506. The Spy Who Learned Me

2320Original airdate: May 6, 2012

The premise:
After sustaining a head injury at work, Homer hallucinates a James Bond expy as his mentor to woo Marge back into his good graces. Meanwhile, Bart enacts revenge on Nelson by getting him hooked on Krusty Burger, leaving him morbidly obese.

The reaction: Things start off on a bad note as we open with two set pieces that feel like neutered recreations of past show moments. First is the Stradivarius Cain movie clip, featuring a meeting of a group of evil super villains who are thwarted by our hero popping out of something. It’s a hollow mimicry of the McBain segment from “Last Exit to Springfield”: the in-context parody of overtly evil action movie villains is replaced with awkward out-of-place comedic dialogue of evil guy’s mistress assuring she didn’t sleep with Cain and stale violence that feels nowhere near as wonderfully brutal as McBain (or as funny, like when a guy reaches for a dead man’s slice of cake and is shot himself). Homer and Marge are in attendance of said movie, and Homer is making an ass of himself, as he did previously in “Colonel Homer.” Like then, this scene sets up a rift between the two that will have to be dealt with over the episode. He decides not to tell the family he got time off of work since Marge is still mad at him, and then he starts hallucinating Cain to give him advice on how to woo women. There’s no rhyme or reason as to when or how he appears, he just comes and goes as he pleases. We also get a segment of Homer at a trendy bar successfully using a corny pick-up line and getting a hot girl, so there’s also some recycled stuff here from that ode to pick-up artists episode last season. Not only does Cain show up like five minutes after we see Homer’s accident, it’s not clear exactly what the point of him is. Homer gets completely back in Marge’s good graces with one smooth-talkin’ line of dialogue, followed by a sleep-inducing climax involving that hot girl from earlier and her not-Scarface husband? For some reason? I dunno. This show was just a lot of random things happening that sometimes connected to a threadbare story line, sometimes. Bleh. Don’t have much else to say about it.

Three items of note:
– The B-plot is just as unremarkable. We get an in-universe version of Super-Size Me with Eric Idle’s character, a film that at this point was nearly a decade old. I feel like this show referenced it at least once before. But there’s no satirical element to it, the only joke is characters get cartoonishly obese eating all that Krusty Burger. That’s all. The Beavis & Butthead revival did a Super-Size Me segment around this time, but it actually had a story to it. And humor. Here, Nelson gets fat, Krusty lets him use his trainer, then we end with buff super bully Nelson. That’s it. We also get maybe the most bafflingly dated reference in show history, when the trainer makes an Alicia-Silverstone-in-Batman-&-Robin fat joke. Were they doing spring cleaning in the writer’s room and found a post-it note from 1997?
– There’s a pretty lazy piece of dialogue toward the end of the episode. On an establishing shot of Homer driving to the fancy garden party restaurant thing, Homer comments, “The three of us are going to the most romantic restaurant in town!” So you expect Marge to say, “Three? You mean two?” And there to be some kind of comic moment with that. Instead, nothing. We see Cain in the backseat, who is strapped into Maggie’s car seat (why?), but Marge doesn’t make any remark. Did they just forget they were setting up a joke and not pay it off?
– Sweet, sweet FOX synergy. One of the many hallucinations Homer cycles through is Cleatus, the FOX Sports robot, who Homer mentions by name and he does his little end line dance as the NFL music plays. It just goes so long, and feels like nothing but sad time filler.

One good line/moment: He’s got no material to work with whatsoever, but Bryan Cranston is never not likable. As Cain, he’s pretty much playing a suave James Bond type, but there’s a weird moment when he appears to be getting his rocks off while watching Homer and Marge make out. He literally pops up into frame at a perfect diagonal angle behind them locking lips, it’s a really bizarre sequence that I laughed at because it was so weird. It was like it turned into an Adult Swim show for a few seconds.

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One response to “506. The Spy Who Learned Me

  1. Luckily this episode has the last appearance of Declan Desmond. I really hate him, and I hope they never bring him back.

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