I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, flashback episodes are amazing. I love seeing stories from the families past, and how it was formed. We’ve learned about Homer and Marge meeting, their wedding and Bart’s And as much as I love “Lisa’s First Word,” this episode may be even better.
Things start off with the hilarious gag of the terrible show “Night Boat,” which is basically Night Rider, but a boat. Homer and the kids are watching the show, which is solved every week with a “canal, an inlet, or a fjord.” But as Homer is defending the terrible show, Marge comes in and tells them that this is time for their weekly hour of “family time.” Marge takes an egg timer and sets it for an hour, as the family awkwardly sits there, dreading their hour together. And after Homer is caught trying to tamper with the timer they decide to just look through photo albums, which has probably become an incredibly antiquated notion. They look through the album, first at a bunch of pictures of the TV, and then at baby photos. We see little Lisa and little Bart doing things, mainly napping, as we get to the main plot. Lisa notices that there are no photos of Maggie in the album, and Homer decides to explain that with a story. And man do I love the way that Homer explains the year Maggie was born: “It was a tumultuous time for our nation: the clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live. The information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek. And the domestication of the dog continued unabated.”
Homers story starts off with him trying to claim that he was busy fighting terrorist ninja’s from taking over the Power Plant and kidnapping Mr. Burns, Lenny, and Carl. But that’s obviously not true, so Marge makes him tell the story right, which was less terrorists and more Lenny and Carl insulting Homer’s hygiene. But then Smithers shows up and gives Homer a paycheck, which officially puts him out of debt. He’s apparently planned out an elaborate new way of life, where he gets to work his dream job and quit the Plant. So he quits by insulting Mr. Burns and playing his head like a bongo before literally burning a bridge. Homer then heads out to his dream job at Barneys Bowlarama. He heads in and tries to get a job from Barney, whose uncle Al owns the place, and ends up getting Barney’s job, before getting a pretty ominous bit of advice from Al:
Al: Show up tomorrow. Bring three rags. Oh! And, uh, a change of pants.
Al: When it happens, you’ll know.
So Homer heads home and tells the family about his new job and his whole new budget, which doesn’t go over well. Marge is worried and Bart is pissed about having one-ply toilet paper, although they’re both happy that only one of them gets to go to college. But Marge is trying to be supportive, and the two go out on a hot date to celebrate, which involves them getting Krusty Burger and dancing in their car before going to the beach. They then head home and make Maggie. And because Homer is an idiot, he misses all the signs that Marge is pregnant, and just keeps on with his crazy pin monkey life. Although, surprisingly, Homer is great at being a pin monkey, and is beloved by Al and all the weird regulars. He also gets to learn the secrets of the bowling alley, like the fact that every pin that gets knocked over is just dumped out behind the alley and whole trees are turned into new ones.
But while Homer is loving his job, we know that Marge is pregnant, and it’s confirmed when she heads over to Dr. Hibbert. He sketchily suggests that Marge could sell the baby…before claiming that it was all a test. So Marge now knows for sure that she’s pregnant, and doesn’t want to tell Homer, since it’ll ruin his little plan. Especially when she sees him praying to God, begging that things don’t change in exchange of cookies and milk. But Marge tells Patty and Selma about the baby, which is a terrible plan. She gets them to promise they won’t tell Homer, and they immediately head home and tell two guys named Aaronson and Zykowski, the biggest gossips in town, who go spread the news. Homer then wanders through the town, getting increasingly blunt congratulations on the baby, which he believes is all metaphors for the job. He then comes home to find Patty, Selma, and a bunch of other Springfield ladies having a baby shower for Marge, which is kind of awkward when Homer shows up. Although this is his reaction:
Homer: Hey, wait a minute… What are all these presents? It looks like you’re showering Marge with gifts… hmm… With little tiny baby-sized gifts. Well, I’ll be in the tub.
Maude: By the way, congratulations on the new job, Homer.
Homer: New job? Marge is pregnant!? Nooooooooo! Aahhhhhhh!
And now that Homer knows that there’s another baby on the way, he becomes depressed. He tries to ask for a raise at the bowling alley, but Al explains that they just aren’t doing enough business to justify a raise. So Homer begins studying marketing in the hopes that he can improve bowling attendance, which just ends with him firing a shotgun in the air and yelling “Bowling,” at people. And since that obviously didn’t work, Homer has to quit his dream job, and say goodbye to Al, all the weird regulars, and some little bootblack kid from the 20’s named Joey. Homer then heads right out of the bowling alley and straight to the Power Plant. He reapplies for the job, and has to go through a dusty doggy-door to do so. Burns lets him get the job back, but as punishment makes it so there’s a plaque in Homer’s office, facing him, that reads “Don’t Forget. You’re Here Forever.” And when Homer comes home from this terrible day, he finds that Marge has gone into labor, and they head to the hospital to get Maggie. During the delivery Homer is being kind of shitty, complaining about having another mouth to feed, but as soon as Maggie is put in his arms, his hearts melts, and he falls in love. Then, back in the present, the kids point out that that still doesn’t explain why there’s no pictures of Maggie, and Homer says that there are pictures, they’re just where he needs the most. We’re then shown that his office is covered with pictures of Maggie, even having some cover up the plaque so that it now says “Do it for her,” and I tear up.
This is such a good flashback episode. Hearing about all the kids births has been fun, but for some reason this one really gets to me. I love “Lisa’s First Word,” with it’s amazing ending, but this one somehow beats it out for me. I think it’s because we see Homer get so happy through the episode, living his dream, only to realize that he’s going to have to give up the one thing that makes him happy to be a responsible adult. Which is probably something that happens constantly. People give up their passions for the good of being a parent, and that can be pretty depressing when you think about it. But in the end, even though Homer thinks his life is ruined, and that he’s resigning himself to a crappy life, it’s all brightened when he sees Maggie. It’s all worth it. Which is incredibly emotional and sweet to me.
Take Away: Sometimes you have to give up on some dreams for the greater good, but in the end it may be worth it.
“And Maggie Makes Three” was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Swinton O. Scott III, 1995.