Lifetime of Simpsons

S28 E05 – Trust But Clarify

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Hi there everyone, and welcome back to another week of this Lifetime of Simpsons. We have a more or less decent week ahead of us, but we’re starting things off on a really weird foot. Because this episode is complicated as hell. I’ll do my best to explain it, but this one was pretty nuts. As is should be when discussing the journalism of candy.

The episode begins with Bart and Lisa sitting on the couch and watching Krusty. Specifically an Itchy and Scratchy episode that’s a parody of the opening of Making a Murderer. Once the reference is done though it switches back to Krusty, who is eager to start hocking his latest product endorsement. It’s for some sort of organic shrimp candy, and Krusty is very surprised to learn that it’s actually pretty tasty. Which really helps all of the kids in town begin demanding the candy.

Meanwhile, Homer, Lenny, and Carl are all at the Nuclear Plant, learning that their coworker Tibor has just been promoted to a corner office. They’re all incredibly jealous of Tibor, and they’re trying to figure out how a guy who barely speaks English keeps getting promoted above them. And, as Homer is trying to figure that out, he’s suddenly introduced to his own sense of ambition, a little version of himself in his head that informs him the key to success is dressing better. Homer asks the guys about this idea, and they confirm that his clothes are ridiculously outdated, and tell him that it wouldn’t hurt to get a new wardrobe.

But two plots aren’t enough for this episode, so now it’s time to set up a third. Because that night we see Grandpa and several veterans hanging out in a VFW, watching some weird Springfield-specific late-night show. Kent Brockman is the guest, and he starts telling stories about his wonderful career in journalism, specifically his time embedded in Iraq. However, when he starts giving out specifics, one of the soldiers in the VFW gets angry, because he was in the regiment Brockman claims to have been embedded with, and says that everything he’s saying is a lie.

For some reason we then skip the part of the story where that soldier would have called or something, and instead jump right to the next evening’s broadcast of the Channel Six news, where Kent is having to deal with the revelation that he’s a liar. He tries to brush past it, but it ends up tanking his credibility, and the station has no choice but to fire him and replace him with Arnie Pie.

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Back in the candy plot, Lisa has become very concerned over the fact that every kid in school has become absolutely obsessed with these new shrimp candies. She finally decides to try one, to see what the fuss is all about, and has an immediate reaction of disgust. The bag claims that the candies are organic, but she’s sure that her body is reacting to some weird chemicals in the candy, so she and Bart decide to do some sleuthing.

They convince Otto to drop them off at the processing lab for Krusty’s new candy instead of school that day, and Bart’s in-depth knowledge of Krusty gets them past the security door. And, once inside, Lisa’s suspicions are confirmed. The candy isn’t organic at all, and is actually made from a series of mysterious chemicals, all handled by robots. She’s convinced that she’s just made a major discovery, so she and Bart steal some of the chemicals and take them to get analyzed.

And, while all of this is going on, Homer has told Marge that he thinks he needs an updated wardrobe. She’s very much on board with this idea, and even tries to push him a little farther and get him to lose some weight. But, baby steps are important, so they start off by going to the blighted hellscape that is the Springfield Mall, and make their way to a big and tall store. And, after spending quite a bit of time there, dealing with the rude salesman, they buy Homer a couple new suits, and head home.

However, as they’re leaving the mall they end up running into Kent Brockman, who has apparently taken to just wandering the streets of Springfield with a camcorder, hoping to do impromptu interviews, because he’s evidently just that addicted to journalism. Homer and Marge are very creeped out by Brockman though, and just run away from him, leaving him sad and alone in the dilapidated mall.

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We then cut over to Lisa and Bart, who have taken the vials of chemicals and brought them to Professor Frink to analyze. And he has some bad news. Turns out these candies are primarily made from formaldehyde, and are insanely bad for people. Lisa is horrified, and decides that this story needs to be know. So she heads to the newspaper, and is shocked to find that they don’t really care about what candy is made of, and brush her off.

We can probably finish off the Homer plot right about now. Because when Homer waltzes into the Plant the next day, the guys are very impressed, and he decides to go show off his suit to Mr. Burns, hoping to impress him as well. However, Burns just mocks his weight the whole time, and ends up ruining Homer’s suit by kicking him after dipping his foot in ink. So, Homer returns home, sad, and lets his senses of alcoholism and apathy defeat his sense of ambition, and he once again becomes the normal Homer.

Anyway! Kent Brockman has hit rock bottom, and is still looking for some new job. He briefly considers joining Fox New, which he did last time he was fired too, and even interviews for some sort of BuzzFeed parody, only to have them go bankrupt in the middle of the interview. So, with no alternatives, he ends up on a street-corner, talking into a beer bottle and embracing his madness.

Until Lisa shows up. She comes and tells him all about the candy story, hoping that he’ll lend the cache needed to get people to care about the story, and to give him a second chance. However, Kent just ignores her, telling her that he’s finished. Brockman then goes to some sort of support group for fired news anchors, and when it’s his turn to share he tells them all about the story he just passed on. And they’re horrified.

Dan Rather ends up giving Kent an inspiring speech, causing him to regain his integrity. He then ambushes Krusty, with Lisa’s help, and they film a segment where Krusty ends up admitting that the candy is poisonous. And, just like that, Kent Brockman’s back. He’s welcomed back into the world of Springfield journalism, and when he makes his way back onto that late-night show, he ends up telling the truth, and saying that he couldn’t have done it without Lisa’s help, promising to remain truthful for the rest of his career.

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More or less I enjoyed this episode, even though it feels like it’s spinning too many plates. I had to do a lot of condensing for that plot description, because as the episode actually progressed, it felt like we were rapidly switching between the three plots every couple of seconds. It got a little disorientating, especially because that Homer B-Plot didn’t really go anywhere, and just felt like a distraction to the main plot. Because I liked the A-Plot. Yeah, we’ve seen episodes before where Kent Brockman is fired and then has to claw his way back to the top, and this episode didn’t really do a whole lot that was new with that concept. But I think that the central idea of Kent Brockman realizing that he’s lost his integrity, and that he needs to treat his journalism with more respect was a solid idea, and one that worked out really well for this episode. The pacing was just kind of screwy, making it drag in parts, but otherwise it was a pretty solid episode, especially for this later period.

Take Away: You need integrity to be a proper journalist. Don’t buy food endorsed by clowns.

 

“Trust But Clarify” was written by Harry Shearer and directed by Michael Polcino, 2016.

 

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