Howdy everyone, and welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. After last week’s brief hiatus we’re back and ready for a great week! Well, a fine week. At best. Listen, things aren’t going to be fantastic this week. They aren’t going to be terrible, but they ain’t going to be great. And it all starts off with today’s episode. Because what better way is there to start a week than with an episode about tricking someone into thinking they’re a murderer as a prank?
The episode starts off with a pretty great little Western sequence, that’s largely a parody of Django, and has Principal Skinner riding through an Old West town and shooting various bullies. It’s a little rough, to be sure, but it’s kinda fun. Oh, and of course it’s just a dream. Because Principal Skinner has apparently fallen asleep in the middle of an assembly, and is just dreaming in front of a waiting audience.
Superintendent Chalmers wakes Skinner up, and he just immediately throws himself into the swing of things, telling the students about their newest field trip. And, unlike most other field trips we see the children of Springfield Elementary going on, it’s pretty cool. Because some friend of Skinner’s is in the Navy, and has access to a nuclear submarine that he’s willing to let elementary school kids be on, which is of course named after Tom Clancy.
Yeah, the kids of Springfield Elementary are going to get on a submarine! But not all of them. Because there’s very limited space on the sub, so now Skinner gets to choose who is good enough to get on the submarine. But, he’s going to try and be fair about it. So, he’s given everyone a blank slate, with no predetermined judgments. But, just a single infraction will get them stricken off the list, making then illegible to be on the sub.
Seems like a pretty decent system. There’s only one problem. Bart Simpson really wants to get on that goddamn submarine. Which obviously earns him a lot of ridicule from his friends, Lisa, and family. No one thinks that Bart will be able to get through this time period without being bad, and even if he does, they’re sure that Skinner isn’t actually giving him a blank slate. But Bart won’t accept this, and decides he’s going to be as good as possible for the immediate future.
But, it’s not just all about submarines, folks. Because we have a very minor B-Plot in this episode, which begins with Lisa riding her bike around Springfield, and coming across Krusty’s mansion, which is currently having a lot of stuff repossessed. Lisa strikes up a conversation with Krusty, and learns he’s in financial straits, yet again. But Lisa has some advice. Krusty could sell foreign rights to his show, like Everybody Loves Raymond did, and have foreign comedians become Krusty, giving him a piece of their take. And, not surprisingly, Krusty loves this idea.
That plot is pretty sparse though, so I’ll get back to it later. For now it’s time to check in on Bart, who is really taking his new vow of good behavior seriously. He’s gotten rid of all of his pranking implements, and is going out of his way to avoid Skinner, and act like a suckup whenever he can. And it actually works pretty well. Bart manages to avoid all temptation, and acts like a perfect student, getting very far in his quest.
However, disaster does strike. Because one day Bart is riding to school on the bus, complaining to Milhouse about the stress he’s under, when it breaks down. Bart is terrified to be late to school, so he jumps off the bus and begins parkouring through the town, getting into the school just on time. But when he jumps into the building, he learns that he’s apparently had muddy feet, which he’s tracked into the school. Which is enough for Skinner to cross him off the list.
Bart is obviously devastated by this, and can’t really come to terms with the fact that he can’t be on the submarine anymore. He attempts to trick Skinner into letting him back on the list by using a weird soundboard of President Obama lines, but that doesn’t work. Neither does Bart doing all sorts of special stuff for Skinner, trying to suck up to him. And it doesn’t work. Skinner remains resolute that Bart can’t be on the sub, and everyone happily boards the submarine that day, leaving Bart alone on the dock.
Before this episode goes off the rails though, let’s finish off that Krusty plot. Because it really is sprinkled all throughout the episode, but that’s a pain for this structure I’ve devised for these recaps. Anyway. Krusty really loved Lisa’s idea to sell foreign rights to his show, and it’s gone extremely well. A whole slew of people from other countries have bought the franchise rights to being Krusty, and because Krusty doesn’t give a crap about his own personal brand, he kind of lets them do whatever they want.
The only thing is, it works extremely well. These other Krusty’s take the aesthetic of Krusty’s show, and change it to fit their own countries, and change them into something different. And people love it. In fact, it reaches the point that our Krusty is now the least popular Krusty in the world. But he doesn’t really care about that, because he’s raking in the cash with this scheme. Well, that is until he faces a rebellion of Krusty’s at some sort of Krusty convention, which overthrows his power in this dynamic.
Now, with that done, let’s get to the murder. Because Bart is both crushed and furious after Skinner wouldn’t let him ride on the submarine, and he’s eager for revenge. And, it just so happens, Homer sees how distraught his son is and offers to help get revenge of Skinner. So, the two brainstorm a prank, and we then jump to the next morning where Principal Skinner wakes up, goes to get some coffee, and finds his mother stabbed to death on the floor of his kitchen. Whoops!
Skinner obviously freaks the hell out at this point, and has no idea what’s going on. He seems to think that he may have murdered her in some sort of fugue state, but can’t be sure. And as he’s panicking, Homer and Bart arrive at his house, seemingly there to yell at him about the submarine fiasco, only to find the murder scene. Bart and Homer act pretty horrified by this corpse situation, but they promise Skinner that they’ll help him hide the body.
And this is obviously all fake. They convince Skinner to go up to his room while they get rid of the body, and we see that Agnes is in on the prank, because she just really wanted to screw with Seymour. They then pretend to chop Agnes’ body up with a chainsaw, and tell Skinner that the police will now be after him, and that he’s going to need to wear an absurd costume and flee to Juarez on a bus. Skinner goes through with it, and Homer and Bart decide that their prank is successful.
Until they get home and find Skinner waiting for them. Turns out he’s decided he wants to turn himself in, and face the music. And Homer and Bart can’t bring themselves to let Skinner plead guilty to a fake murder, so they tell him the truth. They come clean, Agnes reveals herself, and Skinner realizes that he apparently could see himself killing his mother. Pretty haunting!
This episode is very strange. I think by and large I enjoyed it. But it certainly went off the goddamn deep end in the third act. The idea that the kids of Springfield Elementary are going to get to do something really cool, and Bart deciding to be a better kid in order to do that, is pretty great. And I think the fact that Skinner uses this opportunity to get Bart to be good, before screwing him over, also works. Where the episode loses me is the murder plot. It’s a tad extreme. Yeah, Bart didn’t get to ride on a submarine, and that’s a bummer. But they really were going to let Principal Skinner flee to Mexico and hide out while thinking he killed his mother? That’s nuts! Especially to be introduced and then solved in the third act. The Krusty stuff was pretty fun. But boy does that last third of the episode take things in a really weird and off-putting direction. Not necessarily bad, just a little cruel and weird for this show.
Take Away: Never trick someone into thinking they committed murder.
“Yellow Subterfudge” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Bob Anderson, 2013.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons