Well here comes a fun-filled week of great episodes. We hit some serious topics, but for the most part it’s just some goofy fun. Not really the revenge of Silly Week, but pretty damned close. And we start off with a weird as hell, but so much fun episode.
The episode starts off with the most promising thing possible, Mr. Burns getting ready for his day! He’s sitting down at his desk, actually peppy and ready to work for once, even though he hasn’t had any coffee. And, not shockingly, he starts to crash around lunchtime, but after brief coffee-break he ends up getting all energetic, and starts to have bad ideas. Burns decides that the Plant needs a safety drill to get everyone off their asses, and sadly doesn’t choose the option for Blimp Attack, and goes for a boring old fire drill. So Burns hits the fire alarm, and we’re treated to seeing everyone in the Plant run around like idiots having no idea what to do. And sadly Homer is the most competent employee, and is the first out of the building, though it took like 20 minutes. He then hilariously barricades the exit so no one else can get out, and then asks Burns what he won.
Unfortunately the only thing that Homer won was the honor of pissing Mr. Burns off, who decides that they need a company-wide team-building retreat in the mountains. So Homer starts complaining about that at home, causing Bart to have a weird rant about how much he hates teamwork and friendship, before Homer tells them they all have to go to the mountain. So that weekend they head up to Mt. Useful, where Homer immediately finds that he wasn’t supposed to bring his family, and that they have to just awkwardly hang out in the visitor center. Which is going to suck, because the friendly Park Ranger tells them that budgetary cutbacks have taken everything fun out of National Parks.
But enough about the family, let’s figure out what crazy scheme Burns has cooked up for the teambuilding event. He’s rented a cabin somewhere on the mountain, and is having everyone break into two-person teams where they have to cooperate to find the cabin. And the second to last team to get to the cabin gets a “World’s Worst Employee,” trophy, while the last group gets fired. So they start drawing names, and Homer shockingly gets paired with Mr. Burns, who decided not to be with Smithers for once. And Homer is initially really against the pairing, until he realizes that it’s impossible for him to get fired. No such luck for Mr. Smithers though, who ends up drawing his own name, making him a team of one. And after Mr. Burns fires a pistol into the air, causing himself to be pushed down into the snow, the game is off!
Before checking in with the Plant’s race, we briefly see the rest of the family, who are wandering around the terrible museum, desperately trying to find something to entertain themselves with. And Bart and Lisa give up quickly on this, and end up heading out into the mountain to play. Meanwhile, Smithers is grumpy and bitter that he’s on his one man team, and ends up running into the kids, who decide to help him find the cabin and be his teammates, even though they start messing with him right away. Pretty quickly though Marge realizes that the kid are missing, and ends up teaming up with the Park Ranger, who recommends them getting on the chair lift. Unfortunately right as they leave with it they find Bart and Lisa with Smithers, but Marge is stuck on the rickety chair lift until it gets to the top.
Meanwhile, Mr. Burns has decides to cheat on the teambuilding event almost immediately, and guides Homer to a hidden snowmobile. They pile on and zip right to the waiting cabin. And after turning on the electricity and propane for the heat, they go on in and start enjoying the cabin. They sit around with a roaring fire, eating snacks and exchanging relaxation tips while becoming friends. Homer also hilariously explains a weird way of smashing the table in order to get snack closer to him, while acting like it’s an infomercial. But things start to go wrong for the cheaters when they cheers two glasses of champagne together, which ends up reverberating up the mountain, triggering an avalanche that buries the cabin with them trapped inside.
And shockingly the two keep pretty level heads for a while, even though Homer keeps opening doors and windows letting more and more snow in. Burns tries using an old telegraph to send out an SOS, but it just leads to a display on telegraphs in the museum, so that’s not going to be a help. And while Homer starts to dig a tunnel out of the cabin like a rat, we see that Lenny and Carl have gotten to the cabin, or the mound of snow on top of the mountain, and are confused that things aren’t adding up, but they end up heading back into the forest, not assuming an avalanche buried it. And pretty much as soon as they leave, Homer is able to break out of the snow, freeing him and Burns. But they end up high-fiving, causing another avalanche which shoots them down the tunnel and back into the cabin. And things start to get bleak.
The heat and electricity are now knocked out, and the two start to go crazy almost immediately. But before we see the extent of that we see Lenny and Carl show up at a lookout station for the Rangers, which they decide must be the cabin. And slowly all the other workers end up at the station as well, even Smithers and the kids. Smithers is mad at first because he assumes he’s the last person, until he learns that Burns and Homer haven’t shown up yet, which finally gets everyone worried. And they should be, because Homer and Burns have started to make “real men, made out of snow,” which are just snowmen. And logically they decide the snowmen need their clothes, so now they’re in their underwear, cold, and insane.
Back in the lookout station, Marge and the Ranger show up, only to find all the Plant workers there, and after talking about the cabin, the Ranger realizes that it’s gone. They start looking at a seismograph, and find that there’s been an avalanche. So they all head out to start looking for the cabin and the corpses within. Unfortunately things have escalated quickly in the cabin, with Homer and Burns sitting on opposite sides of the cabin, glaring at each other and envisioning their allies. Burns has an army of WWI-era German snowman soldiers, and Homer has powerful political allies, who comprise of Mao Zedong, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ramses II, and Gandhi.
And these crazy visions cause the two to start fighting, with Burns swinging around a fireplace poker, which ends up striking the propane tank that used to be providing them heat. And that strike ends up causing the tank to rupture, which turns it into a jet the blasts the cabin out of the snow, and sends it flying down the mountain to the lookout cabin. It stops right before smashing into it, and the two men end up hobbling outside, having no idea what the hell just happened. But after everyone is done hugging and being happy the cabin didn’t explode, Burns announces that the contest is still going, so everyone runs inside. Which ends with Lenny being the last person in, causing him to get fired. And even though Burns changes his mind almost immediately, Lenny gets super drunk and falls down the tunnel that they dug, and the episode ends with Burns and Homer hilariously laughing together, and then glaring at each other evilly.
What a stupid, stupid, fun episode. I’m always in favor of Mr. Burns episodes, and this one is some peak Mr. Burns. Homer paling around with people is always great, and it was awesome to see him hanging out and having fun with Mr. Burns. Even though it turns pretty bleak eventually, I really liked the two of them being paired together while they each started to cheat like crazy. The stuff with Lisa and Bart is pretty funny, especially just how much they aggravate poor Waylon, and the Marge stuff was pretty much worthless, but the real draw is obviously the Homer/Burns goof-around, and it delivered on that wonderfully. The pair becoming progressively more insane is really hilarious, and I loved seeing cabin-fever versions of both the characters. Is it a particularly moving episode that gives us any new glimpses into either character? Absolutely not, but it was fun as hell, and that’s good enough for me.
Take Away: Company team-building events are bullshit, and could lead to you viciously murdering your boss due to severe cabin-fever.
“Mountain of Madness” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1997.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons