Well, today’s a big day folks. This is the 500th episode of the Simpsons, and thus the 500th entry in the Lifetime of Simpsons. Holy crap. We still have more than a hundred episodes to go, but we’re rapidly approaching the finish line. It’s been a hell of a ride folks! We’re also knocking on the door of the second anniversary of this project. When I started this whole thing I did it as more or less of a lark. But this has actually become a pretty large part of my life, and I’ve found myself growing even more emotionally attached to this show than ever before. Which has been awesome! But let’s focus on the episode at hand, which begins with a pretty fantastic montage of every couch gag, which was a delightful trip down memory lane. But once that’s done the episode itself begins. And it’s fine!
The episode begins with a bang, with the Simpsons watching Kent Brockman as he frantically informs them that America and China have just started a nuclear war! Uh-oh! However, it’s quickly established that this is a drill. Apparently the government of Springfield has realized that its townsfolk are panicky idiots, and there are now regular drills to prepare the citizens for any number of horrible scenarios so they’ll be a little less horrible.
So the Simpsons, and Grandpa, head outside and into a storm shelter that they’ve installed for just such events. Everyone is pretty obstinate about the whole thing, and they just complain the whole time. The family piles down into the shelter, and quickly devolve into squabbling. Bart ends up eating all of their powdered food, getting into a huge fight with Homer that obviously leads to a bunch of strangling and heightened emotions.
But after a while they all settle down, and just start to get bored. This drill is supposed to last 3 hours, and they don’t think they can last that long. So, as a family, they decide that they should do something reckless. They’re going to leave their shelter and play around in the town when everyone else is down in their own shelters. Surprisingly everyone is down with this idea, so the Simpsons leave their shelter, hop in the car, and begin driving all around town.
And while they’re doing so they notice something odd. There’s a whole bunch of cars at Town Hall, almost as if every single person in town is actually inside having a meeting. Which is obviously strange. So they pull over and sneak into Town Hall, trying to figure out what’s going on. And the answer is a little shocking. Because everyone in town actually is inside. And they’re having a meeting about how much they hate the Simpsons, and how they’re going to vote to banish them from the town.
So that’s not great. The town unanimously votes to expel the Simpsons from Springfield, and they have no choice but to make themselves known. Everyone is shocked that the Simpsons have found them, since they manufactured this whole fake disaster drill just to keep them occupied, but it sure isn’t changing their minds. So the Simpsons have no choice but to get up to the podium and try to reason with the town.
But the townsfolk stay steadfast. They insist that the Simpsons are to be expelled from the city, and explain their reasoning. They say that the town is sick of paying for Homer’s drunken antics, Bart’s vandalism, and Lisa’s half-baked environmental projects. Oh, and they consider Marge the worst of all because she’s so good at manipulating the rest of the town into thinking that the Simpsons aren’t so bad, keeping the madness going.
And, now that the Simpsons know, it’s time to get the ball rolling. So they pile everyone into a float, tar and feather Homer, and kick them over the city lines. The Simpsons then have to get in their car with all of their belongings, and head off into the wild unknown to try and find a new place to live. Which is going to be hard, because they see that even Shellbyville is sick of them, and are banishing them as well.
They keep driving into the night though, and eventually have to pull over when Homer and Bart need to pee. And while they’re standing around peeing they’re suddenly approached by a crazy looking man with a shotgun. Turns out that he lives in a nearby encampment called the Outlands, which is on unincorporated land, making it an off the grid city for survivalists and lunatics. And, because they aren’t getting any better offers, the Simpsons decide to give it a shot.
The Simpsons then set up shop in the Outlands, living in a weird shack and embracing the weird post-Apocalyptic/hobo lifestyle that the Outlanders are using. And everyone loves it! Except Marge, she kinds of hates it all, but I guess she’s outvoted. The Simpsons get a hang of their new “city,” making friends, enemies, and hanging out with famous rapist Julian Assange, since this is apparently where Wikileaks is headquartered.
Marge just can’t get a hang of their new life though, and eventually Homer notices this and decides to do something to cheer her up. So he gets them some terrible Mr. Burns and Smithers disguises, and the two of them sneak back into Springfield. They run into Chief Wiggum almost immediately, but he buys the disguises, and they get to have a fun night, going all around Springfield and having a hell of a date, hoping no one spots them.
They even end the night heading over to their old house, and breaking in. They go upstairs, where their bed still is, and end up having sex. Which becomes awkward when Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney arrive in the house, because they’ve been squatting there. Homer and Marge try to sneak out, but they end up getting surrounded by the people of Springfield. Turns out Wiggum wasn’t fooled by their disguises, and has rounded everyone up to kick them out again. Which is the last straw for Marge. She ends up yelling at everyone, telling them that she no longer has any nostalgia for the town, and that she has a new appreciation for their new lives in the Outlands, where they’re allowed to do whatever they want.
Homer and Marge then return to the Outlands, and continue to live their lives, with a newfound appreciation for the freedom. Which is almost immediately spoiled when Lenny suddenly shows up on their property. The Simpsons capture Lenny, and he ends up admitting that he has been yearning for a simpler life, and when he heard Marge and Homer talking about the Outlands he decided that it sounded like the perfect place. Oh, and Carl is there too.
Against their better judgment Homer and Marge decide to let Lenny and Carl stay, figuring that just two Springfield citizens aren’t going to be enough to ruin the Outlands. But it’s not just Lenny and Carl. Because suddenly Moe is there, trying to open a new bar. And, just like that, the gentrification begins. All of the sudden every single damn person from Springfield abandons their old life and arrives in the Outlands, ready to just restart their lives. And, inevitably, they end up just recreating Springfield. Eventually all of the weird hobos who used to live in the Outlands flee, and the Outlands just becomes a carbon copy of Springfield, with everything going exactly back to the way it was at the beginning of the episode, just with a new town.
This episode is a little odd. It feels very similar to the Simpsons Movie, what with the Simpsons driving the people of Springfield so insane that they’re banished from the town, but it isn’t nearly as fun as that story. It’s not a bad episode, and it certainly has a bigger than normal feel to it that makes sense for the 500th episode, it’s just that it feels a little familiar. Which makes sense. There’s been 500 goddamn episodes of this show, they’re bound to repeat themselves. But we’ve seen the Simpsons been banished from Springfield, we’ve seen then start new lives in weird new towns, and we’ve seen Springfield the town give up and restart somewhere else. It’s just like when they ruined Springfield with garbage and moved the town down a few miles. So now there’s been at least three Springfield’s. Which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s still a more or less fun episode, it’s just kind of a bummer that the 500th episode just kind of felt super “been there, done that.” I was hoping for something fresh and new, but that’s okay. I’m sure they have stories for years.
Take Away: Don’t infuriate your whole town, because they will banish you without a second thought.
“At Long Last Leave” was written by Michael Price and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons