Original airdate: March 10, 2019
The premise: After taking a tumble down the stairs, Homer and Marge are told to take it easy in their middle age. But while Marge takes up kitesurfing after getting better, Homer has taken to being as immobile as possible out of fear of getting injured again.
The reaction: The last two entries I talked about how much I wished the series would take a chance on devoting episodes to the secondary cast, and episodes like these are why. Another Homer-Marge tiff? Can’t get enough of ’em! I will say that the beginning I did kind of enjoy, where Homer and Marge sneak into a wedding expo wearing someone else’s name tags and have a great time. Later, Homer as “Dr. Heffernan” is whisked away to deliver a keynote, but rather than be an elongated scene of him making a fool of himself, we cut to see him and Marge bluffing their way through the presentation to the crowd’s enthusiasm. That was pretty adorable. Getting home, Homer almost carries Marge all the way up the stairs before he cracks his back, sending them both all the way down. Marge is left with a light ankle sprain, and Homer a herniated disc. The ensuing episode then turns into Marge, after healing quickly, taking up an extreme sport and being annoyed that Homer would rather sit around and do nothing while he heals. This is all the “fault” of Homer’s hallucinated personification of his hernia (voiced by Wallace Shawn), who urges him to listen to doctor’s urges to rest and why bother getting up if you’re just going to risk getting hurt again. This second element muddies the waters a bit of Homer’s motivations; beyond the fact I don’t know how long it takes for a hernia to heal, Homer is a lazy sloth, but also appears to be genuinely concerned about this happening to him again. Or is that just his internal excuse to continue being a lazy blob? I’m not fully sure. Initially Marge takes up kite surfing specifically without Homer (“I’m not letting Homer drag me down this time!”), and later gets angry and annoyed at him for not wanting to go to the beach (“If you don’t come after me, there’s a big problem!”) Because I’m not sure the extent of Homer’s actual pain, or how much time has gone by since the accident, Marge comes off kind of terribly here. Homer is borderline agoraphobic thanks to his hernia vision pumping his head full of the dangers of the outside world, but Marge seems to not really give a shit. Eventually, Homer gets to the beach and wins back his wife… blah blah blah. The story wraps up by eighteen minutes in, so these scripts must be getting shorter and shorter. Just thinking about this, I would love an episode featuring Marge as an unintentional antagonist, where she has to choose between something new and fun and Homer, Homer doesn’t want to feel like he’s weighing her down and refuses to let Marge give up, Marge realizing she was lashing out at Homer to harshly, and then all coming up with a happy compromise… I dunno, something like that. But recent years have seen far too many instances of Marge being unnecessarily cold to Homer (or worse, Lisa) for very thin reasons. Not a good look.
Three items of note:
– In the first act, the kids are left in the responsible care of… Shauna? Oh dear God… Jimbo promptly sneaks in and they make out a bunch. I guess to the writers that’s excellent social satire on teenagers and a great scene punctuation. When Homer and Marge get home, Homer shoos Shauna, Jimbo and the other bullies out of his living room, and then he and Marge proceed to go upstairs without checking to see if the kids are even in the house (they’re not).
– Marge wheels into the TV room on a little trolley to elevate her injured ankle, but it also has a little tray in the front full of snack foods. It seems like she’s delivering them to Homer to eat on the couch, but then she just leaves the scene. All that food has to be for Homer, right? Who else would it be for? Did the scene get cut? And also, it kind of undercuts Marge’s utter frustration at Homer’s obesity in the very next scene if she was going to be delivering salty snacks directly to her husband’s fat face.
– The show gets its mileage out of Marge’s New Zealand kite surfing coach and his thick accent, which leads to the extended final scene featuring him to be outed as a spy interested in shadowing Homer at the nuclear power plant (“The Crepes of Wrath,” anyone?) The ending also features Wiggum in a life-like Homer suit and an outro styled after the Mission: Impossible TV show for no reason. Again, the script was very short.
One good line/moment: Again, I did enjoy Homer and Marge both having a good time at the wedding expo play-acting as husband-and-wife wedding planners (“Buy our book if we have one!”) The backseat of their car being chock full of free swag when they get home was also a nice touch.