Lifetime of Simpsons

S22 E22 – The Ned-liest Catch

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Well folks, we’ve crossed another season off the list. Today we end the twenty second episode of the Simpsons. And, like I said yesterday, I think that “500 Keys” maybe would have been a better season closer, but I completely understand why they chose to end things with this season. Why wouldn’t you want an off-season gimmick keeping people interested? But we’ll get to that.

The story starts off with a pep-rally going on in Springfield Elementary. The students are super psyched because the girls basketball team has just won a big game, and everyone is excited to see them. Unfortunately it turns out that the whole team got food poisoning at their own personal party, leaving the only member of the team who wasn’t invited to the party to attend. And of course it’s Lisa, the equipment manager.

No one is really interested in Lisa, and chaos quickly spreads among the pep-rally, full of children being disappointed. Skinner decides that he’ll just give the kids an hour to play, which causes them all to cheer. So of course Lisa has to announce that she has a speech written, ruining the kids’ hour. So rebellion begins to brew, and Bart instigates a revolution, trying to get the kids to just leave and play. It causes a massive riot of children, with all of the teachers trying their best to fix thing. Which is when Edna makes a devastating mistake. She gets a hold of Bart, and ends up slapping him in the back of the head.

Everyone stops rioting immediately, and are horrified that Edna has just struck a child. Especially Edna. She has no idea what got a hold of her, and she’s taken to a conference between her, Skinner, Chalmers, and Homer and Marge. Edna is incredibly repentant, horrified that she did this, while Homer and Marge don’t really seem to care that much. But Chalmers’ hands are tied, and he’s forced to put Edna on suspension with pay until a hearing can be held to see if she’s allowed to continue being a teacher.

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But it’s not going to be a paid vacation. Because, for some reason, Edna has to spend all of her work-hours in some sort of weird teacher prison, sitting with other teachers awaiting their hearings, day after day until they can finally give her a decision. Which is a huge bummer. Edna basically sits around in this weird bureaucratic prison, going slowly insane, until something shocking happens to give her something interesting to do.

While Edna is sitting around being bored she’s suddenly approached by Bart, who is hiding in the air vents. He’s sorry that he caused the incident that made Edna get stuck in this situation, and wants to help her out. So Edna meets with him in the bathroom and he shows that he’s made a dummy of her, giving her the ability to sneak out of the center so no one will notice, giving her a little bit of freedom. So, against her better judgment, Edna agrees to sneak out of the place.

Bart and Edna then get ready to flee the building, and use a handy ladder that is welded onto the wall outside the bathroom. Bart is able to quickly scurry down the ladder, but Edna has some problems. She’s terrified of the heights, and as she makes her way down something goes wrong and the ladder falls off the wall, and is about to spill her down into the road. Bart runs off to find someone to help, but it’s too late. Edna falls from the ladder. And is caught by Ned Flanders.

Ned was just walking by and happened to see Edna in distress, and of course did the right thing. Edna is incredibly grateful for being saved, obviously, and she ends up chatting with Ned. And, things quickly turn flirtatious. Ned and Edna really hit it off, and they decide to go get coffee together. Once in the café they keep chatting, and bond a bit over discussing their shared acquaintance with the Simpsons. They also talk about their former spouses, with Ned talking about Maude’s death and Edna talking about her husband’s affair and divorce.

But things went really well, so as Ned walks her back to the teacher prison they agree to see each other again. We then get a montage of Ned and Edna beginning a relationship, and actually having a great time. They really click and seem to be really happy together. Which is when Edna is approached by Chalmers, and told that he can rehire her now, freeing her from the torture of the teacher prison, and getting her job back.

So things are going great! Except for one issue. Ned has a huge hang up about premarital sex, as we learned in that episode where he dated a movie star, and their relationship has kind of hit a weird speed bump. But Edna’s able to deal with that, and they just keep having a good time. Even though it really weirds Bart out to see his teacher hanging out at his neighbor’s house. However, that ends up creating an issue with Bart, which begins to fester.

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Things also get problematic when Edna starts to see how Homer treats Ned. She’s not cool with that, and she ends up yelling at Homer, telling him to be nicer. She even makes him give back all of the various things that Homer has “borrowed” over the years. So now Homer and Bart are irritated with Edna and Ned’s relationship, and decide that they need to do something to destroy it, for their own good.

Homer then comes up with a brilliant plan. He invites Ned over to Moe’s one evening, and starts loudly talking about how happy he is that Ned has formed a relationship with Edna. Which inspires all the creepy people in the bar, including Comic Books Guys, Skinner, and Joey Kramer from Aerosmith, to talk about how they’ve all spelt with Edna before. Which was something that Ned was completely unaware of.

Ned freaks out, because he’s a prude and a jerk, and ends up fleeing from Moe’s, angry that Edna has never spoken about her past before. Which makes Homer feel like shit a bit, because he’s realized that Ned actually is really happy, and now he doesn’t want to ruin their relationship. But he may be too late. Ned then goes to spend time with Edna, and is acting incredibly weird. She notices that something is wrong, and they end up having a huge fight about her sexual past. Always fun.

But Homer comes to the rescue, and ends up talking some sense into Ned. He tells Ned that none of that matters, and if he’s happy it’ll all be fine. Ned actually listens to this, and returns to tell Edna that he forgives her for having lots of sex. Which she is super not cool with. She yells at Ned a bit for being a sanctimonious prude, telling him that this shouldn’t be something he forgives, just something he accepts. She then gives Ned an ultimatum, telling him that if he can’t get over this, they’ll never be together.

The episode then ends on a weird note. Things end and we’re suddenly brought to Homer and Marge, who tell us that the show has decided to leave this up to the audience. They inform us that during the off season there will be a poll up on the website, and whatever people decide will therefore be canon. They promise that the writers won’t ruin it, and whatever the fans want will stick. So I guess we’ll figure out how that pans out tomorrow!

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Overall I enjoyed this episode. It feels very much like things we’ve seen before, but I think it was well-written enough that it worked for me. Seeing Bart do something horrible and get Edna put in career jeopardy is something we’ve seen. Having Edna start a relationship with someone is something we’ve seen. Seeing Ned is something we’ve seen. Seeing Ned be a prude and not be able to put aside sex is something we’ve seen. And yet, this episode took some very familiar plot threads and was able to weave them into something different, that worked really well for me. I think the whole fan-poll gimmick is a little silly, but as long as the show keeps it going, and doesn’t go back on their promise (at least until Marcia Wallace passed) I’ll be fine with it.

Take Away: People’s sexual pasts are none of your business. Don’t be an asshole and just accept people for who they are.

 

“The Ned-Liest Catch” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 2011.

 

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