90. The Last Temptation of Homer

(originally aired December 9, 1993)
Going waaaay back to “Life on the Fast Lane,” we saw Marge contemplating an affair, which doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary considering the dumb ape she’s married to. However, the flip side of this would be unthinkable: Homer is the luckiest guy in the world that he’s got Marge, and moreover, he knows it. This man’s shortcomings could fill a novel, but the one thing he’s not is unfaithful. That’s what makes this episode so interesting: Homer finds himself impulsively attracted to another woman, and he has no idea how to deal with it. It’s like fate put all the pieces together to screw him over and make him want to be with this other woman. It’s a great throwback to early Homer where life seems to be conspiring against him in every way.

The femme fatale in question is Mindy Simmons, new hire thanks to the Department of Labor forcing Mr. Burns to have at least one woman on staff. Upon first sight, Homer is completely bowled over by how attractive she looks, and promptly bolts out of the room, not sure of what just happened. As the show progresses, he gets more and more paranoid about his situation. He learns that Mindy shares the same love of junk food and slacking off at work, which only makes things worse. He attempts to take solace in his beloved family, only to be further perturbed by a very sick wife and oddball antics from his children. Not even an out-of-body experience can give him relief: his guardian angel, taking the guise of Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes, pulls an It’s a Wonderful Life to show Homer a world where he marries Mindy instead of Marge, only to find Homer is fabulously wealthy, and Marge is the President. Klink quickly gives up, leaving Homer even lower than he was before. Sure, this was presumably all in his mind, but even his wildest fantasies prove to betray him.

Homer’s continuing losing battle reaches a head when he and Mindy are sent off to Capitol City to represent the plant at a big energy convention, and are later gifted to a romantic dinner for two. Then, the last straw: Homer’s fortune cookie reads, “You will find happiness with a new love.” Even sweets have turned on him, and Homer concludes that he can’t fight fate. In one of the sweetest, most genuine scenes in the entire series, Homer breaks down with Mindy, where she tells him to look in his heart and go from there. It’s a spectacular performance by Castellaneta, and also guest star Michelle Pfeiffer, and looks amazing with the moonlight and shadows in the hotel room. In the end, Homer sticks with Marge, of course, and everything turns out alright. It’s a very intriguing episode regarding Homer, a real human-like portrayal after all the wacky stuff he’s been up to this season. But that’s one of the great things about the show, you never know what shade of character is going to be illuminated each week.

Tidbits and Quotes
– There’s also the B-story with Bart being prescribed glasses, special shoes, scalp salve amongst others and becomes the ultimate social outcast. It’s got a few funny bits, but ultimately is just time filler since the A-story is so much more interesting. I do like the ending where the bullies are shocked to find Bart back to normal… then proceed to beat him up anyway.
– Love Martin’s anger and frustration over not being picked on, as Bart struggles to read a blurry chalkboard (“It’s ‘photosynthesis’!! Damn your feeble brain!”)
– More plant safety: the emergency exit doors are just painted on the walls. When Charlie goes to complain, Burns shoots him off in a tube, that apparently seems to lead all the way to India. Preposterous, yes, but still funny. With him gone, the plant needs a new dangerous emissions supervisor. Burns first goes with foreigner Zutroy until the Department of Labor flags him as an illegal alien (“That’s preposterous! Zutroy here is as American as apple pie!” “Tocnikrabda, mistah Boons!”)
– Homer finishes off his work day (“Another day, another box of stolen pens.”) He tosses them in his backseat with a whole bunch, some of which have been leaking copious amounts of ink on the seat.
– Classic bit with Homer coming up with a fake name to disguise his own story: Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo. Moe comments, “That’s the worst name I ever heard,” causing another man at the bar to run out crying. Barney calls out, “Hey! Joey Jo-Jo!” He later provides Homer with some very helpful, concise advice, which he read off of a bar napkin.
– Homer is befuddled to find Mindy seems to share all of his interests: “Foul temptress. I’ll bet she thinks Ziggy’s gotten too preachy too!”
– Homer in the elevator with Mindy is a fantastic sequence, starting with both of their inadvertent Freudian slips. Homer proceeds to think unsexy thoughts, starting with Patty and Selma shaving their legs, then Barney dancing in a bikini humming the I Dream of Jeannie theme. He quickly morphs into Mindy and his plan is foiled. Homer decides to abort mission, hit the emergency stop and get off, where he slides down one of the cooling towers. This already makes no sense, but they seem to have been going down in the elevator. Down from what point? Whatever, I still laughed.
– TV betrays Homer too, with each channel featuring programming about adultery. He stops at a commercial with women in workout clothes, and the slogan “Just Do It.” He screams and runs out before the end, where it turns out it’s for the NRA (the other one, the National Ringworm Association.)
– Very quick Lionel Hutz bit, annoyed to find Homer in the knocked over telephone booth (“Hey, you, get out of my office!”)
– I love Stuart the duck, animal worker at the plant, and that later on, when Burns is surveying the antagonism amongst employees on the security monitors, the last is Stuart pecking at an unconscious co-worker.
– Great one-off character with the cheeky bellhop, and his inappropriate noises regarding Homer’s king-size bed. Homer is not amused (“Stop that! I love my wife and family. All I’m gonna use this bed for is sleeping, eating, and maybe building a little fort. That’s it!”)
– The sexual tension between Homer and Mindy grows ever thicker. Mindy comments that a mere wall keeps the two from sleeping in the same bed at the hotel. Homer responds, “Walls are a necessity in today’s society.” Later, Mindy seductively suggests the two do something that could get them in a lot of trouble… order room service. Burns notes this and sends his flying monkeys to stop them a la Wizard of Oz, but alas, the creatures fall out the office window into traffic. After a beat, Burns tells Smithers, “Continue the research.”
– Great bit at the convention with passer-bys chiding the nuclear power booth and Mindy and Homer shooting back insults (Homer yells, “Go to hell!” while throwing a brick.)
– Hilarious quick line from Mindy after finishing her meal at Madame Chao’s (“What a perfect evening. It sure was nice of them to make us cheeseburgers.”) Also, fate screws Homer again, as he was one cookie away from them cracking open the “Stick With Your Wife” barrel.
– That last scene with Mindy is amazing, as I’ve said, even from the start: Homer invites Mindy in, she sheepishly says, “Okay.” Homer then parrots what she said in a kidding fashion, like mocking her because he’s so fed up and defeated with the situation, feeling he has no choice but to sleep with her.

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4 responses to “90. The Last Temptation of Homer

  1. The one thing that always bugged me about this was Mindy clearly knows Homer is married. I suppose we shouldn’t really like a character who could be a threat to Homer and Marge’s marriage but that always stood out to me.

    • Well, its not her fault what happened. It’s all been casual, the energy convention, winning the romantic dinner.. It’s not like she slutty flirted with Homer, it’s just a growing silent attraction between them, to the point one can even sympathize with her, to be attracted by a man already married. She even adviced Homer to do the right thing. Such an authentic human story.

  2. I think he did cheat. Marge being in Mindy’s place is just in Homer’s mind. How did she get there so fast? Wasn’t she sick with a cold? What happened to Mindy? That’s the inescapable logic. Homer slept with Mindy, but at least thought about his wife at the time.

  3. Wow, odd to remember a story where Homer is a complete 180 from his Jerkass self and I actually feel sorry for him, —- indeed particularly so now having been court in a similar situation (though in that case I was Mindy)(.

    My only real objection to this is where Mindy actually comes off as a nice person, Homer’s later explanation to Marge that Mindy hit the bottle really fast, got fired and vanished seems a little too believable.

    I suppose there was no way to wrap her plot up or give her a reasonable ending, but still it might’ve been nice if we had the idea she might end happily in the future.

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