(originally aired May 11, 2008)
“Mother Simpson” is a definitive Simpsons classic, one of the most heartwarming episodes of the series. “My Mother the Carjacker” cheapened things a bit, but mostly remained innocuous in more or less telling the same story over again. But this show… it turns Mona Simpson’s character and entire past on its ear, turning this farewell episode into hackneyed schlock and more or less shitting all over the good vibes established from “Mother.” Out of the blue, Mona just reappears at the Simpson house, asserting that she’s through running from the law and wants to be involved in the family again. The feds still think she’s dead from the events of “Carjacker,” so how exactly would this work? Anyway, Homer feels apprehensive about this, not wanting to get hurt again by his mother’s seemingly eventual re-abandonment. Unfortunately when his change of heart comes, Mona has already died. To make peace, Homer vows to accomplish her dying wish to release her ashes at a specified time from a tall rock formation… which ends up clogging the guidance system of a missile set to dump nuclear waste to the rainforest. Now the Simpsons have to stop this evil James Bond plot! What the fuck is this?!
I’m going to bypass the third act, because it befuddles me way too much to even try to analyze. We kill off Mona in this episode, but her character is completely sullied. If you’ll remember, she was a 60s radical fighting for change, but she was a caring mother first, always looking out for her little Homer. That’s why she left in the first place, to keep him safe from harm. Here, in one of the most infuriating scenes of the entire series, we see young Mona callously saying goodbye to her son for the night (“See you later, honey! Mommy has to go chain herself to a nuclear submarine. Hugs and kisses!”) Li’l Homer reaches out for a hug, but is rejected. Fucking. Terrible. Homer’s life only went to shit when he was left to be raised by Abe, but I guess he had a terrible, unattended childhood both ways now, I guess. And despite her selfless effort to keep her son from harm in the past, Mona has Homer sabotage that missile launch, which ends up getting him into harm’s way. He could have suffered the same hardships she did, and it would have been all her fault. Mona was a saintly mother figure, now she’s a rambunctious hippie leftist, akin to what Lisa has become now. Just a ghastly episode, trying to elicit emotion from an untimely death, but completely betraying the character they’re killing in the process.
Tidbits and Quotes
– What a terrible title, first of all. One of the worst ever, I think.
– We start at the mall at “Stuff-N-Hug,” another transparent pop culture surrogate. Lots of jokes to be made about Build-a-Bear, are there? Not really.
– “Mom, I can’t believe you’re here. You keep appearing and reappearing and it’s not funny! You’re just like that show Scrubs!” Again, guys, pot to kettle. Also, what a clumsily written line.
– Glenn Close just sounds tired as Mona, which I guess makes sense given her imminent demise. But not even death will keep her from the writers scrounging her character back up one more time, I think in that Inception episode where Homer keeps wetting the bed. Thank God I don’t have to watch that one.
– The moment where Homer finds his mother dead by the fireplace at the end of act one is a little chilling; I just wish there were a more serious, competently written episode surrounding it. Then act two begins with Homer at the funeral home sobbing, “My mother’s dead!” It’s one of those exposition lines you get after a commercial, but I feel it could have been accomplished in a more natural way.- Homer tries to find solace with his friends, but to no avail. Apu talks about reincarnation, while Ned is very compassionate (“Look, Homer, people don’t come back as anything, except for our Lord, who came back as bread, that’s it.”) Then it becomes a pissing match between Apu and Ned; what a wacky religious odd couple! Two more dead characters.
– Homer climbs the mountain to fulfill his mother’s last wish, or rather, he makes it part way up having Marge carry him (“Marge, your back is so sweaty! I’m starting to slip off!”) Class act.
– The third act… God, who cares. It ends with the secret base exploding and Homer flying out with an English flag parachute for no discernible reason or explanation, and him believing if he adds water to the ashes, Mona will come back to life. Then we end with a montage of clips from past Mona appearances. For some reason, I’m annoyed by them adding new animation of her kissing young Homer goodbye and walking out of the room, right before the old clip from “Mother Simpson” of sleeping Homer’s face as the door closes.