So today we’re going to be talking about a flash-forward episode. Which, sadly, isn’t usually a cause for celebration anymore. The older flash-forward episode were typically a lot of fun, and played fast and loose with the canon. But, lately, things have been a tad different. These flash-forward episodes have been extremely weak, and have been building off each other in odd ways, making certain things recurring, while ditching other aspects. Which is a long and rambling way to tell you that today’s episode isn’t super great!
The story begins with Marge waking up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. And, as she’s tossing and turning she notices that Homer is missing from the bed, and goes to track him down. Which isn’t hard, because there’s a literal trail of half-eaten food and empty containers leading straight to the kitchen, where Homer is passed out in a food-coma. And, not surprisingly, Marge is not pleased with this sight.
Marge scolds Homer, and tells him that he needs to be eating less in general, and specifically not at all during the middle of the night. Homer acts a little petulant at first, but as Marge leaves and goes back upstairs he has a change of heart, and decides to run up to stairs to tell her that he’s decided to be healthy now. However, as Homer begins running up the stairs he has a heart attack, and falls down the stairs into a heap.
We then cut straight to the church where Homer’s funeral is taking place. Yep! We’re starting today’s episode off with the death of a major character! Probably means that today’s episode is super in canon, right? Well, enough sass, because the people of Springfield have all come together for Homer’s funeral, and they’re all very distraught. Everyone is mourning the loss of this prolific member of the community, and no one knows what to do without Homer.
Luckily, as everyone is sitting around crying Professor Frink comes running in with good news. He’s perfected cloning, and has a perfect clone of Homer, complete with all of his memories. That’s right, we just got our Homer back! The town celebrates this revelation, and during the party/aborted wake, new Homer ends up eating so much potato salad that he has a heart attack as well, causing yet another death.
But it doesn’t matter, because Frink has a whole bunch of clones ready to go, which means we get to see a montage of the years passing, Bart and Lisa growing up, Marge growing older, and a series of Homer clones dying constantly. And, once the montage is finished, we eventually land thirty years into the future, at yet another funeral for one of Homer’s infinite clones. Everyone is still kind of sad, but the sting has more or less fallen out of this tradition.
Until Professor Frink arrives with some bad news. He’s out of Homer clones, and won’t be able to make any more because the genetic sample has been corrupted. So, the best he can do is save Homer’s consciousness on a flash drive that they can attack to their screens. Yeah, Homer’s now a sentient screensaver. On the positive side, the Simpson’s house has a whole bunch of screens for him to live on. On the negative side, Marge is furious that Homer continues to live such terrible lives, and is fed up with him.
Marge decides that she’s officially done with Homer, and makes his flash drive go live with Bart in his sad schoolhouse apartment. Which is where this episode gets kind of confusing. Because Bart is still divorced from Jenda, still has those two sons, and lives in the schoolhouse, like we’ve seen before. But that last flash-forward definitely didn’t have clone Homers. They take some things, but drop other things.
All that matters is that Homer is staying with Bart, who is having to awkwardly deal with dropping his boys back off at Jenda’s, and dealing with her alien boyfriend. Or maybe husband. Last time they said Jenda got remarried. I don’t know. What I do know is that Bart’s life is still pretty miserable. He’s working at some weird dinosaur park, basically just cleaning up gore, and doesn’t know what to do with his life.
One night after work though, Bart’s boss Nelson decides to take him out to hit on ladies. And Bart does terribly at it. So terrible that Bart ends up walking home alone, and gets interested in a new business in Springfield that promises to erase memories and help people get over loved ones and obsessions. Bart decides to give it a shot, especially after he’s promised total closure. And, after a brief procedure, Bart suddenly has confidence. Which leads to another montage, but this time where he start sleeping with a bunch of different women, while his apartment gets nicer and nicer.
Oh, and it has the absolute worst joke that I’ve ever seen in a Simpsons episode, where Bart sleeps with Ms. Hoover, and they make a blowjob joke. Stay classy Simpsons.
