So, the show has been renewed for two more years.
Aren't you just SO excited.
Couch gag: The Simpsons are penguins on an ice couch, except for Homer, who is a walrus (and eats them). Tasteless AND factually inaccurate!
Milhouse has a surprisingly well-attended birthday party, over-the-top as many modern birthdays are - think gigantic bouncy castles and elaborate gift bags. Kirk admits that they sold their house to pay for the party. And yeah, it took me a minute to remember that the Van Houtens are back together (and have been for about a decade), as the show still treats them as divorced half the time. Homer decides they need to put a stop to the craziness once and for all.
So he becomes a Birthday Party Grinch, at one point stealing petting zoo animals, accidentally-on-purpose convincing Flanders that it's time to build an ark. He even kidnaps Krusty in his Krusty look-a-like outfit...funny!...and then pretends to hang himself in front of the children? Okay, that's it. We need to have the entireÂ SimpsonsÂ writing staff exiled to a desert island, or maybe reassigned to write forÂ 19 Kids and Counting.Â
Marge is soon suspicious and wants to know if Homer is behind these birthday disasters. Homer, voice squeaky with helium, comes clean. And now we know exactly what Dan Castellaneta does to voice Arnie Pie in the Sky. Anyway, Homer laments about how over-the-top birthdays have become. Marge concedes that he has a point, but that those who make their livelihoods from these parties may not see it that way. Homer scoffs at this, but then a giant helicopter shows up. Big Birthday is watching you.
Armed goons trap him in his living room and berate him for messing with the precious birthday complex. Yeah, turns out there's a huge conspiracy behind it all. Some guy who is way too into birthdays gives a very long and boring speech (apparently it's supposed to parody Network, but they're not doing it very well), demanding that Homer make restitution, or else his children will never have a birthday party again. "You're going to stay your current ages for the rest of your lives," says Marge sadly.Â This whole plot is stupid and we are stupider for watching it, you guys.
However, the Big Birthday guy has a solution - he'll be allowed back into the fold of things if he hosts a birthday party for Rod Flanders. Oh, and it had better be good. Magical, even.
It's held at the aviation museum, and despite Homer's desperate circumstances, he is incredibly grumpy about it. However, Rod gives him a great big hug (which does nothing to improve his mood). Abe Simpson's airforce buddies fly in on a vintage plane. Grampa has been in every military branch by this point, which of course the show lampshades. Sigh.
The war buddies are dismayed at how Abe's son treats him, and vow to get even. Meanwhile, while playing with drones, Bart and Milhouse do their best to torment Todd. While they're laughing about it, Bart meets a beautiful blue-haired girl (run!). She is Milhouse's cousin Annika, who hails from the Netherlands and is played by Carice van Houten (who is not related to Milhouse in real life,Â that we know of). She is European, smokes e-cigarettes, and is instantly the object of Bart's affections.
Homer escapes the birthday crisis only to be confronted with an army-geezers crisis. (Also, one of them has a voice suspiciously similar to Duffman. Grandpa Duff, perhaps?) He decides to fight them, but is easily defeated by a couple of finger flicks.
Annika has progressed to openly offering to kiss a ten-year-old (no, really), and Bart has fallen totally under her spell. She has soon turned him into her errand boy. Of course, the Kwik-E-Mart has absolutely no problem with selling him tobacco.
The geezers have forgiven Homer, and welcomed him and Abe into their circle. They go to a movie, where Homer spends literally a minute of the episode listing movies about dystopian futures. Writers, you areÂ soÂ banished to living with the Duggars. They sit through a parody ofÂ The Expendables, which is actually kind of funny, even if Homer misses most of it while taking Abe to the bathroom. Afterward, at the Veterans of Unpopular Wars Museum, where the geezers decide to set Homer straight. Held at gunpoint, Homer promises he'll be a better son. Oh my god, where is this episode even going.
Marge and Luann catch Bart and Annika vaping. Homer and Abe are friends again, and can't be arsed to care about Bart's transgressions, especially since it is in the name of love. Bart is heartbroken that his new friend is going back to Holland. To cheer him up, Grampa tells him a story about the 1950s.
Employed at the local air force base, young Abe was trying to win a pretty young waitress'sÂ heart. For whatever reason, Lisa takes over at this point. No worries, Grampa takes his story back in short order. He overheard that the new plane was a death trap, and that the authorities were trying to suppress this. Heroically (and possibly while on LSD), Abe took the plane for a test flight into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, it beganÂ to crash. Abe survived with a parachute, but the plane broke up in mid-air.
He was picked up by Jack Kerouac, and accidentally ruined his writing career in the process (long story). Later, he did get together with the waitress, who turns out to be Mona Simpson. (Apparently Glenn Close voiced her, though she is almost unrecognizable, and certainly doesn't sound like Mona in previous episodes.) He tells Bart that the only way to win a woman over is to pretend to be someone he's not. Bart decides to make a grand gesture before her flight leaves.
Bart finds her just as she's about to go through security. She's not receptive to his gesture, and in fact, he doesn't like her much either. He spills some e-cigs, the other passengers gratefully steal them, and Annika runs off muttering in Dutch. Bart tells Milhouse he's going to stay away from van Houtens for a while. Milhouse is delighted, since this means he'll get to marry a cousin - just like his parents did.
Tag scene - the air force geezers leave. We never learned any of their names. At least Homer and Abe are getting along, these days. Homer takes his dad for a steak, but Abe can't chew it - so they melt it down and put it in an e-cigarette. Over Annika speaking Dutch, the end credits play.
Well. That should have been three episodes. Any of those stories could have made a mediocre episode on their own, but instead they were crammed together. The story made no sense and there was no time for humour or even pathos. Â It was honestly a bit of a waste of airtime. Apart from maybe a good line or two, there was just nothing there, especially with storylines we've plodded along with a thousand times before. This show has at least two seasons left - but considering what they've been producing lately, I'm not so sure that was a great idea.