Original airdate: March 9, 2014
The premise: Lisa’s advocacy for genetically modified food gets her a visit to a local chemical engineering facility, and is shocked to find a supposedly reformed Sideshow Bob as their chief scientist.
The reaction: Guess there’s more drops of blood to squeeze from the Sideshow Bob stone. His last appearance was four seasons prior in that face swapping episode (referenced here in his first scene when his face falls off and Maggie attempts to eat it like a Fruit Roll-Up. Thanks for that!) But really, what’s the point anymore? It’s always the same, Bob appears to have turned over a new leaf, then he turns evil, each and every time, to increasingly stupid and crazy results, which is especially the case here. We start out with the show’s take on GMOs, which honestly, between the anti-GMO video and the visit to Monsarno, seemed to have a bit of potential. But then Bob appears, who for some reason is on work release as chief scientist. Why would this huge company hire a still-convicted felon who, as far as we know, has no STEM background whatsoever, to such a position? No matter. The emotional thread is that Bob appeals to Lisa’s intellectualism, pulling her into helping him with his research. The show had never explored pairing these two eggheads together, so I was actually curious to see where this was going to go. But when we get to the final third, my hopes started to fall real fast. When he effortlessly saves Lisa from a falling art installation, his scheme is revealed: he had been altering his DNA during his time at Monsarno, and seeks to raid the museum of samples of the strongest, most brilliant people throughout history to be a genetic superman. Uhhhhhh huuuh. He also has animal DNA in him too, with a grasshopper hop and an unhinged jaw, which he uses to attempt to bite off Kearney’s head with in the finale. So, what in the fuck is going on here? Bob’s last bunch of episodes have all centered on him trying to get revenge on the Simpsons, that’s his thing now. But here, his plan is just to be “the wisest and strongest maniac ever to bring the blessings of dictatorship to the world.” So now he’s literally a generic cartoon supervillain. I guess his character degradation is complete, we can check him off the list. And his whole kinship with Lisa was basically pointless too, all it did was hinder his plan in the end. For some reason, he seemed unusually pleading to the Simpsons to hang out with him, but it didn’t play into his scheme at all. I’m pretty sure this is the last Bob episode to date, and I sure hope it stays that way. Bob was once such a marvelous character; a snobby sociopath who committed heinous schemes he believed for the greater cultural good. Now, we end on him lying at the bottom of the ocean. With fucking gills. And he steps on a rake, because fan service. Aggravated shudder indeed.
Three items of note:
– There’s an inane subplot here too starring Marge; she arrives too late for first dibs at the church volunteer board and ends up getting stuck teaching abstinence to teenagers. The group are our usual suspects, the bullies, and everyone’s favorite character Shauna; forget why it makes no sense for them to be at the church in the first place, just go with it. Marge tries to appeal to them with finger puppets for some reason, and the plot kind of just ends when Marge gets an unintentional win because the teens are skived out by she and Homer showing light intimacy. Or something. I dunno, whatever.
– The show is pretty much heavily lampshading itself as they have to write their sixth or seventh scene of the Simpsons shockingly yelling “Sideshow Bob!” and Bob explaining how he got out. Bart says, annoyed, “This is getting boring. Either murder us or tell us how you got here!” Remember “Cape Feare” when Bob was a legitimate threat? But that’s an unfair comparison. At this point, nothing is treated seriously anymore, be it positively or negatively emotional. And the moments they do try to play something serious are laughably empty and trite. His character progression was slower than the rest of the cast’s given he only shows up every couple seasons, but this truly felt like Bob’s last stop to being a one-dimensional cartoon character.
– The ending is so fucking bad. So Bob just reveals his whole plan to Lisa and Bart just happens to appear at the museum, slingshot in ready to stop him. Then Bob chases them down the street, and uses his stupid grasshopper leaps to catch up to them. He leaps up, then cut to the next shot where he lands in front of them… and they’ve somehow been transported to the middle of the Springfield fucking dam. Oh, is that located directly next to the downtown area? Certainly doesn’t look like it from the wide shot. So he’s going to throw Bart and Lisa off the dam now. This whole thing came completely out of nowhere that I can’t even tell if they’re intentionally referencing “Brother From Another Series” or not. Then Homer and Marge pull up, because they somehow knew what was happening, with Marge commanding her obedient army of teens to beat up Bob, which they do. Then we get Bob sucking Kearney’s entire head, as mentioned above. Ugh. This leads to Bob labeling himself a genetic freak and going to commit suicide, which comes completely out of nowhere. What use did Bob think he would have for all this animal DNA? What was his plan to become dictator of… Springfield? America? The world? What is the pooooooiinnntt?
– Oh, we also get Marcia Wallace’s final appearance, in an end tag featuring Ned and Edna tangoing, then we see Ned sitting sadly with a black arm band on, next to a side table with framed pictures of Edna and Maude. It certainly was a nice send-off, which felt very weird coming directly at the end of such a batshit crazy show. I guess better this than that boring-as-sin last episode.
One good line/moment: I genuinely did enjoy some of the moments between Bob and Lisa, again, I really wish they had actually done something with that that made sense within the story. Before things go sour, they seem to be having a swell time at the museum, and we get a glimpse of Bob’s snobbery at Lisa’s tastes in art (“I like the Impressionists!” “The boy bands of the art world. But for you, Lisa, I shall face the Renoir with sangfroid.”)