Welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons, everyone! I’m going to start today’s recap off with a little story. Because I actually caught a chunk of this episode when it aired. I was picking up some dinner at a restaurant that was playing this on the TV, so while waiting I figured I’d watch a bit of it. This was when I was working in the 16th Season of the Simpsons, far away from this episode. And I got a little worried. Because the little bit that I watched of this episode was not good. I thought the animation looks really weird and cheap, the voices all seemed to be a tad off, and the whole thing just looked like it was no fun. So, I’ve kind of been dreading this episode. And, let me tell you, it lived up to that fear.
The story begins by establishing that it’s Christmastime, and things aren’t going well at the Church. There just aren’t that many parishioners in the pews, and Reverend Lovejoy seems worried that the people of Springfield aren’t really caring about him anymore. And he’s not the only one who is worried, because after his sermon he’s tricked into an intervention about his preaching that’s hosted by the church council, Helen, and the Parson.
Although they don’t really seem to have anything to tell him that he doesn’t already know. They harp on him for the lagging attendance and the general lack of quality in Lovejoy’s sermons as of late, and that he’s in a slump. However, things do spice up a bit when the Parson seems to imply that Lovejoy has some sort of quota from the church to convert people each year, and he’s unfortunately not been meeting that quota. So, Lovejoy needs to head out to where the people of Springfield actually are, and get to work converting them.
Unfortunately, everyone in Springfield seems to be at some sort of Pagan Winter Festival, which is going to make converting people to boring old Christianity pretty hard. The Simpsons are of course at this festival, and we see a couple of sight gags as they wander the Festival and look at all the fun Pagan-themed carnival attractions. Including looking at one of those gigantic Danish kinetic sculptures that are powered by the wind. But, as the Simpsons look at the sculpture a giant wind kicks up, causing the sculpture of race through the Festival on a rampage.
The sculpture then heads straight for a small skating-rink, which is where we see the protagonists of today’s episode. Krusty and his estranged daughter Sophie! Now, they apparently couldn’t get Drew Barrymore back to play Sophie, so instead we get Natasha Lyonne doing some other, second voice, which feels kind of weird. But that’s not overly important. What is important is that the sculpture crashes into the skating rink and runs over Krusty.
Krusty is rushed to the hospital, and obviously the Simpsons come too and are allowed into his hospital room. Krusty then immediately starts complaining about his bad luck, because he apparently only gets custody of Sophie one week a year, and now he’s going to spend that week injured. And, to make matters even more awkward, Krusty at that moment learns that Sophie is being raised Christian instead of Jewish, and expects some sort of Christmas activities while she’s with Krusty.
Krusty obviously has no idea what to do about Christmas, but he’s in luck. Because Marge is willing to invite Krusty and Sophie over to enjoy Christmas with the Simpsons! We then cut to Christmas Eve, where the family are for some reason just decorating their house? We jump around a bunch here, seeing them getting the house ready, but the best part is when Homer and Marge introduce Maggie to her Gnome in the Home, which she instantly hates.
That evening though Krusty and Sophie arrive. But, there’s a catch. Krusty has decided to make some money off this whole thing, and has brought along a film crew to create some sort of Christmas special. And no one is on board for this, especially Sophie. She’s incredibly embarrassed by Krusty’s behavior, and wants no part in it. She’s pissed that he took this nice family moment and tried to make a quick buck off of it, and eventually things get so bad that she ends up kicking Krusty and the film crew out of the house, choosing to stay with the Simpsons instead.
Meanwhile, Reverend Lovejoy is wandering around on Christmas morning, trying his best to convert all the random non-Christian citizens of Springfield. And it’s going terribly! In fact, it goes so terribly that he goes to get a morning drink at Moe’s. And, as he’s drinking, Krusty comes shambling in, and he immediately starts complaining to Moe and Lovejoy about how depressed he is. And, seeing a sucker, Lovejoy decides to meet his quota. He starts telling Krusty that the perfect way to win his daughter back would be to immediately convert to Christianity.
Before we see how this all pans out though we need to take a weird and wonderful little detour into the world of the Gnome in your Home. Maggie hates the damned thing, and the night of Christmas Eve she starts to have an incredibly vivid nightmare about it where it leaps into her bed and transports her to the North Pole where she starts fleeing from the evil Gnome. She thinks she succeeds when she finds a wonderful team of Christmas heroes such as Santa, Jack Frost, and Wayne Gretzyky, but the Gnome shoots them all and continues to chase her. Maggie thinks she’s finally caught, however she then wakes up to find that it’s Christmas morning, and Marge is there to assure her that the Gnome will now live in their home all year-round!
After all of that the Simpsons, and Sophie for whatever reason, head over to Church for a Christmas-morning service, and a big surprise. Lovejoy brings out their newest convert, Krusty! Everyone is rather baffled by this, but Sophie is thrilled that Krusty would randomly switch his religion just to appease her. And, because of that, she instantly forgives him and invites him back to the Simpson’s house to continue their Christmas.
Unfortunately, this religious conversion really seems to have some lasting effects, because even after Christmas is over Krusty continues to become a Christian entertainer. And it’s the worst. His shows don’t have jokes, it’s completely tame and boring, and he even creates weird Itchy and Scratchy cartoons where they put aside their differences and dance with Poochie. And everyone hates it.
Well, everyone but Sophie. She seems super on-board with Krusty’s new style. She’s thrilled that he ruined his show and career for her, and he even lets her play a horn on the show. So, everything ended up great, right? Well, there’s more. Because it turns out that Lovejoy is getting credit for this conversion unless Krusty is baptized. So, Lovejoy calls Krusty up, and tells him that to make everything official they’re going to have to carve a whole in a frozen lake and dunk Krusty in.
Unfortunately, Krusty ends up getting swept away by the river, and gets trapped under the ice. He then immediately passes out and is brought to a hallucination that begins as a hacky parody of Frozen, which he hates. But, the annoying snowman then turns into his father, and the two start to talk about religion. Dream Rabi Krustofski tells Krusty that there’s no one religion that makes him a good father, and he must do whatever he has to in order to be a good father. He’s then saved by Reverend Lovejoy who personally drags Krusty out of the river. The episode then rapidly wraps up by showing us that Krusty has decided to stop being a fake-Christian, but it’s okay because Lovejoy is now a hero and everyone wants to listen to his sermons.
This episode is rough! There’s really not much that I enjoyed about it. Basically, it’s all the Gnome stuff with Maggie, which felt like a random little short film tacked onto this lackluster episode. Because everything else is kind of the pits. It’s so weird and cynical to have Reverend Lovejoy need to make up quotas on converting people to the religion, and being willing to do whatever he needs to in order to seemingly trick people to do so. But what bugs me so much more is how Sophie is so completely on board with Krusty randomly changing his religion for her. She doesn’t care that his entire life is changed, and his career is ruined. Because it’s all for her! It’s such a weird idea, and it makes Sophie to be incredibly unlikeable. I’m really glad that it all gets wiped away by the end, because Krusty’s slowly growing Judaism has been one of the most interesting aspects of the character. And to have him throw that all away to appease a character we’ll likely never see again just to end an argument so he doesn’t have to apologize? That really would have sucked. Not a great opening gambit for this week, but don’t worry, things get better and weirder as we get through the week.
Take Away: You probably shouldn’t flippantly convert to new religions. You also shouldn’t demand that other people convert to your religion. Let them be who they are, and believe what they believe.
“Nightmare After Krustmas” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Rob Oliver, 2016.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons