We’ve had a kind of hit or miss week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. Mostly miss. But today we’re ending the week on what is possibly the weirdest episode of the Simpsons I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a whole lot of the Simpsons. I don’t even know how to explain this episode. It’s all about Moe’s dishrag, and it’s fascinating.
The episode starts off with various townsfolk hanging out in Moe’s bar. But they aren’t there to drink, they’re there for a Town Hall meeting while Town Hall is being fumigated. They discuss the usual Springfield weirdness before it all logically devolves into a Lionel Ritchie dance-party. You know, local politics.
Things get a little weird though when the after-party thing gets going and Lenny and Carl start talking about best friends. Once that starts everyone begins talking about their friends, and they end up asking Moe who his best friend is. Which makes Moe suddenly very awkward and uncomfortable. He tries to avoid the question and move off the topic, when Lenny escalates things and starts making fun of Moe and saying that his best friend is his dish-rag.
Now, before this episode completely flies off the rails, we should establish the fact that there’s an incredibly lackluster B-Plot threaded throughout this episode. It all starts at this point during the best friend conversation, with Bart making fun of Milhouse. However, this time Milhouse won’t take it anymore, and storm out of the bar. Bart follows him back to his house, trying to apologize for being so rude, but Milhouse is sticking to his guns and won’t forgive Bart.
But that’s not going to come up again for quite some time. Because now it’s time to start focusing on Moe’s rag. Because after everyone started to make fun of him and his affection for his rag, Moe tosses the thing at the end of the bar. The camera then focuses in on the rag, and it begins to speak, with Jeremy Irons’ voice. Yeah, this episode is going to be narrated by Moe’s dishrag. Because this rag has had a hell of a life.
It was starts in Medieval France, where the Simpsons were peasants just trying to get by. Homer is a dumb soldier and Marge is a renowned seamstress, which comes in handy when the Duke of Springfield, Mr. Burns, shows up and demands that Marge make him a glorious tapestry about all of his fabled exploits. He gives her money and ten years to complete the massive tapestry. But as he’s leaving Burns runs into several sheep outside the Simpson’s house, and slaughters them for no reason.
For some reason this causes the sheep to utter a magical curse, making their wool “Demon Wool.” The Demon Wool doesn’t really seem to do much other than cause Marge to weave incessantly. Oh, and I guess it’s what brought the tapestry to life. Anyway, years pass and Burns finally returns for the tapestry. But he’s not pleased, because Marge didn’t actually weave what he asked. Instead she ended up weaving predictions of the future, showing what various owners of the tapestry will do in the centuries to come.
Burns is kind of confused about this decision, but actually ends up being pretty into it. He takes the tapestry, and decides to burn down the Simpson’s hovel just because he’s an asshole. However, as he’s riding back to his castle disaster strikes and Burns ends up falling off a cliff with the tapestry. It gets snagged on a tree and ends up strangling Burns to death. So the tapestry has claimed its first casualty, of many!
We then see that the tapestry ended up in a cathedral for quite some time, until some Vikings show up to sack the town it’s in. Viking Homer manages to break into the cathedral, and finds the tapestry. He thinks it’s funny that he’s on the tapestry, and he takes it, not thinking about the magical implications of this. Although when he sees that there’s a picture of himself eating the tapestry, he doesn’t ask questions and takes a couple bites.
Things jump ahead a bit from there and we see that the tapestry has made its way to the Middle East, and is in the possession of a cruel Persian King, played by Nelson. Nelson has a habit of forcing his wives to amuse him, otherwise he executes them. So when Lisa is brought in as a new wife she decides to start telling him stories. Yeah, it’s 1,001 Arabian Nights. Lisa succeeds in telling him 1,001 stories, before eventually leading a revolt among the wives, overthrowing Nelson’s empire.
The tapestry then just rapidly jumps around a couple locations, causing havoc wherever it goes. It bounces through Babylon, Athens, Carthage, and Spain, before ending up in Italy. The tapestry at this point is pretty small, basically just the rag that we know it to be. It gets picked up at some point of Michelangelo, who uses it to help him paint the Sistine Chapel. After this though it’s going to take a big jump.
We next see the tapestry during the Civil War, where it was used as a scrap of fabric put into a Confederate Flag, which is a bit of a bummer. It then ends up in some terrible soup during the Great Depression, trying to feed the Simpson’s during the Dust Bowl. But things get extra insane when it suddenly shows up as a flag in a failed expedition to Mt. Everest. Homer dies on the mountain with the rag, which is picked up by a kindly yeti. The yeti then brings the rag to its cave and gives it to its child, Moe.
Yeah, things have gotten to this point. But before we deal with these ramifications we need to close off that dumb Bart plot. He’s been obsessing over helping Milhouse during this whole time, and just keeps striking out. He even reads Milhouse an emotional letter about their friendship. Until it’s revealed Lisa wrote it for him. But Milhouse finally decides to forgive Bart, if he agrees to be punched. Bart does, and Milhouse calls in Drederick Tatum, who socks Bart hard in the arm. But they’re cool now, and move on. Cool.
Anyway, someone has stolen Moe’s rag. The night of the Town Hall meeting he was sleeping in the backroom of the bar, and we see a shadowy person taking the rag away from him. So when he wakes up the next morning he begins racing around town, trying to find the thief. And, eventually he finds it at the Simpson’s house. Marge was the one who took the rag, but no to be malicious. She saw how much Moe loved it at the meeting, and decided to clean it. So Marge gives him back the rag, newly clean, and Moe talks about how much the rag means to him. Until Marge explains that she and everyone else in the family are Moe’s friends too. This moves Moe enough to get rid of the rag, passing it on once again. But this time it’s picked up by Santa’s Little Helper, giving the rag a new relationship with someone who will love it forever.
This is a real episode. Look it up! I didn’t make any of that shit up! They seriously made an insane century spanning story narrated by Moe’s dishrag! And it’s kind of amazing! This episode is absolutely nuts, but I have a whole lot of fun with it. This easily could have been a lackluster triptych episode, trying to come up with three random stories set throughout time, but instead we just jumped all over the place, looked at fun little vignettes, and learned the history of this sentient rag that Moe uses to mop up beer. It’s such a bizarre choice, and drops a lot of weird bombshells on us, like Moe apparently being at least half-yeti, but it’s still a goddamn delight. I’m still kind of flabbergasted that this episode exists, but I had a hell of a time with it. I spend the entire runtime of this episode with my mouth agape, baffled that this episode was real. Which is kind of awesome. I’ve seen almost 500 episodes of this goddamn show, and it’s super great to be surprised. I kind of thought I’d seen it all, but I sure as hell hadn’t seen anything like this.
Take Away: Your rags are sentient and judging you.
“Moe Goes from Rags to Riches” was written by Tim Long and directed by Bob Anderson, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons