Lifetime of Simpsons

S28 E09 – The Last Traction Hero

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Well, we’ve made it through another week here at Lifetime of Simpsons. And it’s been pretty solid. Which means it makes perfect sense to close the week off with one of those episodes that feel like a hodgepodge of idea that have already been done in better episodes. Fun!

The episode begins with Homer arriving to work at the Plant a little late, and dismayed to find that there aren’t any available parking spots for him. He circles around the lot, finding that most of his coworker’s park like assholes, and eventually runs out of options. Except for one. Mr. Burns’ private spot is open and free. Homer remembers that this is because Burns is out of the office on vacation, which gives him an idea.

Homer ends up taking the spot, and because he knows that there’s no Burns or Smithers to scold him, he decides to just adopt Burns’ whole life. Homer then begins running around, pretending that he’s Mr. Burns. He puts on his tiny clothes, gets a statue changed to stop looking like Burns and look like himself, and he sits in Burns’ office, pressing all the random buttons on the desk to see what they do. One even turns the office into the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Unfortunately, as Homer is goofing off in the office Burns and Smithers enter the office, having called their vacation short. They begin scolding Homer, and to flee the situation he presses some more buttons, one of which drops him down Burns’ trap door. There’s only one problem. It turns out that the trap door is under renovations, and he ends up plummeting down into an under-construction shaft, until smashing into a cement mixer and breaking his back.

Homer then has to be put in traction, but doesn’t have to stay at the hospital. He’s just stuck in a ridiculous cast and sitting on the couch. Marge tries to make it easier by setting up a mobile of everything he loves so he can be contended in one spot. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Homer doesn’t have the patience to be trapped on the couch for quite some time. Marge tries to keep him entertained by rolling yarn with her and doing a massive puzzle, but he’s not a fan.

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Oh, but we do have a B-Plot for the episode. It starts when Bart and Lisa pile onto the school bus, and Milhouse and Nelson get in a fight. Lisa is irritated that the bus devolves into chaos so often, and takes a video of the fight to show to Skinner. She tells him that these fights are often caused by arguments that stem from where they’re sitting, and she thinks that it can be fixed. So, Skinner makes her a bus monitor, and gives her the authority to do whatever needs to be done to fix the fights.

Things are getting complicated over at the Power Plant though, because Burns’ lawyers have arrived with some bad news. It turns out that the old trap-door was only legal because it had been grandfathered into some draconian laws. But, because he renovated it it’s no longer legal, and Homer now has the right to sue him for his horrible injury. Burns obviously doesn’t want that to happen, so he sends Smithers over to the Simpson’s house to convince them to sign a waiver.

Smithers of course complies, and heads over to meet with Homer and Marge, trying to trick them into signing the waiver. They catch on pretty quickly though, and Homer is delighted because he hadn’t even thought about suing Burns, but now it’s all he wants to do. So Homer starts watching daytime TV like crazy, trying to find an ambulance chasing lawyer he can use to sue Burns, much to Smithers’ irritation.

Smithers doesn’t give up though. He keeps coming over to the Simpson’s house, trying every trick he can think of to get Homer to sign the document. He keeps failing though, but he ends up sticking around each day to talk to Marge, because they end up having a lot in common. They spend the days sitting in the kitchen, drinking tea, gossiping, and talking about how everyone judges their choice in men.

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Meanwhile, since Lisa has been given the right to do anything she can think of to solve the bus problem, she’s decided to go overboard. She creates a seating-chart that she believes will completely illuminate all of squabbling through the use of her own algorithm. It actually does end up working, even though no one is overly happy with being told what to do. And, with that small bit of success, it all goes to Lisa’s head, and she starts becoming an insane overlord, forcing everyone to do exactly what she wants them to do.

Her madness really starts to become a problem though when she announces to Bart that the bus is only the first step. She starts developing plan to organize the lunchroom and the playground, bringing order to everything. Bart really doesn’t want that though, and he convinces the other kids to stage a mutiny. They all go completely crazy on the bus one day, bringing Lisa’s authoritarian regime crashing down, and putting her back into reality.

Smithers seems to have dropped all the pretense at this point, and is just hanging out at the Simpson’s house to talk to Marge while Homer starts practicing being relatable to the jury. Marge and Smithers have become best friends, and she’s loving the fact that she’s getting all of her emotional needs met with him. There’s some brief and weird sexual tension for a moment, but it isn’t a big deal since he’s gay. So, she’s able to vent those feeling by having random sex with Homer, who then doesn’t have to have any responsibility for her emotions. Which he is very much okay with.

But around here Burns finally realizes that Smithers is spending too much time at the Simpson’s with nothing to show for it, and orders him to stop hanging out with Marge. So, Smithers takes Marge out to lunch where he can say goodbye to her, since he’s not allowed to hang out with her anymore. And Marge is incredibly sad about that. Homer finally notices that Marge has been enjoying time with Smithers, and decides he needs to do something about it.

So, Homer announces that he’s no longer going to sue Burns. He fires his lawyer, and goes to tell Burns that he’ll sign the waiver, but on the condition that Marge and Smithers can keep being friends. Burns relents, and everyone’s happy. However, as they’re leaving the courthouse Homer’s lawyer convinces him to do a slip-and-fall, and in the process, knocks himself and Marge down the steps, putting them both in traction this time. But, now they can practice talking to each other, and having a real emotional relationship.

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There’s not really anything wrong with this episode. It’s fine. It just feels weird that it appears to be a smorgasbord of things that have been done better in other episodes. We’ve seen Homer be injured at work and have to be bribed by Burns so he won’t sue. We’ve seen Homer get injured and then struggle to deal with being bored and having emotional relationships with his family. We’ve seen Smithers forced into a position between his loyalty to Burns and relationships with other people. We’ve seen Marge getting all of her emotional support from another person, and Homer being fine with that. There’s just not really anything new about this episode. Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. This episode takes elements from other episodes, and puts it together to make a decent episode. It’s just not as good as the other episodes it seems to lend from.

Take Away: Being emotionally supportive to your significant others is incredibly important, and you shouldn’t shirk that responsibility.

 

“The Last Traction Hero” was written by Bill Odenkirk and directed by Bob Anderson, 2016.

 

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