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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 25.4 - YOLO







After last week's highly depressing post-Marcia Wallace episode, I'm ready for some fun. How about you?

We inexplicably begin with a James Bond-like iris over the opening credits, complete with theme music. The credits proceed as normal. Blackboard: "My school schedule does not include a bye week". We cut straight from blackboard to couch, where the Simpsons try to wander across the room in a zero-g manner. It's actually pretty beautiful, with a lovely score. Homer winds up getting sucked through the roof and out of the house. I think it's supposed to parody Gravity, but Google does not see fit to enlighten me.

Bart is about to christen his newly assembled model roller coaster. However, Milhouse is pissed off that Bart always gets to go first, and stops the little car in protest. Bart isn't happy, so Milhouse literally pushes him out of the way. Is it just me, or is Bart's voice getting more womanly and Milhouse's more gravelly? I guess even voice actors can't stay the same for a quarter of a century. They wind up getting into a fistfight, destroying the roller coaster.

Time for Homer and Marge to intervene. They notice that Milhouse's face has gotten all swollen and weird. Apparently he can die from sniffing a nectarine. We get a closeup of his gross red eyes, as well as the loud whistling sound he makes breathing through his tear ducts. He also inexplicably throws up mac and cheese through his nose. Rather than, I don't know, feeling sorry for the kid, Marge and Homer just get annoyed and try to send him home. However, Kirk surprises them by turning up in a fancy new car with a "YOLO" license plate. He then explains the concept to Homer and Marge, who are dismissive of Kirk's "mid-life crisis".

Later that night, Homer and Marge make fun of Kirk's new changes. However, Marge inadvertently reminds Homer that they've lived the same life for years, and it will NEVER change. Suddenly it sinks in. Marge wishes him goodnight - but Homer can't sleep.

Kent Brockman arrives at the school to interview Skinner. The principal quickly shuts down his fetish porn and prepares for what he assumes is a puff piece. However, it is actually a takedown of the school's cheating scandal. Skinner maintains that there is no cheating, but Kent has the thirty identical student assignments and compromising video footage to prove him wrong. "Cheater Cheater Booger Eaters" is aired that night, and Skinner is destroyed.

Homer wanders around, miserable, to a "You Only Live Once" Shirley Bassey-style parody. So that was the James Bond reference in the opening credits. Stretching it, guys, stretching it. Anyway, Homer aimlessly lives his life, tired of his job, tired of his DVR, and taking solace in food. That - that honestly feels close to home. But I digress. Lying on the kitchen floor, Homer finishes the song, then bursts into tears.

He's still crying at Moe's. The bartender offers him comfort, all while liquoring him up. Marge is worried about him, too. Homer maintains that he wants to live in the past, and digs up some old correspondence from his Spanish pen pal, Eduardo. Homer sighs over his carefree childhood and dreams of being King of Cheeseburger Mountain.

Angry parents stream into the school for a special meeting about the scandal. Skinner talks about "initiating a dialogue", but this has about as much success as it does in real life. Krabappel makes a snappy comment - ouch, my heart - but Lisa has a real solution. She proposes instituting an honour code, the little brownnoser. Yeah, like that's ever stopped a cheater before. Just ask half the people I went to university with. Everyone else is about as skeptical as I am. Lisa argues that students will behave better if it's under their own power, however, so they wind up supporting it.

Homer hears a knock on the door and gets a surprise - Eduardo's come to visit! Marge invited him out of the goodness of her heart. The man is stunned by Homer's appearance, but composes himself and gets down to saving Homer's soul. He fondly remembers their pen pal exchange, which he apparently read while working on the construction of the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi reference FTW. Eduardo kind of looks like Javier Bardem, but is voiced by the same guy who does all the Spanish-accented characters on this show. Sigh.

Anyway, Eduardo took all the YOLO risks he always wanted, including having eight wives and 200 children. Homer somehow thinks he has a disadvantage. Um, doesn't one stable relationship and some sort of half-assed parenting trump endless marital upheaval and so many kids you can't remember their names? Maybe they all begin with J? Eduardo is going to help Homer achieve these ridiculous dreams. He promises Marge the safe return of a risk-taking, horny husband, and they're off. Marge is cool with it, especially after he speaks in gorgeous Spanish to her.

Lisa is having trouble getting the kids to sign the code. Her strategy? Get Nelson to do it, and everyone else will. Though she has to bait him by inviting Milhouse up first, and thus awakening his need to defend his toughness. Nelson signs. She continues with more titles, including "smartest" and "class nerd", and soon everyone's signing.

Eduardo and Homer speed away on a remote road, guided by a book of Homer's childhood dreams. We've heard some of these before (own the Dallas Cowboys, run out on a baseball field, be a contestant on The Gong Show). Hey, whatever happened to those? I don't think we've had one since, like, season 6. You know, guys, after a hiatus of two decades, it's okay to bring an old joke or two back. So we montage Homer's adventures.

Here lies my problem with this episode. Hasn't Homer had an epic fuckton of adventures? Winning a Grammy, getting blasted into space, travelling absolutely everywhere, touring with Lollapalooza, trying out about fifty careers, jumping across the Springfield Gorge, owning the Denver Broncos. Surely one couldn't ask for more out of life? The man's entire existence has been one cool moment after another. He is the last person in need of YOLO.

Rant aside, the two ride on a fire truck and appear in The Pirates of Penzance. This offers an absolutely golden opportunity for an appearance by Jon Lovitz as Llewellyn Sinclair. You may remember him from Season 4, where he directed Marge in the Streetcar Named Desire musical. I'm not sure why they brought him back for three seconds, but it's great to see him. Man, this episode is getting really retro. (Tragically, his sister's Ayn Rand School for Tots does not make an appearance.) They also re-enact Star Trek with materials rented from Comic Book Guy, who thrives on the opportunity to savage their re-creation.

Krabappel (sob) reminds her students of the honor code as she passes out a test. Everything is going well - for now.

All is well with Homer, too, as he relishes getting to do all the things he ever wanted. Marge is less enthusiastic, feeling left out. She, too had a childhood dream - jumping on the bed. Sadly, she could never disobey her parents. Homer suggests that they do it, but Marge just wants to snuggle and go to sleep. Homer actually turns down sex in favor of jumping. She gives in, and they have a fun time. Meanwhile, Ned and Eduardo make their acquaintance outside. They are as different as chalk and cheese, but both essentially kindhearted, so it works.

Homer and Eduardo have finished the book, so they go out to celebrate. Homer remarks that he hasn't felt so good in years. However, there is one dream left. Homer wants to jump out of a plane like Rocky the flying squirrel, using a special suit with expandable wings. This is called "wingsuit flying" and is famous for killing people. In real life, it's done with parachutes to finish off, which these guys don't seem to have. Homer chickens out and tells Eduardo he'd rather think about June Foray, the voice of Rocky, as a way to honor the character instead. (Foray, incidentally, was the voice of Granny in the Tweety and Sylvester Cartoons, is alive today, and was parodied in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show".)  Eduardo is having none of this and pushes him out. An old-timey cartoon narration, complete with title cards, advises us to tune in to the next cliffhanging episode of "Fat Splat". I'm just disappointed that Boris and Natasha haven't made an appearance.

The honor code is working wonders, and the school is in perfect harmony. Lisa asks for extra credit. Instead, she gets a pumpkin. Willie offers to carve it, but when she turns him down, he darkly mutters that he has to carve something. What is this, Treehouse of Horror?

So Homer is freefalling to earth while Eduardo advises him to glide, not flap. The ground is getting closer...

Lisa finds a bomb in her backpack, only to realize she accidentally took Bart's. She's relieved, until she notices that Bart got 100% on his test. Countless more perfect tests reveal that Bart has been cheating all along. However, as Bart points out, reporting the crime will unravel the honor code's image of effectiveness, and we can't have that, can we? Lisa might lose her pumpkin!

Homer and Eduardo glide along, delighted to be one with the squirrels. However, Marge pleads with him (via his headphone) to come down - it's too risky. The other side of YOLO is that once you're dead, you're dead. Someone hasn't studied cartoon physics. Homer panics, but Eduardo rips off the headphone before he can change his mind. So they soar through the sky, flying through the Lard Lad donut and over the tire fire - which promptly lights Homer's suit. Fortunately, the Duff Blimp puts it out. However, there are more mishaps along the way...

Lisa has gone insane from her dilemma, and confronts Bart. She will force him to turn himself in, proving the students' accountability once and for all. Wait, wasn't part of the honor code informing on each other? How does her turning him in disprove it at all? Well, there's no time to talk about it, because Homer hits ground and makes a big crater in the schoolyard. Bart agrees to turn himself in - yeah, just like that - and spends his time in detention, working on the Detention Quilt with the bullies.

At Springfield General Hospital, Homer recovers from his adventures while Eduardo congratulates him on living the dream. With a new sense of calm and no regrets, Homer is happy - which Dr. Hibbert attributes to all the morphine.

Homer wakes up in his home, asking for Eduardo. He opens his pen pal book and realizes it was all just a dream. However, Eduardo comes in telling him it was all real - and he needs a ride to the airport. Homer asks if he should drop him at the curb, or walk him in. "Go as far as your heart will take you," Eduardo advises. We cut to the Sagrada Familia, where Homer and Eduardo walk together, good friends on one last adventure. "You Only Live Once" plays over the closing credits.

Well, what did I think? The entire premise was stupid, but it played out surprisingly well. For all the repetition - and let's face it, the utter pointlessness of pretending Homer's never had the opportunity for adventure - there were some good moments between friends and some exploration of what makes Homer tick. Lisa and Bart's story was rather forgettable. Next week - Elisabeth Moss guest stars! Bring it on!

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