After yesterday’s tepid season opener, I’m pleased to let you know that today’s going to be better. It’s not an incredible episode by any means, but it’s at least fun. And it gives us a type of episode that often falls flat on its face. That’s right, it’s a Homer/Bart plot! And it’s actually mostly fun! Shocking!
The episode begins with Bart and Milhouse sitting around in Bart’s room, watching testicle fail compilations on YouTube, before they realize that this isn’t giving them the same thrill it once did. So, in the quest to find something else to keep them occupied they gladly click on a link for a redband trailer for some weird frat-bro comedy. They toss a fake age into the screen and then get to see all sorts of debauchery, including some brief nudity.
And, unfortunately for them, Homer happens to be walking by right as the breasts pop out, and he freaks out. Homer comes running into the room, shuts down the computer, and gives Bart a brief lecture about looking at things on the internet that he shouldn’t. But he clearly doesn’t know how to deal with this concept, and just switches things up and starts to gripe at Bart about cleaning his room, since the place is a pigsty.
Bart really doesn’t care about cleaning his room though, and he just blows Homer off. Which really pisses Homer off. He goes storming out of the room and starts to complain to Marge about how little respect Bart seems to have for him. Marge tries to convince Homer to just let Bart walk all over him, but Homer refuses, and decides that he’s going to start cracking down more on Bart. And, as luck would have it, he gets an opportunity to try it out that evening.
Because at dinner the family are given some broccoli, and like all ten-year old boys, Bart has no interest in eating it. But Homer decides to start establishing his dominance, and tells Bart that he won’t let him leave the table unless he eats his broccoli. But Bart won’t back down either, and the two stubborn asses just sit there, both refusing to back down. Marge and Lisa try to awkwardly deescalate the situation, but Homer and Bart insist on challenging each other.
The two end up spending all night at the table, just glaring at each other, and find themselves still there on Saturday morning. Which is bad news for Homer, since that morning was supposed to be the draft for his fantasy football league. However, Homer doesn’t want to let Bart win, so he does the unthinkable and asks Marge to go ahead and draft for him, so that he can keep sitting at the table staring at his son.
And it’s not just Homer who is tempted, because as they’re sitting there Milhouse comes running into the house with insane news. Apparently Martin has been taking self-defense classes, and is now using his newfound knowledge to beat up Nelson, right outside the Simpson’s house. But Bart won’t give up either, and he passes up the option to see something ridiculous. Oh, and Marge utterly fails at the draft, getting Homer the worst team imaginable.
Eventually we see that Homer and Bart have managed to sit at this table for 46 hours, and it becomes evident that Marge and Lisa need to do something to restore sanity. So, Lisa comes up with a plan that basically boils down to Schrodinger’s broccoli. She makes two smoothies, one of which contains the broccoli, so that both Homer and Bart can drink it, and neither win. Homer is down with this idea, but Bart just can’t stop being obstinate, and he spills the two smoothies, destroying the peace talks.
This is the last straw, and while Homer and Bart begin fighting again Marge realizes that she needs to do something insane. So, that night, while Homer and Bart sleep, they’re kidnapped by some strange men who bag their heads and cart them off into the night. And when they’re freed from their bounds they’re shocked to find that they’re on an old-fashioned pirate ship, leaving Springfield behind on the open seas.
That’s right, they’ve been Shanghaied! But with permission. Because it turns out that this is an extreme form of family therapy where several other pairs of fathers and sons have been abducted from Springfield where they’ll now learn to bond while learning how to sail ships with a jolly captain named Bowditch. And, not surprisingly, Bart and Homer still think that this is an absurd idea, and continue fighting, showing Bowditch that he has his work cut out for him.
Oh, but don’t you worry, we aren’t done talking about Marge’s adventures in fantasy football! Because while she’s explaining to Lisa what has been done to Homer and Bart, she gets a notification from Homer’s fantasy app, and she’s shocked to find that it’s just the various men of Springfield trash talking Homer, and making fun of the team she got him. Marge is aghast at this behavior, and decides that the perfect response it to pray for guidance. Great job, Marge. And, to rub dirt in the wound, she realizes that all the men of Springfield are busy texting insults to each other all during church service.
We’ll get back to that later. For now, it’s time to check back in on the Relation-Ship, because things aren’t going well. When Captain Bowditch gets all the passengers together to start talking about their problems, he’s shocked to find that Homer has somehow already acquired scurvy. So, Homer gets quarantined from everyone else so he can eat lemons, while Bart has to learn how to operate a ship all by himself.
And, you know what? Bart makes a great sailor. He starts to do a great job, and really starts to love it, becoming the best sailor of the passengers. Which pisses Homer off like crazy. When he’s finally done eating his barrels of lemons he starts to mock Bart for liking sailing. But Homer’s the only one who thinks that way, because by the end of the voyage we see that Bart has done so well that Captain Bowditch has made Bart his second in command.
Bart then finds that this new position gives him the ability to start giving people orders. And guess who has an issue with that? Homer instantly becomes a petulant child, complaining about every one of Bart’s orders, and eventually becoming the mirror opposite of that first room cleaning scene. However, Homer is of course able to mess things up. When Bart and Captain Bowditch go looking for Homer at some time, they find him in the cabins, getting drunk. Which is a bad time to learn that Captain Bowditch is a recovering alcoholic, who is more than happy to jump off the wagon with Homer.
Before we learn the ramifications of a drunk captain, it’s time to finish off that Marge plot. Because she has become horrified and fixated on the idea that all the men of Springfield are obsessed with insulting each other. And, while talking about this problem to Patty and Selma one day, they give her some advice. The only way to stop their trash-talking is to beat one of them so badly that they have no choice but to play nice.
Things then become a 30 for 30 documentary, with Marge and Lisa being interviewed about their terrific strategy to win at fantasy football. They decide that Moe is the person to beat, and then use their own unique skillsets to pull it off. Marge uses her knowledge of celebrity gossip, and Lisa uses her knowledge of global warming weather patterns to create an unbeatable team of kickers, which succeed in squashing Moe, and presumably stopping trash talk forever?
Anyway! Things back on the boat are getting dire, what with the only qualified sailor on the ship now blind drunk. Bart does his best to whip everyone into shape, but it’s not an easy task. Especially when they hit some terrible weather, and are threatened with the possibility of crashing and sinking. Bart manages to get the ship near Springfield, and they even catch sight of a lighthouse. However, Homer starts saying that they should just drop their anchor and wait out the storm.
Bart is convinced though that he can safely sail them home, and he and Homer quickly start squabbling with each other. Bart wants Homer to trust him, so he does something extreme. He eats a piece of broccoli. And, just like that, Homer and Bart are on the same page, and they successfully sail around the lighthouse and into safe harbor, saving everyone. They then get to hop off the boat and catch up with Marge and Lisa, while awkwardly avoiding the questions of Captain McCallister, who is baffled that he wasn’t involved in this episode.
This episode is actually a lot of fun. Typically I’m not a big fan of Bart/Homer plots, because they usually are all the exact same. The relationship between Homer and Lisa is a very interesting and complex one, which can be mined for some very interesting stories. Homer and Bart’s relationship is either them being little buddies, or bitter enemies. These plots usually just have Bart being a total and complete asshole, while Homer escalates things to the point where they both just yell at each other for a whole episode. There’s never any growth, and things usually just end because they decide that they’re just sick of fighting. But this episode actually struck into some interesting ideas. Yeah, Bart is still an unrepentant asshole for the first half of the episode, but by having them switch roles and learn that they need to respect each other they get to something interesting. Because it’s not just about Bart learning to respect Homer, Homer had to learn to respect Bart. And that’s actually a very novel story idea for this show.
Take Away: The only way to fix a relationship is mutual respect, and men will never stop trash-talking.
“The Wreck of the Relationship” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 2014.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons