be higher than one that is meant to sell to millions of readers. I suppose the printer has to make up the cost of overhead of typesetting by charging more per copy. How everything breaks down (printing costs, profit to the author, and profit to the bookseller) for textbooks would give a clearer picture of whether the costs are justified or not.

Back to the episode: Since Flim and Flam didn't seem to use textbooks (with proper binding, etc.) it seems they could be using cheap methods to produce copies - depending on however it is unicorns produce copies of texts. The only instance I recall is Starlight duplicating the Friendship Journal, but Starlight is an advanced magic user so I can't say whether Flim and Flam have that skill to duplicate worksheets via magic. (If they can then they're REALLY ripping off their students since the cost of materials is near zero!)

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Overall, this is another episode that I just really don't care for. The Twilight and Rarity pairing works well enough and has its moments. But I've never liked Flim and Flam or episodes that center around their schemes, and I just find them tiresome, particularly the requisite "crowd-rousing" song and dance (which runs about 2 1/2 minutes, but felt to me like it just dragged on and on) and Equestrians' total lack of skepticism regarding Flim's and Flam's claims. I didn't like watching Chancellor Neighsay's blatant and gratuitous species-ism, and his overt corruption in service of his personal vendetta against Twilight. I also just wanted to bang my head against the wall every time that Twilight said something vague and unconvincing like "I smell a rat" or "They're obviously up to something" without building a case or giving any evidence or reasoning for her suspicion. Perhaps my biggest frustration, though, was with the climax of the episode, where I feel like Twilight isn't clear about what she thinks Flim and Flam did wrong, and why it was wrong. Consequently, much of this post below will involve my attempts to try to figure that out, as well as figure out what Flim and Flam did that might justifiably be considered wrong, although I don't think I really came up with satisfactory answers.

I'll also add a disclaimer that, as with "Horse Play", I expended a lot of thought (and words) on this episode, and I have to admit that I'm kind of burned out and tired of trying to compose this post, so I'm just cutting it off and posting it as-is. As a result, this will probably be more scatterbrained than usual.

-----

I guess I'll just start into the whole consideration of what Flim and Flam did wrong, and why it would be considered wrong. First, when Flim and Flam say that they'll be "going to the papers after all", Twilight replies "And I suppose I'll just lead your students into this secret room of bits and resort expansion plans", with the implication that the students will clearly be horrified and outraged at what they see. And just after that, Twilight tells Flim and Flam that "using your students' bits to expand your resort is wrong, even if the lessons you teach are good ones". Based on these statements, what exactly does Twilight believe that Flim and Flam did wrong, and why does she think that that's wrong? Why does Twilight seem to expect that the students will be horrified and outraged at Flim's and Flam's secret vault, and would they be justified in feeling that way? And does Star Swirl demand that Flim and Flam refund the students and close the school for the same reasons?

One possibility is that Twilight, the students, and Star Swirl think that profiting from providing education is wrong in general, and this whole Friendship University situation would simply fall under that general rule. Another possibility is that they're outraged at what they might consider the "obscene" amount of money that Flim and Flam are making, in the sense of "Nobody should be making/owning that much money!". Or maybe Twilight, the students, and Star Swirl would be generally okay with the idea of people making a lot of money, but only if those people use that money for the "right reasons", and expanding Flim's and Flam's resort would not be considered a "right reason".

In relation to the above, I could also see an argument that the sheer amount of wealth in Flim's and Flam's money vault is proof that they were "ripping students off". But that raises the question of how it's being determined that Flim and Flam were ripping students off. If the students were voluntarily paying for the worksheets (even at what some - or most - would consider a high price), and the students were reasonably aware of what they were getting, then is it right for us or Twilight to declare that the students were being ripped off, and that Flim and Flam were wrong to be selling the worksheets at their asking price? There are lots of people who pay for lots of goods and services (with their own money) that I would consider a waste of money, and that I wouldn't pay for myself, but I wouldn't declare just on that basis that those voluntary transactions are "wrong". And if the idea is that the students would simply see the large number of bits that Flim and Flam made, and what they plan to use them for, and conclude that they were ripped off, that seems like an odd response to me. If each of the individual students considered it worthwhile to pay whatever number of bits for the worksheets at the time, then why is that suddenly not worthwhile any more just because Flim and Flam made a lot of money and plan to use it to expand their resort?

