Lifetime of Simpsons

S21 E07 – Rednecks and Broomsticks

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Well everyone, we’ve made it through another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. It hasn’t been a particularly memorable week, but there’s not really anything too terrible about it. And that trend will not really continue today! Because today we actually have a pretty interesting episode. Shocker!

The episode begins with the Simpsons returning home after a fun ski weekend. Well, most of a weekend. Because Homer has a master plan to leave at the ass-crack of dawn on Sunday morning, hoping that he can beat the traffic. Unfortunately everyone else had this idea, so the Simpsons are promptly trapped in horrible traffic while also being horrible sleep-deprived. Sounds like a great time folks!

And to make matters worse, the only entertainment the kids have is some sort of horrible game called Bonk It that makes the kids do monotonous tasks while an annoying robot voice makes demands. And it slowly drives Home and Marge insane. They try several time to sabotage the game, like taking out the batteries and just throwing it out of the window, but the damned thing just keeps coming back, haunting Homer and Marge.

Which of course leads to Homer freaking out about the game, and almost getting them in a car accident. They swerve off the road, and end up skidding onto a frozen lake, brutally killing poor little Bambi. The family then all faint as the car begins to sink into the lake. But this isn’t a horrible Simpsons snuff episode, so they’re saved at the last moment by an unlikely helper. Cleetus! Turns out he was walking by and saw the accident, so he come to their rescue.

The family then wake up some time later, in Cleetus’ shack. They thank Cleetus profusely, and decide to spend the day hanging out with Cleetus, Brandine, and the kids. Bart just hangs out with the kids, throwing grenades, and its Homer and Lisa who have interesting experiences. Homer gets taken to Cleetus’ moonshine still, and it’s discovered that Homer has a very refined pallet when it comes to moonshine, and he basically becomes a hillbilly sommelier.

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And then there’s Lisa. She decides to play hide and go seek with the kids, and ends up picking some spot inside a tree in the forest. Which turns out to be a bad call, because the kids are unable to find her, and she ends up spending the whole day stuck in a tree. When night falls Lisa starts trying to find her way back to Cleetus’ shack. And while she’s doing that she ends up coming across three girls who appear to be having some sort of witch coven in the middle of the woods.

Lisa kind of freaks out for a moment, but it turns out things aren’t as they seem. The girls aren’t witches, they’re Wiccans, and they’re just having a little ceremony. And when they chat with Lisa she can’t help but be a little intrigued. Until they start talking about magic, which Lisa finds utterly ridiculous. But the girls offer to show her a demonstration of their power, and after she makes a snarky joke about magic being used to get her out of an assignment at class, they promise that it will.

Lisa then leaves, finds the family, and they head home. And the next day when she’s at class, frantically trying to finish the assignment that she neglected during the weekend, when something miraculous happens. The class gets told that Ms. Hoover is out sick, and their substitute is just going to give them all credit for the assignment without having them turn anything in. Magic works! However, because Ms. Hoover is missing because of a stomach flu, Lisa starts to feel guilty, scared that she did this.

After school Lisa runs back to the woods, desperate to find the Wiccans and get some answers. Luckily they’re all in that exact same spot, and when Lisa finds them she just starts grilling them. They just kind of act mysterious and vague to Lisa, implying that they actually do have magical powers, but won’t really tell her anything. However, they do succeed in convincing Lisa that Wicca is super up her alley, and get her to join their coven.

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And as soon as Lisa joins she becomes a huge fan. She heads home and begins spending all of her time on the internet, learning more and more about Wicca. Which then leads to her dressing up as a witch and playing around with Snowball pretending to have powers. And this was a bad call. Because while she’s cavorting about Ned happens to spot her, and of course gets thrown into a tizzy. Because now Ned thinks that Lisa is a dangerous witch.

Meanwhile, Homer and Cleetus have been hanging out regularly, refining Homer’s ability to be the best moonshine taster in the city. The two start hitting all of the distilleries in town, basically going on a hobo wine tour, and Homer becomes the absolute master. Which obviously lead to him judging some sort of moonshine competition. Unfortunately, when the police arrive to raid the competition the hillbillies have to toss their stills down a cliff and into the river, and flee for their lives. Exciting!

And the police sure are busy, because we also see Lisa and her Wiccan friends getting arrested while meeting in the middle of the woods. Apparently Springfield has laws against witchcraft, which means that Lisa’s Wiccan friends are about to be put on a witch trial. The girls try to remain cool though, and when they’re brought to the courthouse they end up speaking some sort of incantation, hoping the scare the town.

Which works pretty damned great. Especially when, for seemingly no reason, a bunch of random people in town start to go blind. Uh oh. This certainly convinces the town that the girls are both magical and a menace, so things aren’t looking very good for them when the trial comes around. And when they realize this the girls drop their act and start panicking like crazy. They try to tell the court that they aren’t magical, and that the blindness was just a coincidence, but things don’t look good.

So Lisa decides that she needs to testify for the girls, trying to convince Judge Snyder that they’re good people. And, shockingly, she succeeds. Judge Snyder lets the girls go and clears them of all charges. Success! Well, until they leave the courthouse and find that the people of Springfield don’t care about the verdict, and are ready for some mob justice. They end up capturing the witches, and bring them to a lake where they plan on doing some old-school torture, dunking the witches into the lake to see if they die.

And as the crowd surrounds the lake, ready to drown the witches with the approval of Reverend Lovejoy and Mayor Quimby, things look bleak. That is until Lisa shows up, having figured the whole thing out. Turns out that when the police raided that moonshine competition, the still were thrown into the river and the bad booze ended up infecting the reservoir, poisoning people all around town. Homer uses his refined pallet to test this, and confirms that there is moonshine in the city’s drinking water. So the girls are let go, the Wiccans thanks Lisa, and everyone moves on with their lives.

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This is actually a pretty interesting episode. When I was first watching the episode I was kind of ready to write it off as yet another knock-off of a better episode. Because Lisa meeting some girls who convince her to become a Wiccan sure does seem like Lisa deciding to become a Buddhist. But things take a drastic turn after that, and I ended up becoming very intrigued by the episode. The Homer moonshine stuff was a lot of fun, and its super great that it ended up influencing the ending of the main plot, but the real hook for the episode is all the witch stuff. I absolutely love the idea that Springfield is still scared of witches, and has no trouble drowning a bunch of innocent girls just because some people happened to go blind. That’s so perfectly Springfield, and it was a blast. The first half of the episode is a little dull, setting up all of the Wiccan stuff, and it really got me to assume that we were headed for a half-hearted story where Homer or Marge dislike the new religion, and then learn to begrudgingly accept it. But then things zag instead or zig, and this episode turns bonkers. Which is exactly what I needed. The last couple of weeks have had a lot of episode that were incredibly predictable. Whether it was from the fact that they felt like covers of better episodes, or just uninspired script-writing, things have been pretty easy to figure out. But not this episode. I sure didn’t expect this episode to turn into a full-on witch hunt. Which is great.

Take Away: Correlation doesn’t equal causation, and just because some moody teenagers say that they’re cursing you doesn’t mean they actually have powers. Oh, and don’t kill witches!

 

“Rednecks and Broomsticks” was written by Kevin Curran and directed by Bob Anderson and Rob Oliver, 2009.

 

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