So, do you remember how I said yesterday that this week was actually going to be pretty solid. Today is the exception. Because I really don’t know what’s going on with this episode. On the one hand, there’s a very strange but delightful story about Maggie befriending woodland animals. On the other hand, that’s smashed around a really muddled and poorly constructed Patty and Selma story. It’s a mixed bag, to say the least.
The story begins with the family sitting around watching some terrible reality show where Dr. Nick gets in trouble for not realizing that one of his patients was nine months pregnant, before the TV gets rudely shut off. It was done by Marge, who tells the family that today is her mother’s birthday, and the whole family are going to have to head out to her house to spend time with her. Because now she lives in a house, instead of that other retirement facility with that sad lady who didn’t get to come too.
Anyway, Marge is pretty irritated with her family, because they all act like it’s torture to go hang out with her. Homer does explain that he doesn’t like hanging out with Marge’s mom and sisters because they’re always so mean to him, but they just kind of glide past that and pile into the car. Oh, and Grandpa is coming too for some reason. Which you think would be awkward, since they used to date.
Oh, and we also introduce the whole “Maggie befriending woodland animals” plot around here. Because before the family leave we see Maggie hanging out with a squirrel that gets into her room, and the two have a nice time playing before Marge shows up, scoops her up, and they head out to the party.
So, the Simpsons and Patty and Selma show up at the weird lakehouse that Jacqueline apparently lives in now, and they begin their party. They gather around in the kitchen, having cake and exchanging presents, when Mr. Burns shows up for some reason. He flirts with Jacqueline, seems to give her YoY o Ma as a gift, and then leaves after assuring Grandpa that he’s no longer romantically interested in her, he just wants to make sure that Grandpa is unhappy.
After this the family heads into the living room, where Patty and Selma have prepared a marathon session of photos to click through. They begin looking at a trip the family took decades ago, and while looking at them the girls end up getting a little wistful about their dad. Which is when something weird happens. Marge, Patty, and Selma realize that none of them know what happened to their dad, and how he died.
So, Jacqueline decides to tell them the truth, which she’s been hiding for most of their lives. Apparently, their father died from lung cancer. Why she never told her daughters the truth, especially the two who smoke, isn’t explained. But it does shock everyone. Especially Patty and Selma. They’ve evidently never considered lung cancer a possibility before, and now they’ve decided that this is the wakeup call they’ve been waiting for, and promise each other that they’re going to stop smoking now.
That night, after the Simpson’s have travelled home, Maggie is sleeping in her crib when the squirrel shows up again. Maggie goes to the window, and finds a possum has lowered its tail down to lift her onto the roof. She goes with it, and find a whole gang of animals waiting for her. Not only is there a squirrel and a possum, there’s also an owl and Duffman’s parrot. The crew then spend the whole night dancing around on the roof, having a blast!
Meanwhile, in the somehow more confusing plot, Patty arrives for work the next day at the DMV, and finds it very hard to deal with her lack of cigarettes. She’s even more mean than normal, and gets especially irritated when she sees how perfectly fine Selma is. Selma isn’t having any reaction to their cold-turkey approach, and it’s really pissing off Patty. And, while arguing with Selma, she ends up saying that she smells smoke, and becomes convinced that she’s having a stroke.
Selma then takes Patty to the hospital, where they run all sorts of tests and confirm that Patty isn’t having a stroke. But, that doesn’t explain why she’s smelling smoke. Well, until they find that Selma has somehow found a way to keep smoking, with the cigarette inside her mouth the whole time. She never quit, and she’s been lying to Patty. Which ends up pissing off Patty so much that she can’t live with her anymore, and decides to live with the Simpsons for a while. And, because there’s really no room, they decide to stick her in Maggie’s room.
Which is a bummer for Maggie, because she’s now going to have to sneak past Selma to hang out with the wild animals that live on their roof during the night. Luckily, that doesn’t prove too difficult, and that night while Patty is loudly snoring she’s able to get up onto the roof. But, instead of a party, she finds that her friends are quite concerned. Apparently, the possum has been captured by Cleetus, and is going to be killed and made their dinner the next evening. So, they’re going to need to save the possum!
But before we get to this, we have to finish off most of the Patty plot. Because no one is happy with this new situation. Patty hates living with the Simpsons, Selma is miserable living alone (except for the baby they keep forgetting she has), and Homer ends up walking in on Patty nude. Patty ends up getting drunk that afternoon, and has a heart to heart with Homer, where she admits that the only reason she’s ever mean to him is because she’s jealous of how happy he makes Marge.
It’s time to talk about animal war though. Because the next afternoon Maggie meets up with her animal friends in the backyard, and they plan their assault. New recruits have shown up, including Spider-Pig, and they end up forming a pretty solid army that then marches to Cleetus’ hovel. They end up having to fight off Cleetus’ guard-dog, but after a mighty battle the dog flees. Which leaves them with one final defense, a drunk baby. Luckily Maggie understands alcohol, and is able to give the baby moonshine until it passes out. And, with the defenses shattered, they successfully save the possum and return to the Simpson’s house as conquering heroes.
With the fun plot finished though, it’s time to wrap up the last little threads of the Patty plot. Because after Patty bears her soul to Homer, they’re surprised to find Selma at the door. She’s here to apologize to Patty, and swears that she’ll actually quit smoking if she promises to come home. Patty accepts, and the sisters return home. Where they immediately decide they hate the smell of their apartment, and start smoking again. Yay?
This episode is very, very strange. I feel like whenever we find an episode with a particularly hefty B-Plot we can tell that there were some problems with the A-Plot. And this episode certainly fits that bill. Honestly, I would have been really down with having an episode mostly about Maggie hanging out with wild animals and fighting Cleetu’s drunken babies. That would have been fun. But instead that plot is propping up a very shaky plot about Patty and Selma, who I almost always have a problem sympathizing with. This episode is full of weird moments and ideas that don’t really gel, like having Burns show up for a second, having Jacqueline live in a new house, having them suggest no one has ever spoken about how Marge’s father died, and of course that ending. To have a large part of the plot revolve around how mad Patty is for Selma not taking their quitting of cigarettes seriously, and then have them both just randomly go back to smoking at the end is just weird. I don’t know what was going on with this episode, but it’s just kind of a complete mess.
“Puffless” was written by J Stewart Burns and directed by Rob Oliver, 2015.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons