Original airdate: May 3, 2015
The premise: Abe is reunited with an old buddy from the Air Force, giving us another rambling story from his military past. Meanwhile, Bart develops a crush on Milhouse’s Dutch cousin, who gets him to take up e-cigarettes.
The reaction: Two more inane and aimless stories to throw on the pile. First, Abe’s old army buddies are disgusted at Homer’s treatment of his father, and they proceed to harass and harangue him into treating him better. They all go out to see not-The Expendables, then proceed to hold Homer at gunpoint at the veteran’s hall until he and his father have hugged for a sufficient period of time.
Meanwhile, the only reason the B-plot exists is because an actress named Carice Van Houten in on Game of Thrones, and she’s named like Milhouse’s name, so that’s funny, right? It’s yet another Bart-falls-for-an-older-girl story like we’ve seen with Shauna or Mary Spuckler, but there’s not as much time devoted to it to feel as weird or uncomfortable as those examples. So the two plots “meet” when Bart runs into the kitchen announcing “they’re” sending Ms. Van Houten back to Holland (not quite sure who “they” is and why. Kirk and Luann? Her parents?) So Abe weaves a tale about him doing some stupid in the Air Force in a boring flashback, that I guess the point is about the power of grand stupid gestures to win people over (ending with a cameo by Mona, so we get yet another appearance from Glenn Close. Can we get any farther away from “Mother Simpson” at this point?) Of course this crush is meaningless; the girl uses Bart to get her new e-cigs, which he seems fine with, but then at the end, after the cliche race to the airport scene, we get a twist where Bart rejects her before she leaves, except it’s completely unmotivated. We also get a bunch of peppered moments of Milhouse being disturbing and gross toward Bart (“Now you know what nuzzling me would be like!” “If it’s the blue hair and the schnozz you’re digging, I’ve got plenty more cousins!”) Another worthless use of twenty minutes.
Three items of note:
– The opening features an elaborate birthday party for Milhouse, and Homer, for whatever reason, exposits out loud that this new trend has gone too far for parental expectations, and makes it his mission over the ensuing montage to ruin kids’ birthday parties the town over. Later, he’s accosted in his home by “Big Birthday,” led by a man in a suit who proceeds to scream at him for over a minute about some stupid shit, which ultimately leads in Homer cutting a deal that he’ll have to throw a lavish shindig for Rod Flanders. It’s at that party that Bart meets Milhouse’s cousin. But wouldn’t he have run into her at Milhouse’s party? These scripts are so piecemealed together, it really doesn’t even matter.
– Another joke that could have been amusing, but then was driven into the ground into the center of the Earth. Homer and Abe see a movie preview set in a dystopian future, causing the former to comment, “Finally, a movie about a dystopian future!” Despite the fact he just repeated what the trailer VO just said, there’s something to be said about the recent overabundance of grimdark-type movies. But then Homer begins to list off a bunch of movies within the last five years by name. For a long, long, long time. Thirty seconds of him just saying movie titles. It’s torturous. So, so, so fucking bad. After all this time, with so many of this atom bombs of anti-humor, I still wonder whether through all the stages of production if the writers think this shit is funny, or if they just don’t care. How much apathy to your job can you possibly have?
– Toward the end of the flashback, Abe hitches a ride with author Jack Kerouac, who for some reason, gives him a copy of his condensed manuscript of On the Road, and his original, “rambling, repetitive” version he’s written on a gigantic scroll, wanting Abe to destroy it, because who better to trust to dispose of a piece of writing you want no one else to ever read ever than a total stranger? The manuscript is immediately destroyed by a low flying plane’s engine, leaving only the scroll. Now, call me an uncultured swine, but I know absolutely nothing about On the Road. Wikipedia reveals the scroll is the real first draft, but I don’t see anything about people thinking it to be extremely verbose or cumbersome. Did one of the writers just recently read it, learn about its history, and decide to take an relatively obscure in-joke shot at Kerouac? It felt very strange, especially considering how most pop culture this show trots out today is an attempt to stay relevant. Or, at least a few years old relevant.
One good line/moment: An oddly wonderful dark moment where Homer knocks Krusty out with a sledgehammer to replace him at a kid’s birthday party. Cut to the curtain opening to Homer dressed as the clown, appearing dead with a noose around his neck, holding a sign reading “LAUGH AT THIS.” I wish after the kids screamed they would have just cut, because Homer coming back to life to do a bad Krusty imitation kind of ruins the dark edge of it.