Well here’s a great way to start a week, one of the best episodes of all time. Yeah, it’s not a particularly poignant or emotional one, but it’s wall-to-wall hilarious. Everything about this episode is perfect and adds up to be one of the most hilarious ones they’ve ever made.
Things start off by having the Simpson’s basement completely flooded while a leak is gushing water. Homer and Marge have called a plumber, but he doesn’t really give a crap about their problem, and is openly apathetic. We then continue to see just how badly Homer’s life is right now as he experiences a lot of bad stuff. He gets stuck in a bad traffic jam, which was caused by Artie Pie’s helicopter crashing into the highway, and then when he finally gets to the Plant he has to park so far away that he’s actually back at the house. He also starts to get suspicious when he finds Lenny and Carl have great parking spaces, and when he asks how, Lenny just explains that “it’s a secret.” Which is obviously not suspicious at all, and Homer should probably just drop the topic. But Homer doesn’t drop it, and gets even more suspicious when he sees that Lenny and Carl have fancy vibrating chairs, and they have weird rings that give them free soda from the machine.
So Homer heads back home, depressed that Lenny and Carl are keeping something from him, and he decides to follow them to some secret meeting they always have on Wednesday nights. Marge doesn’t want Homer to start stalking them, but he reassures her that “I’ll be back in a minute, I’m going outside to…stalk…Lenny and Carl. D’oh!” So Homer sticks a leaky paint can to the back of Lenny’s car, which is actually a pretty clever moment that I’m sure is a reference to something, and he follows them to a giant mysterious temple. He tries to go inside, but is quickly kicked out by a guard. So Homer logically decides to climb on top of the temple, and watches everyone through a skylight. Pretty much every man in town is in there, wearing robes, and as Homer wonders what’s going on, he falls through the skylight and lands inside the temple. The members of the group grab him and throw him out. The next day at work Homer confront Lenny and Carl, desperate to figure out what the hell was going on in the temple, and Lenny accidentally refers to the club as the Stonecutters. Homer wants more information, and to join, and Lenny tells him that there’s only two ways he can be a Stonecutter: to be the son of one, and to save the life of one. And since warning Lenny about the danger of eggs doesn’t count, Homer is screwed.
He heads home and tells Marge about how sad he is. Apparently Homer has been left out of clubs his whole life, even as a little boy when the neighborhood children made a “No-Homers” club. But as Homer is complaining about his fate at the dinner table, Grandpa starts to inform the family that he’s a Stonecutter. Unfortunately Homer apparently took some sort of hypnosis to ignore Grandpa, which also made him believe he’s a chicken, but luckily Bart heard him, and gets Grandpa to talk. Grandpa informs them that he’s “an Elk, a Mason, a Communist, the president of The Gay and Lesbian Committee for some reason. Oh, here it is… The Stone Cutters.” So Homer shows up at the temple with Grandpa, and demands to join the Stonecutters, and they allow it.
We start to learn about the Stonecutters, and how everything revolves around your rank, and the order you joined the group. Turns out Lenny even outranks Mr. Burns, and is able to treat him like crap. “Patience Monty, climb the ladder.” But Homer is allowed to join the Stonecutters, and after Moe awkwardly tells him about some prophecy of a Chosen One Homer starts to get initiated by the leader of their chapter, Number One (voiced by the hilarious Patrick Stewart). And much like a frat, most of the initiation involves physical abuse from paddles, ending with the “Paddling of the Swollen Ass. With Paddles.” And once that’s over, he’s a full-fledged member, and immediately starts taking advantage of his new abilities. He gets the plumber to fix his leak, gets a fancy path to drive to the Plant in, gets roller-skates to get from his car to the Plant with, gets a vibrating chair, a placard that makes sure paramedics don’t steal his wallet, and a copy of the Secret World History.
But the plot really starts getting wacky when Homer goes to a meeting that starts off with the amazing Stonecutters song. Every bit of that song is perfect, but I think my favorite lines are the fact that they keep Atlantis off the maps and rob cavefish of their sight. And after the song, Number One informs them that it’s an anniversary of the order, and that they’re going to have ribs to celebrate. Homer panics, because he’s scared he’ll get sauce on his robes, so he grabs their Sacred Parchment, and uses it as a bib. This of course infuriates the Stonecutters, and they end up deciding to banish Homer from the order. They burn his robes and make him strip down naked, getting ready to force him to drag a giant boulder, naked through town. But as he’s standing there nude, they notice Homer has a birthmark shaped like their sigil, which is the sign of the Chosen One. So they decide Homer’s the Chosen One, and go to celebrate, while attaching the Boulder of Triumph to him.
And now that Homer is the Chosen One, he starts abusing his power like crazy. He makes everyone bow when he enters a room, and even is commissioning a regal portrait of himself. But being omnipotent quickly wears off for Homer, since they let him win at everything, like bowling, pool, and poker. So he does what anyone in the family does when he’s having a crisis, he goes to talk to Lisa, even making Principal Skinner dismiss class to talk with her. Lisa informs Homer that he should use his powers to help people, that that might make him feel better. And since she shoots down his idea of making monkeys reenact the Civil War, he decides to go with her plan.
So the Stonecutters become a charity organization, helping the community. They form a daycare, which I doubt anyone would use since it’s staffed by weird drunks and Mr. Burns, and then they paint some building a sky blue, which is a pretty terrible idea since it then gets hit by helicopter. And while all the community service is making Homer happy, the rest of the Stonecutters are pissed. They want to kick him out, and end up calling in the Stone Cutters World Council, which is formed of Orville Redenbacher, Jack Nicholson, Mr. T, and George Bush. And after the council can’t decide what to about their Chose One, they decide to all stop being Stonecutters, and create a new society, the No Homer’s Club. Homer is of course depressed about this, even though he did make his monkey Civil War happen. But the episode ends on a sweet note with Marge informing him that he’s part of a very selective club, the Simpsons family, even though she think their wedding rings are special, and not Bart and Lisa’s crazy whistle rings.
This episode is so great. Now, I know the Masons and things like that exist, but I don’t really know much about them. I know they’re still around, but I feel like they’re probably dying out, because no young people want to join them. But when I was a kid I had a couple grandparents that were Elks, and from what I could tell the Elks was an excuse for a bunch of vaguely racist old white people to sit around and smoke, gamble, and drink, which is pretty much what the Stonecutters was before Chosen One showed up. And when you’ve had even a fleeting experience with these weird societies, this episode become infinitely funnier. By itself it’s a hilarious episode, and one of the best of the series, but when you see just how spot on they make the Stonecutters, it becomes so much funnier. Although I don’t think that my grandparents had magic rings that got them free soda.
Take Away: Secret societies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and it’s no fun when people let you win.
“Homer the Great” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jim Reardon, 1995.