Things aren’t great. Both in the Simpsons and in the world. I’ll give you a peak behind the curtain and let you know that I’m writing this article the day after the election. And things are bleak. So you know what? Let’s just enjoy a goddamn cartoon where Homer decides to make himself a superhero because he doesn’t want to see Lisa cry.
The episode begins with the Simpsons sitting around watching a terrible reality dating show on Fox called Promiscuous Idiots Island, which is a fantastic name. Oh, and the twist is that the handsome millionaire the women are competing after doesn’t actually own an island, it’s a peninsula. And after a brief slam on how stupid you have to be to get into a contract with Fox, a new commercial comes on that actually leads to something in the episode.
It’s for a company called Farmer Billy who make bacon. And Farmer Billy himself is announcing a new competition wherein a golden ticket is being placed in a random packet of bacon, and whoever finds the ticket gets to go on a fancy tour to see all the horrible things that are done to pigs to make bacon. And obviously Homer’s going to be super into this prospect. So he heads out to the Kwik-E-Mart and buys all the bacon they have, and starts opening packages up in search of the ticket.
Unfortunately despite all the hard work, Homer does not find the golden ticket. Instead he finds a silver ticket, which gives him the duty of judging a pig beauty contest at the upcoming State Fair. And because this is apparently a good secondary prize, because Homer gets really excited about it and completely forgets the whole bacon tour thing. So the Simpsons are going to the State Fair to see giant vegetables and listen to terrible country music!
But Homer isn’t going to enjoy the rest of the Fair, because he has a solemn duty that he’s taking very seriously, and begins checking out the pigs. And while that’s going on we see that Lisa has a project too. There’s some sort of table-setting competition going on where people have themed tables, and she’s decided to go all in and create a table with musical puns. Which earns her the ire of the Rich Texan, who is judging this competition for some reason, and decides he should mock this little girl.
Homer wraps up the pig thing though, and goes to check out the table setting contest just in time to see Lisa getting mocked. This pisses him off so much that he obviously needs to beat up the Rich Texan. However Homer knows that he’ll be arrested for assault if he does that, so instead he goes around the Fair and creates disguise that’s basically an apron, a quilt-cape, and a pie-tin mask. He then grabs a pie, jumps in front of the Rich Texan, and pies him right in the face, much to the hilarity of everyone else.
And Pieman, as he quickly gets called, becomes a huge success. People loved him, and Homer even gives a cheesy comic-book speech about being there to stop evil-doers. And his next chance comes right away, because he’s hanging out at homer talking about Pieman when Bart shows up with a whole bunch of terrible comics that Comic Book Guy made him buy. So Homer heads down to the basement and creates a fancy Pieman costume and heads out to the Android’s Dungeon right on time to pie Comic Book Guy just as Nichelle Nichols is coming by to see him.
Pieman then becomes a big deal in Springfield, going around and pieing all sorts of people who he thinks are doing wrong in the community. And during all of this people somehow can’t figure out that Pieman is clearly Homer Simpson. But, like most superheroes, not everyone is down with this new vigilante, so when Mayor Quimby announces they’re closing the Springfield Children’s Hospital and turning it into a plastic surgery center, the police know Pieman will show up.
So the police set up a barricade, prepared to take Pieman down when he shows up. Which he inevitably does. Pieman shows up to threaten Mayor Quimby, and the police immediately start shooting at him. Homer’s able to dodge some bullets, but does get shot in the arm. He also somehow manages to evade the police, and hide out in an alley while the crowd outside the hospital begin stampeding away. He even saves Marge from being trampled and they do that upside down kiss from the first Spider-Man movie.
After the kiss though Homer has to rush home and use a knife to pry the bullet out of his arm. Which goes shockingly well. But as he’s bleeding out in the kitchen he gets a surprise visitor when Lisa happens to come in. She’s kind of surprised to see that Homer is Pieman, and he offers to take her to his hidden lair, the basement. So they go downstairs and she convinces him to stop being a superhero and go back to being normal before he gets killed. And he agrees.
However, that agreement quickly gets tested when Homer goes to work at the Plant and sees how terrible Mr. Burns is. He somehow didn’t think about pieing Burns earlier, but now he can’t get it out of his head. So he breaks his promise to Lisa, pies Burns, and then runs off into the Plant to hide. Unfortunately he hides in Burns’ office, and they quickly find him. Burns and Smithers then bring him down to their employee dungeon and make Homer and offer.
They won’t tell the world that Homer is Pieman in exchange for him pieing people they want. Blackmail! And because Homer doesn’t want the world to know that he was throwing pies at people, he decides to go through with it and become Mr. Burns’ hitman. And his first step is to pie himself. Oh, and then a poor little girl scout. Homer then starts getting assignments and has to pie everyone in Burns’ life that annoy him.
And that reaches its fever pitch when, for some unexplained reason, the Dalai Lama announces he’s coming to Springfield. And because Mr. Burns is a supervillain, he wants Homer to pie the Lama. So Homer begins worrying about the hit all the way up until the Lama takes the stage to give a lecture. Homer ends up having a crisis of conscious and ends up doing the only right thing. He comes out on stage, calls Mr. Burns’ bluff, and announces that he’s Pieman. Which no one believes, since Homer doesn’t seem like much of a hero. But it wraps everything up, and he goes home to talk with Marge, and proudly proclaim that if he’s ever needed again, Pieman will return! Along with his sidekick, the Cupcake Kid.
I like this episode quite a bit. It’s probably because I’m such a superhero dork, but basically everything in this episode works for me. I loved seeing everything in Springfield just fulfill a typical comic book story, with Homer becoming the hero, Mr. Burns becoming the villain, and Marge becoming the love-interest who doesn’t know the heroes identity. There are a lot of comic book tropes, like Homer always protecting people associated with his family and always being missing when Pieman shows up, and they’re all great. But the thing I think I like most about this episode is the fact that Homer just legitimately wants to be a hero. He does it all because he sees his little girl being treated poorly. Which is pretty damned admirable.
Take Away: It’s apparently easy to be a vigilante. You just have to know how to get bullets out of yourself.
“Simple Simpson” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Jim Reardon, 2004.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons