Original airdate: April 15, 2018
The premise: Moe encounters his estranged father, and after making amends, he inherits one of his stores from the family mattress business. However, this leads to an all out war between Moe and his brother and sisters’ stores.
The reaction: This is one of those episodes that goes right through you; I watched it, it ended, and it had virtually no effect on me whatsoever. We find out about Moe’s family and their mattress empire, but when li’l Moe chickened out of sabotaging their business rival, his dad excommunicated him. For whatever reason, Marge is incredibly invested in mending this relationship, forcing the family together for dinner, then later urging Moe to get his father involving to make peace between the warring siblings. This all builds to her eventually feeling comfortable enough to give Moe a friendly hug after he refuses his father’s evil orders to taint his siblings’ mattresses. So, poor sad Moe, him getting a new lease on life, Marge inexplicably tolerating Moe… we’ve seen this episode template many times before and I don’t feel like complaining about any of that stuff again. Moe’s father and sister are voiced by Ray Liotta and Debi Mazar, both from Goodfellas, and they dress and act very Italian… but isn’t Syslak Russian? There’s the joke in “Flaming Moe’s” where Moe bullshits about the recipe coming down from his czar ancestors, but it certainly sounds more Russian than Italian. This is also a Matt Selman produced episode, which I guess explains the seriousness of the ending of Moe looking down at his father and siblings and seeing them younger in a happier time. There’s a subsection of diehard fans who still watch this garbage (I guess I would fall into that category now… how shameful) who applaud the Selman shows specifically, and while for the most part they do have slightly better story structure and a clear intent on exploring characters and having an emotional climax, they always fall utterly short because the writing is as poor as ever. I could care less about Moe’s character turn, but it’s our triumphant happy ending and Marge couldn’t be prouder of the little gargoyle. “Moe, you’re a good man!” she croaks. I’m all for marching characterization forward, but I still can’t get behind these two. You can make Moe as cloying and emotionally damaged as you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that he and his establishment have kept Homer away from his wife and children for many, many years. Hell, a few minutes into this episode, we see Homer kiss Marge as she walks in the door right before he bolts out to waste his night away from her at the bar. Marge harboring a quiet resentment toward Moe makes a hell of a lot more sense than her trying to be his life coach as we’ve seen in multiple episodes. But I’ve already made this point before, several times. I can’t help being repetitive when this show is rehashing the same stuff over and over. It’s like it’s their job. Their job. Being repetitive is their job.
Three items of note:
– The opening features Bart being forced to sign up for school band, and after finding out Homer is ultimately financially responsible for his loaned violin, he begins torturing his father, using and abusing the instrument over what looks like a whole week. It made me think, were there any instances in the classic years of Bart fucking with Homer over a long period of time? Usually they were just one-off pranks or jabs, always coming off as precocious childish behavior. Even something as extreme as him busting a chair over Homer’s head in the tub is motivated, where he was trying to test his father’s might against Milhouse’s moms’ new American Gladiators beau. But here, Bart tortures his father for multiple days for no real reason other than to just be a dick, and it comes off as kind of unpleasant. Even in last week’s episode, Bart messed with Homer’s head in order to get to the not-Minecraft convention, there was a reason to it. Here, Bart’s only mission is to make his dad suffer. Funny? Also, at his breaking point, Homer imagines the violin taunting him by rubbing its fingers together (“You see this? I’m playing the world’s smallest violin!”) Wouldn’t the line be better if he said “the world’s smallest me”? Come on, it was right there.
– I’m still not sure what to make of Moe’s family. Moe refers to himself as the “white sheep” of the family, and the gag is that being in the mattress selling business is super evil (“They’re like mortgage brokers without the moral code.”) But the Syslaks don’t seem any more hateful and vindictive than Moe is. And the sister is introduced eating Chinese food with scissors, which I guess is a joke. I guess with this episode featuring Neutered Moe, his family being rude and cruel makes them comparatively bad looking, but I still remember the days of Moe threatening to shoot people and being generally violent and unpleasant, and I just don’t see much of a difference in character.
– Three separate times throughout this episode, characters use the term “reach around,” as in to make an effort to make amends (“It’s not too late to reach around and fix things with your father!”) But… they’ve heard what a reach around is, right? Surely I’m not the only one whose pure, innocent mind has been poisoned by sex terms they learned from the Internet. Was there no one in the writer’s room under 35 to point this out and suggest a quick re-write?
One good line/moment: Nuthin’.