Well, after Monday’s joy of a Treehouse of Horror and whatever the hell yesterday was, let’s get everyone nice and bummed out by having an episode all about mid-life crises and failed potential. Super fun! Oh, plus we get a lot of talk about YOLO, because this was very much an episode from 2013!
The episode begins with Bart and Milhouse hanging out in Bart’s room, building some sort of rector-set roller-coaster. They’ve completed the giant course, and Bart’s about to send the little cart down on the inaugural journey, when something inside of Milhouse snaps. He suddenly remembers a lifetime of Bart getting to go first, and making him play second fiddle, and he isn’t going to stand it anymore. He demands that he get to use the track first, which starts a squabble between him and Bart that ends with the course destroyed.
Which is when Bart decides he’s done with Milhouse for the day. He tells Homer and Marge to call Kirk, and get Milhouse picked up, because they’re fighting now. Which means Homer and Marge are going to have to hang out with Milhouse until Kirk can pick him up, since Bart doesn’t want to be with him. And Homer and Marge quickly realize that they can’t stand Milhouse. But they suffer with him until Kirk finally comes rolling up to the house.
And they’re pretty shocked. Because Kirk is driving in a new sports car, and is all decked out in Mercedes Benz stuff. Homer and Marge take note of this, and ask Kirk what’s going on. He explains that he’s recently discovered the concept of You Only Live Once, and has decided to splurge on himself. He insists that this is not about a midlife crisis, but it’s pretty obvious that it is, and they start laughing about Kirk almost immediately.
However, that night as they’re getting ready for bed they start talking about Kirk again, still mocking him, when things change. Marge starts talking about how great it is that Homer has accepted that his life is locked into a monotonous pattern that won’t stop until he’s dead, and Homer starts to realize that that’s the truth. He panics, and ends up spending the whole night thinking about the fact that he’s let his life slip past him, and now he’s just on the fast-track to death.
But at this point we also have to introduce a very odd little B-Plot, which begins with Kent Brockman arriving at Springfield Elementary, seemingly for a puff-piece. Principal Skinner is very pleased, knowing that some good press will really help out the school. However, when Kent comes into Skinner’s office it turns out this isn’t a puff piece. It’s an ambush. Because apparently there’s a rampant cheating problem in Springfield Elementary, and Kent has proof. So Skinner is going to get vilified in the local media! Neat!
The school ends up holding an emergency PTA meeting, hoping to find some solution to the cheating problem. And Skinner is absolutely no help. So, it has to come down to good old Lisa Simpson. She gets up on the stage and announces that she has a plan to help with the cheating epidemic. She wants to instill an honor code where all the kids will promise not to cheat, and will turn in any cheaters they find, hopefully keeping everyone honest. And everyone seems pretty open to it, which is good, because it’s only going to work if everyone agrees to participate.
But we’re going to put that on the backburner for a while, and check back in on Homer. Because he’s hitting rock bottom! He’s incredibly depressed about his life now, and is just walking around Springfield singing a goofy little parody of “You Only Live Twice” with depressing lyrics. Everyone starts to worry about Homer, and one day Marge notices him sitting around with a stack of old letters from Homer’s childhood.
Turns out Homer used to have a Spanish pen-pal named Eduardo who Homer used to right back and forth with when he was a child. Homer shows Marge some of the letters, mostly about the two boys saying all the cool things they were going to do when they were adults, and he ends up walking away because he’s too sad. But it gives Marge an idea. So, in a move that would seem downright psychotic outside of a television show, Marge calls up Homer’s childhood pen-pal and flies him out to Springfield.
So yeah, this Eduardo guy Homer has never actually met and hasn’t talked to in decades shows up at the Simpson’s house, and everyone seems to think that this is perfectly normal. Eduardo chats with Homer and Marge, and we learn that his life has worked out pretty perfectly, and he’s pretty sad to see how poorly Homer’s doing. He decides he wants to help out Homer, and to do so he’s going to help him fulfill all of his crazy old goals, creating a weird little bucket-list for Homer based off their old letters.
Homer and Eduardo then hit the town, crossing things off Homer’s list as fast as possible. They get to ride on a fire-truck, they get to be pirates by crashing a Pirates of Penzance production, and even get to reenact some Star Trek with the help of Comic Book Guy. And it works. Homer keeps getting happier and happier, and even gets Marge to enact some of her childhood wishes, like jumping on the bed, because Marge is adorably lame.
Some time then goes by, and they actually have almost finished the bucket list. Homer and Eduardo end up going out for tapas one night so that Homer can thank Eduardo for helping him, and Eduardo says that they’ve done everything. Except for one dream. Homer wanted to be able to fly, and Eduardo has an idea. He wants Homer and himself to go skydiving, and use those squirrel suits to fly through the air. And Homer is down.
Before we see how that pans out though, it’s time to jump back and check in on the cheating plot. Because things started a little bumpy, but Lisa was surprisingly able to get everyone to promise to the new rules by using Milhouse as some lowest common denominator for everyone to prove themselves better than. And once that’s taken care of, things start to change. The honor code is working, and Lisa is a success. Well, until she learns that Bart is still cheating. She confronts him, furious that it’s him that’s ruining her system, and he points out that if she turns him in it proves her whole scheme was flawed, and it’ll end. So, she decides to keep it secret.
Meanwhile, Homer and Eduardo have reached their skydiving place, and are quickly flown up into the air. Homer and Eduardo then jump from the plane, and almost immediately things start to fall apart. Homer is terribly at it, and just can’t get out of his own head. Marge manages to communicate with Homer, and tells him to give up and return to Earth, but Eduardo tells him to ignore her, and keep trying.
Eventually Homer does get a hang of it, and he manages to fly gloriously. And once that happens Eduardo continues to push Homer forward, telling him to continue flying as long as possible, and savor this moment of freedom. However, Homer ends up crashing into large building, and goes careening into Springfield. Which is when we check back in on Bart and Lisa, who are arguing about the cheating thing again. But Bart tells Lisa that he’ll only stop cheating if he gets a sign from God. Which is when Homer comes crashing down on top of him, apparently serving as an adequate sign. Homer and Bart are apparently both fine, and we see that Eduardo has congratulated Homer for finally being free. Homer then realizes that he has plenty of excitement in his life, and finishes the episode off by traveling to Spain with Eduardo.
This episode is pretty fun. It’s not perfect, but for the most part I had a good time with it. Generally I think the concept, and the narrative role, of mid-life crises are a tad ridiculous, but that also could be because I’m not quite at my mid-life yet. And I think the idea that Homer Simpson, a man who has been on every continent and has had dozens of insane and exciting jobs and experiences, would consider his life a failure is a tad ridiculous. But it works. I think Eduardo is kind of a weird character, especially to have him immediately come to Springfield with no problem, not caring about the fact that this is a person he hasn’t even spoken to in decades, but he’s fine I guess. The Lisa plot wasn’t really that engaging, but the joy we see from Homer is enough to push this episode out of mediocrity.
Take Away: Enjoy your life.
“YOLO” was written by Michael Nobori and directed by Michael Polcino, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons