Lifetime of Simpsons

S16 E11 – On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister

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Well look what we have here folks. A thoroughly strange and unpleasant episode that’s just chock full of weird characterizations for Bart and Lisa! This episode is pretty rough everyone. Buckle up.

The episode starts off with a random smattering of Springfield Elementary children lined up outside the school at 3 am so that they could go on a field trip to the Springfield Glacier. And I don’t know about anyone else, but the idea of going on a field trip at 3 am is nonsense to me. But whatever, that’s what the show wanted to do, despite the fact that it has absolutely no bearing on the rest of the premise, but let’s roll with it.

The kids gets onto the bus and we immediately are introduced to the two running plots that will pan out for the rest of this field trip. There’s Bart being an absolute ass to Lisa and pranking her incessantly, and Principal Skinner desperately trying to get Edna to take him back since their relationship has still been destroyed. So the bus just keeps heading toward the glacier, even though they reach icy roads and have the children drag the bus like sled-dogs.

Meanwhile we get to cut over to Homer and Marge to set up the B-Plot, which is taking place at their Walmart parody Sprawl-Mart. They head into the store and we learn that Grandpa is still a greeter there, which is apparently a monumentally important job since people just act like idiots if they aren’t greeted. Homer and Marge chat with Grandpa for a while until Grandpa has to get a cart, and we’re treated to a slapstick moment that ends with Grandpa smashing into a display of garden gnomes, unable to fulfill his duties. And since he had nothing better to do Homer decides to take over the job for Grandpa and become a greeter himself.

But that’s enough of that for a while, let’s check back in on the glacier! It’s the worst. The glacier has almost completely melted into a lake, which the ranger refuses to blame on global warming. And since the glacier is a dud the kids have to just wander around the little museum/gift shop for the rest of the trip. Bart continues to mock Lisa in the shop while Skinner and Edna squabble until she starts randomly making out with the Park Ranger.

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And Bart really crosses a line with his final prank, which takes place while Lisa is doing her best to teach the other kids about global warming and the chaos that it’s causing. While she’s lecturing though Bart sneaks up behind her, sticks a walkie-talkie in her back pack, and then makes it sound like Lisa’s farting all through her speech. The two then get in a huge fight that ends with Lisa falling into the lake that the glacier has caused, and the rest of the kids making fun of her the whole way back to town.

This prank was apparently a bridge too far for Lisa though, because the next day when Bart wakes up he finds a shocking development has occurred. Lisa has gotten a restraining order against him, as Chief Wiggum explains. And when Bart immediately breaks the order, he’s briefly thrown in jail before being brought back to the house so the family can talk about the order. Which of course means that they instead watch a video that Wiggum gives them about restraining orders as hosted by Gary Busey who gives a wonderfully unhinged performance.

But the big sticking point is that Bart has to stay at least 20 feet away from Lisa at all times. So Homer uses his Sprawl-Mart discount to buy a bunch of items to tape into a 20 foot pole which Lisa wields to keep Bart away from her. And of course, this starts leading to madness. Bart isn’t allowed in the school anymore, and has to study with Willie in his shack, and at home Lisa does everything she can to torment Bart with the pole, quickly becoming a bully herself.

Oh, and things aren’t going well for Homer either. He’s apparently still working at Sprawl-Mart, and things have taken a dark turn. The manager at first was really friendly to Homer, appreciating the hard work that he’s been doing, but he suddenly switches on a dime and starts becoming a real ass. The manager makes Homer work overtime without pay and threatens to send him back to Mexico if he complains, which actually does carry some wait since Sprawl-Mart has changed his passport to make him an illegal alien.

And things are escalating all over the place, because things are getting even more insane in the Bart/Lisa plot. Because Marge has finally had enough of this nonsense, and goes before Judge Harm to get the restraining order rescinded. This backfires and Judge Harm decides to up the distance to 200 feet, meaning that Bart can’t even stay in the house. He has to start living in a tent in the backyard like an animal while the family basically just celebrate that they’re rid of him.

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However, while it’s frightening at first, Bart quickly comes to enjoy this weird freedom, because for some reason the Simpson’s back yard is now an unfenced forest complete with roving packs of stray dogs and a river. So Bart begins spending all of his time in the back yard, slowly becoming more and more feral as he stops spending any time in the house and with other people. Which begins to really worry Marge.

But before we finish the A-Plot I guess we should wrap up the B-Plot. And it’s weird. The Sprawl-Mart manager continues to be an asshole to Homer and all the other employees, and begins locking them in the store overnight so they can continue to work. Homer wants to mutiny and rebel against the manager, but he reveals that all Sprawl-Mart employees have electric chips in their heads that shock them if they misbehave. But it turns out not to be a big deal, because after the manager leaves the other employees reveal that they removed their chips ages ago and just steal stuff like crazy from the store at night. And Homer is down with that.

Anyway, Marge is really upset about Bart becoming a feral child in the woods outside their house, so she asks Lisa to consider getting rid of the restraining order. But Lisa holds fast, saying that Bart has never done anything nice for her, and she won’t let him in until he’s done three nice things. She and Marge talk about it, and they decide that Bart has done two nice things for her, bringing her her homework when she was sick and cheering her up when her gerbil died when they were younger.

So Bart is still stuck outside. That is until Lisa looks outside one day and sees Bart building a giant statue of Lisa made out of hay. She decides that that counts as a nice thing, and goes out to congratulate him and destroy the restraining pole. Unfortunately it turns out that it wasn’t a monument, it was an effigy that he was going to burn down. But she decides that she misses Bart despite all that, and says that the restraining order is done and everything goes back to normal.

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Yeah, I don’t know about this episode folks. It just kind of bums me the hell out. I’m never a fan of episodes that revolve around Bart being horrible to Lisa, because they always have to ramp up his sibling shitiness to a ridiculous degree. Bart’s a straight up monster in this episode, which is necessary to justify the ridiculous idea of two siblings getting a restraining order. But when the restraining order comes into play the episode really gets crappy, because Lisa then becomes an even worse bully than Bart had been. She is given power and immediately lets it corrupt her and she begins using it to make Bart miserable instead of being the bigger person. I don’t know, maybe the episode just hit me in a weird mood or something, but it was a real downer for me and I can’t wait to forget about it as soon as possible.

Take Away: Don’t be an asshole to people, especially your siblings.

 

“On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Bob Anderson, 2005.

 

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