Original airdate: April 14, 2013
The premise: Homer once again finds himself in the doghouse, and has to figure out how to win Marge back for the thousandth time. Meanwhile, Milhouse decides to give treating girls like crap a shot, and is surprised to find it actually works on Lisa.
The reaction: We open with Tress MacNeille narrating on how women think is a mystery to men, because darnit, men and women are just so different! It’s a battle of the sexes episode, with simplistic, reductive material that feels like it was ripped from a 1950s film strip. Homer and Marge go out for a romantic lunch at a new sushi restaurant, and they seem to be enjoying themselves. Later into the meal, Marge starts into an asinine anecdote as Homer stuffs his face, which she then sternly chastises him for. “Words hurt, you know…” he sadly responds. And then that’s it. It takes only mildly callous act from Homer for Marge to fly off the handle and be annoyed and disappointed by him for the entire episode. The show tries to frame it like it was Marge’s breaking point, but for that, you would have needed to have some actual build-up. There’s not really much of a clear direction from this point on; Homer attempts to make it up to Marge in a number of ways, but they’re just not enough for her. His final act involves converting the garage into some kind of sex dungeon (how this is supposed to help mend fences, I haven’t a clue), and we end with Marge concluding that she still loves him because he’ll never stop trying. I remember Homer-Marge episodes from around seasons 15-18 were especially infuriating and sad because they would involve Homer being a raging uncaring asshole, and Marge taking him back for no real logical reason. This episode was much different than that; it went with the bottle that The Simpsons Movie cracked open of Marge looking back over their relationship and why she puts up with all of Homer’s nonsense, and enough is enough, so really, nothing a sincere Homer can do will be sufficient enough to placate that line of thinking. Instead, she just goes back with Homer because the episode is over. Really, these two should have gotten a divorce years ago.
Three items of note:
– It’s time for another pop culture MASH note, this time with a special intro inspired by Breaking Bad. We see Marge baking blue cupcakes, in a montage reminiscent to the cooking sequences in the show, set to “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” They’re taken to the bake sale and sold, all while Homer watches on with binoculars with a Heisenberg hat on. So, what’s the joke? Why is Homer acting so suspicious and weird? Is it supposed to be like Marge is selling his product on his turf? I’m straining to try and see this as a parody of the show, but it just isn’t. It’s just “HEY WE LOVE BREAKING BAD JUST LIKE YOU!” Complete with live action footage from the actual show of Walt and Jesse watching TV to close out the intro. Guess you gotta do something to kill time between cooks.
– The B-plot is so freaking weird. Milhouse is inspired by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and decides to act like an uncaring, abusive jerk to Lisa for a change. Why the fourth grade class is watching this mature film in class, or why the kids all seem to be paying very close attention to such an old movie, or why Mrs. Krabappel puts her cigarette out in Bart’s ear, is besides the point. Turns out, Lisa eats it up. How do we know this? Because she says so (“If you’ll excuse me, I have to go think of you in a different light.”) Milhouse is trying to act cool with a Bazooka Joe jacket on, and Lisa is just falling over herself over it. It’s the kind of shit the show would make fun of, but here, it’s working! I guess that episode a season or so ago cemented that Lisa actually likes Milhouse deep down, so I guess I should expect more garbage like this further down the road. The plot kind of just peters out with Milhouse sort of abandoning his new persona, and Lisa still thinking he’s sweet. Or something. It’s just so fucking dumb.
– Wanda Sykes guest stars as the school therapist (I guess J. Loren Pryor is out of a job), in a really unfunny sequence with Milhouse. Seems like his bad boy act works on grown women too; he throws a momentary hissy fit and slides everything off her desk in one full swoop, and she seems to be incredibly impressed by it. Between her and that condo woman who was going to jump his bones when he was pretending to be Kirk, I guess all the ladies be loving Milhouse now. George Takei also returns to play Akira, twenty-two years after he originated the role. He only gets like two or three lines, which is really strange because we also have a different character of the head chef who has a much larger role, played by Maurice LaMarche. Why didn’t they just have this be Akira’s new restaurant or something and give him and Takei the meatier role?
One good line/moment: Bad writing aside, Homer actually trying to make an effort and win Marge back felt very nice to see, standing in contrast with the petulant man baby screaming he normally did in these types of episodes.