Lifetime of Simpsons

S27 E16 – The Marge-ian Chronicles

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Happy Friday everybody! You know, as the show has progressed I feel like I’ve been getting more and more ruffled by the episodes where the family do truly insane things. Yeah, in Season Five they sent Homer Simpsons to space. That was nuts. But by this point in the show the family have Olympic medals, have made award winning films, and have done countless other insane things. I know that it’s a ridiculous thing to worry about, but whatever, I’m nuts. Anyway, the Simpsons are going to Mars.

This episode begins where you’d logically think it would, with Homer realizing that Ned has built a chicken-coop in his back yard and is raising his own chickens. Homer is immediately and nonsensically jealous of Ned’s chickens and is desperate to get some fresh-laid eggs for himself. He becomes instantly obsessed with the idea of fresh eggs, and starts complaining about the normal store-bought ones that Marge buys for him.

So, Homer then jumps to a ridiculous extreme and convinces Bart that they should sneak into Flanders’ backyard to steal some eggs. They grab a couple in the middle of the night and then return to their kitchen and fry them up like lunatics. But, it was apparently worth it, because these eggs are apparently phenomenal. Which of course means that they’re going to have to keep stealing eggs to get them whenever they want.

After several week of Homer and Bart stealing all of Ned’s eggs he finally catches onto them, and ends up hiding in the coop to catch them. Ned scolds Homer and Bart and they decide that they can no longer steal form him. So, they decide to do what they probably should have done from the beginning, and build their own coop. It’s quite a crappy coop, but they’re able to raise some chickens and get some eggs.

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But, there’s a problem. Marge and Lisa think that the eggs are amazing, but Homer and Bart are disappointed. They say that the taste of the eggs is off, and they can’t quite place it. Until they realize what’s missing. The thrill of the theft. Homer and Bart figure out that the eggs from Ned’s coop tasted better because they were stolen. So, like good scientists, they run over to Ned’s house to steal some of his chips to prove this thesis.

And they do! They confirm that stolen food tastes better than food purchased legally, and they begin planning ways to steal all of their future food. But, in doing so they completely stop caring about those chickens. Lisa decides that they should give the chickens a better home than dying forgotten out in their rickety coop, so she begins investigating places that want chickens, and ends up discovering a strange possibility.

The family then drive out into the middle of the desert where they find a large compound owned by a company called Exploration Incorporated. The Simpsons have brought them their chickens, and when they get there they find out what’s going on. Exploration Incorporated is run by two men named Barry and Paul who are trying to privately fund a mission to colonize Mars, and they want the chickens to experiment on them.

The Simpsons give the chickens to Barry and Paul, and since they’re there they decide to take a tour of the facility. They show off all of their training programs and technology that they think will be able to launch and sustain a colony in ten years, and Lisa is instantly enthralled. She thinks the idea of being one of the first human explorers on Mars is a wonderful idea, while the rest of the family think that it’s kind of morbid, knowing that you’ll die on a different planet.

But, Lisa decides that she doesn’t care about the family’s objections, and does something extreme. She signs up as an applicant for the project. The family is horrified that Lisa would do this, but she insists that in ten years she’ll still want to do this, and they’ll have come to terms with it. Plus, by then she’ll be eighteen and they won’t be able to stop her. Marge is obviously furious about this, and decides to ground Lisa for the next ten years to punish her for this idea.

Homer has a different idea though. He tells Marge that by being so against this plan it’ll just convince Lisa that it’s a great idea. He thinks that the best way to get her to lose interest in going to Mars is to get on board, and tell her they support her. That way she’ll get bored with it, and drop the idea. Marge is worried about this idea, but she decides to go with it, and she and Homer become Lisa’s biggest boosters of this idea.

Lisa doesn’t really think much of their sudden change in ideas, and embraces it. Homer and Marge then take her back to Exploration Incorporated for her first day of training. And it’s not exactly what she expected. Since it’s privately funded they have a whole lot of corporate sponsors, like energy drinks and multiple online betting websites. But, she ignores that and begins the training, and actually starts to do really good at the training.

This worries Marge. She’s seeing Lisa become more and more invested in this project, and she thinks that Homers plan is falling apart. But, Homer decides to just one-up her. They’re going to sign up for the colony as well. That’s right, every member of the Simpsons family is now signed up to travel to Mars. Lisa immediately realizes that there must be some sort of scam to this whole thing, but she decides to be stubborn too and just embrace it. So now we have an interplanetary game of chicken going on.

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All of the potential colonists are then assembled, and told that as a final experiment they’re all going to have to test some close quarters, and live in one of the habitats to see if they’re actually able to survive the experience. So, the Simpsons and a bunch of other Springfield weirdoes like Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy then pile into the habitat, and get to work trying to live together for a week.

Lisa’s convinced that this will be the final straw for Marge, but something horrible happens. Marge ends up loving it. She realizes that all of the maintenance and work that needs to be done to the habitat every day is basically just chores, so she’s actually been training for this her whole adult life. Plus, so much of it is based around worrying about multiple possible catastrophes, which is just mother hood. Marge quickly picks up absolutely everything, and begins to become a better astronaut than Lisa, which starts to infuriate Lisa.

This week-long experiment finally ends, and Barry and Paul end up deciding something surprising. Of their group only Lisa and Marge have succeeded, and they’re now finalists to become the colonists. Which is when Lisa finally snaps. She tells Marge that she knows what Marge is doing, and that it won’t work so she might as well give up. But, Marge has something shocking to say. She actually has really started liking this thing, and legitimately wants to stay with the project.

So, it looks like Lisa and Marge are going to Mars in ten years! Well, not exactly. Because it turns out that there’s a rival group of scientists trying to send a privately funded colony to Mars, and this other group has moved their launch up. Paul and Barry freak out about being overshadowed and decide to move their launch up as well. So, like a couple years earlier? No. They’re going to launch their colonists to Mars in a week. And, when that’s announced every single colonist bails.

Except Marge and Lisa. They’re now trapped in their game of chicken, and neither one will back down. Homer does his best to keep them from doing anything stupid, but we see that they keep arguing until they’re literally suited up and sitting in the rocket the next week. They keep arguing, complaining about each other, until they have a heartfelt talk in the cockpit, and realize how insane this all is. They announce that they’ve changed their mind, and want to get off the ship.

But, Paul and Barry ignore them, and trigger the launch. And, nothing happens. Turns out the rocket was a fake, and this whole thing was a scam. They tell Marge and Lisa that this was all done to inspire future generations to care about space travel, but I assume it’s actually some sort of money-laundering scheme. But, regardless of the reason, Marge and Lisa aren’t going to Mars. So, the Simpsons head home and Marge and Lisa’s relationship is better than ever.

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This is an incredibly weird episode. But, I kind of liked it. The central idea, that the goddamn Simpsons are going to be colonists on goddamn Mars is completely ridiculous and absurd, but by focusing it instead on Marge and Lisa’s stubborn duel is actually a good idea. Having the whole episode revolve around a petty squabble between Marge and Lisa that’s all based on trickery and rebellion is kind of hilarious, and gives us some pretty great stakes in the episode. My only real problem with it is the fact that it just kind of gets swept aside at the end. Their reconcillation is so rushed and weird, and it really does feel like one of those episode where they wished they could have made it five minutes longer for some real conclusion, but were racing the clock. I guess that egg stuff was too important to cut to give us a decent ending.

Take Away: Don’t be so stubborn that you’re willing to die on another planet rather than tell someone they’re right and you’re wrong.

 

“The Marge-ian Chronicles” was written by Brian Kelley and directed by Chris Clements, 2016.

 

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