So I don't know, I don't feel like the above lines of thinking are leading to what I would consider satisfactory conclusions, and to the extent that these are what Twilight, the students, or Star Swirl had in mind for why Flim and Flam acted immorally, there's a good chance that I wouldn't agree with them. So are there more situation-specific things that Flim and Flam did wrong here, involving additional information or speculation beyond just what Twilight said to Flim and Flam in the quotes above? I can think of a few possibilities.

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First, Rarity told Twilight earlier that Flim and Flam are charging for worksheets, but that "they have to cover expenses, and Flam insists that everything extra goes to improving the school". So if Flim and Flam are planning to use the bits they charge for worksheets to expand their resort, then they're not using the bits just to cover expenses or improve the school, as they told Rarity. And that's true enough. But how many students were actually told the same thing as Rarity? And was that verbal promise integral to those students' decisions to pay for the worksheets? Or were most students not told, or just didn't really care, what the bits they were paying for the worksheets would be used for? Was Twilight really thinking that students would be upset at seeing Flim's and Flam's vault of bits and resort plans because it was a betrayal of this promise? Maybe, although I wouldn't be confident in saying that.

On a similar note, perhaps Twilight's thinking is that if Flim and Flam are trying to get rich quick just to expand the resort, then they're not committed to providing the amazing friendship education that they generally led ponies to expect that they would get. In other words, Flim and Flam don't really care about working with students, answering questions, and generally actually helping the students learn. And that probably is true in this case. But it doesn't seem like the piles of bits and resort plans in themselves are definitive proof of that; it seems like actual classes and worksheets and outcomes would have to be observed, and students would have to decide for themselves if, based on evidence and their own experience, whether these lessons and worksheets are worthwhile. Additionally, if Twilight does think (or at least suspect) that Flim and Flam are bad at teaching friendship and helping the students, then I don't think she ever says so. In fact, Twilight even proposes that Flim and Flam can teach her lessons "as much as they like", so long as they return the bits paid to them and not charge for lessons, even after they revealed that they're skipping every other page in teaching those lessons! So that's a puzzling thing for Twilight to propose if she believes that Flim and Flam are not teaching well.

Another incident that Twilight, Rarity and we observed was a student seemingly giving the only bit he has, and the shirt off his back, in order to buy worksheets. And I would surmise that many, if not most, people would be put off by that, and would consider it unethical to convince people to spend seemingly all the money they have on things that they don't need. But, for one thing, is that situation actually what it appears to be? Is the pony with the alpha cutie mark actually spending all his money (and clothing) on worksheets? We actually see him later with another sweater on while he's waiting in line to get a refund, so he might not have actually given Flim and Flam everything he had to get worksheets. Could he just have been desperate to get worksheets because he believed that there were a limited number of them, or he just really wanted the worksheets now, and he happened not to be carrying enough bits at the time?

And if the idea is that it's disgusting for Flim and Flam to be selling worksheets to ponies who are so desperate to get them that they'll sell the clothes off of their backs, I just wonder where the line is supposed to be drawn. When exactly does making an effective case for buying something cross into being immoral? Couldn't it be argued that people generally should take at least significant responsibility for their own poor decisions? The students here look to be adults; I would generally presume that they're paying for worksheets of their own free will, and are not incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions for themselves. I'm also not seeing the students as feeling like they "need" to attend Friendship University, and pay for worksheets, for any reason other than personal enrichment or personal interest; and if that's the case, then it seems like they could just stop paying for worksheets or attending classes whenever they feel that it's not worthwhile to do so.

