Well folks, we’ve made it through another Season of the Simpsons. Goodbye Season 24! And what better way to close things off than with a ridiculous episode about marital infidelity, trains, and Seth MacFarlane? Well, I could probably think of some better ways, especially the inclusion of Seth MacFarlane, but this is what we got.
The story starts off with a flashback, roughly nine years ago. It’s Homer and Marge’s first wedding anniversary and they walking around with baby Bart in a fancy outdoor mall in Springfield. They’re having a nice time, being in love while trying to ignore how incredibly naughty Bart is being, and talking about their marriage. And then, to make things better, Ned strolls by and offers to watch Bart for the day so Marge and Homer can go have some romantic times.
They immediately take him up on that offer, and the pair begin strolling all around the mall, finding romantic things to do together. They go to a spa, have some nice food, and end the day by riding on a train throughout the mall that’s called the Little Lisa. It’s one of the best days Homer and Marge have ever had together, and they promise to always have great anniversaries from here on out.
We then cut to present day, where Homer and Marge are about to have their tenth anniversary, and Homer has brought Bart and Lisa to that same mall, which has completely gone down hill. The place is pretty disgusting now, and everything is being closed. Homer was apparently scouting the place as a possible anniversary gift, to recreate that day, but it’s in no shape to bring Marge. However, he does find that they’re decomissioning that train, which they named Lisa after, so Homer decides to do something crazy, and buy the old rundown train.
Meanwhile, Marge is at home getting her anniversary gift for Homer all set up. And it’s pretty lame. She’s just going to buy Homer a whole case of his favorite cupcakes, which are made by Dolly Madison. However, as she’s putting in her credit card information Patty and Selma point out that she isn’t on the Dolly Madison site. She’s on a site called Sassy Madison that’s designed for married people to find each other and have affairs.
Marge is obviously horrified that she put her information on to this site, especially when she’s absolutely inundated with requests from all of the sad men of Springfield. And, because Marge is the nicest person on Earth, she decides that she owes these creeps to be let down personally, each and every one of them. So she gets to work, handcrafting rejection emails to every single one of the sad weirdos.
And while Marge is writing sad rejection letters Homer has brought the train to Moe’s where the guys, and Reverend Lovejoy are going to help him refurbish it so it’s just as nice as their memory was. But this is going to require Homer keeping it a secret. So when he heads home and Marge tries to talk to him about the mixup she had that day with his anniversary present, he decides to throw her off the trail by implying that he forgot it was even coming up.
This backfires. Homer thought he was being smooth, helping with the surprise, but Marge ends up getting furious that Homer has forgotten year another anniversary. And as she’s getting furious she ends up getting one more message on Sassy Madison, this time from a guy named Ben. Marge rejects him, and he ends up thanking her for the rejection, telling her she’s too nice for this website. And then, because Homer is driving her crazy, she ends up striking up a conversation with Ben, and spends the whole night messaging back and forth with him.
The next morning Marge is really panicking, not sure why she spent the whole night talking to this random dude. So she tries to talk to Homer about it, but because he’s so obsessed with keeping the train thing a surprise, he just acts like an asshole, worried if he keeps the conversation going he’ll spoil everything. He then just runs off to work, making Marge feel even more neglected, and making everything even worse.
But things can still get weirder! Because as Marge is running her errands that day she continues to occasionally message Ben. And when she’s at the supermarket she makes a startling discovery. She can hear the sound of the app responding to her. Ben is in the supermarket. And he finds her, and immediately strikes up conversation. Marge is more than a little creeped out, but when Maggie decides to scare off the strange man by spraying ketchup on him, Marge feels that she has to help him clean up.
They then go to a small cafe in the supermarket, Marge cleans off his shirt, and the two begin talking, while Maggie watches on, furiously. And, almost immediately, Ben begins ranting and raving to Marge about his horrible wife. Marge gets really awkward about the whole thing, but they end up finding some common ground when they discuss their mutual love for some Downton Abbey show that their spouses both hate. But when Ben awkwardly asks if Marge wants to watch the season finale with him that night she gets freaked out and runs off.
That night Marge prepares to watch her show, but first she wants to talk to Homer, to try and connect with him. But as she’s attempting to do this he gets a call from Moe, because there’s something going wrong with the train, and he has to rush out again. Which pisses off Marge, forcing her to watch the show by herself. But, as she’s watching it, she gets a message from Ben again, and the two end up watching the show together, through their computers.
We then reach the day of Homer and Marge’s anniversary, and things don’t seem to be going well. Not that Homer knows though. Marge wakes up that day, only to find Homer in the bathroom, seemingly wracked in pain. He tells Marge that he’s thrown out his back, and that he needs her to go refill his muscle relaxer prescription in some weird drug-filled town several hours away. Which does very little to make Marge feel the romance of the day.
Obviously Homer is faking this injury, and is just using this as an excuse to get Marge out of the house so he can set up the train. But Marge doesn’t see it that way, she sees it as another salvo from Homer against their relationship. So as Homer and the guys begins setting up the train Marge is furiously driving toward this weird drug-town to get the pills refilled, thinking about Ben and a man who could maybe make her happy.
But as she’s driving, having an imaginary Ben try to convince her to run off with him and start a new life together she decides that that’s not what she wants, and returns home. She’s ready to be disappointed by Homer, like she is most years, but when she gets out of her car she’s shocked to find Homer, the kids, and the train. And, immediately she swoons. She then gets to have a nice party with all of her friends and family, enjoying her anniversary. Until Ben and his wife show up, since she found out that Ben’s been talking to Marge. Marge tries to deflect the situation, and give Ben and his wife some marital advice, but it all comes off as pretty horrible. But, eventually, Homer and Marge’s happiness just creeps out Ben and his wife, and they leave the party, letting everything go back to normal.
This is one of those episodes that just kind of felt fine to me, while also comprising of a lot of things I’ve already seen. Hell, the central idea of this episode, that Homer messed up a special holiday so Marge gets irritated and thinks about having an affair with a more technically compatible man is the same premise as “Life in the Fast Lane,” from way back in Season One. And this episode doesn’t really do much that’s more interesting than that episode. Yeah, the idea that Homer is actually trying to be a good husband, and do something romantic for Marge is different, but the central conflict that Marge has to solve throughout the episode is basically the same. And at this point in the show we know Marge is never going to be wooed by some other man. She and Homer always end up fixing things. So these episode about their marriage being in jeopardy just don’t really do anything for me anymore.
Take Away: Yeah, secrets can sometimes lead to romantic moments, but maybe don’t be so fixated on them that you put your marriage in jeopardy.
“Dangers on a Train” was written by Michael Price and directed by Stephen Dean Moore, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons