You know, now that we’re rapidly approaching the end of this series, or at least the end of how it works currently, I’m struck with a weird conundrum. Am I finding so many of these episodes dull and forgettable because they are, or because I’m checking out? It’s something to grapple with, but for now I think I’ll just have to assume that today’s episode is just boring. But you can be the judge!
The episode begins as the Simpsons are heading into a fancy new indoor water park. They are very excited for this, especially because it’s winter outside the park and they are eager to strip down to their bathing suits and splash around a bunch. And, because we have an episode that begins with the Simpsons going into a new location, which we really haven’t had a bunch of lately, you know what that means! Sight gags!
And, maybe because they haven’t done this in a while, they go completely overboard. We see a bunch of kids smashing their heads on the roof while jumping off the high-dives, we see Bart spraying Lisa a bunch with hoses, Ralph drowns in the pool because Otto is too busy vaping while being a lifeguard, Bart has to go to a kiddie-pool when he’s bad, Homer gets to ride on a big-and-tall slide, and finally we see Bart scare a whole bunch of people out of a line for an awesome waterslide by getting on the overcome and telling them that there are some candiru fish in the water, so all the men have to flee the park and stick their genitals in the snow to kill them.
But, because the men were in such a frantic state, desperate to stick their junk in some snow, they just ran through the glass windows. And, now that it’s all exposed, a little raccoon takes advantage and sneaks into the presumably warm and humid building. Unfortunately for that raccoon though, having some nature inside this building terrifies the employees, so they have no choice but to taze it, and watch as it falls into one of the pools.
Lisa obviously freaks out about this, not wanting to watch as an innocent animal drowns, so she gets a pool skimmer and fishes the raccoon out of the pool and gets to saving it. She realizes that she’s going to have to do something extreme, and begins performing some CPR on the raccoon. A crowd gathers around Lisa as she gradually saves the raccoon, and of course they all begin to film it. Which, ends up making Lisa saving the raccoon a viral sensation.
Lisa loves the adoration she’s getting from being able to save the raccoon, and more importantly she finds that she absolutely loves the rush that she gets when she saved the little animal’s life. People are thrilled with Lisa’s act of kindness, and the school even decides that she’s such a good caretaker of animals that they let Lisa take home the class hamster Nibbles for Spring Break. And, in case you’re wondering, yes this is apparently the same Nibbles that we’ve been seeing for years. For some reason.
Oh, and it’s also time to introduce the B-Plot. Because as Marge is driving Lisa home from school with Nibbles, they find themselves in a massive traffic jam. Marge finally gets out of the car to see what’s going on, and Chief Wiggum explains that there was a particularly gruesome car accident, and they need to wait for a crime scene cleaner to arrive before they can get traffic going. So, with no other alternatives, Marge decides to offer to clean up the accident for them, and ends up doing an amazing and quick job, thanks to her years of cleaning experience. And, Wiggum is so impressed he even offers her future jobs doing this again.
But, like I said, this is a B-Plot so it’s going to come and go. What does matter is now that it’s Spring Break Lisa’s going to have to find something to occupy her time with. And, because of that intense rush she got saving the raccoon, Lisa decides to try and get a job at a local veterinarian. Luckily, the veterinarian is a very sad and lonely man, so he’s totally up for Lisa coming to spend her Spring Break with him, cleaning animal’s cages primarily.
Lisa starts working with Dr. Budgie, and it seems to be going pretty well. She cleans a lot of cages, pets a lot of cute critters, and gets to watch Dr. Budgie save several animal’s lives. But, she starts to notice that she’s not feeling that same rush. And, after briefly being able to help Budgie save Barney’s ferret’s life, she lets him know that she wants more responsibility, mainly to chase that rush. But, Budgie tells her that she shouldn’t try to get to far ahead of herself, and tells her that she needs much more practice and knowledge.
Meanwhile, Marge has more or less forgotten about Wiggum’s offer to become the Springfield PD’s crime scene cleaner. Until she notices that the family’s ceiling fan is dangerously old. She tells Homer she wants to buy a new one, but they don’t have enough money for it. So, Marge decides to give Wiggum a call, and ends up being allowed to go clean up a gruesome murder/suicide in a hotel room. It’s a goddamn horror-show, but she still does a very good job at getting it clean.
Lisa is continuing to work at Dr. Budgie’s office, doing menial work, until one magical day. Dr. Budgie is having to give a St. Bernard a shot, but he apparently drank too much tea at lunch and his hands are too shaky to accomplish it. So, he asks Lisa if she wouldn’t mind giving the dog the shot. She of course accepts, and after giving the dog the shot she feels a smaller version of that rush she’s been wanting. She’s now confirmed that she loves the feeling of saving animals, and decides to find more ways to acquire it.
And, once she gives that dog the shot she starts to get more and more responsibility, even working the front desk, and she starts finding more and more reasons to help animals. Which reaches its absolute craziest point when she and Bart go to a birthday party for Martin, and she starts judging the petting zoo animals. Bart keeps telling her that she’s crazy, but when a goat starts to have an allergic reaction to something Ralph feeds it she jumps into action and is able to save it, letting it be the angry and belligerent beast that it wants to be.
While all of this is going on Marge has been continuing to work for the Springfield PD, cleaning up more and more horrifying crime scenes. She does get enough money for the family to buy a fancy new fan, but it also starts to wear down on her soul. She starts drinking bourbon alone a lot, and just generally becomes a more jaded and dark person. Homer does notice this, and is concerned, but he’s also very much into the fan, so it’s a draw.
Bart has continued to be wary of Lisa’s weird new status as a self-proclaimed animal expert, but he finally can’t take it anymore when he witnesses Lisa take away one of Mr. Burns’ hounds because he isn’t taking care of them well-enough. Bart’s flabbergasted that she thinks she has that kind of authority, and decides to do something pretty extreme to deflate her ego. He brings in Nibbles, who Lisa has actually completely forgotten about because she’s gotten too wrapped up with her new position as animal messiah.
Nibbles is in very bad shape, and Lisa is horrified that she’s let this little animal down. And so is Dr. Budgie. He’s aghast at Lisa’s actions, but agrees to help her try to fix Nibbles. The two then get to work trying to save Nibbles’ life. But, unfortunately, they fail. Nibbles the hamster dies, and it’s all Lisa’s fault. She becomes absolutely distraught, and she calls Homer and Marge for help. The family all arrive at the vet’s office and seeing Lisa so sad is enough to finally shake Marge out of her jaded funk. She gives Lisa some reassurance, Lisa realizes that she was trying to do too much too soon, and the family holds a funeral for Nibbles.
Man, Season 27 sure has been interested in crushing Lisa’s hopes and dreams. Yeah, she certainly dove into this veterinarian thing too heavy, and probably for the wrong reasons, but to punish Lisa with the moral weight of a hamster’s death because of hubris is a little extreme. Lisa deciding to become a veterinarian is a very solid idea, and I certainly buy the idea of Lisa getting too invested too fast, but by having her become a weird lunatic who tries to take people’s pets away because she’s the arbiter of animals in Springfield things get a little too extreme. And man does that ending get dark. I will say that the Marge plot, while being rather truncated and brief, was a lot of fun, and I feel like they could have squeezed an A-Plot out of that premise. It’s not a rather memorable episode, but it had some good ideas, so that’s a plus.
Take Away: It’s okay to chase your dreams, but don’t become obsessed with them.
“Lisa the Veterinarian” was written by Dan Vebber and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2016.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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