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There are also a few points I can make about Flim's and Flam's confessions of using Twilight's curriculum, and saying that they only used every other page of it. This revelation was made after Twilight's comment about bringing the students in to see Flim's and Flam's vault, and after she said that "using your students' bits to expand your resort is wrong", so these confessions couldn't have motivated those comments from Twilight. However, they could be considered as part of the totality of things that Flim and Flam might have done wrong.

First, after the revelation that Flim and Flam are using Twilight's curriculum for their school, Twilight proposes that Flim and Flam can use her lessons "as much as they like", so long as they return the students' bits and not charge for her lessons any more. But it's interesting to note what Twilight doesn't say here. She doesn't demand that Flim and Flam write their own lessons and stop using hers entirely; she doesn't demand that they substantially add to or modify her lessons, in order to have added their own intellectual work to them; she doesn't tell them to use all of the pages of her lessons, rather than arbitrarily skipping every other page; she doesn't even ask to be credited as the writer of the lessons. So, in these respects, it doesn't appear that Twilight is taking a significant intellectual property issue with Flim's and Flam's using her curriculum, nor does Twilight even seem to insist on the integrity of her lessons if Flim and Flam are going to use them.

However, Flim and Flam had to have obtained this physical copy of Twilight's curriculum somehow, and they probably didn't do so by a means of which Twilight would have approved. Of course, in the episode, after Rarity wonders how Flim and Flam got a copy of Twilight's curriculum, the camera conveniently pans to show Cozy Glow. But I also saw a suggestion that Chancellor Neighsay or another member of the EEA could have given Flim and Flam one of their copies of Twilight's curriculum, since Twilight gave all the ponies on the EEA board copies back when she was seeking accreditation. And Neighsay would certainly appear to have the motivation to do that. (Interestingly, though, Chancellor Neighsay stamped the front cover of his copy of Twilight's curriculum in "School Daze", while Flim's and Flam's copy of the curriculum has no stamp on the front cover.) We might think that there would be an implicit or explicit understanding that copies of curricula are given to the EEA in confidence, to be used only for evaluation for accreditation, and that the EEA should not be giving or distributing those copies to anyone else.

Finally, I might think that Flim's and Flam's skipping of every other page of Twilight's curriculum would lead to disjointed, incoherent, and incomplete lessons. I'm imagining what it would be like to try to learn a subject from a textbook with every other page missing. And does this only apply to lesson plans, or does it apply to the worksheets, too? On the one hand, if Flim and Flam are trying to get rich quick, then I wouldn't expect them to write their own worksheets; I would presume that they would be taking the worksheets from Twilight's curriculum. But on the other hand, we never see any students saying that the worksheets they paid for are incomplete, or don't make sense, or that they never learned material that the worksheets are asking/talking about. We even see Star Swirl saying that the lessons in the worksheets are "quite fascinating" and "so valuable". So, to the extent that Flim's and Flam's skipping pages ruins the curriculum, that could be considered another point against Flim and Flam. Students signing up for the school and paying for worksheets could reasonably expect to be learning coherent and complete lessons, but that might not be what they're receiving.

So, frustratingly, at the end of all of this, I still don't know for sure what exactly Twilight/the students/Star Swirl think Flim and Flam did wrong, and perhaps more importantly, why they believe that's wrong. And while I can think of a few somewhat convincing arguments for things that Flim and Flam did that were wrong, I still don't really have a whole lot of confidence in them. The last thing about this that I'm not sure about is whether the episode was intentionally written this way. If Twilight is supposed to have more specific issues with what Flim and Flam did, then why is it that, in the climax of the episode, we don't get more explanation of these issues? Was this episode written this way deliberately in order to prompt the audience to think for themselves about what wrongs things Flim and Flam did and why they're wrong? Or is this episode just muddled and unclear about what its intended message is supposed to be? This is just another thing that I don't know what to make of.

-----

For the rest of this post, I'll talk about a couple of larger aspects of the episode, followed by the rest of my miscellaneous observations.

To start off, I had a series of questions and observations regarding the Friendship University flyers sent to Twilight. First, was it really necessary to send a thick stack of Friendship University flyers to Twilight, since I'm presuming the point was just to taunt or provoke her? Or did Flim and Flam expect Twilight to advertise their school inside of hers? Next, where did that stack of flyers go? Twilight was levitating the stack and reading the one off the top, but after the camera cuts to Rarity and back, the rest of the stack isn't seen anywhere else in the room. And it seems like Twilight would be too shocked and distraught just after reading the flyer to have, say, teleported the stack into the garbage or something.

Then, a little bit later, Twilight and Rarity are shocked to see the student population all reading Friendship University flyers. How did they get a hold of those? The beginning of this episode seems to establish that deliveries to the School are dropped off at and brought to the attention of Twilight, and Twilight obviously didn't distribute these flyers. Are these the same flyers from the stack that Cozy Glow delivered to Twilight? I thought that maybe Cozy Glow had taken the stack of flyers and run off to distribute them to students, but earlier, Cozy Glow is still standing in Twilight's office even as a wide shot shows the stack of flyers nowhere in sight. Is Cozy Glow supposed to have taken and hid the stack of flyers somehow (in a period of about 5 seconds, no less), then distributed them later? That seems like a pretty difficult feat to pull off, considering that Twilight was holding the stack of flyers with her magic, that they were right next to Twilight, and that Rarity is standing right there as well.

I also had the thought that, with the events of this episode, a case could probably be made that Chancellor Neighsay failed to do his due diligence in evaluating Friendship University before awarding it full accreditation, and that therefore, his personal vendetta against Twilight is interfering with his fulfilling the EEA's mission. First Neighsay takes Star Swirl's choice to study at Friendship University at this particular moment as all he needs to see in order to confer "complete and unreserved EEA accreditation" upon the University. But Star Swirl is presumably not a qualified EEA inspector, and Star Swirl has almost certainly not gone through the thorough evaluation of all aspects of the University that the EEA would (or should) normally do. Wouldn't the accreditation process be expected to involve observing the teaching of classes; inspecting the worksheets, homework assignments, textbooks, etc. that students are given; and actually interviewing students? Also, if Flim and Flam are skipping every other page of the curriculum when teaching, and that is resulting in disjointed/incoherent/incomplete lessons, that's a pretty big oversight that Neighsay failed to catch before granting full accreditation. And of course, Flim and Flam had to close Friendship University, which had just been accredited, in disgrace and refund all of the students. However, Twilight may not want to be the one making that case; it might attract attention to the haphazard way in which her school has been operating.

As @Truffles mentioned, I wondered where the funds to build the Friendship School came from, and now Rarity refers to "school funds" which she didn't use to buy sewing machines. So where do these "school funds" come from? Are Equestrians in general or residents of Ponyville paying for Twilight's Friendship School with tax money? Is it coming out of Celestia's and/or Twilight's personal funds? Did Twilight convince other Equestrians to give private donations to the school?

One of the lines in Flim's and Flam's song is "As you can see, we're a success by any kind of stat", which of course just raises the questions of "What statistics? How are they measured? Are they even relevant to determining student learning and success?", just for starters. If this is some cheap fly-by-night operation, then it's quite possible that their statistics wouldn't stand up to much scrutiny. I guess we can't expect any of the usual audience ponies to be asking questions like these, but even Twilight apparently doesn't ask any of these questions, only vaguely stating that she "still smells a rat".

