Well, after yesterday’s rather awkward look into mental illness, how about we go back to nice safe topics like GMO foods and what they do to our bodies. You know, nice and breezy.
The episode begins with Lisa’s class sitting around and watching around a terrible old film strip about Neptune. And, because it’s dated, Lisa obviously has to get up and tell the class about new knowledge that the film strip didn’t have, and even offers to use her own personal lesson plan that she’s made. Because Lisa is hilarious. Ms. Hoover prepares to shoot Lisa down, yet again, when they’re suddenly interrupted by a strange rumbling noise.
Luckily this isn’t because Springfield Elementary is about to fall down, or some other horrible thing that seems to occasionally befall this school. It’s because that day is Taco Tuesday, and a stampede of students are running through the halls, ready to consume tacos as quickly as possible. Seemingly every kid, other than Lisa, cannot wait for these tacos, and they storm into the cafeteria and begin gorging themselves as fast as possible.
But, being a vegetarian, Lisa isn’t that interested in tacos. But she does go to chat with Lunchlady Doris, and finds that Doris is busy packing up the “fresh vegetables” that they use every week for the tacos are the same, and that they just get repackaged each week. Lisa is more than a little concerned about the fact that these vegetables haven’t rotted yet, and Lunchlady Doris explains that that’s because they’re GMO vegetables.
Obviously Lisa is not okay with this, and after school she begins bombarding Marge with these objections. However, Marge doesn’t really care, because she’s too busy trying to race to the church as fast as humanly possible, because this is the day people have to sign up for volunteer work, and she doesn’t want to get stuck with something horrible. Unfortunately she gets stuck behind Jasper trying to cross the street, and by the time she gets to the church the only job available is to teach teens about abstinence.
That’s right. There’s a subplot in this episode where Marge has to talk to teens about sex. Unfortunately, this plot basically takes up a total of one minute, sprinkled throughout the episode, so we’ll get to it later. For now, it’s time to focus on Lisa. Because her fixation on the GMOs has reached the point where she somehow is able to call a PTA meeting to talk about the danger that these vegetables must obviously pose.
Lisa then plays a little documentary that she finds on YouTube, hoping to convince the parents. Which she does. Unfortunately, the documentary is made by a lunatic, and is sponsored by Jenny McCarthy, so Lisa is less that convinced that this is legitimate. So, she pauses the PTA meeting and says that she’s going to do some independent research on the topic. Which seems like something she should have done before the meeting, but whatever.
After doing some more cursory research, Lisa ends up finding something startling. She’s more or less okay with GMOs. In fact, she thinks that they’re good enough that Springfield should embrace them, and manages to convince the Elementary School to open a GMO farmers market. And it’s a pretty big success. So big that Lisa is shortly visited by a woman representing the biggest GMO firm in town, Monsarno.
The lady loves what Lisa is doing, and offers to bring her and the rest of the family to the Monsarno campus so they can see how these GMO vegetables are made. Shockingly, the whole family is down with checking out this science lab, and they all head out to the campus. It’s mostly boring, but something interesting finally happens when they’re brought to the office of the head scientist. Because, surprise surprise, it’s Sideshow Bob.
That’s right! This is now a Sideshow Bob episode! Which means it’s time to talk about how he got in this position. This time we learn that Bob has been in prison since his last encounter with the Simpsons, removing his face, and volunteered for some Monsarno human testing. It’s pretty rough torture, but the company was impressed by the thorough presentation he gives them about his torture, and they offer him a job. And, due to his shocking competence, Bob worked his way up the corporate ladder and is now the chief scientist.
This obviously doesn’t impress the Simpsons, who are more than a little wary about Sideshow Bob reentering their lives. But he keeps insisting that he’s a changed person, again, and asks that they come visit him, because he’s desperately lonely in this new job. The Simpsons blow him off, until he tosses out a Walt Whitman reference, which makes Lisa decide to give him a shot. Bart’s obviously more than a little pissed off, but Lisa gradually begins spending time with Bob, learning about food science, and becoming convinced that he’s a changed person.
Before we see how that plays out though, let’s talk about Marge’s weird plot. Because, shockingly, she’s not good at talking about sex to teens. Everything she tries, from uncomfortable discussion to finger puppets, is a complete disaster. Hell, she even seems to give Kearney some weird puppet fetish. However, she finally strikes gold when she brings Homer in to talk about sex, and the teens end up getting the image of Homer having sex so stuck in their heads that they promise to sign the abstinence pledge as long as Homer leaves. Success!
Like I said, this Marge plot was little more than an afterthought. But, don’t worry, because the Lisa plot is about to dive off the deep end. Because one day, thanks to good behavior, Bob is allowed to go to the Springfield Museum with Lisa for a day away from his Monsarno/prison sentence. Bob and Lisa spend a lovely day, wandering around while Bob carries his ball and chain in a wheelbarrow, looking at paintings and sculptures and being cultured.
However, when Bob and Lisa enter a room that’s having a Calder installation installed, disaster strikes. It starts to fall from the ceiling, and is about to crush Lisa. Luckily, Bob jumps into the path of the installation, and catches it. Which is a little alarming, because the installation should be several hundred pounds. So, logically, Lisa voices these concerns. And Bob explains that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. He’s been secretly using GMO technology to modify his own genes, and he’s now a superhero.
Wait, what? So yeah, Sideshow Bob has basically turned himself into Captain America at this point, giving himself super strength, super speed, and a whole litany of weird abilities. And he’s not done. Because this wasn’t just a nice trip to the museum. It turns out that they’re having an exhibit on famous geniuses, and Bob is planning on stealing some belongings of theirs to get DNA, so that he can splice it into his own, making him the smartest person in the world.
Yeah, this episode got nuts. And, to make it crazier, Bart has apparently been following them this whole time, and leaps from the shadows at this point to fight Bob off so Lisa can escape. This does not work though, and Bart and Lisa are forced to flee from Bob, who chases after them, using his various powers. They lead Bob on a chase out of the museum, and through the streets of Springfield, passing a riot of horny teenagers who are furious that they’ve signed an abstinence pledge.
This chase finally ends when Bob has chased Bart and Lisa to a dam, where they’re cornered. Bob prepares to toss the kids off the dam, but he’s stopped when Marge appears with her army of horny teens. She tells them that she’ll release them from their pledge if they stop Bob, and they attack him immediately. This goes okay for a bit, but Lisa eventually realizes that they’re going to need to do something special to stop Bob. So she tries something daring, and begins quoting Walt Whitman in order to remind Bob of his humanity. And, shockingly, it works. He realizes he’s a monster, and jumps off the dam, apparently to kill himself. Unfortunately he forgot he gave himself gills, so he survives, and just swims off to return again.
Oh, and in a shocking emotional left-turn, the episode ends with an incredibly sad little epilogue where we see Ned and Nelson mourning the passing of Marcia Wallace, and the death of Mrs. Krabapple.
Okay. So this episode is insane. Like, shockingly insane. The Sideshow Bob episode have gotten increasingly insane, especially in these later seasons, and this one has to be the most buck wild of them all. I mean, it started off pretty normally. I buy Lisa being scared of GMOs, and then doing some research and forming her own opinions. Hell, I’m even down with Sideshow Bob becoming the head of a weird company making genetically modified foods. But then the superpowers show up, and this episode gets insane. I mean, this episode ends with a gang of horny teens fighting Sideshow Bob atop a dam (which may be the one that Sideshow Bob himself tried to build previously) before he commits suicide. What the holy hell? I really can’t even decide if I like this episode or not, because it’s just so brazenly weird. I kind of had a hell of a good time with it, because it gets so batshit crazy. Whether or not that makes it a good episode is certainly debatable, but hey, I had a good time,
Take Away: I guess don’t trust GMO’s? Because it’s a slippery slope to supervillains?
“The Man Who Grew Too Much” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Matthew Schofield, 2014.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons