Howdy everyone! I’m back from my week-long break and ready to keep fighting through the ever-growing jungle of madness that is the Simpsons. And we continue on today with Season Fifteen and some straight-up soap opera stuff today folks. Get ready.
The episode starts off with Homer and the kids hanging out in the backyard, doing chores and hating it. Because yard work is the worst guys. And they’re super suspicious of Marge when she shows up and tells them to come inside and watch TV, assuming that there’s something far worse than chores waiting for them inside. But they deal with it, and come on inside, dreading what’s going to be awaiting them in the house.
Luckily it’s not chores, it’s the news. Marge has them all park on the couch and watch Kent Brockman give an introduction of a segment of his called “Oops Patrol” that’s basically just that thing Jay Leno used to do where they mock typos in local newspapers. But this time the person who found that awkward newspaper headline is Marge, leading her to get some special t-shirt that says she’s a member of the Oops Patrol.
And this infuriates Homer. Apparently everyone is Springfield knows this segment, and Marge becomes a big deal in the community as she walks around in the t-shirt, to the point that all the attention starts to drive Homer crazy. He even tries to put the shirt on himself, stretching it out like crazy. Marge yells at him, and he decides that the only way to make things right is to find a ridiculous newspaper headline himself.
This obviously means that he’s going to become obsessed with newspapers, and starts to hang them around the bedroom and look at them like he’s a goddamn serial killer. But one night, while slowly going mad staring at headlines, Homer notices something strange. There’s an article in one of the papers where the first letter of every line seems to give a message directed to him, telling him to meet someone under an underpass that night.
Homer wakes Marge up to tell her about his find, and she basically just tells him that he’s crazy. But that’s rarely enough to stop Homer, so he grabs Bart and the two head downtown in the middle of the goddamn night to meet with some mysterious person. And they promptly are visited by the stranger, who turns out to be someone pretty shocking. Mona Simpsons, Homer’s mom. Turns out she’s still on the run from her previous episode, and used her connection in the liberal media to plant that story to find Homer.
Homer, Mona, and Bart go to a diner to catch up and talk about how she’s missing her family and has decided to come back and hide-out with them again for a while. But the heat is instantly put on them when Wiggum, Lou, and Eddie show up at the diner, and recognize Mona, causing the Simpsons to flee. Unfortunately when getting away they smash into the police station, and Mona is instantly arrested again.
You know what that means, it’s trial time! Oh, and we also get the incredible joke where Kent Brockman mentions Mr. Burns and shows up him “terrorizing children in this 19th century woodcut,” which I adore. But anyway, the trial begins, and despite the handicap of having Gil as her lawyer, things go pretty well for Mona, especially when Homer gets up to do his character witness testimony. Homer uses the opportunity to give an emotional speech, causing the jury to find in Mona’s favor, and let her go free.
So Mona is free, and comes to live with the Simpsons, being the mother Homer never had. Which is kind of weird, because we see him getting baths, acting in plays with children, getting a toupee knit for him, and just generally acting like a child. He even brings Mona to Moe’s to meet his friends. However, things aren’t all great, because Mr. Burns still holds resentment for what Mona did, and is deadest on getting her imprisoned again.
And that master plan comes to fruition when Burns announces he’s changing the germ warfare lab that she attacked in the 60s to a museum, and invites her to come to the grand opening. And while having her sign the guestbook he manages to get her to admit that she signed fake names when she was on the lam, including to enter national parks, which is apparently a felony. And with that admission, Mona is arrested again, and the she’s removed from the family.
But Homer’s not giving up his mom that easily, so he decides to break her out while she’s being transferred to a federal prison. And he does this by messing with a sign to cause the prison bus to stop to put on its snow-chains and then hijack the bus. Homer speeds away with a bus-full of prisoners, and manages to let all the other women out before driving away with his mom.
However, the police quickly show up, and Mona begins telling Homer to bail and let her take the blame. Homer refuses, saying he doesn’t want to lose his mother again, but Mona points out that he would be abandoning his family like she abandoned him, and decides to take matters into her own hands. She tazes Homer, tosses him out of the bus, and keeps fleeing from the cops before seemingly driving off a cliff and blowing up.
So Homer’s lost his mother yet again, and seemingly forever this time. The family hold a little funeral, even though they couldn’t find a body in the wreckage of the bus-crash, and the begin to move on. But Homer won’t give up, and continues to check newspapers for hidden messages, not finding anything. But Marge lets him continue, figuring there’s nothing wrong with him keeping hope. Which is a good call, because we learn that Mona actually did survive the crash, and is sending Homer messages to know that she survived.
I guess this episode is okay, but it definitely doesn’t hold up against the original Mona episode. That episode ended on a pretty amazing note, so I feel like you would have needed a seriously great script to justify Mona coming back, and this episode just didn’t fulfill that need. It just didn’t have the emotion that that episode had, and its structure just felt super strange. They had Mona come back, get her arrested, free her of all charges, then re-arrest her? Why did that minor segment of the episode where Mona is a free-woman have to happen? It’s just muddled. And that ending, while still pretty sweet, definitely didn’t have the beauty of that first episode. Seeing Homer thoughtfully gaze at the stars has far more emotion, and served as a much better farewell to Mona that having this weird story where he survived a bus-explosion and had chowder with some random couple. I remember this episode from when I was younger, and I don’t remember Mona every coming back, and I really hope she never does, because if this episode proves anything, it’s that Mona returning is diminishing returns.
Take Away: If you end a story on an emotionally satisfying note, maybe don’t revisit it.
“My Mother the Carjacker” was written by Michael Price and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2003.