It's interesting that, when Chancellor Neighsay sees Star Swirl, he says "I'd heard rumors you've returned, but I didn't believe it until now". From whom did Neighsay hear these "rumors", particularly if it wasn't from someone who would just confirm outright that Star Swirl is back? Was the Pillars' return deliberately kept a secret? Did the Princesses, the Mane Eight, and Sunburst just figure that essentially no one would know or care enough about the Pillars to announce their return?

When Twilight is looking through the lessons on Flim's and Flam's desks, does she recognize them? Flim and Flam are supposed to be using the lessons that Twilight wrote, after all, and if they're trying to get rich quick, I wouldn't think that they would put much, if any, effort into modifying or rewriting Twilight's lessons.

If Twilight is going to sneak into Flim's and Flam's office to look for "proof that it's all a scam", she should be listening out for anyone approaching or entering the office, and she should be ready to, say, teleport away as soon as anyone starts coming in. But instead, Twilight is too busy talking out loud to herself to even hear Flim and Flam opening and closing the office door.

Of course, later in the episode, Flim and Flam don't see or hear Twilight opening their office door as they access their secret vault, and apparently don't see or hear Twilight entering their vault, either, so they could certainly stand to pay more attention to their surroundings, too.

Rarity, in bubbly fashion, says that Flim's and Flam's lessons "really are impressive". So what's so impressive about them? Are the rest of their lessons significantly different than the class session that we saw earlier in the episode? Because I wouldn't really call "Hey class, demonstrate generosity by doing favors for me, the teacher" impressive. Of course, just after that, Rarity talks about selling back the sewing machines in order to continue advancing at Friendship University, apparently falling for the whole thing hook, line and sinker. Yeah, way to keep your wits about you, Rarity.

As @Truffles also discusses, it's strange that Flim and Flam tell Twilight that "You have something on us. We have something on you. Let's just call it even". The "something" that Flim and Flam have on Twilight is the picture of her snooping in their office, and a narrative that Twilight was only doing that because she's jealous and is trying to sabotage her competition. But now, with Twilight having cornered Flim and Flam in their secret vault of bits and resort plans, what would really happen if the two of them tried to go to the papers with that? Couldn't Twilight just say that she was looking for evidence of corruption (or however she wants to describe it), and that she found it, with that corruption (or whatever) being the main story? So it doesn't seem like Flim's and Flam's picture and story are the same reputation-destroying device that they might have been previously.

Star Swirl refers the former students of Friendship University to Twilight's Friendship School, and says that Twilight would consider letting them in. But with the lack of teaching staff and all the incidents that have occurred at the Friendship School so far, I think that Twilight might not be able to handle a large influx of new students right now. However, one of the things that Flim and Flam point out in their song is that residents of Las Pegasus would have to go and stay all the way in Ponyville to attend Twilight's Friendship School, whereas their school was right in Las Pegasus, so some of these former students may not even be willing/able to go to Ponyville to attend Twilight's school.

At the end of the episode, Star Swirl writes a postcard to Twilight saying that "Of course, if I ever go to a school again, I'll make sure it's yours". So Star Swirl was willing to settle down for a while to attend Flim's and Flam's school, but he's not willing to settle down to attend Twilight's school for the foreseeable future? I guess Twilight doesn't seem to mind, but that still feels like a snub toward Twilight on Star Swirl's part.

  • Brohoof 1

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Didn't they already do this 'trust your intuition' when Chrysalis was first introduced?

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If Neighsay did decide to just accredit the Friendship University to stick it to Twilight, then it would be the definition of a tit for tat. Twilight rebuffs the EEA rules and writes up her own rules. Neighsay accredits a friendship school that does its own thing with teaching friendship.

Edited by Singe

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5 hours ago, Singe said:

If Neighsay did decide to just accredit the Friendship University to stick it to Twilight, then it would be the definition of a tit for tat. Twilight rebuffs the EEA rules and writes up her own rules. Neighsay accredits a friendship school that does its own thing with teaching friendship.

Except Twilight's trying to do her job as princess of friendship when she does that while Neighsay is failing in his.

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