Original airdate: November 2, 2014
The premise: Discovering Mr. Burns’ kinda secret fracking operation, Lisa calls in a liberal-minded assemblywoman to put an end to it, but she and Burns end up in a secret torrid love affair.
The reaction: I don’t typically like doing direct compare and contrasts just because how unfair they are, but it’s hard in instances like this or “Super Franchise Me” when they’re so obvious. Burns’ actions here, and those in “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One” with his oil drill feel so completely separated from each other. Lisa discovers a flimsily disguised warehouse literally right down the block from her house that I guess she never noticed was there, and she and Bart just walk inside, and of course, in case you can’t figure out what’s going on with your eyeballs, she helpfully explains it to you (“This whole building is just a facade for a drilling operation!”) Then Burns appears and just starts explaining his whole plan to this eight-year-old girl. Later on, he needs to buy the mineral rights from the landowners to continue fracking, and he enlists Homer to help sell the idea to all the local dullards. Why would he do this, and why would he trust Homer to do a complete and thorough job? Also, Burns keeps talking about the land below Evergreen Terrace, but Homer seems to talk to all the residents of Springfield. The worst of all is right when the fracking is about the resume, Burns has gotten exactly what he wanted, he stops everything when he magically surmises there’s one signature missing in his giant stack. I can’t think of a more un-Burns thing to do. Can you imagine classic Burns doing shit like this? Flipping to “Who Shot Mr. Burns,” not only did Burns tap the oil well before Springfield Elementary could, he did so with utter glee and contempt for the lowly wretched citizens he holds in sheer contempt. Burns is absolutely ruthless, and he doesn’t care who he has to bribe or screw over to get what he wants. This episode featured neutered Burns, who has been around for over a decade, a withered, flimsy husk of a man who occasionally appears to have some teeth, like when he barrels down the door of the assemblywoman early on, but it’s all a facade. The love story I don’t even know what to say about it. Burns consults Homer about his affair, and takes away that he must harden his heart to keep the relationship casual… what the fuck am I writing? If I wrote the basic framework of this story, would it sound anything like Burns? Also, I don’t even know if I can lay this plot out in a coherent manner that makes sense, because it barely did watching the finished product. What a pile of trash.
Three items of note:
– The opening features Patty and Selma staying at the house, and when they promise not to smoke, Homer tries to catch them by installing smoke detectors all over the house. It even conveniently starts raining so they can’t go outside to smoke. But, thankfully, the basement door has magically transformed into a new bathroom, and for whatever reason, Homer didn’t install smoke detectors in there. Maybe he didn’t realize he had a new room in his house either. This serves as our lead-in to the main story when the water from the sink catches on fire, and Patty and Selma cause a huge explosion. Homer throws the two out on their ass, and they’re never referred to again. I guess Marge could give a shit about her two visibly damaged sisters, but lo, there are mere plot utilities here.
– Through the second half of the episode, after Homer works for Burns to get the fracking approved, Marge is in direct opposition, her signature being the one Burns needlessly points out is missing. To everything Homer throws at her to get her to relent her position, she just repeats, “Our water was on fire.” Over and over. By the very ending, by the sixth time she says it, Homer has a grand realization (that he explains aloud, of course), so I guess this was supposed to be a build-up to a joke, that Homer finally understands, even though it’s the same thing she’s been saying the whole episode, or something? I guess? This happens sometimes where I can’t tell if the show is doing a joke or not because the writing is so terrible.
– Burns and Homer get pally at his manor and talk relationships when a wrecking ball crashes through, courtesy of the assemblywoman who wants to get even for being dumped, and is taking over his land… Man, this fucking episode… it’s especially terrible, worse than normal. I can’t even recap this shit because it’s so nonsensical and too laborious to explain. The best worst moment is toward the end when Burns resumes fracking, we see the earth being fractured and Evergreen Terrace starts rumbling. We get a few small jokes in the Simpson backyard, and the scene is capped by this exchange between Marge and Lisa (“Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?” “Yes.”) Again, just in case you weren’t following what’s going on, let’s just tell you straight out. Between this and earlier when Lisa pulls up a Netflix documentary to explain to the audience what fracking is, it’s almost like a goddamn PSA.
One good line/moment: Nothing. This one was particularly godawful.