Lifetime of Simpsons

S26 E22 – Mathlete’s Feat

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Well folks, we’ve made it through another season of the Simpsons. Today marks the end of Season 26. Which has not been the best Season. Things have been kind of rough, and there’s a been a serious trend of episodes that feel incredibly similar to older and better episodes, just kind of remixed a bit. Which is kind of what I was worried today would be. I kind of just thought it was going to be a similar episode to the spelling bee one from a few seasons ago. That’s not the case though. It’s just kind of dumb.

Oh, but we do have something special to talk about before the episode. Because, I guess in order to honor the end of the season, we have a special couch gag. And it’s a Rick and Morty opening. It’s their animation, and Justin Roilland’s voice-work, and it goes on for a shockingly long time. Rick and Morty crash into the Simpson’s house, brutally killing the Simpsons. So, Morty has to scoop up their DNA and travel to a different plant in order to get them cloned, while Rick stays behind and starts drinking all of their Duff and harassing Ned. However, something went wrong, and the clones end up being horrible abominations that are mixed with Rick’s DNA.

After that lengthy opening the actual episode begins, and we see Principal Skinner, Lisa, and some other dorks, entering a downtown hotel to participate in a math competition. Professor Frink is hosting the event, and it seems to be some sort of championship match between Springfield Elementary School and the Waverly Hills Elementary School. Krusty briefly appears as if he was also going to be involved, but he leaves and never comes back, so I don’t know what’s up with that.

The Waverly Hills kids are immediately intimidating to the Springfield Elementary kids, since they’re so incredibly rich and well-funded, but Lisa is confident that they’ll be able to beat them. The two schools even bring videos about themselves, and Springfield Elementary’s is all about how it used to be a pork refinery, and Waverly Hills’ is made by Michael Bay. Neither seem to impress the judges of the competition, those Nerds Homer used to know who are now app billionaires, but Lisa is sure that things will work out for them.

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And it does not! Springfield Elementary does terribly, not even getting a single point, and are utterly destroyed. Lisa is despondent, completely depressed about losing so terribly, and she starts blaming it all on Waverly Hills because they’re so rich and have an unfair advantage. Which gets the attention of the Nerds. They apparently went to Springfield Elementary, and now that they’re super rich they decide to give back to their community, and give Skinner and Chalmers a massive check.

Springfield Elementary then starts to enhance themselves, getting all sorts of fancy accoutrements. They get 3D printers, better teachers, and smart boards. Oh, and every student is given their own tablet, which lets them throw out all of their analog materials like books. But surely that won’t be a problem! Oh, wait, I mean it’s immediately a problem. Because as soon as the kids are given their tablets they start goofing off, and end up overloading the servers, which promptly break down, destroying everything electronic in the school.

Which is pretty bad considering they threw out all of their analog materials. So, now the teachers have absolutely nothing to teach with. The school becomes an absolute hellhole at this point, with the teachers just kind of tossing out whatever random bits of knowledge they have. And, not surprisingly, Lisa hates this new world. She does everything to ignore Ms. Hoover, and ends up discovering something odd in the process.

Willie is outside using some weird little invention, basically a knotted rope tied around a wooden stake, and he’s able to measure out his landscaping with it. Lisa goes to talk to Willie, and is interested in his device, realizing that he kind of has his own weird agrarian math that he does. So, with nothing else to do, Lisa decides to approach Principal Skinner with a weird proposition. Since the school has been wiped out, they should adapt the school into a Waldorf School.

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I’ve never heard of a Waldorf School, but it basically seems like some sort of Montessori school that focuses on hands-on activity and creativity instead of actual books and learning. Skinner agrees to give it a shot, and we see the kids learning their own form of math from the ways that Willie and Lunchlady Doris get through their days. It’s all very loose and pretentious, and Lisa of course starts to love it.

But, because the episode had kind of devolved into a rambling void of narrative at this time, they have to switch back to some semblance of a story, and we see that Springfield Elementary has to have some sort of rematch with Waverly Hills for their mathlete competition. And, embracing this new weird math, they decide to make Willie the new coach. He starts training the kids on his weird formulas, and even makes Bart join the team because his extensive prank knowledge has given him an innate geometric skill.

The rematch the arrives, and the kids get ready for the competition while Willie wanders around wearing a wizard’s hat, worrying about the job he did. And, shockingly, the kids start to do pretty well. In fact, even though they face some pretty tough competition, the kids manage to win! And it’s all thanks to Bart knowing about triangles, because of Homers hair. Which would have been cool if that had been any sort of payoff. So, the kids win, they get a trophy, and they all go out for pizza, before the school presumably goes back to normal.

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This episode is kind of awful. I’m not sure what the deal with this episode is, but it just feels so incredibly disjointed and rambling. The idea of Lisa getting involved in a Mathlete competition would have felt a tad repetitive when put up with that spelling bee episode. So, I guess it’s a good idea that they moved away from that, until the end I guess. But the episode really didn’t have a point. The school gets nice, everything is ruined, and the kids learn some weird and terrible math, and then the episode just kind of putters around until they randomly decide that the math competition matters again. It’s just a really rough episode, and it’s a shame that they chose such a weak episode to close out the Season with. Hopefully things get better in the future!

Take Away: If your school janitor wants to teach you his own special math, let him.

 

“Mathlete’s Feat” was written by Michael Price and directed by Michael Polcino, 2015.

 

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