Hey, remember how just last week we had an episode all about Marge and Lisa’s relationship being rocky to the point that they both almost went to Mars out of spite? Well, how about we do that again, immediately, but without Mars? Let’s go!
The episode begins with Bart having ordered a new prank he wants to test out. It’s basically just a fake dollar attached to a retractable string, and he heads down to the Town Square to set up some chumps. He drops the dollar on the ground and goes to hide in a bunch, reach to find some marks. However, things don’t work out the way he wanted. Lots of people come up to the dollar, but they immediately assume it’s a prank, and specifically it’s a prank pulled off by Bart, and they just ignore it.
Bart is shocked to find that everyone is wise to his tricks, and realizes that he may never be able to pull off a prank ever again. He becomes depressed, and heads home to commiserate with Homer about the loss of his purpose in life. And, instead of cheering Bart up, Homer just tells him that he should get used to failure and embrace it. Bart does think about trying to keep it going, but when he’s even unable to prank Ralph the next day at school he realizes how dire things have gotten.
But, Bart’s sadness about pranks is just the B-Plot. So, to set up the A-Plot we need to head into the next morning when Homer wakes up with a wicked hangover. Lisa then runs up to him, eager to show off a new jazz solo that she’s come up with. But, because Homer is hungover, he wants to part of it, and just tells Lisa that Marge would love to hear and enjoy her song while he slips out and heads to work, trapping Marge.
And that night Homer returns home and is immediately ambushed by Lisa, who wants to play the song. Homer kind of waves her off, and says that Marge would love to hear it again. But, when Lisa races off to get a new reed Marge has a bit of a breakdown. She complains to Homer, telling him how sick of jazz she is, and how unfair it is that she has to listen to the stupid song again. Which was a bad call, because Lisa overhears that statement, and is devastated.
Marge isn’t done digging that hole though, because that night she’s sitting in the bed with Homer, still complaining about jazz and all of Lisa’s music, and she hears it again. But, this time she can’t keep it quiet, and bursts into the room, accusing them both of lying to her. But, specifically Marge. She confronts Marge for all of her lies, and Marge does her best to apologize. Lisa doesn’t want to hear any of it though, and just ignores all of it, preferring to storm off and call her “Marjorie” instead of mom, stabbing her through the heart.
This obviously terrifies Marge. She’s worried that Lisa just lost her childhood innocence, and will now be a sullen pre-teen who doesn’t want to spend time with her anymore. Marge has a series of flashbacks to sweet moments that she and Lisa had in the past, and becomes worried that it’s all over now. So, in the hopes of saving their relationship, Marge decides that she and Lisa should have a trip together to Capital City, leaving Homer, Bart, and Maggie home while she tries to replace Lisa and her relationship.
Meanwhile, Bart has decided that he needs to retire from pranking, because he’s just not going to succeed anymore. He throws out all of his pranking implements and then gets ready to say goodbye to Marge and Lisa. They head off on a bus, already struggling to get along, and Homer immediately dumps Maggie into Bart’s arms, deciding that he can take care of her. Bart’s a little put off by this, but he decides to make the best of their time together, and ends up having a really solid day with Maggie, going to the amusement park and having fun bonding. And, as a cherry on top, Bart realizes that he can use Maggie to pull of pranks, and succeeds in tricking Rod and Todd that she’s an angel. He rekindled his passion!
Marge and Lisa then arrive in Capital City, and immediately start going on tours. Lisa is still very sullen, and wants to part in forgiving Marge, which makes for a very awkward little trip. But, Marge won’t give up, and she decides that the perfect way to win Lisa over is to get them tickets to a big musical. And, for whatever reason, Marge decides that they should go to a musical version of the Bad News Bears.
Unfortunately, Lisa isn’t that impressed. She continues to act like a brat, and even shows off the fact that she’s no longer wearing the pearl necklace that Marge gave her, trying off any sort of rebellion she can find. The two have a big fight, but decide to still go to the show the next day. And, it’s terrible. Lisa absolutely hates it, but notices that Marge really seems to enjoy it. Which does make Lisa think a bit about how much Marge does for her, and what little joy she gets in any given day, but she remains angry.
While Marge and Lisa are out on their awkward little getaway, Bart has been enjoying his time with Maggie. The two have been spending a lot of time together, and Bart is getting her more and more interested in pranks. Which starts to make Homer worried. He tells Bart that he shouldn’t turn Lisa into another little him. Bart then realizes that he probably shouldn’t do this, because then Maggie will go down the same unfulfilling path that he’s on. So, Bart decides to stop pulling pranks with Maggie, and lets her be good.
Anyway! Back in Capital City, the terrible musical is now over, and as Lisa and Marge leave the theater they run into the star. He for some reason invites himself to dinner with them, and the trio head to restaurant where Marge becomes star struck, and starts wandering around to ogle the stars. Lisa starts to complain to the actor about all of her issues with Marge, and the guy says that it just seems like Marge is trying to befriend her. This finally clicks for Lisa, and she realizes that Marge is trying so hard that she should cut her some slack. So, Lisa forgives Marge, puts her necklace back on, and everything seems to be fixed.
You know, even if this episode wasn’t immediately after a better episode that revolved around Lisa and Marge’s relationship being in tatters, I don’t think that this episode would have worked for me. It’s just very bland. Which is a shame, because I think that Marge/Lisa episodes aren’t stories that we get enough of. And, I think the primary reason that this one didn’t work for me was that Lisa was being so petty. She usually has a pretty good understanding that not everyone cares about jazz, and to decide she now hates her mother simply because she doesn’t like the same type of music that she likes is ridiculous. I just came away from most of this episode being irritated with Lisa, and that’s not usually something I like to feel. Although, I did really enjoy that Bart/Maggie story, because that’s a pairing that we don’t see enough of, but that I love whenever it happens. But, it wasn’t enough to save this episode for me, and it ends up being kind of a dud.
“How Lisa Got Her Marge Back” was written by Jeff Martin and directed by Bob Anderson, 2016.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons