Hey folks, we’ve made it through another week! Hooray! And, to make things better, we’re ending the week on another episode that heavily features Grandpa. Which is awesome. Plus, it’s an episode that made me incredibly emotional, and I definitely think that if you’re a dog person this one is going to hit you hard.
Things start off in the Springfield town square where some sort of competition is going on hosted by Mr. Burns. It’s ostensibly for people to come and demonstrate alternative energy methods, and in reality it’s just yet another chance for the people of Springfield to look like idiots. Such as Otto powering a bus through slave-labor, Apu’s perpetual motion hotdog machine, and Professor Frink showing off a car that’s powered by sound waves.
However, it’s Professor Frink’s that actually has an impact, because when the car goes wildly off course the screams of bystanders powers it up to ramming speed, and it ends up crashing into the Retirement Castle, and destroying part of it. And, of course, the part of the Castle it destroyed was Grandpa’s room, which means he’s going to have to come live with the Simpsons for a while until the building can be repaired.
So the Simpsons get ready to go help move Grandpa out of the Retirement Castle, when Homer starts to cause a fuss. He claims that his back is in too much pain to help much, and he ends up preemptively annoying Marge to the point that she just tells him to stay home. So, successful, Homer starts lounging around the house, playing with a new MyPad he apparently got. And while looking around for something to do he ends up finding a little game called Villageville, where he can build his own Medieval village.
And Homer becomes addicted instantly. Homer ends up spending his entire day wandering around the house, eating snacks and building a ridiculously impressive Medieval village. Well, until the rest of the family return home from moving Grandpa all day. They’re less than pleased that Homer spent the entire day doing imaginary chores while they actually worked. Oh, and to make matters worse, Santa’s Little Helper appears to be missing.
Homer doesn’t really care about Santa’s Little Helper, but everyone else does, especially Bart. They begin searching all around the house, and Bart prepares to run through the whole town, in the dark, until he finds the dog. Luckily though, he doesn’t have to do that, because they end up finding Santa’s Little Helper stuck inside a Lazy Susan in the kitchen, where he’s apparently been stuck all day. And Homer is the one who got him stuck there.
The rest of the family begin showering Santa’s Little Helper with love, except Homer, and that is quickly picked up by the rest of them. And they call Homer out on it, asking why he’s such a jerk to Santa’s Little Helper. Homer just replies that he’s not much of a dog person, and hopes to leave it at that. Until Grandpa points out that that wasn’t always the case, and mentions a dog named Bongo. Which causes Homer to freak out in fury, and storm out of the room.
So, obviously, everyone else wants to know who the hell Bongo is. Grandpa then settles down and prepares to tell them the story. Turns out Bongo was Homer’s childhood dog, who he had when he was a little boy. Homer loved Bongo, and the two went everywhere together, becoming best friends. Until Mr. Burns showed up. Because when Burns arrived in Springfield in the 70’s to build his Plant he held a big party for people, and while giving a speech he ended up trying to push little Homer away, and Bongo bit him.
Abe manages to get Homer and Bongo away from Burns, but Burns wouldn’t give up and sent out a dog catcher to come find Bongo and kill him. Oh, the dog catcher is of course a young Wiggum, who is hanging out with little Lou, who is his “Little Brother.” Anyway, Abe manages to avoid the dog catcher, but realizes that Bongo is never going to be safe. So he decides to contact a former neighbor of his who is now living out in the country with her wife, and who has a whole bunch of animals. Abe and Homer went to the house and dropped Bongo off, figuring that at least he’ll get to be alive here.
Despite this plan making a lot of sense though, little Homer was devastated. This was right around when Mona left, and losing his best friend too is really hard on Homer, causing he and Abe’s relationship to be forever strained. Oh, and to make matters worse, Mr. Burns didn’t accept this ending and decided to further punish Abe by making him take care of his hounds in secret, while also insisting he always wear slippers and bolo ties.
The family are all pretty moved by this story, except Homer, who has snuck back into the room. He tells the family that this wasn’t the real story, and tells them his recollection. Which is insane and revolves around Abe getting rid of Bongo because he was evil. And, as he’s telling the story, Homer realizes it makes no sense. He has to confront the fact that he’s been made at Abe for years for something that he didn’t even remember right.
But there still was one part of the story that Homer remembered that Abe didn’t tell. Turns out sometime after Bongo was given away Homer ran away and headed back to the house in the country to save Bongo. And when he got there he found Bongo loving his new owners, not seeming sad at all. And that betrayal is what made Homer not like dogs, because he assumed they’re all fickle. But, Grandpa has a way to fix that too. Because it turns out he’s secretly had a Christmas card that that woman sent him all those years ago, showing an older Bongo still cuddling with a sweater of Homer’s showing that the dog never stopped loving him. This really moves Homer, and he ends up forgiving Abe, and hugging him. We then see Grandpa and Homer taking a nap on the couch, both cuddling with Santa’s Little Helper.
This is one of those episodes where I’m not sure if it’s objectively good, but it certainly got an emotional response out of me. Stories about dogs are one of those tropes that are pretty emotionally manipulative, but I don’t care, they work on me. I found myself getting really invested in this episode, and it really moved me. Yeah, seeing silly stuff like Wiggum and Lou being friends in the 70’s or an explanation for why Grandpa always wears bolo ties is just fun and silly, but the emotional core at the heart of this episode really clicked for me. I’ve always been a dog guy, and have had several close relationships with dogs over the course of my life, including the broken little mess of a dog my wife and I currently have. And I love them. They’re all such wonderful creatures, and seeing Homer’s hurt in the episode makes sense. He’s acting like a fussy baby, but I would too. Animals can really cut deep and make us revert to immature states, and I’m not going to lie, the end of this episode made me tear up. Hell, I’m tearing up writing about it now! Like I said, I don’t know if this is actually a good episode, or just a manipulative one, but I really connected with it. Now go hug your pet.
Take Away: Love your pets!
“To Cur, with Love” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons