Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E03 – When Flanders Failed

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Oh boy! Another episode that fleshes out a secondary character. I really didn’t remember that I loved these type of episodes so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love the family, but it’s really fun to learn about the other people living in Springfield, even though usually it’s through the lens of the family.

We open on the great joke of Homer using Flanders’ weed-whacker to mow his whole lawn, because that damned push mower is finally dead. And while Homer is slaving away, Flanders comes over to invite him and the family to a barbeque over at his place. Homer is of course a jerk, and doesn’t want to go, but the rest of the family do. Homer just sits at homer with Santa’s Little Helper and watches the Canadian Football League draft, until he smells the burgers cooking like a cartoon character, and runs over to get food. I love that Homer just grabs a plate of burgers, a sixpack of beer, and walks over to a tree to be by himself and gorge. It’s also fantastic that he comments on the game of tag the kids are playing, and enjoys the insult the little girl gives Bart. Homer is a great parent is what I’m trying to say.

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Once the barbeque continues, Ned reveals that he had ulterior motives with the barbeque, and uses it to announce that he’s quit his job as a pharmacist (really? That’s what he did?) and is planning on opening a store that caters specifically to left-handed people, the Leftorium! Homer of course thinks the idea is stupid, and even lets Ned know. But Ned just brushes the criticism off and decides to crack a wishbone with Homer. Because he’s an asshole, Homer’s wish is that Flanders’ store fails, and he has to close it. Which seems super mean, but at first he thought about Flanders dying, and decided to tone it down. Homer winds the wishbone, and then cackled maniacally until he starts choking, and Flanders has to save him.

The B plot starts when Marge decides that Bart spends too much time in front of the TV, and not enough exercising, so they decide to enroll Bart in karate class, which is taught by Akira at the mall. I love that Akira apparently is the waiter at a sushi restaurant and a karate instructor. So Homer drops Bart off at karate, and decides to go check in on the Leftorium, which is already not doing well. Flanders isn’t selling anything, and people are just using him to validate parking. Meanwhile, Bart immediately decides he hates karate when Akira tries to teach him about strategy and honor, and he peaces out. I think I was in karate for about two lessons, so I get where Bart is coming from. Instead of karate, Bart heads to the arcade, where he plays a Mortal Kombat-like game called Touch of Death. That night the family is sitting around and Homer is reveling in Flanders’ failure, while Bart brags about learning the touch of death, and attempts to do it on Lisa. Not going to lie, my friends and I still do the touch of death hand thing, complete with the weird noise Bart makes all the time. I also love Marge’s apathetic “Bart, don’t use the touch of death on your sister.”

Homer continues to check in on Ned when he drops Bart off at the mall to not do Karate, and Ned is still doing terribly. We then start to find out that everyone in town is left handed, and Homer continues to not inform them that Flanders has a store that caters to them. Moe wishes he has a left-handed corkscrew and Mr. Burns wishes he had a left-handed can opener. While Homer is not telling the people, a little Mind Flanders pops up over his shoulder, begging Homer to help him, but Homer’s indifferent. Things go so bad for Ned that he has to have a big garage sale, selling most of his possessions to get money to take care of the family. So of course Homer takes advantage of his financial woes, and buys most of Flanders’ dining room set, his grill, and even his glasses for $75. But things really get bad when a debt collector shows up at the door, mistaking the Simpsons’ house for the Flanders, and Homer learns that Flanders in in serious debt. The next day he takes Bart to karate, and sees Flanders closing the Leftorium while weeping, living out Homer’s initial fantasy.

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They wrap up Bart’s plot by having the school bullies pick and Lisa and steal her saxophone before having her ask Bart for help. She informs the bullies that Bart knows karate, and tells him to do the touch of death. So of course he gets the crap kicked out of him, and hung from the basketball hoop by his underwear. That’s what you get for lying about the Touch of Death. It’s a serious martial art, and shouldn’t be mocked. Anyway, Homer is finally starting to feel bad, and when he goes over to Flanders house to return the grill, he finds that they’ve been evicted, and are living in the car before heading off to live with his sister in Capitol City. Homer and Flanders have a heart to heart, and Homer finally realizes what a jerk he’s been, and convinces Flanders to open the store for one more day. Homer then spends the rest of the night telling all the lefties in town that he’s learned about through the episode about the Leftorium, and the next morning when Ned arrives to open the store, he finds in packed with people. Homer saved the day! Everyone’s buying the left-handed crap, and Mr. Burns even buys the left-handed car that’s in the store for some reason, and Flanders is saved. The episode ends with everyone in the story singing “Put On a Happy Face.”

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This was a fun episode. I think Flanders is a really great character, and while we learned a bit about him in “Dead Putting Society,” this episode really looked at him in depth. It was so depressing to see his life crumble around him, but he just kept being positive. Flanders is one of the most optimistic characters I’ve ever seen, and while that type of character usually grates on me, I can’t help but root for him. This was the most malicious we’ve ever seen Homer, actively rooting for the failure of a guy he has a petty feud with, but boy does he redeem himself by the end. It’s so sweet to see Homer finally give a shit, and help Flanders. It’s a really sweet, and great episode.

Take Away: Don’t wish failure on people. And respect the Touch of Death.

“When Flanders Failed” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Jim Reardon.

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