Original airdate: November 11, 2018
The premise: Bart pulls a prank on Moe by ordering him a Russian mail order bride. Moe is hesitant about opening himself up to love again, but when he drives Anastasia away, he decides he needs to get her back.
The reaction: Sad Moe finds love again… when the show revisits the same wells, it’s a little tough to figure out how to comment on it without repeating yourself. Despite being one of the series’ more lovably lecherous characters, Moe’s tender heart has shone through in a good way on several occasions, most notably “Moe Baby Blues,” but only when it’s balanced by his typical lowlife nature. Here, Moe is a pathetic sadsack from moment one when Homer dis-invites him to Thanksgiving dinner at Marge’s behest. When Moe manages to humiliate Bart during a prank call attempt (an actually humorous moment), Bart gets revenge by sending a mail order bride to his door. The core of the rest of the episode is Moe not wanting to take a chance on another woman who might potentially break his heart; the plot, up until the twist at the end, really has nothing to do with her being a mail order bride at all, which is strange. A lot of the episode isn’t really that bad; there’s a few bits of life that come through at points, but the story is very dull and lifeless. The Moe stuff is nothing we haven’t seen multiple times over, done better in other episodes. Eventually, he gets Anna to go through with the wedding, only for her to be exposed as an American con artist. Moe is in shock at this reveal (“You’re a scam artist! And one who didn’t aim too high!”) Anna asks him to clarify, to which he replies he’s in severe debt. Yeah, no shit. When Moe tries to win her back earlier, we see that Anna is now with Krusty, a major TV celebrity, surely a much bigger catch financially than a dirty old bartender. The show abruptly ends as Anna adopts a Scottish accent to court Willie, seemingly having learned nothing about picking your marks carefully. Rather than lean into a deep emotional place with Moe’s anguish, or something more comedic in the mail order bride material, the episode just kind of sits right in the middle: nothing flagrantly terrible, just very bland. Which makes it the best episode of the season by default.
Three items of note:
– Herman makes a reappearance after I don’t know how long as the one who aids Bart in his revenge mission by introducing him to the “dark net.” He proceeds to freak Bart and the boys out by flicking the lights in the basement, and then seemingly rips his one good arm off, only for him to pull out his good arm from inside his jacket. It was actually kind of charming to see him messing with the kids, even if outside his typical hardened characterization. But he was always a tertiary character at best, so why not mess with his personality a bit?
– Moe thinks back to his past lady loves, which includes his fling with little person Maya, and Laney Fontaine, aka not-Elaine Stritch. It’s a rare instance of the show recalling back to events within the past decade; it’s not necessarily fan service, but it requires one to actually remember these old, disposable characters. I remember liking the Maya episode, it actually had some heart to it, certainly more than we get here. And while I don’t care for Laney, I liked the reveal of her wringing Moe out as being part of her one-woman show (“She won a Tony tearing me apart, yet I left humming the songs.”)
– The always worthless tag features Nelson going to Mars to find his long-lost dad (he alluded to the lie his dad gave him about going into space earlier in the episode), only for him to abandon him once more by blasting off the planet. I always found these Nelson bits to be pretty uncomfortable, be it him pining for his worthless runaway father or just making fun of him for being poor. I remember one bit of him being thrown off the bus for not having money for a field trip, ending with him tearfully seeing his reflection in top hat and tails with him sadly assuring, “Someday…” Are we supposed to laugh at this poor pathetic kid? It’s like in South Park when Cartman rips on Kenny for being poor, but in-universe it’s acknowledged by the other characters as being a dickish thing for him to do. Here, I guess we’re supposed to bust a gut at this stuff? Same with Moe’s regular suicide attempts; there’s gallows humor to be made on topics such as these, but more often than not, we’re seemingly supposed to laugh directly at the characters’ plight, which is weird to me.
One good line/moment: There are actually a couple moments that could work here, but I think Moe sabotaging Bart’s prank call was actually pretty great, especially the blase manner he does it in (“I’m looking for a Mr. Buttface, first name Ima.” “‘Ima’? Nobody’s been named that in like a hundred years. And as for the rest, why don’t you double check that name. Try saying it out loud.” “Ima Buttface?” “Mistakes are how we learn there, young fella. Good luck in your journey into adulthood.”)