Hey everybody, we’ve conquered yet another week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. And folks, we have a weird one today. This whole week has been a little odd, but this episode is absolutely batshit crazy. We have secret societies, chosen ones, and plenty of word problems. I have no idea what’s up with this episode, but it’s kind of delightfully unhinged. Let’s dig in!
The episode starts with a little bit of narration telling us that humanity is no longer run by science and industry, and is now controlled by prophecy and conspiracies. Which seems to just be the thesis statement of the episode, because this little scene just cuts straight to the Simpsons learning about an upcoming solar eclipse, and it’s never mentioned again. The whole town seems really excited about the eclipse, and we see that everyone is getting ready to view it.
This of course required the whole town to build those little cardboard viewers in order to safely look at the eclipse, and we see that the Simpsons have each made one. But right as the eclipse is about to begin Homer trips and falls on his, destroying it. He then whines about it until Marge just gives him her device, meaning that she’s going to miss out on this amazing phenomena. Which ends up being too much for Marge, and she decides to just look at the eclipse.
Which was a bad call. Marge looks at the sun, and ends up burning her eyes so bad that she has to be rushed to the hospital. And the prognosis isn’t good. She’s going to have to keep her eyes wrapped up and bandaged for two whole weeks until her eyes heal. So the family is going to have to take care of her for once. And they immediately run into a weird problem when they find the kitchen is overrun with rats. Homer’s briefly controlled by a rat like Ratatouille, but then decides to kill them before Marge finds out.
So Homer, Maggie, and Santa’s Little Helper head to a store and buys a big jug of poison, which Maggie really wants to eat. Homer starts heading home, and ends up getting in a car accident because Santa’s Little Helper is trying to steal the toy Homer gave Maggie to distract her from the poison. We’re then treated to one of those logic puzzles where Homer has to row a boat across a stream without Santa’s Little Helper pestering Maggie and Maggie eating the poison.
Homer ends up solving the puzzle, but part of it requires him sticking Maggie alone on the riverbank, which is right next to a Catholic monastery. He places Maggie on the doorstep, and then rows across the river to get the dog and the poison. But while he’s gone something horrible happens. One of the nuns finds Maggie, and assumes that she’s an orphan being given up, and takes her in. Homer runs back to the monastery to get Maggie back, but the nuns won’t let him.
So Homer heads home to get advice from Bart and Lisa. He obviously isn’t going to tell Marge that he just accidentally got rid of Maggie, and they all agree to keep it secret. They also decide that the only way to get Maggie back is for Lisa to go undercover at the convent as a new nun. So Lisa heads over to the convent, lies about being religious and in need of guidance, and is adopted into the group, becoming a nun.
Lisa doesn’t waste any time in her ruse, and immediately asks about the orphanage. But when she’s brought to it she finds that Maggie isn’t there. And when she pries the Mother Superior about any other babies they may have, she becomes incredibly cagey and won’t respond. So Lisa becomes convinced that there’s an elaborate scheme going on, and starts investigating the church. And after meeting with some creepy nun who hates the Mother Superior, Lisa finds out that there are a bunch of clues hidden around the church.
Lisa investigates the convent, and ends up finding clues regarding a Gem that’s supposed to bring peace to Springfield. She runs around the convent, finding all of the clues, and ends up opening a secret Rube Goldberg machine hidden in the pipe organ. And once it’s done working she finds that it has a riddle telling her to find Springfield’s biggest manmade ring. So now Lisa has to head out into the city to find the answer to the riddle.
And after several different ideas Lisa realizes that it must be the bell in the Springfield Bell-Tower. So Lisa get to the tower, and heads up to investigate, only to be followed by a pair of hooded monks. They monks spring out of the shadows and grab Lisa when she gets to the bell, and she’s surprised to find that it’s Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy. They’re apparently amateur sleuths, and have been hunting for this mysterious Gem for ages.
They tell Lisa that St. Theresa was a nun in the Old World, and she had a religious vision that there would be a magic Gem in the New World that could bring about world peace. So the nuns headed to America, where some Freemasons staged a phony American Revolution in order to hide their own hunt for the Gem. But after the Revolution the nuns moved to Springfield and continued their search for the Gem in peace. They also tell her that the Gem is supposed to be revealed the night of the first full moon after the eclipse, which is that night.
So now Lisa has some cohorts, and after Comic Book Guy tells her that the bell in this tower is fake, they’re back to square one. Until Lisa realizes the true answer to the puzzle. They aren’t looking for a ring, they’re looking for the RING in the SPRINGFIELD sign. So they run off to the sign, only to find someone else waiting for them. Mr. Burns and Smithers. He knows about the gem, and he wants Lisa, Skinner, and Comic Book Guy to find it for him.
Lisa obviously doesn’t want to do this, but she does find that there are some elongated letters on the RING signs, which have a hidden message. She writes it out, and realizes that it’s an anagram. Lisa works it out, and finds that it says she’s the Gem. Apparently there isn’t an actual Gem, it’s a person, and Lisa is the chosen one who is going to bring about world peace. So Lisa and the other hop in Burns’ helicopter and head to the convent to get there by sunrise when the prophecy is to be fulfilled.
Lisa comes strolling into the convent, ready to be showered with affection since she’s the Gem Child. But instead she finds that nuns singing and celebrating the real Gem Child. Maggie. Turns out Lisa got that anagram wrong, and Maggie is actually the chosen one. Which is true, because when the sun hits her she begins slowing, and it radiates out to cover all of Springfield, making everyone more peaceful. However, at this point Marge comes barging in, having finally figured out that Maggie was missing. She gets in a fight with the nuns, and briefly considers letting the nuns keep Maggie, until she removes her bandages and sees Maggie. She then can’t give up on it, and bring Maggie home with her, ending the possibility of world peace.
Yep. This is a real episode of the Simpsons. And it’s absolutely insane. I’m kind of at a loss about what’s going on here. My best guess is that this episode is a commentary on the rabid love that most people had for the Da Vinci Code around this time, and that the writers decided to make a crazy episode full of codes and conspiracies. Because otherwise I have no idea what’s going on with this. At first I thought the episode was just going to be a series of word problems, after the Homer one, but then we got thrown into this insane Gem Child plot that feels completely insane. I mean, Maggie is some sort of holy baby with magical powers in this episode, and there’s a vast conspiracy of nuns that have been hunting her for centuries. That’s the kind of things that usually only show up in Treehouse of Horror episodes, not just regular ones. I do like it though. It’s absolutely insane, and a whole lot of fun. There are parts that feel a little fluffy, that maybe could have been trimmed, but when I look back on it they almost all end up feeding into the crazy ending, so I guess the episode is pretty tight. It’s just completely insane. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially at the end of the week.
Take Away: Don’t look at eclipses. It becomes a whole thing.
“Gone Maggie Gone” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and Billy Kimball and directed by Chris Clements, 2009.