Last week was rough. But then we had a pretty fun episode that I liked quite a bit to end the week out. Maybe that was a sign that things are turning around, and the rest of this season is going to be solid. Well…no. This week isn’t as bad as last week, but it’s no walk in the park either. Let’s get going!
The episode starts off with everyone in town suffering through some sort of church fundraiser carnival, which begins with Bart asking the logical question of why God’s always hard up for cash. That doesn’t get answered though, so let’s check out some sight gags! We see Lenny and Carl try to play a ring toss with saints and Lisa and Mr. Burns seeing what they’d look like in Hell. We also learn that the whole reason for this carnival is so that the church can build a new spire that’ll be taller than the Episcopal church across the street. It’s all for spite!
And it’s time for the big event of the day, a rubber duck race down a river, wherein the winner gets some sort of computer designed for women. It doesn’t make sense why this computer is only for women, but Marge wants it so Homer decides to cheat and win the race. He puts his duck in the river, and shoots several of the competitors before things even begin. And from there things just get more and more ridiculous.
Homer follows his duck around, trying to make sure that it wins, even following it into an old mill that the duck floats into. This leads to a ridiculous Modern Times-esque sequence where Homer gets hurt by gears, until he manages to escape. Homer then just chucks his duck towards the finish line, succeeding in being the first person across the street! Until it turns out that that wasn’t Homer’s duck, it was an actual duck, disqualifying him. Oh, Ned wins the lady computer.
However, Ned doesn’t want a computer, so he tells Marge that he’ll just give it to her. Marge thinks that this is a little too generous though, so she tells Ned that in exchange she’ll help him watch Rod and Todd, which he takes her up on immediately because he’s going to a left-handed convention. So Marge heads on over to casa de Flanders, and quickly realizes that Rod and Todd are the lamest human beings ever born while Ned enjoys getting intimidated by Randy Johnson at the convention.
Marge spends the day with Rod and Todd, trying to have some semblance of fun, and tries to teach them how to actually have fun. And she has moderate success. Marge ends up finding them rather endearing, and they clearly need a motherly influence in their life, so she strikes up a deal with Ned to spend more time with the boys and hang out with them. They even start to live a tiny bit more rebelliously than normal, thoroughly enjoying her presence.
Meanwhile, Homer has had to spend time with the kids, and he’s not doing well. They beg him to actually do something with them, and Lisa suggests they visit some place that’s basically a nursing home for animals who act in movies and TV. So they head to the place, and it’s incredibly depressing. Basically just a pound full of old and sick animals. And the crowning achievement of the place is a pen with a female chimpanzee named Toot Toot who is monstrously depressed due to all of her children being taken away.
They all feel really bad for Toot Toot, and Bart decides to get close to her pen and be friendly. Which causes Toot Toot to go crazy, and grab Bart, deciding that he’s her new baby. And unfortunately there’s no plan to fix this issue. But Bart’s not the only person having issues, because Todd has cut his finger while Marge has watched him, and Ned has a bit of a freakout. But Marge has a talk with Todd, telling him he needs to relax when it comes with the kids, and Ned explains that they’re all he has left of Maude, and wants them protected, but he agrees to let Marge help him the kids be more adventurous.
Oh, and they still haven’t saved Bart from the monkey pen. He’s apparently still there, and Homer’s just hiding that fact from Marge through sarcasm. And once Marge goes to bed, not concerned about where Bart is, Homer heads back to the monkey pen and concocts a plan to kill the chimp with a poisoned peach. Bart is not a fan of this premise though, and just lets Toot Toot continue to take care of him, slowly starting to appreciate it.
The next day though we return to the Marge plot, where she’s decided to take the boys to some sort of business where kids gets to bounce on trampolines and climb rock walls. Rod is actually doing really well on the rock wall, when Marge notices that Ned is in the building, spying on them. She confronts Ned, who freaks out at Rod being that high up. Ned panics Rod, who falls off the wall and chips a tooth, confirming to Ned that this was all crazy. Marge tries to defend herself as a good mother though, right as the televisions in the room change to a news report about Bart being held hostage by the ape.
So Marge heads straight over to the animal sanctuary to save her son. Marge attempts to speak to Toot Toot, mother to mother, unfortunately Toot Toot just ignores her and runs out of the pen, escaping with Bart. And while all of this is going on we see that Rod and Todd are actually showing a bit of backbone, and tell Ned that they’re sick of having him baby them. They tell Ned that they want to be self-reliant, and just such an outlet is popping up on the news at that moment.
Because it turns out that once Toot Toot escaped she headed straight to that spire that the church built in the first act, which is now the highest structure in town. No one in town has a plan on how to get Bart down from there, until Lisa shows up with Mr. Teeny, who turns out to be Toot Toot’s son. She figures that they can just do a simple switch, as long as they can get up there. And right on time Rod shows up, who volunteers to climb up there with Mr. Teeny using his rock climbing skills from earlier. Ned allows him to do so, and Rod climbs right up, makes the switch, and Rod and Bart manage to escape, everything ending up fine after a really weird and out of place gay joke.
This episode is really weird. It’s utterly forgettable and doesn’t have anything particularly memorable about it, but at the same time it’s a well-structured episode. I appreciate the idea of the throw-away first act actually having something to do with the climax, involving that spire, and having Rod learn rock climbing in time to save Bart by climbing the spire. That’s a well crafted story that’s oddly well done for this show, especially at this point. But the story itself is just so dull. I like the idea of Rod and Todd finally getting a little guts, and that interaction from Ned where he admits that he babys the boys because of Maude’s death is really solid. But none of it comes together for me. It could just be a weird mood that I was in or something, but I really feel like this episode was a bit of a nothing, and it’s going to completely leave my mind by the end of the week.
Take Away: Don’t baby your kids. However, also don’t let them get abducted by chimps.
“Bart Has Two Mommies’ was written by Dana Gould and directed by Michael Marcantel, 2006.