This isn’t all about Bart getting his groove back though. There’s also a very weird Lisa plot. She’s still married to Milhouse, but their daughter is missing, and their marriage is in trouble. But Lisa claims it’s all because she’s so fixated on helping a charity that takes care of zombies. Milhouse comes with one night, trying to be helpful, and ends up getting bitten, contracting the zombie virus. They do have a cure for zombiesm, but they have to wait a bit to do it, which leads Lisa to make a startling discovery. She kind of prefers aggressive and stoic zombie Milhouse to weak and whiny Milhouse.
There’s really not a whole lot else to this plot though, so let’s check back in on Bart. Because he’s doing great. He has all sorts of confidence, and he’s decided to use some to get Homer and Marge back together. And the first step is to buy Homer a robot body that his screensaver consciousness can be uploaded into. Yes, the body also sometimes starts to look like a Terminator sometimes, but it could lead to the two of them getting back together.
But it’s not just Homer and Marge who may reconcile. Because one day when Bart drops the kids back off at Jenda’s, he finds something surprising. Jenda has broken up with her alien boyfriend/husband, and seems to be in a bad place. And, because Bart’s in a good place, they’ve kind of met in the middle again, and decide to give their relationship another shot. And, after a successful dinner together, they decide to officially tell the boys they’re a family again, and Bart moves back in with Jenda and the boys.
Well, I guess it’s time to finish off that Lisa plot. Because eventually she and zombie Milhouse have to have a meeting with Dr. Hibbert to get the anti-zombie vaccine. And Lisa just flat out tells Hibbert that she kind of prefers the zombie Milhouse, and Hibbert has to agree that that makes sense. But, she can’t let that happen, and Lisa eventually relents, and brings her lame little Milhouse back to reality, figuring she has to live with that.
Which isn’t exactly a happy ending. But, guess what? No one is going to get a happy ending! Because almost immediately Bart and Jenda’s reforged relationship starts to fall apart again. So, not sure how to cope, Bart does what he learned from his father, and goes to drown his sorrows at Moe’s. And, shockingly, he finds both Marge and Lisa there too, dealing with their own crap. They all talk a bit, and Marge decides to give them some marriage advice.
She tells them both that they should just stand by their commitments, and live with them forever, no matter how sad it makes them. Which is a huge bummer. But you know what a bigger bummer is? Marge decides she still misses Homer, and ends up loading her consciousness into his screensaver, which appears to promptly delete them both. But this does show Bart that he should do the opposite of what Marge just told him to do, and he breaks up with Jenda. Which is when we get a weird twist. Because it turns out this whole second half of the episode was all what went through Bart’s head when he got the procedure from earlier. So none of it happened, but hopefully Bart will now have a better chance in life.
So yeah, this episode didn’t exactly work that great for me. And I think the major reason is that it’s just kind of a massive bummer. Yeah, there’s the whole continuity stuff that drives me crazy. I don’t know why they keep building off this same idea that Bart is a sad divorced dad, that Lisa has an unloving marriage, and that the future sucks. But that just bugged me, it wasn’t what turned me off from the episode. I also absolutely hated that terrible blowjob joke in the episode, which just seemed way too Family Guy humor, and not Simpsons humor for my tastes. But none of that’s what really got me. What got me was just how bleak it was. These flash-forward episodes often had some depressing ideas, but by and large they showed that the family were going to live good lives where they were happy and loved. But not anymore. Now all of these flash-forward episodes are just a never-ending slew of misery, just showing us that Bart and Lisa won’t amount to anything, they’ll live terrible and miserable lives, and Homer and Marge’s marriage will get weaker and weaker as the years go on. Which sucks. It just feels like a betrayal to these characters, and each one of these flash-forward episodes gets worse.
Take Away: The future sucks.
“Days of Future Future” was written by J Stewart Burns and directed by Bob Anderson, 2014.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
Yeah, not a great future ep. Really, there’s only great one, and then like two okay ones. That Miss Hoover joke is kinda freaky, it’s hard to say if I admire it for his audacity or hate it for being so tasteless.
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Yeah, I feel like because I have so much love for Flashback episodes I conflated it in my memory that flash-forward episodes were good too, but that has not panned out.