Okay. I’m going to be honest folks. The world is scary right now. I’m still walking around in a fog, trying to figure out what the hell to do. But I’m still watching and writing about Simpsons. And after yesterday’s article I decided to make a conscious effort to be more positive on her. To look on the bright side. But these last two episodes of the week? Rough. Tomorrow is certainly the harsher of the two, but today we get to deal with something that really bugs me, irrationally. The changing of canon. Because I am a geek.
The episode begins with Bart pulling a real Tom Sawyer on Milhouse and Ralph, convincing them to rake his leaves while he sits around and manages them. They’re feeling some dissent, but they get a break when Sherri and Terri show up to chat. The boys initially react with male stupidity, until they reveal that they have a boy-crazy cousin in town with them, and that she wants to hang out with them. And because they’re in the fourth grade and their hormones are getting ready to explode, they decide to take them up on that offer.
So the kids head up into the treehouse after grabbing one of Homer’s beers. But they aren’t planning on getting drunk together, instead they pour the beer out and use the bottle to play spin-the-bottle. And of course the only person from that group that we care about is poor old Milhouse, who luckily gets the visitor girl. Unfortunately right as Milhouse goes in for a kiss, Homer shows up in the treehouse, wondering what happened to his beer, and Milhouse ends up kissing his best friend’s father.
Homer’s furious, more about the beer than the kiss, and he decides to yell at Bart for wasting beer, when the rest of the family convince him to do something more sane. Have a family court session! Lisa becomes the judge, and they begin hearing arguments from Homer and Bart. And after some arguments, it becomes clear that Bart’s only defense is that Homer probably did stuff like this, kissing girls, when he was ten.
And, to the shock of everyone, Homer announces that he actually did kiss someone when he was ten, which goes against Marge’s thought that she was his first kiss. So Homer decides to sit everyone down and tell them the story of his first kiss. Which isn’t awkward at all. Homer then starts telling the story of when he went to a summer camp when he was ten, while commenting on the fact that the timeline doesn’t make any sense anymore, since this show has been going on for fifteen years.
Anyway, little Homer goes to a summer camp, and quickly meets his cabin-mates Lenny and Carl, and the creepy older kid who hangs around, Moe. They become little friends, hanging out together all the time, until they learn that their camp kind of sucks, and that they’re going to be forced to be servants for the nearby girl’s camp. So the kids are shipped over to the girl’s camp and start cleaning up their dishes.
Things go pretty terribly, with the boys being treated like garbage, until something interesting happens to Homer. A tray comes down through a little conveyor belt, and Homer spots a retainer. He begins yelling out to the girl who left the retainer, who is clearly little Marge, and the two begin talking, and end up setting a date. Homer has a date! Which is complicated when the boys head back to their camp, and he accidentally jabs himself in the eye, having to wear an eye-patch.
But Homer’s not going to let some ocular trauma stop him, so he heads out to the girl’s camp, getting help from Captain McCallister, and he ends up meeting with a little girl with long brown hair. Which is where we cut out of the flashback, and learn something obvious but dramatic. That girl was Marge! And she never knew that the boy was Homer until now! And she claims that little Homer broke her heart! Twists!
So Marge begins telling her side of the story, and we find out that Marge was at the girl’s camp, which was essentially just training in etiquette to make them good housewives, until she met little Homer in the kitchen after the lost her retainer. So she got ready for the date with the other girls in her bunk, and they tell her to iron her hair, which sounds insane. And it turns out it is, because it burns all of her hair while straightening it, and she ends up looking like a brunette.
Little Marge then went out to meet the boy that turns out to be little Homer, who is worried that his name is too bland, and calls himself the totally normal name Elvis Jagger Abdul Jabbar. The two then hang out on the beach, where they have an incredibly awkward little date where they have no idea what to do or talk about. But, after being awkward for a while, they do end up kissing and having vivid hallucinations about what love is like. Which are nuts.
Homer then promises to see Marge the next night for a second date. However, he never showed up, and broke Marge’s heart for years. It wasn’t until she met Homer in highschool that she could love again, and now that she knows it was Homer who broke her heart back then, she’s not happy. But Homer doesn’t want to let this slide, and decides to keep telling his side of the story to try and redeem himself. And like all good stories, it begins with a fall off a cliff.
Apparently right after the date Homer gave Marge a rock that looked like a heart, and then when she left he started to walk back to walk back to his camp, when he promptly stumbled off of a cliff and landed in a raging river. Homer was swept down the river until he washed up on a beach near a different camp. A fat camp. And they obviously decide Homer was a fugitive, and stick him in the camp, making him work out with some other fat characters like little Wiggum, Quimby, and Comic Book Guy.
So Homer’s stuck at fat-camp, unable to get to his second date. And when he doesn’t show, Marge decides to call the boys camp and look for him. But since he told her his name was Elvis, she’s told that no boy has that name, and she assumes that she was just lied to. So she freaks out, breaks the little heart rock, and calls her parents to take her home and leave the depressing summer camp that shattered her little heart.
Meanwhile, Homer has been trying constantly to break out of fat-camp and fix thing. And his opportunity comes when little Comic Book Guy seems to have a heart attack, and when people are distracted dealing with that he flees the camp, getting back to the girls camp. Unfortunately he gets there right after Marge leaves, and ends up coming across Patty and Selma. They realize that Homer was the boy that broke Marge’s heart, and screw with him. Patty even kisses him to show him that kisses are meaningless and can happen without love, shattering his little world.
Homer also finds the little broken heart-rock, and gets depressed. Which is when we cut back to the present and learn that Marge is still pissed about this story. She says that she can’t forgive Homer for something he did on accident like thirty years ago, and Homer begins pestering her to forgive him. Which finally works when Homer tells her that he thought about that girl every day of his life until he met Marge, and proves this by showing her the piece of the rock that he’s kept. It turns out she also kept her half of the rock, and that magically fixes everything so the episode can end.
Yeah, this episode doesn’t do much for me. I used to love flashback episodes, but this one is just so weird. I know I’ve heard that in the seasons to come there are going to be even worse flashback episodes that try to rewrite Homer and Marge’s meeting even further, which I’m certainly going to have words about, but even such a minor tweak like this rubs me the wrong way. Did they really need to have little Homer and little Marge meet when they were ten? It’s like the implication is that they were destined for love. Which is ridiculous. That’s a weird, magical way of looking at love that’s actually kind of damaging. Love isn’t magic, it’s hard work. It takes effort and care. It’s not something that’s destined. I guess there’s some sweet moments in the episode, and there are some good gags at showing different characters when they were younger, even though it’s ridiculous that apparently every adult character on the show is the exact same age, but overall it just feel superfluous and takes away some of the emotional impact of the wonderful “The Way We Was” episode. Which is a bummer.
Take Away: Always keep weird emotional knick-knacks from your childhood, it may come back to haunt your life.
“The Way We Weren’t” was written by J Stewart Burns and directed by Mike B Anderson, 2004.