Well folks, let’s put yesterday’s unpleasantness behind us and move on with things. And you know what? We’re in Season 24 now! And we have a very okay episode to talk about! Because who wasn’t clamoring to see the continuation of the love affair between Bart Simpson and Cleetus’ daughter Mary who Bart only kind of was romantically involved with?
The episode begins with Kent Brockman telling us that Springfield is now hosting a Grand Prix auto-race. Which is a terrible plan, because they didn’t think to fix the streets of their town, causing bizarre traffic jams and accidents. Oh, and a Tour de Springfield bike race is also going on at the same time, causing further chaos. And, if that wasn’t enough, they were also letting civilians drive around town during all of this chaos.
And, of course, one of the civilians trapped in this insane traffic is Homer, with the rest of the family in tow. It causes a lot of damage, and Homer gets very pissed off. But it’s all worth it, because there’s a big gala that night for all the surviving racers, and the random townspeople who show up. The whole town shows up at this gala, and everyone begins dancing and having a great time. Well, except for one person.
Bart. He doesn’t have any sort of date, and is spending his time heckling Lisa and Bart, who despite some awkwardness, at least are having a decent time together. Bart keeps making fun of Lisa, mocking her for having to dance with Milhouse, until Lisa just can’t take it anymore, and lashes out. She tells Bart that at least she was able to get a date, and mocks the fact that he never can keep a girl interested in him for more than a couple days.
And this really hits Bart. He kind of laughs it off at first, but the next day Bart is sitting in his room looking at pictures of all of his various failed relationships, and he realizes that Lisa made a good point. Bart really starts to freak out, and ends up asking Homer how he landed Marge in the hopes that he can get ideas on how to actually make a relationship work. But Homer just explains that Marge only stayed with him because of Bart, so that’s not really a lot of help.
So Bart decides to do something incredibly shortsighted. He’s going to wander around Springfield and meet with various girls that he had temporary relationships with and see if they miss him or still want to be friends. And they don’t! He goes through his entire list of girls, except for one. Mary Spuckler, the daughter of Cleetus who helped Bart raise a cow one time, and who he almost had to marry do to complicated hillbilly laws. They were never actually in a relationship, it was just a weird miscommunication, but I guess he’s still going to count that.
However, when Bart gets over to Cleetus and Brandine’s house he finds that Mary no longer lives there. She apparently ran off when they tried to marry her off to some old man who lives in a well, and they haven’t seen her. So, Bart is heartbroken and heads home, confused why no one will ever love him. Until one of Mary’s brothers stops Bart, and tells him that he knows where Mary is. She’s apparently run off to New York.
Bart now knows where Mary is, but has no way to find her. He tries his best to convince the rest of the family that they should pay to go to New York so he can stalk some girl he kind of knows, and it’s a hard sell. Although they do get to make a lot of weird references to the last time they went to New York while doing everything they can to not bring up the World Trade Center! So that’s fun! However, they get past all of this and after agreeing to participate in some sort of house swap thing with some New Yorkers to save money the family agree to head back to the Big Apple!
We then cut straight to Times Square, where the Simpsons are awkwardly gawking at all of the buildings, looking like complete and utter tourists. They also see that the Khlav Kalash guy has really hit it big and has a massive restaurant. That’s nice. The family then splits up with Marge and Lisa on the hunt for cheap cultural enrichment while Homer and Bart hop on a subway and a taxi to track down Mary’s apartment.
And eventually they do find the apartment. But Mary isn’t there. Bart has a bit of a meltdown at this point, sitting on Mary’s stoop and just preparing to give up, when Mary ends up arriving. And she looks a lot different! She’s basically cosplaying Holly Golightly, and he’s thrilled to see Bart. The two start chatting, and they make a plan to go hang out together, as long as Homer isn’t around, because she’s worried that he’ll make her come back to Springfield.
Bart then manages to trick Homer into taking him to the place he’s supposed to meet with Mary, but keeps Homer away by going up a small flight of stairs. Bart and Mary then get to hang out in peace, and they end up having a great time. Mary talks about how much she loves her freedom and she even sings him a song that she apparently spontaneously wrote for him. And, by the end of the song they end up almost kissing. Which is when Cleetus show up! Oh no!
Oh, before we finish this out I think we should deal with an incredibly truncated B-Plot that was threaded throughout this episode. Lisa and Marge were trying to find something to do on the cheap in New York, and after seeing how expensive a Broadway show would be, they end up just going to Shakespeare in the Park. Unfortunately when they get there they find that the actors are squabbling, and there won’t be a show. But Lisa refuses to give up, and she and Marge end up inspiring a bunch of other audience members to put on their own production of Romeo and Juliet, until the police arrive to beat them up.
Anyway! Cleetus has arrived in New York, having tracked Mary down, and now he’s ready to just drag her back to Springfield. Mary resigns herself to this fate, and ends up coming with Cleetus and the Simpsons to a train station, where they prepare to head back to Springfield. But, while they’re waiting, Bart and Mary sneak away and Mary ends up boarding a different train. Bart and Mary have a kiss, and Mary heads off to someplace new. Cleetus shows up again and demands that Bart tell him where Mary went to, but Bart refuses, not wanting to betray Mary’s truth. Cleetus and the Simpsons them return to Springfield, where Bart is sad, but at least knows that someone is capable of liking him.
This is one of the most forgettable episodes I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s not a bad episode. It’s also not a good one. It’s just an episode that I feel absolutely nothing for. There’s really nothing new being given to us in this episode, and I feel like I’m going to forget it by next week. We’ve seen the Simpsons in New York. We’ve seen Bart have doomed relationships. Hell, we’ve even seen an episode that ends with this same moral, although it was Moe who had it. Bart learns that he’ll be okay in the future because if one person loved him that means someone else can love him again. We’ve seen that! There’s nothing in this episode that comes off as memorable to me. Plus, picking Mary Spuckler, a character that Bart legitimately didn’t have any sort of relationship with outside of helping Bart raise a cow and an accidental hillbilly marriage is such a weird choice to randomly decide is Bart’ long lost love. I don’t know folks, it’s fine. It’s just fine.
Take Away: Love is complicated, I guess.
“Moonshine River” was written by Tim Long and directed by Bob Anderson, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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