Time sure does fly, huh? Just last week it was Halloween, now it’s Christmas, and tomorrow it’ll be Halloween again! Pretty nutty, right? And what better way to ring in the holidays than with a really sad and depressing Christmas episode? Hey, at least they toss in an obligatory Frozen reference for their couch gag, which was a pretty funny admission.
The episode begins by establishing that it’s Christmas Eve, and the people of Springfield are celebrating thusly. We see children skating on an irradiated lake outside of the Nuclear Plant, we see Kumiko and Comic Book Guy hate-watching the Cosmic Wars Holiday Special, and we even see poor Hans Moleman receiving a lovely card from Dr. Hibbert that just happens to contain some bad news about some test results.
We then cut back to the Nuclear Plant, where Homer is getting ready to lock up the Plant for the holiday. He’s really excited to get out and get home, and of course he gets stopped by Mr. Burns. But it’s not with bad news! It’s not good news either though. Burns is giving him his holiday gift, which is just a donation in his name to the Salvation Army. But at least Homer doesn’t have to stay late working or anything, so that’s nice.
Homer then starts driving home, avoiding the snow in the road, only to almost hit a lady with a baby carriage. Homer swerves his car, and crashes right into a snow-drift outside of Moe’s. Exactly like Moe planned it. That devious bastard. So, of course, Homer has to go into the bar to get a drink, becoming Moe’s only customer. Homer has a beer with Moe, but then decides that it’s time to get going and be home for Christmas Eve.
However, a combination of Moe wanting more money and actual human companionship on Christmas Eve spurs him on to pluck Homer’s heart-strings. He starts complaining about how lonely he is all the time, and even drops some huge story that his mom abandoned him on Christmas Eve one year. And, of course it works. Homer decides to stay with Moe for a bit, getting quite drunk in the process, but cheering his buddy up.
Unfortunately, Marge is not aware of that fact. She’s at home, getting ready for Christmas with the kids, and growing increasingly irritated about the fact that Homer still isn’t home. She of course initially becomes worried that something horrible has happened, but then ends up deciding that Homer’s just off getting drunk. Which is accurate. She just doesn’t realize that Homer has a somewhat good reason, and doesn’t even know what time it is.
Back at Moe’s, Moe is actually having a good time. And, to show Homer his appreciation, he decides to actually tell Homer the correct time. Which promptly causes Homer to panic. He flees from the bar, jumps in his car, and races home. Only to find Marge waiting for him, and pissed off. She’s furious that Homer has been drinking all night instead of being with his family, and she doesn’t wait for any lame excuses. In fact, she does something pretty extreme. She kicks Homer out.
Marge says that she doesn’t want Homer in the house for Christmas, and forces him out in the cold. And, because he’s stubborn and more than a tad drunk, Homer just gets feisty and leaves the house. He drives off to hang out with Moe, but finds that Moe has already called it a night. Which means that now it’s time for Homer to start wandering the cold and vacant streets of Springfield, trying to find something to do on Christmas Eve. Which obviously means it’s time to hit up the Kwik-E-Mart for some wine!
As soon as this happens though, the kids realize that something is up. Lisa wakes up to the sound of Marge weeping, and knows that something horrible is happening, and goes to talk to Bart. She explains that she’s worried that she’s going to lose her childlike innocence if she has a terrible Christmas. But Bart promises that that won’t happen. Although that plot thread is never mentioned again! Moving on!
The kids, now that they’re awake and aware that something bad is happening, head downstairs to find Marge furiously making popcorn garlands. They ask her what’s going on, and she begins explaining what an ass their father is. Which is exactly when Moe comes falling down their chimney. The door was locked, and had something important to tell them, so obviously the chimney made sense. Because Moe is a lunatic.
But he comes bearing good news. He explains that Homer wasn’t out all night to be a selfish ass, he was actually at the bar all night to keep Moe from being depressed. Marge feels terrible, both for Moe and for what she did to Homer. So, Marge gives Homer a call, wanting to have him return to the house, but his phone is currently in his car, which is being towed. So, with no way to contact Homer, Marge and the kids decide to head out into the town to find Homer and bring him home.
Meanwhile, now that Homer is car-less, he’s just decided to wander the streets of Springfield, desperate to find something to do. Which is hard, since most businesses are locked up for the night. He does find a movie theater open, and goes inside to find a bunch of other sad people, like Gil, Crazy Cat Lady, and Kirk Van Houten, but Homer gets little too bummed out by them, and leaves after giving them his popcorn and soda, cheering them up.
Next up Homer runs into Ned Flanders, who is still at the mall, locking up his sad Leftorium kiosk. Which is when we really get to take a step back and think about how depressing Ned’s life is. He’s a twice-over widower, his business has failed to the point that he now operates a kiosk instead of a store, and he’s out on Christmas Eve just trying to make ends meet. Yikes. And, Homer feels so bad that he gives Ned some money, and a shoulder to cry on while they talk for a bit, brightening Ned’s day just a tad.
And while all of this is going on Marge and the kids are driving around, trying to find Homer. They decide to run over to the Retirement Castle to see if Grandpa had seen Homer that night, but that kind of backfires. Because Grandpa hasn’t seen Homer, and he and the other old folks are so starved for attention that they all come flooding out of their rooms to get as much company as they possibly can. And, not seeing any other alternative, Marge and the kids spend some time with them.
Homer is meanwhile laying on a park bench, mad that he has managed to brighten several other people’s days, while he’s still miserable. And, it turns out that he can’t just sleep on a bench, because one of the mall employees comes over to bounce him. But the guy realizes how sad Homer is, and decides to give him a solid. All of the mall employees are currently having a drunken party, and they’re fine with Homer crashing it.
At the same time Marge and the kids have finally escaped the Retirement Castle, and have somehow found their way to the outdoor mall that Homer’s been wandering around in. They hear someone talking about the weird mall rager going on, and decide to give it a shot, only to find Homer. He’s shocked to see them, and immediately everyone starts to apologize for the whole night, and everyone happily goes home to celebrate the holidays together.
As far as Christmas episodes go, this one was kind of middle of the road. It’s certainly interesting that they chose to specifically focus on Christmas Eve, but otherwise it’s just kind of weird. It’s one of those episodes that I’ve grown quite sick of, where Homer and Marge have a big fight that could easily be fixed if they just simply talked, and then it’s magically fixed after escalating crazily. It just has some Christmas tossed in. And kind of haphazardly. Most of the stuff Homer goes and does doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Christmas, and could have happened in a story where he was kicked out of the house at any time of the year. There’s that line where Lisa says she’s worried about losing her Christmas innocence, but that’s dropped immediately, as if that was a leftover line from a previous draft of the script or something. But, despite the kind of weird Christmas aspects of the episode, it’s a pretty fine story, and there were some good gags, so it’s pretty fine overall.
Take Away: Don’t get drunk in bars on Christmas Eve, even if it’s for a good reason.
“I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” was written by Al Jean and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2014.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons