Lifetime of Simpsons

S24 E11 – The Changing of the Guardian

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Well folks, our week of shockingly lackluster episodes is still in full swing, so we just need to keep trucking along. I wish I could say that we were working our way to some redemption or something, but sadly we aren’t. This isn’t the worst episode of the week though, so I guess that’s something. Let’s get ready to talk about wills!

The episode begins with the Simpsons sitting around on a rainy day, trying to alleviate some boredom and get some family bonding taken care of by playing some board game called Emissaries of Byzantium, which appears to be Settlers of Catan. And everyone absolutely hates it. Luckily some excitement manages to arrive in the form of a goddamn tornado, which just rolls up right next to their house.

The family then race from the table and head outside to access an entrance to a storm cellar. But, as they’re getting down to safety Homer notices that the tornado has somehow managed to pick up Santa’s little Helper, and is flying him away. So, with no alternative, Homer chases after the tornado to save the family dog. But Homer is quite bad at this, and ends up getting pinned by the wind while the tornado leaves the area, with Santa’s Little Helper.

Homer doesn’t want to just let their dog be killed by nature though, so he decides they need to follow the tornado and save him. And, luckily, it turns out that Lenny and Carl are stormchasers, and they have a whole van full of equipment for tracking the storm. So Homer and Marge get in the van with Lenny and Carl and they begin driving around Springfield, hunting for the tornado, while arguing about weather and women. Like you do.

They eventually do find the tornado though, and it promptly destroys the van. Everyone is okay for a bit, even though the van is gone, until the tornado ends up picking up Carl. This ends pretty quickly though when the storm gently drops Carl and Santa’s Little Helper down in a field, ending the threat. Oh, and the tornado also drops a goddamn bank from the sky. It lands on top of Homer and Marge, and ends up pinning them inside a revolving door, locking them inside the wreckage.

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It quickly becomes evident that Homer and Marge are trapped inside this door, and they have to call the police. There’s some typical Springfield Police Department shenanigans, but eventually they call in a glass cutter who is able to free Homer and Marge. They then head home with Santa’s Little Helper, and are obviously freaked out about the whole incident. And while freaking out they realize that they’ve never legally assigned guardians for the kids, so if this whole incident had gone poorly the kids would have become wards of the state.

So Homer and Marge decide they need to find guardians for the kids. They almost immediately shoot down Abe, since he’s a horrible choice, so they need to track down someone willing to take care of the kids. And, against Homer’s wishes, Marge decides they should try Patty and Selma. But when they go over to Patty and Selma’s apartments they find that their parenting style is pretty extreme, because they’re making the rapidly aging Ling paint, dance, and play instruments at the same time. And they don’t want to subject Bart, Lisa, and Maggie to this kind of insanity.

Next up they decide that they should try outside the family, and go check their friends. They go ask Kirk and Luanne Van Houten, but see that that whole relationship is kind of on the rocks again, and don’t want the kids to deal with another potential divorce. Cleetus and Brandine are considered for a moment, but they don’t have enough space. And once they shoot out a couple times they make a startling discovery. The Simpson’s hunt has become gossip, and now everyone in town is actively trying to avoid them, since they don’t want to raise their kids.

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Homer and Marge then realize they have no choice but to do something absolutely insane. They’re going to have to go befriend some strangers from out of town and try to pawn the guardianship of their children off on them. Neat idea! So the kids have to get dressed up and the family hit the road, on the hunt for some suckers. They try to talk up some randos on the side of the road, but just keep striking out, until they reach some random beach.

The Simpsons decide to take a break in their insane journey, and hang out on the beach for a while. And while everyone is playing on the beach Bart suddenly notices a guy doing some really impressive surfing. Bart runs up to the guy, whose name is Mav, and starts talking with him. Turns out he’s a professional surfer, and he seems really cool. Oh, and his wife Portia shows up, and she ends up being an environmental lawyer.

So these people seem pretty perfect. Bart and Lisa instantly love these people, so Homer and Marge start awkwardly trying to befriend Mav and Portia. And after some chatting they end up being invited to Mav and Portia’s mansion on the beach for dinner. The two families have a great evening, and Marge eventually decides to just drop the proposition of becoming the kids’ guardians on them. Which is absolutely insane.

Portia kind of agrees, and she tells Marge that they’ll need to think about it. You’d think that would be the last we’d see of Portia and Mav, but this episode is insane, so a couple days later the Simpsons get a call from Portia and Mav who say that they’re in. They come over to the house and sign all of the paperwork, before asking Homer and Marge for a favor. They want to borrow the kids for a weekend, and get to know them a bit better. Homer and Marge agree.

Homer and Marge then plan for a fun weekend, just the two of them, and end up going out to have fun. But while they’re out they pass by a photography store, which is proudly displaying a Christmas card from Mav and Portia with Bart, Lisa, and Maggie on it. Which creeps out Homer and Marge, causing them to decide that Mav and Portia are trying to steal their kids. I don’t know, the episode’s almost over, we can do this.

Homer and Marge then race up to Mav and Portia’s ski lodge, where they assume the kids are being kept. And when they get there they find Mav and Portia with the kids, ready to explain what’s going on. Apparently Mav and Portia have decided to steal the kids because they thought Homer and Marge resented them, and figured they’d be fine with it. Because they’re lunatics? I don’t know, but as soon as they explain this Lisa and Bart shoot them down and say that they want to continue living with their parents. So they void the paperwork and return to Springfield, and everything goes back to normal.

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This episode is so incredibly strange. I think the idea of Homer and Marge realizing they don’t have guardians for their kids is odd to begin with, but probably could have led to an interesting story with them getting closer to some side characters. Instead they decided to have this baffling plot where Homer and Marge are desperate to find any random stranger who is willing to take their kids for them. And, luckily, they find a pair of psychopaths who are more than willing to steal their children from them. But they were a little too eager, which made them villains. I don’t know, everyone in this episode is just acting like lunatics. Except the kids I guess, who finally become voices of reason and explain that both sets of adults are being insane. Everyone is just so unlikeable in this episode. I feel like the premise would have been weird even if Mav and Portia had been established character that we actually knew, but making them complete strangers makes the whole thing that much weirder, and that much less easy to swallow.

Take Away: Don’t let your children be raised by weird strangers?

 

“The Changing of the Guardians” was written by Rob LaZebnik and directed by Bob Anderson, 2013.

 

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