It’s been a pretty hit or miss week so far here on Lifetime of Simpsons. But today we’re going to get a fascinatingly weird story, that I think I actually liked quite a bit. Because who doesn’t want to see Homer essentially start a second family?
The episode begins in the Simpson’s kitchen, while Marge is trying to convince a picky Maggie to choose a new pacifier. But while that’s happening Lisa comes strolling in with a book about football, because apparently Milhouse has invited her to a football game, and she’s needing to learn some boring facts about the sport to entertain herself. But Marge doesn’t really care about that, what she does care about is the fact that Homer is claiming he’s going to have to work late that night.
But in actuality Homer is going over to Carl’s apartment to play poker with the guys all night. We see him having a good time with his friends, while Homer actually ends up winning a good amount of money. But he decides to cash out on top, and leaves for the night, getting into the elevator to return home. However, shortly after getting into the elevator, the damn things breaks down, trapping Homer inside the elevator.
He’s not alone though. Because Carl’s neighbor, a woman named Gretchen, is also in the elevator, and she’s pregnant. Well, not anymore, because as they get stuck she starts to go into labor. Gretchen obviously begins panicking, as does Homer. Neither of them have their cell phones, and there’s no way to call for help, so they’re pretty screwed. But they have no other alternative, so Homer does his best to calm down Gretchen, and ends up helping her deliver her baby in this gross elevator. And, of course, as soon as the baby is born the elevator turns back on, and Homer, Gretchen, and the baby are brought back down to the ground floor.
We need to see what’s going on with Milhouse and Lisa about now though. Because they’re at the football game, and Lisa is struggling to find something to be interested in. And while they’re sitting there the cheerleaders comes out, and do a whole bit where they need a volunteer. They end up selecting Lisa, putting her in a cheerleader outfit, and getting her to do a whole performance with them. And, surprisingly, Lisa loves it. However, after the game Lisa goes to talk to them, and get her normal clothes back, and she finds that they’re actually very underpaid, and are living kind of miserable lives, which really bums her out.
That’s not going to matter for a while though, so let’s check back in on Homer. Because a week has passed since he helped Gretchen give birth, and he’s back at Carl’s apartment playing poker. When he leaves that night he’s surprising to find Gretchen in the hallway, and the two get talking. She’s apparently named the kid Homer Jr, or Hoju, they end up chatting a bit. Hoju really seems to take a liking to Homer, and he finds that he’s feeling a little responsible for this little baby.
Homer then begins to act strangely. Because now he’s just dropping by, specifically to talk to Gretchen and see Hoju. He brings them old baby clothes, toys, and groceries, while spending time with these random people. Gretchen is a single mother, so she really appreciates how nice Homer is being to her, and Hoju really loves Homer, so it’s a win-win. Hell, Homer even starts to babysit Hoju occasionally so that Gretchen can get out of the house. There’s only one problem with this situation. Homer has neglected to tell Marge a thing about this, and is keeping it all a secret. For some reason.
Meanwhile, Lisa has returned to the football stadium to talk with the Atomettes. She tells them that they’re being exploited, and starts to teach them the basics of labor rights and unions. This blows the minds of the cheerleaders, and Lisa manages to convince them to storm out of the stadium and start up a union until they get treated better. She even manages to organize a strike, which primarily takes the form of a bunch of creepy dudes coming to the Simpson’s house to watch the cheerleaders plan. And, really, that’s it. We see the strike a couple times in the episode, but nothing much happens. The Rich Texan, who owns the team, ends up relenting, and gives the Atomettes proper pay. That’s it!
Anyway! The shit’s about the hit the fan in the Homer’s plot. Because one night Marge decides to go find Homer, and knows that he’s been lying about working late, and figures he’s over at Carl’s playing poker again. She goes over to Carl’s apartment, but is stunned to find him not inside the apartment. She’s a little baffled at that point, until she hears Homer’s voice from coming down the hall. She storms over to the apartment, thinking he’s having an affair, only to find Homer hanging out with some random young woman and a baby that they’re calling Homer Jr. Doesn’t look good for Homer!
Homer is actually able to calm Marge down at this point, and he and Gretchen do tell her what’s actually going on. But it turns out the fact that Homer is ignoring his own wife and kids to spend time with a random baby he helped deliver in an elevator isn’t much more normal to Marge, and she’s still not pleased. She tells Homer he needs to stop hanging out with this random woman and her baby, but when she sees how attached Homer is to Hoju she relents, and says he can still occasionally see the baby.
However, it still feels incredibly strange. Homer is still hanging out with Hoju a lot, and it’s really starting to bug Marge. Especially because he’s barely spending time with his actual kids. But she doesn’t want to force him to abandon Hoju either, so she just kind of grits her teeth and lets it continue. Although she does tell Homer that he needs to start spending time with his own kids too.
So Homer decides to take all four children to the zoo, figuring he’d kill two birds with one stone. But it quickly becomes apparent that Maggie hates Hoju, and the two starts squabbling over ice cream, and smacking each other. But it turns out that Hoju doesn’t play around, because he decides to take things to the next level, and pushes Maggie’s stroller away from them, and towards a prairie dog enclosure where she would be presumably eaten.
Marge randomly appears in the zoo at this point though, and she watches Maggie manage to save herself from the prairie dogs. And this is the last straw for her. She’s furious that Homer was taking Hoju’s side, and wants Homer to stop spending time with Hoju. Homer agrees this time, and he takes Hoju home to Gretchen, only to find that her boyfriend, and Hoju’s father, has returned and is willing to be a father. So Hoju has a family again, and Homer is no longer required. He then heads home, depressed, only to find Maggie waiting for him, with a baby doll for him to love.
This episode is very strange, but I actually found myself liking it quite a bit. I think the idea of Homer accidentally ingratiating himself with a single-mom and her baby, and becoming a surrogate dad is a really great idea, even though the whole elevator delivery thing is a tad ridiculous. I also love that he finally has someone to call Hoju. But where the episode gets more than a little weird is when Marge shows up. Because, yes, this whole situation is incredibly strange. But Marge seems to hate Gretchen and Hoju with a irrational passion. I’m not quite sure why, until the prairie dogs, why Marge is so disgusted by this behavior, and why she keeps telling Homer to abandon these poor people who have no one else in the world. Although it really does get sweet there at the end, with Maggie trying to help her father out. I don’t really know why Homer wasn’t able to just get this satisfaction from helping his own kids, but whatever. We see that he wants to help someone, and in his own way he really does.
Take Away: Don’t hang out with strange babies. At least not if your spouse isn’t into it?
“Labor Pains” was written by Don Payne and Mitchell H Glazer and directed by Matthew Faughnan, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons