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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.18 - Peeping Mom





Well, we're back from our month-long hiatus. What fresh hell have Groening and Co. dreamed up for us now? Onward!

King Homer climbs up the Empire State Building as we read a title card. The Simpsons start as kernels on a heated couch and pop into shape.

Marge goes to a rip-off of Apple to get her broken phone looked at. On the way home, as she is complaining about all the creeps posing as employees, she notices that her neighbourhood has become a scene of destruction. Lou explains that someone broke into the bulldozer store and went off on a joyride. Do we even have to guess who the main suspect is?

Well, Chief Wiggum can't actually pin him, but that doesn't mean he's going to let it go. Bart is released to Marge's custody in the hopes that his mother can force a confession out of him.

Lisa runs around with a magnifying glass looking at stuff, because I guess you get really bored after being eight for 26 years, and notices that Flanders has a new puppy. The dog has one of those impossibly long Bible names, but is called Baz for short. Flanders practices "Christian Dog Training", which is exactly the way it sounds and has probably been tried in the Duggar household at least once. A passing Barney immediately wants to convert.

Marge gives Bart the mother of all lectures, but backs off once he masterfully manipulates her into feeling guilty about her own mothering. Dinner is a tense affair that night, despite Lisa's babble about the puppy. Homer wonders if feelings are going unexpressed. Marges urges "someone at this table" to tell the truth. While everyone else hides their various secrets, Homer asks if he and Marge can be excused for an adult conversation.

Marge tells Homer that Bart stole the bulldozer, because a mother "knows things". However, Homer is too busy wondering whether a wife also "knows things" to pursue Bart's problems much further. He thinks they should just give up and make excuses for their son's behaviour, as he's already a lost cause. For some reason, this redirects to Homer's failed North American Sumo League, an episode I totally would have watched.

Bart is called in and told to look Marge in the eye and swear he never saw the bulldozer. He does this without hestitation, which leads Marge to imagine him doing so on the electric chair years later. (And by the way, this "joke" is awful and gory and totally not Simpsons at all.) Bart begs his mother to believe him, and she says she will - but she'll be keeping an eye on him from now on, all the time. And yes, this includes going to school with him. To no one's surprise, Bart tires of this rather quickly and makes a break for it.

Homer meets little Baz, and despite his efforts not to like her, she quickly wins him over. Bart is brought back to school, where Marge remains - and finds out all the terrible things he's been up to there. After some time, he begins to chafe under her constant micromanaging, including picking out his lunch in the cafeteria. The other kids start to make fun of him. Bart protests that Marge should follow Homer instead, but noo, that's creepy (even though she's done it before).

Eventually, Bart resolves to hiding in a playground tunnel while Marge plays with Ralph. Eventually, Groundskeeper Willie has to chase him out with bagpipes. Dinner that night is again tense, as Marge refuses to focus on anything other than Bart. The puppy arrives and breaks some of this tension, as Homer runs from the table to play with it. As he does this, he of course gloats about how concerned Flanders must be. SLH does not appreciate the new addition. Lisa, too, feels ignored.

She lies in her room, muttering about being a middle child. Homer comes up to speak to her. This just results in more angry muttering on both sides. However, they realize how much they actually care about each other, so they're quickly reconciled. Okay, even in limited moments like this, I just love the Homer-Lisa relationship.

Meanwhile, Flanders feels some jealousy of his own, as Baz appears to prefer Homer - and the boys are calling Homer "uncle". (Todd also wants to marry Maggie - courtship episode?)

Bart runs off with Milhouse, though even out in the woods he is not safe from Marge. (Apparently, her hair can also explode woodpeckers.) She hovers over him with a hoodie and  "don't-get-lost" spool of thread, which Milhouse gleefully takes to. Bart begs his mother to back off, like any reasonable child would, but Marge stands firm. Since he will still not admit to knowing about the bulldozer, Marge turns to Milhouse for help. This does not provide any answers. Bart takes off yet again (god this is getting tiring), but Marge - and an assassin Maggie - are in pursuit.

Ned finds Baz playing with a slipper labelled "Property of Ned Flanders", which was clearly taken from Homer's house. He sees this as a sign, and prays to God over whether he should give the dog to Homer. Meanwhile, Marge speeds along the streets of Springfield (on Lisa's bike), chasing Bart to the tune of Simpsons video game-theme music. (We also learn what happens in every credits sequence - once Bart skateboards by, Moe invites everyone in for a drink.) They wind up rowing/pedalling across the river while Bart begs his mother to stop caring about him. He trips, lands in a mud puddle, and admits defeat. Exasperated by Bart's lack of enthusiasm for her helicopter parenting, Marge decides she won't look after him at all anymore. Geez lady, take a chill pill.

Ned sadly tells his heartbroken sons that Baz will be happier in another home, so she will be going to live next door. Bart is revelling in his new parent-free life, staying up late and planning horrible things. Specifically, he wants to bulldoze the Springfield sign. Yeah. Bart has gone from Dennis the Menace to sociopath. He wants to leave the letter "FIE" standing, too, just to spite them all. Eek.

A tearful Flanders brings Baz over with a huge basket of dog supplies. Though he enjoys the dog, Homer feels guilty when he sees Flanders' face and offers the dog back (for "when his kids run away"). He explains that Baz considers him another dog, but Flanders a human - and her true master.

Bart prepares to demolish the sign while Milhouse recites obscure bulldozer facts. Finally, he chickens out, leaving Bart alone. As he's preparing to wreak havoc, Bart finds a container of fried chicken that Marge packed for him. Eating it triggers all of his good memories of her - and the pain his bad action will cause her. He realizes he's growing a conscience. The prank is altered. He crashes down all the letters except for F...D, possibly killing the mayor in the process. The citizens decide that this was a tribute to the Fire Department, and Bart happily informs his mom that "I discovered there's a line I won't cross". Marge decides that she and her chicken are good influences after all. But she still wants an answer about that bulldozer. Bart admits it was him, so Marge tries to strangle him - but instead pulls him in for a hug. Awww.

Unfortunately, Bart is immediately arrested, but the Chief lets him and Marge keep hugging. Meanwhile, Lisa has come down with mono and Maggie hurt herself playing whack-a-mole because their parents forgot to pay attention to them. Ah well, you can't win 'em all.

And as a nice touch, Homer grovels to his dog for his lack of loyalty. SLH, happily, is as forgiving as any other pup.

Tag scene - SLH and Baz get into a spaghetti Western standoff. However, they get along just fine after some butt-sniffing and cuddle up together.

So. Well. This series is tired and hackneyed and it recycled several different premises tonight. We knew it would going in. And some of the Marge stuff seemed very out of character, and the puppy plot was incredibly half-baked. However, the episode did throw in a lot of great one-liners and sight gags, and so there was enough to keep a thin plot going. I also found the scene with Lisa and Homer to be incredibly touching. Other than that, though, it was pretty run-of-the-mill. Until next week, guys.

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      • Upvote 1

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