Season Fifteen has gotten off to a really weird start. We’ve had an unnecessary addition to an emotional story, a random musical homage, and a lackluster vacation episode. Not the greatest. But you know what can right that ship? An insane episode about Homer’s feud with a bear. Buckle up!
Things start off with Homer waking up and suspiciously sneaking out of the bedroom without waking up Marge. He gets out into the hallway, and meets with the kids, who are all waiting for him. Turns out it’s mother’s day, and they’ve gathered to make sure that everything is covered. Which it isn’t. Lisa picked some flowers, and Homer, Bart, and Maggie just made terrible mugs. They all decide that this isn’t good enough, and decide to sneak away and go shopping for Marge.
Homer and the kids end up at Sprawl-Mart, which gives us some goofy sight-gags, like even more Christian than normal Veggie Tales, seeing Grandpa working there as a greeter, and Nelson shoplifting with his mouth. But after goofing off for a bit, they realize that they still haven’t found a good gift, and start panicking. Luckily they run into Patty and Selma who are there buying booze and cigarettes, and they give them an idea. The Kitchen Carnival!
The Kitchen Carnival is basically some machine that deep fries food, makes cotton candy, and is full of hot caramel to make horrible carnival food at home. So the family buys it, and shockingly Marge loves it, getting super into the idea. And the rest of the family loves it too, and they begin putting as much sugar into their bodies as humanly possible. They start experimenting with the machine, making all sorts of terrible treats as the slowly get addicted.
But things take a dark turn when Homer wakes up one night and heads down to use the machine unsupervised. He starts off making some cotton candy, before realizing that he could pour the caramel on it too. So Homer spends the whole night slowly putting layers of cotton candy and caramel on this monstrosity until it’s the size of one of those yoga balls. And he’s so psyched. The kids are too, just eating this giant ball of solidified sugar with their father. Hell, Homer even takes it around with him and uses the HOV lane with it.
Unfortunately, after Homer accidentally gets some ants, birds, cats, and Flanders stuck in the ball, Marge decides that it’s outstayed its welcome. Just like that gross sandwich from that early episode. Anyway, after briefly considering listening to the evil ball of candy, Homer realizes that he should probably get rid of the candy, and drives it out to the dump to dispose of it.
But as Homer is throwing away the candy, something disastrous happens. A bear pops out of nowhere, and seems to attack him. We then cut directly back to the house, where Homer has come home, clearly disheveled but not wanting to talk about it. He starts acting really weird, and even seems to have some PTSD when he sees bears. Everyone seems confused by this, but it’s all made clear when Kent Brockman plays some footage from a local hunter that shows the bear attacking Homer.
Well, not really attacking him. It kind of spooks him a bit, and then gets creeped out by how embarrassing Homer acts as he begins crying. And instead of realizing how terrifying it would be to be cornered by a bear, the town makes a laughingstock of Homer and his bear encounter. Everyone in town start to mock him, the bullies make fun of Bart because of it, and the people at the Plant even prank Homer with Burns’ giant stuffed bear.
Homer even has a terrifying fantasy where all of the bear mascots from products start attacking him, leading to this hilarious interaction:
Homer: “Are you a Care Bear?”
Bear: “I’m an intensive Care Bear.”
Homer: “Why does a bear need a crowbar?”
Bear: “Eh, I don’t like to get my hands dirty.”
So that’s great. And after the fantasy Homer ends up weeping alone in the kitchen until Grandpa shows up and offers some advice. Grandpa claims that Homer will never be freed from his fear until he shows that bear whose boss, and for some reason Homer decides that this makes sense.
So Homer goes to meet with the hunter than filmed that footage of him on the news, and asks for some advice. The hunter tells Homer that he has a tracker on the bear, and gives Homer the homing device. And with the bear’s location in hand, Homer decides to even the playing field by crafting an insane Ned Kelly style suit of armor to fight the bear in. It’s pretty ridiculous, and even has no ass on it, in case he craps his pants.
Marge obviously shoots down this ridiculous idea, but that doesn’t really seem to matter to Homer, and he just sneaks out the next morning with Lenny, Carl, and Bart. The quartet then drive out to the woods, using the tracking device, and hunting for the bear. But when they get to the area where the bear should be, it turns out it’s not there, and they quickly start to get bored. Homer decides he’s hot, and wanders off to take a bath in the river, taking the suit off.
Unfortunately it turns out that Lenny and Carl took the batteries out of the tracing device so they could listen to the radio, so that’s why the device hasn’t been going off. Turns out the bear is right next to them, and it finds Homer down in the river, sans suit. And while all of this is going on, Marge, Lisa, and that hunter show up at the campsite, only to find Lenny, Carl, and Bart sitting around, not sure where Homer went to.
And they aren’t going to find him, because the bear has apparently dragged Homer to its cave. But the bear doesn’t want to eat Homer or anything, he just wants help. That tracking device apparently hurts the bear, and once Homer realizes that, he pulls it off the animal, instantly making it friendly. Homer is shocked at this transformation, and instantly switches from hating the bear, to loving it. The two quickly become little pals, and start wandering the forest, goofing off and having fun.
But no one else knows about the bear’s actual temperament, and that hunter has organized a large party of idiots to start traipsing around the woods to kill the bear. Homer hears about the plan over a radio, and decides to bring the bear to a nature reserve where the bear will be safe. So the two hike over to the reserve, and find the army of hunters waiting to kill the bear. But Homer saves the day by sticking the bear in his suit of armor, which apparently is bullet-proof. The bear is then able to sneak past the hunters, and make it to the nature reserve where it’s free to fight elephants like nature intended.
This is episode is dumb as all hell, but I really enjoyed it. There are some serious issues with it, mainly the fact that it’s so repetitive to things that have already happened, but it was just goofy enough to work for me. It’s weird that they did the candy thing just like Homer’s sandwich from “Selma’s Choice” and have a member of the Simpson family befriend a bear in the wood like “Call of the Simpsons,” but none of that distracted me from how goofy and fun the episode is. I love the idea that Homer builds a Ned Kelly suit of armor to fight a bear, and that he eventually befriends it in a Lion and the Mouse scenario. There’s not a lot to this episode, but it’s fun, and that’s all I’m expecting at this point in the series.
Take Away: Bears are scary, and except for in special conditions, hunting them is a sketchy idea.
“The Fat and the Furriest” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2003.