(originally aired September 24, 2006)
This is another one of those crazy episodes that hinges on entire groups of characters acting maddeningly bizarre for the plot to make “sense.” Marge becomes incredibly proficient at carpentry, in about as much time as Bart became a drumming superstar last episode. She decides she can use her skills doing contract work, but every job she’s called on, she’s turned away because she’s a woman. The citizens of Springfield, from Superintendent Chalmers to Professor Frink, have inexplicably become latent misogynists for no other reason but what the script dictates. So what’s Marge to do? Use Homer to act as her stand-in while she does the work. So people don’t trust Marge to do a good job, but they will trust Homer, who is known town-wide as an incompetent boob? Over time, Marge becomes more discouraged that she’s not getting the credit she deserves, while Homer fears for his masculinity and wishes to keep the charade going. Homer’s a fuck-up, hijinks ensue, the two make amends, blah blah blah.
This is three in a row of third acts that are completely dumb. After getting no respect from anyone, including her husband, Marge “quits,” leaving Homer to have to repair an old roller coaster by himself. We see him attempting to lead a team of crewmen, which ends in him hiding in the giant tool box screaming and crying. He has absolutely no idea what he’s doing, and he knows it. But for some reason, he’s so insanely pig-headed that he will not ask Marge for help. On the grand opening, he proudly presents his shoddy workmanship, while Marge stands in the crowd gleefully awaiting her husband being exposed as a fraud. Their relationship is either way too close knit for the amount of shit Homer puts Marge through, or has Marge appearing petty and vengeful, which is not in her character at all. But Homer isn’t letting up yet, because he’s still an asshole (“Dad! Put aside your selfish male ego and tell the truth!” “I’ll tell them the truth. The truth is: I’m perfect, and everything I touch is perfect!”) Only after Marge uses her apparent superpowers to fix all the damaged areas of the track as Homer is riding it does he actually come clean. Then the coaster collapses and he ends up in intensive care. It’s the best part of the whole episode.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Oh right, the subplot. Peanut products are forbidden from Springfield Elementary when it’s revealed someone has a deathly allergen. Bart quickly deducts that it’s Principal Skinner, and before long, he makes him bend to his will with a mere peanut on a stick. I know Skinner’s his nemesis and he likes pulling pranks, but it quickly tuns into uncomfortable torture when Bart shows up at his house and forces him to eat garbage, or the wonderful act break joke when he shoves lit dynamite and kittens down his trousers. Wanting to fight back, Skinner finds out Bart’s kryptonite, shrimp, and the two have a stick duel to the likes of the grand finale of Star Wars: Episode III. At least I can say it’s nowhere near as long or overly indulgent as the source material, and them landing in a vat of peanut shrimp is kind of a clever end. But in all, another worthless B-story.
– This week’s filler opening? Exploring the abandoned Springfield mall, where Bart plays old video games, and Homer deep throats a gigantic log of gummi worms, which almost made me want to vomit. That’s Homer the Food Monster for you.
– The impetus for Marge to take up carpentry? She knocks over her end table by stepping on a shoddy floorboard in the bedroom. The hardwood floor in the bedroom. We’ve seen their bedroom in almost every fucking episode, every room in the house appears to be carpeted. What the fuck is this shit? I feel like a continuity Nazi when I complain about this stuff, but when we’ve seen something in every episode and then you change it, it just feels unbelievably lazy and insulting.
– The scene with Lenny and Carl ends up feeling incredibly awkward. The two of them inexplicably make sexist remarks, causing Marge to murmur angrily. The gag is that it sounds like a buzz saw in the tool box, but then it just gets extended longer and longer as the two bang on it and rock out. It’s like a full minute of Marge murmuring nonstop as these two imbeciles roughhouse the box she’s stuck in. Then later we find that it was rolled down a steel hill, seemingly endangering her life. And Homer doesn’t seem to really mind too much; he gives a paltry apology before immediately ignoring Marge’s plea for them to come clean and continuing to belittle her (“Nice job installing this wall chart bracket. If the kids ask, I did it.”)
– You really just feel sorry for Homer in the third act, in that he’s so unbelievably pathetic. The scene with him and the workers ends with him hopping inside the tool box and falling into a ditch. We get a closeup as he’s jimmied the door slightly and we just see him crying. But he won’t ask his wife for help; he’s like a thick little kid who won’t admit he’s wrong, going so far as almost getting himself killed before confessing he’s a fuck-up. Also, as Homer boards the cart, Marge delivers this gem (“Oh my God! He’ll kill himself! He’ll never hear me say ‘
I told you so!'”) Yep, totally in character.