Well folks, we’ve reached the end of this little week. Next week will be back to normal, but we’re closing shop early this week. And what an episode to close on. I’m not sure if Banksy was still super relevant in 2012, but I guess that whole thing was still big enough to need a whole episode about it!
The episode begins with Lisa heading into her parents room to try and wake a passed out Homer. It’s a hell of an ordeal, but she finally gets him to wake up, and tells him that Marge’s birthday is rapidly approaching, and she doesn’t want him to miss it. But, to her amazement, Homer is actually on the ball, and he has a pretty decent gift all planned out for Marge. He bought Marge some fancy food processor that’s sponsored by a famous TV chef that she loves. And, not only that, but the chef is doing some sort of signing that day, and Homer is going to go get it signed.
So Homer and the kids head out of the house with the processor, and go to a new grocery store in town. It’s a Trader Joe’s parody called Swapper Jack’s, which I’m also not sure was an exactly timely reference. But whatever, it’s the hot new grocery store in town, and every damn person in Springfield is here, buying their groceries. Which really bums out Apu, who is lurking around in the store, spying on everyone. Apu is super jealous that people are preferring this new store, and ends up getting in a huge fight with Home that escalates until they start dueling with cocktail swords. But eventually the staff captures Apu and kick him out of the store.
After that weird unpleasantness Homer and the kids head over to the table where celebrity chef Paula Paul is sitting, signing stuff. Homer gives her the processor to sign, and begins telling her all about Marge’s birthday, and how much she loves Paula. This makes an impression on Paula, who tells Homer that she’ll call Marge on her birthday, live on her show. Homer thinks that this is a great idea, and agrees that he’ll help make it happen.
We then cut to Marge’s birthday, where the family are presenting their gifts. Lisa gives Marge a new apron and Bart gives Marge a rabbit that looks exactly like the one she had when she was a girl. She loves it, but Homer promises that his gift is going to be even better. He gives Marge the processor, and then tells her that something great is about to happen. He then stands around the phone, waiting for it to ring.
And they wait for a whole long time. The agreed upon time that Paula would call comes and goes, and the family just sit around, waiting for the call. And, after a very long time, Marge just gives up, and becomes really underwhelmed by the whole gift. Homer is pissed though, and tries to investigate, eventually finding that the new rabbit chewed through their phone line. They then check their messages, and find that Paula called them, again and again, until she snapped and went on an anti-Marge tirade on her show. Which is a serious bummer on your birthday.
So Marge sulks off, saddened by this failed present, and Homer is pissed. So pissed that he decides to punish Bart, since he was the one who bought the rabbit. Specious reasoning, but whatever. Because Homer is about to do something insane. He makes Bart stay inside the rabbit cage as punishment. For the whole damn day. Bart is trapped inside this little cage, stewing in fury, for the entire day, and when Homer finally lets him out that night he decides he needs to do something extreme.
Bart then heads up to his treehouse, and gets to work making a stencil for graffiti. It’s a parody of the OBEY tag, with Homer’s face and the word DOPE underneath. He then heads out into Springfield, and begins tagging the whole town with his new design, putting it all over. The next day everyone is pretty confused about this new tag, and Homer never really puts it together that it’s him. But Bart had a good time, so he starts tagging Springfield every night, putting this new character, “Mr. Fatso” all over the place.
Oh, hey, in case you were wondering why this episode has Kwik-E-Mart in the title, and featured that Apu scene in the beginning, and were assuming that this was going to be an Apu episode, you’re wrong. But there is a really weird scene at this point where we see Apu attempt to rob the Swapper Jack’s, where Snake is now working. But Snake talks him down, and it’s all fine. Neat!
Anyway! Bart is continuing to put his Mr. Fatso tags all over town, and he’s decided to become a Banksy level street-artist. He and Milhouse plan bigger and bigger tags, even tossing in some environmental stuff after Lisa blackmails them once she figures out their identity. But one night when they’re out there tagging something weird happens. They’re approached by a group of weird men, who reveal themselves to be fellow graffiti artists. Bart and Milhouse are then introduced to Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf, and Robbie Conal.
Turns out they’ve come to Springfield because they’re heard about Bart, this rising star in the world of urban vandalism art. They love his work so much that they want to help him get a gallery started, letting people pay for his work. And Bart loves that idea. But before we see how that will pan out, we learn that Swapper Jack’s has closed because all of their meat turns out to have come from monkeys, letting Apu and the Kwik-E-Mart have a comeback. Cool?
Bart begins working on his gallery, still worried by the fact that Homer still hasn’t realized that he’s Mr. Fatso. But we see the gallery open, and everyone loves it. Except for the fact that this is clearly a dream, and it starts to fall apart. Bart suddenly moves into a stress dream, and ends up waking up because Homer is strangling him in real life. Yeah, Homer finally figured out that he’s Mr. Fatso, and he’s not pleased.
Homer’s obviously mad that Bart has made him a laughingstock, but Bart has bigger things on his mind. The gallery is opening for real, and that night is the big opening night. Everyone in town arrives at his gallery, ready to spend money of graffiti. But the fact that Homer is mad is really bothering Bart, so he heads out to find Homer and apologize. Homer forgives Bart, and the two head back to the gallery so Bart can give a big speech. Which is when everything falls apart. Because this whole gallery thing has been an elaborate ruse put on by Chief Wiggum, who then arrests Bart for vandalism. Turns out Shepard Fairey was a double agent! But Homer doesn’t want to see Bart go to jail for vandalism, so they somehow work out a weird arrangement where Bart doesn’t get in trouble and instead is locked in a rabbit cage where he’s forced to sign autographs for people. I have no idea what that meant, or why that kept him from getting in trouble.
I am not a fan of this episode. And for a wide variety of reasons. I think it’s incredibly weird that this episode had Kwik-E-Mart in the title, and established the whole Apu drama in the beginning, and then does essentially nothing with it. I also think that it’s very odd that they had a whole episode about Bart becoming one of these famous graffiti artists, seemingly years after that trend was popular. The idea of sticking in a bunch of famous graffiti artists doing cameos is kind of cool I guess, but it didn’t work that well for me. But the real issue I have with this episode is the whole weird Homer stuff. Homer locked Bart in a rabbit cage for a day? And then gets to be mad when Bart lashes out? It’s so weird! And then that ending! What the hell was that?! They lock Bart in a cage so he can sign autographs? It’s just so weird, and it feels like they had no idea how to end the episode and reset everything back to the status quo. It’s just a really muddled and strange episode. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.
Take Away: Never accept an art gallery offer. It’s all a scam.
“Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart” was written by Marc Wilmore and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons