(originally aired December 3, 2000)
Where “Homer vs. Dignity” perfectly displayed how characterization has completely gone to shit, this episode does the very same to proper and sensible storytelling. So far we’ve seen a bumper crop of insane and absolutely dreadful plot twists. An impromptu trip to Scotland to find the Loch Ness monster. Homer and chums get their ship attacked by pirates. Jockeys revealed to be actual elves. But no episode comes even close to the ridiculous and insulting third act we have here. It’s absolute insanity, and just one more giant leap away from anything even slightly resembling reality from this show. We start with Homer finally entering the digital age and getting his very own computer, but because he’s a big dummy, he has no idea how to use it. Whether he’s dragging his new desktop behind his car or somehow believing it has the power for murder his neighbor, this show is full of cringe-worthy Homer moments. He even comes up with his own web page, which is completely full of ripped-off animated gifs and sound bites. Annoying, but it’s one of the few things here I buy Homer would do.
To get more hits on his home page, Homer tries his hand at guerrilla journalism, exposing the questionable doings and misdoings of the citizens of Springfield. The story so far actually isn’t too shoddy, but every single scene is just Homer either being brain dead, inconsiderate, or just a completely selfish dickhead. His anonymous moniker “Mr. X” is eventually awarded the Pulitzer Prize for God knows why, but as his identity is unknown, it’s decided the cash prize will go toward starving children. Homer freaks out and insists that he’s Mr. X. I mentioned this in the last review; that bit was bad enough, but they even follow it up in the next scene with Marge (“I do feed bad about the starving children.” “They’re with God now.”) As he’s counting his money. Honestly, are the writers just trying their hardest to make Homer a flaming asshole? When he finds he can’t perform espionage as well now that he’s outed himself, Homer starts making up stories for his site, with one lie in particular that lands him in some hot water. Which leads us to our third act…
Homer is kidnapped and winds up on a mysterious island, with other prisoners who are known only by number. They’re kept there because they “know too much,” and Homer finds that his bullshit about flu shots being used for mind control was actually true. While he’s stuck and being gassed repeatedly, a decoy Homer with a thick German accent is sent to the Simpson home to keep the family none the wiser. Now… what can I possibly say to this. This whole act is apparently a parody of The Prisoner, an old TV series I’ve never seen, and something the writers seem to hide behind when it comes to criticism of this episode, that people just don’t get the reference. Well, one, that’s a poor ass excuse, because a reference should work on its own even if you don’t know the source, and two, the parody should make sense within the show’s universe. Where the fuck is this island? Who is the organization running it? Who do they work for? What are their plans, and to what end? Why do they continually gas Homer? Why do the Simpsons accept the fake Homer when he’s clearly a fake? What the fuck is happening? It’s just so much bullshit and nonsense crammed in at the very end; as if the episode wasn’t awful enough, here’s the worst, most disjointed and out-of-left-field third act in the show’s entire history. Plain and absolute shit.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Lenny and Carl are just driving past the plant together on their day off. Really, I liked it better when they were just casual chums who were Homer’s work mates and drinking buddies. They have separate lives. Or not, I guess. Next season we’ll see Lenny’s masterpiece Mount Carlmore. Which now that I read it like that also could double for a sex joke, alluding to their questionable sexuality. Goddammit, later seasons…
– Oh, and more feeble Burns with him fumigating the plant with a bug bomb. Seriously, why is he doing this?
– Quality moments are few and far between here, and that’s being generous. I like the Springfield Police Department website (“If you’ve committed a crime, and want to confess, click ‘Yes.’ Otherwise, click ‘No.’ You have chosen ‘No,’ meaning you’ve committed a crime, but don’t want to confess. A paddy wagon is now speeding to your home. While you wait, why not buy a police cap or T-shirt? You have the right to remain fabulous!”)
– What is with the bit with Bart confessing to carrying switchblades, assaulting cops and getting suspended? And he says he’s “just mad all the time,” then the very next scene he’s happily getting himself some cookies and milk. Just more bullshit scenes placed together with no rhyme or reason as to what happened before them.
– I don’t know if I’m just actively seeking out sex jokes because they’re becoming so common, but Comic Book Guy is scouring through porn sites, like Lady Triple-X, then comes across “Mr. X.” He ponders, and finally decides to “cross the final frontier.” Like, he’s gotten off to every porn site there is, now he figures he’ll give the other team a shot. Am I reading too much into the line? Because I actually thought it was amusing in that regard. And also the classic “There is no emoticon for what I am feeling!”
– Ah, the days you could make jokes about selling uranium to Middle Eastern terrorists (“You are a credit to the great Satan!” “Oh, pshaw!”)
– Don’t know why people couldn’t figure out who Mr. X was, considering the gag earlier of Homer’s picture loading quicker than the bag over his head on the site. Maybe Comic Book Guy has a particularly slow computer, as we’ve seen before.
– Absolutely terrible scene of a fever-stricken Todd calling out for his dead mother. One of the most tasteless things I’ve ever seen on a television show.
– The fake Kwik-E-Mart bit is awful. We see the concrete siding to the left of the building, then later we see it was all in the back of a truck. Where the fuck was the truck? It wasn’t there! You could’ve hid it better, but they apparently could care less.
– Just quick observations about the third act, because I just want to wipe it from my memory: the writers seemed to love seeing Homer get gassed, it makes no fucking sense why any of the Simpsons would put up with the fake Homer, and we’ve got real Homer stealing the escape raft that took another prisoner decades to build. He shoves him out of the way and takes off with it, after he said it can fit two people. Again, this is our fucking protagonist. Why are they going to such great lengths to make me want to punch him in the face?