Hi everyone, and welcome back for another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And we have a pretty decent week here ahead of us. But the thing that’s most striking about this week, and today’s episode in particular, is the fact that it’s a shockingly solid Grandpa week, something we haven’t seen in quite some time. So let’s get on into it!
The story begins with Homer in the drive-thru at the old Gulp ‘N Blow, and he quickly gets mad that they now have a more healthy menu. However, they still have onion rings, so that’s what Homer decides to go with, despite some thought-clouds of Marge, Dr. Hibbert, and Bernice Hibbert telling him not to do this. However, some slight mental breakdown isn’t the only bad thing that’s going to be happening to Homer.
Because we see that inside the Gulp ‘N Blow the Squeaky Voiced Teen is having a pretty rough time. He’s facing a lot of time-sensitive distractions, and he’s about to explode, right as he’s supposed to be dealing with Homer’s onion rings. This causes him to blow up, and throw the hot onion rings out of the window, and right into Homer’s face, scalding him. Which means only one thing. It’s time to go talk to a sketchy lawyer and get a lawsuit going! RIP Lionel Hutz.
Homer only manages to get $5,000 from the settlement, but he’s happy with anything. Even though he was forced to put the money in a bank for Lisa’s future college tuition. However, when he goes to talk to the guys at Moe’s about this, they tell him that he’s insane. They explain that banks aren’t exactly secure, and the best option is to put all of that money into an online poker company, and just keep it safe there. Homer of course does this, and shockingly, Lisa is not thrilled.
But that’s not going to be our A-Plot today. Because around this same time Marge makes a startling discovery. She and Homer were supposed to have visited Grandpa at the Retirement Castle the day before, and they all just forgot. So Homer and Marge race over to the Retirement Castle, and make yet another startling discovery. The Retirement Castle has no idea where Abe is. He apparently wandered off a couple days ago, and no one knows where he went.
Marge and Homer obviously start to panic about this, and head into Grandpa’s room in the hopes that they find some clue to his whereabouts. Homer is about ready to give up immediately, just being bummed out to be in the room, but Marge ends up opening Grandpa’s footlocker, figuring that that’s where he keeps his most prized possessions. And inside they happen to find a coaster for a restaurant called Spiro’s that had a note from Abe written on it saying that it’s the place that changed his life.
So Homer and Marge head out to Spiro’s, which used to be a classy jazz club, and is not a rundown biker bar. Homer and Marge still head in, and try to get some answers from the bikers, who respond by beating Homer up. But he’s saved by Spiro, the owner, who actually does know who Abe is. Mainly because Abe used to work there, when he was a much younger man. Abe was a busboy who spent a lot of his time writing songs and hanging out with Spiro’s singer, Rita LaFleur. Well, until Spiro had to fire both of them for flirting too much.
Before we keep investigating Abe’s background though, it’s time to check in on that B-Plot. Because Lisa has still been bothered by the fact that her college money is tied up in a poker game. And, to make matters worse, she comes into the house one day and finds that Bart has been gambling on the site, using her money. And he’s down a bit. Lisa yells at him, but as she’s about to just log off and forget about it she decides that she should probably gamble a little bit and make up the money Bart lost. Which she quickly does. And, just like that, Lisa decides she enjoys playing poker, and starts playing it more and more.
Anyway, Spiro wasn’t a whole lot of help for Homer and Marge, but they decide to track down this Rita LaFleur and see if she would have any idea where Abe is. So they give her a call, and ask if she knows who Abe is. And she does. Because, as she says, Abe is her husband. What?! Homer and Marge are pretty flabbergasted by this, and they decide to race over to Rita’s apartment and figure out what the hell is going on.
Rita explains that she and Abe were very close back at Spiro’s, and when they got fired they decided to keep working together. They drifted through several bars, working together, and gradually falling in love. Oh, and this was apparently after Mona left Abe, because Homer was around, just too young to really remember this period of his life. Which gets a little shocking, especially when we learn that Abe and Rita got married at a courthouse.
However, we do get a slight clue as to why Homer can’t remember this when we see that he got stuck to Abe’s car as he and Rita were driving off, causing him to get a concussion. They raced Homer to the hospital, and as they were checking to make sure he was okay Rita gets word that she and Abe have been invited on a European tour. However, Abe can’t bring himself to leave Homer alone while he goes off with his new wife, and ends up telling Rita he can’t go. She decides to go by herself, and apparently they broke up, because Rita says she never saw Abe again.
Let’s finish off that Lisa story though. Because things have escalated! Lisa is apparently amazing at poker, and has amassed a fortune, getting her the tuition she needs to attend an Ivy League school. But, as her fortunes have risen so has her vanity, causing her to go all-in against someone who appears to be Sideshow Bob. And she loses. She loses every last cent that she was won. And she’s devastated. Until she learns that that wasn’t actually Sideshow Bob. It was Bart. He was apparently gambling against her to show her the folly of her hubris or something, and he got all of the money. Well, until the people behind the site realized that both he and Lisa were underage, at which point they have Bart back the original $5,000 and told them to scram. So they’re back where they started.
Anyway! Homer and Marge are still reeling about what they’ve learned from Rita, but they didn’t really get any leads on his location. She hasn’t spoken to Abe since she left for Europe, and has no idea where he might be. Until she decides to give Homer some of Abe’s old cologne, which they know he still wears. This makes them decide to research the cologne, and they find that there’s only one store in town that still sells it.
So they head there, and are shocked to find Abe working there. He explains that he’s pissed that Homer treats spending time with him like a chore, and Homer ends up apologizing. After listening to Rita’s story Homer has realized the amount that Abe gave up over the years for Homer, and he promises to do a better job. Homer and Marge then bring Abe back to the Retirement Castle, where he finds something surprising waiting for him. Rita! The two have a nice reunion, and close the episode out by playing a duet together.
I really like this episode. I think Abe Simpson is a fascinating character, and it’s a shame that he hasn’t been getting a whole lot of stories in the last couple of seasons. It used to be that at least once a season we’d get a great Grandpa story, which just isn’t the case anymore. And this episode is a lot of fun. I will say that I think the time period that they were discussing didn’t quite feel right, since Mona left in the late-sixties and it really feels like Spiro’s was from the forties or something, but that’s a minor quibble. Because I really got swept up in this weird story where we learn that Grandpa has a more artistic side of his life, and that he married a black woman in the sixties. That’s pretty nuts! Kind of so nuts that it makes no sense that it never would have come up in the past 24 years, but whatever, that’s a dumb complaint. All that matters is that I love seeing Grandpa’s past fleshed out, and making his past this interesting is something I greatly appreciate.
Take Away: Don’t take your parents for granted, and learn about the part of their lives that didn’t involve you.
“Gone Abie Gone” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons