So yesterday kind of fell flat for me guys. We’re getting into the era where the show starts to get shaky, and there will be more and more episodes that don’t quite click with me, and that I don’t really have the same amount of nostalgia for. But this episode? It’s amazing. I really forgot how much I love this episode. Let’s dive on in!
Things start off on New Years Eve, where basically the entire town is down in front of the town hall building, watching Chief Wiggum shoot the countdown ball in celebration. And I say basically the entire town, because we see that the Flanders are of course already in bed and sleeping, but as soon as it becomes the new year, Ned wakes up and gets to work on his tax return. So he gets his taxes completed and mailed in on January 1st, while acting like everyone else is ridiculous for not getting a leg up on their duty. Which turns out to be a good call, because we then cut to April 15th where every other person in Springfield is frantically trying to fill out their returns in the post office. Everyone except Homer that is, because he’s watching Kent Brockman’s report on the riot in the post office and realizes that he never filled out his taxes, mistaking last year’s return as this year’s.
This results in Homer rapidly filling out their return while making up a whole lot of lies. “Okay, Marge, if anybody asks, you require 24-hour nursing care, Lisa’s a clergyman, Maggie is seven people, and Bart was wounded in Vietnam.” And after that slap-dash work, he balls it all up, wraps it in tape, and drives off to the post office while Marge says the incredibly depressing line “you really had a lot of talent kid,” while sadly looking at the painting of a boat that hangs over their couch. But enough sadness, we cut over to Homer racing through the streets of Springfield before just barely managing to get his bundled up return in the post office. Where it’s promptly sent to the IRS and put in the SEVERE AUDIT basket.
Homer is then arrested right from Moe’s while they’re all having a riveting conversation about what wish they’d ask from the Pope after pulling a thorn out of his butt. He’s then dragged to an IRS building where he sweats things out with Lucius Sweet and Gil before being brought into an office. The man inside says that Homer will get five years minimum in prison for his ridiculous return. That is unless he narcs for the FBI on his friends and family. So Homer obviously goes with that plan, and heads back to Moe’s while wearing a wire, hoping to hear his bar-buddies talk about illegal things. Unfortunately all they do is list illegal things he’s done. That is until they bring up the time Homer beat up George Bush, which gets Charlie talking about how his militia have plans to beat up all sorts of governmental officials, which causes the FBI to come bursting in an arrest poor old Charlie.
But it turns out that Charlie wasn’t a big enough get for the FBI, so they inform Homer that he needs to go on a more high-risk operation. So the FBI agent takes Homer to the mall to access the secret tape, which is kept in a photo-booth that initiates if you say the code-word, “cheese.” We’re then treated to a film strip explaining that after World War II, President Truman decided to give Europe a trillion dollars in order to rebuild, and he did so by creating a special trillion dollar bill. They then gave it to America’s richest citizen, Charles Montgomery Burns, to fly across the Atlantic. But he never got there. So the FBI wants Homer to sneak into Burns’ mansion, as a trusted employee, and find the stolen bill.
So Homer heads over to Burns’ mansion, waits for Smithers to leave, and sneaks up to the front door. He rings the doorbell and when Burns answers it, it turns out his button to release the hounds is broken, and Homer isn’t ripped to shreds. So he invites Homer in to find something to scald him with, and brings him down to the kitchen. But Burns is impatient, and just throws cold water on Homer, and then heads off to get a towel to dry Homer off. Homer takes that opportunity to start snooping around Burns’ kitchen, hoping that the bill will be there, and comes up empty. And that’s when Burns arrives, seeing Homer snooping around. Luckily though, Burns assumes that that means Homer is a reporter doing an expose on him, and decides to show him around the house.
Homer and Burns wander around the mansion for a while, checking out things like the suit that Charlie Chaplin was buried in, until they come across Burns’ Hall of Patriots. Which is a room of museum dioramas of various ancestors of his doing patriotic things, like dumping tea in the Boston Harbor. Plus, one of the dioramas is a muscular Burns holding the trillion dollar bill. Homer freaks out about it, and Burns shows that he keeps the real bill with him at all times in his wallet. At which point the FBI show up to arrest Burns. However as they start to drag Burns away he starts to give a speech about the government screwing over the little guy, which leads to Homer changing his allegiance, and knocking the agents out. He then grabs Burns and the two escape to freedom! After putting the knocked out agents hands on their butts. Because you can’t pass up an opportunity like that.
The pair then escape the mansion in Burns’ ancient car and head off to get Smithers. The trio then head to the airport, since they need to get out of the country. So they get a plane and head off in search of a safe-haven while the FBI interview the Simpsons about where Home would go with a trillion dollars. Which leads to the amazing Lisa line “who needs college? We’re trillionaires! Let’s buy dune buggies!” And while that’s going on the trillion trio find a place that they could hide out in. Cuba! They crash land on the communist island, and almost immediately make their way to Fidel Castro. Who proceeds to rob them and kick them out of the country. So they gently float back to America on a make-shift raft while Burns gives them an inspirational speech about what is and is not a crime, while also explaining that he’s going to bribe a jury to get them all off.
This episode is some grade-A silly Simpsons. I’m very on record for loving any episode that Mr. Burns features in, and this is a great one. Seeing Homer run afoul of the IRS was a great idea for an episode, and it just gets even better when he starts having to narc for the FBI. Honestly that could just be its own episode, Homer going around exposing all the townsfolk’s various horrible crimes. But then Mr. Burns shows up, and episode becomes amazing. Seeing Mr. Burns steal a trillion dollar bill from President Truman and just holding onto it like a trophy is amazing. Things kind of go downhill a bit when they get to Cuba, because it’s just so brief and expedited, but hey, it’s still a hilarious episode. It’s certainly not an emotional episode or anything, but this is a shining example of the Simpsons getting silly and wacky, and I love it for that.
Take Away: Don’t mess with the IRS. They will destroy you.
“The Trouble with Trillions” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Swinton O Scott III, 1998.