Original airdate: September 29, 2013
The premise: Homer returns from a nuclear power convention acting strangely sedated, as well as refusing pork and beer. A concerned Lisa informs the FBI, believing her father has been brainwashed into enacting an attack on the power plant.
The reaction: For the show nowadays, a parody means just straight up recreating scenes from popular movies and TV shows shot-for-shot with a yellow coat of paint, desperately hoping some third-string entertainment news outlets will pump out a few articles about a Simpson-ized Game of Thrones couch gag. Here, we have an episode based on the Showtime series Homeland, which I basically know nothing about. The show is filled with scenes and flashbacks and an entire character that I supposed were pulled right from the show, but with no context, I didn’t know what to make of them. Hell, the episode opens with a recreation of the Homeland opening title sequence, so having not seen the show, I already felt alienated. So the plot is that Homer comes back from a convention acting really weird. He speaks in short, monotone sentences, and for unexplained reasons, he vehemently refuses pork chops and beer. Lisa is suspect, but Marge is none the wiser, loving her newly changed husband. I hate it when they write her this naive; she seriously has no concerns why Homer is acting so damn weird? From that point, it becomes another big mystery episode like “The Saga of Carl,” why is Homer acting so weird? Why is he praying on a rug? What’s that strange device he’s bringing into the plant? Lisa corners him on it, and we finally get our long, laboriously torturous explanation that goes on for two whole minutes. Some eco-friendly activists kidnapped Homer, told him pigs don’t like being eaten, gave him a detox, and the strange device is to sabotage the power plant’s air ducts, rendering the facility unworkable. What a logical explanation! Except none of that accounts for why Homer was talking so weird and creepy through the entire middle act. In the end, Burns gets the plant shut down by accident, but we get an end tag of it reopening because it has to. Similarly, a magic floating beer can appears to tempt Homer back to being his old self. What’s the damn point in making huge changes if you’re not going to bother resolving them in a meaningful way? Or at least in a funny way. But questions such at these are pretty futile to ask at this point.
Three items of note:
– We open on the breakfast table as Marge serves Bart cereal complete with his multiple medications mixed in (including Focusyn, because do you remember that?) He then recites the Wizard of Oz quote about the isosceles triangle. Lisa points out that’s incorrect, Bart then retorts that he’s rehearsing his lines for the Wizard of Oz play. It’s basically a repeat of the joke from “$pringfield,” except much more belabored, and not featuring Homer fishing Henry Kissinger’s glasses out of the toilet. Hell, that random joke even led into the plot with him wearing the glasses keeping him from getting fired.
– Kristen Wiig plays an FBI agent on the case, except she’s a complete maniac. I guess she’s supposed to be Claire Danes from the show, but I don’t know what to make of her. She seems spastic and incompetent, and she also takes bipolar medication, because mental disorders are hilarious! Is that from Homeland? Or just some thing they thought would be funny? I’m not the biggest fan of Wiig’s awkward, rambling brand of comedy, so I wasn’t won over by that either.
– Lisa confronts Homer in the plant operations center, that requires a facial scan of Mr. Burns to enter. They make a joke how she got in thanks to Girl Scout cookies or whatever, but this show has a debilitating habit of characters just appearing wherever they need to be regardless of logic or reason. I’m supposed to just go with it, but honestly, how the hell did Lisa get in there? Because she had to, because plot resolution.
One good line/moment: Homer gets into the operations center himself by holding up a disgusting craggly looking fish with Burns’ distinctive silhouette. The joke is slightly diminished in that it cuts to a close-up shot of the fish after it’s scanned, in case you missed the gag somehow.