Guess what time it is folks? Sideshow Bob time! Hey, those still happen! We haven’t seen Bob in a while, and he isn’t having an episode a season like clockwork like we used to, but we finally have another one. And it’s pretty fun.
Our episode starts off with Marge timing herself while cleaning, which is a super sad idea. But we do get the weird joke where she apparently has vacuumed up Maggie in her haste. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, because as she’s shocked at Maggie’s traumatic experience Homer comes on in with the mail. And he has some free passes to a local spa called the Stagnant Springs Health spa.
So the family pack up into the car and drive off to get pampered and do some sight-gags. We see Kent Brockman and Tom Brokaw get extensive work to look human, the kids go to some child spa called Dr. Ma-Seuss where everyone speaks in rhyme, Marge gets some sort of turtle massage, and Homer gets his back walked on by a little Asian lady who starts sinking into his back-fat like quicksand.
But stuff actually starts happening when Homer heads into the sauna and has some awkward encounter with a nude Ranier Wolfcastle where they once again don’t seem to know each other. But when Wolfcastle leaves, and Homer is alone, something menacing happens. A man in a hood comes running up and locks the door to the sauna with a giant wrench, before turning it up to its highest point. So Homer’s trapped in the sauna, and eventually loses consciousness until he’s saved by Krusty, who just happens to show up.
So the family head to the police to talk with Chief Wiggum about dealing with Homer’s attempted murder, but as usual Wiggum isn’t that helpful. But, he decides that the only way to solve this case is to pull a Hannibal Lecter and get a real psychopath to help assist in the mystery. So they head to the prison and walk down the hall of the maximum security wing before reaching a big fancy door. And behind that door is…Sideshow Bob! Oh no! If only I hadn’t spoiled that!
Bob is then freed from his cell and after making a deal that he’ll help the Simpsons in exchange for picking his role in the Man from La Manca in the prison musical, and released into the Simpson’s custody. They strap an electric shock device to his leg in order to zap him if he doesn’t comply, and they get investigating. Yep, this is a Homer/Bob one, not a Bart/Bob story. So the two sit down and start going through a list of everyone that could possibly hate Homer, and the list includes: Mr. Burns, Fat Tony, the Emperor of Japan, ex-President Bush, the late Frank Grimes, PBS, Stephen Hawking, the fat Dixie Chick, and the State of Florida.
That wasn’t helpful. So Bob suggests that he just follow Homer in a typical day of his life. They obviously then go hang gliding, until Bob calls him out that this doesn’t make sense, so they just go to the Kwik-E-Mart to buy pornography. And while there they talk to Apu about the upcoming Mardi Gras celebration, and the contest to elect the kind of the festival. And after picking up the porno they drive off, and Homer gets in a car accident pretty quickly. He then yells at the mechanic, Junior, before walking home with Bob.
Once again, not that helpful. So they set up an elaborate Homer-dummy and hide in the bushes to see if anyone attacks it. And they do. In fact, we see Moe, Patty, Selma, Reverend Lovejoy, Willie, and Homer all attack the stupid dummy. So yeah, things aren’t going great. So to deal with the disappointment they hit up Moe’s to drink and talk about how easy it would be to kill Bart, and how mucho of a failure Bart is. But as they’re sitting there the door of the bar opens and someone tries to shoot Homer.
And after this event, Bob really buckles down and starts investigating, and finally comes across some clues. He finds that the tickets to the spa that set all of these events in motion had a grease smudge on it. So that’s something. And with that little bit of a head start Bob gives Homer the advice that he should lay low and hide from everyone. At which point some clowns burst into the house and tell Homer that he’s the Mardi Gras king, and will spend the whole parade on a big float. So, not really what Bob was saying.
Even though the whole situation is shady as hell, and Homer only won because the killer stuffed the ballot box, Homer goes through with it and becomes the King. He gets up on a float, and starts parading about, trying to keep an eye out for the killer. So is Bob, whose chatting with the police about how quiet the float is. Which is when Wiggum mentions that some mechanic tuned up the float, and Bob puts it all together. The grease stain on the envelope, the wrench used to lock him in, the mechanic that Homer yelled at. It’s the mechanic!
So Bob chases after the float, especially once he realizes that the mechanic cut the break line. But before Bob can grab Homer, the float starts heading down a hill toward the museum of swordfish where he’ll be impaled. But Bob has a Hail Mary, and sticks himself in a canon and fires himself through the air. He manages to grab onto the Duff Blimp, and uses it to save Homer right before he would have crashed and died.
But right when they think they’re safe, a gun goes off and Duffman is shot. They trace the shot to the mechanic, who is on a pair of stilts and rapidly escaping. So Homer and Bob steal stilts from Kearney and Jimbo and give chase, quickly cornering the mechanic. And when they catch him, he reveals that he’s Frank Grimes Jr, and he’s Grimes’ illegitimate son from a hooker. So Junior is arrested, Homer is saved, and Bob is sent back to jail. Well, except he’s not, because we get this weird ending scene where he shows up in Bart’s room to kill him like Lenny suggested, but realizes he can’t because he’s grown accustomed to Bart’s face. So after a musical number he heads out into the night, free and apparently over his grudge against Bart.
Well, as far as Sideshow Bob episodes go this one isn’t the best, but compared to the rest of the episodes this week it’s pretty solid. I do like the idea of this not being an episode where Bart has to deduce Bob’s evil plan and stop him, and instead flip things so that Bob is trying to solve a crime. And I think Bob and Homer made a fun little pair. The resolution of the crime is pretty stupid though, and the sudden addition of Frank Grime’s illegitimate son isn’t my favorite, and really had to be shoehorned in. Especially when Marge tossed in “the late Frank Grimes” to Homer’s list of enemies. But despite those issues, I did like this one.
Take Away: Using one killer to find another is a great system. And be nice to your mechanic.
“The Great Louse Detective” was written by Jon Frink and Don Payne and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2002.