Lifetime of Simpsons

S28 E11 – Pork and Burns

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After yesterday’s unpleasantness let’s try to right this ship by dealing with a much better episode. Still not entirely great, but much better than yesterday’s episode. And, better yet, it’s all about a character that doesn’t get the respect and attention they deserve anymore. I speak of course of Plopper, the Simpson’s pig that has barely appeared since the Simpson’s Movie. You’ve all been waiting for this.

The episode begins in what appears to be feudal Japan, with several men hand-crafting a book. It seems to a very laborious process, but they seem to get satisfaction from making the books, even if they’re then immediately picked up by Amazon drones. Unfortunately, a manager arrives and tells them that they’ve received a massive order from America, and will now require them to get rid of the hand-crafting and get robots.

This doesn’t matter in the slightest, all that does matter is that their book, the Japanese Warrior Monk’s Guide to Tidying Up, is now being shipped all over America. Including a gross car-wash in Springfield, which the Simpsons happen to be inside. While they’re waiting for their car to be washed, because this is apparently still the 90’s, Marge wanders around the little lobby and finds the book. And she’s obviously interested.

Marge loves the book, and ends up calling a family meeting in order to make the family tidier. She tells them that the whole point of the book is to look at all of your possessions, decide if that object gives you joy, and to get rid of it if it doesn’t. I know that this is a real idea, and it seems weird that they’re stealing it from someone to credit to some warrior monks, but whatever. It’s time for the Simpsons to start looking through their belongings to toss some crap.

We then see how the various family members deal with this new status quo. Bart does very poorly, and decides that absolutely everything in his room delivers him joy, and finds no reason to get rid of anything. However, Lisa has the opposite reaction. She gets very melancholy and decides that nothing in her life brings her joy, and ends up getting rid of absolutely all of her possessions except her saxophone.

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Homer also does rather poorly. He doesn’t find much to get rid of, and it ends up opening Marge up to make a request. There’s something very specific that she wants him to get rid of. Plopper. Apparently Plopper has been living with them ever since the Simpson’s Movie, we just have essentially never seen him. And Marge can’t stand him. She wants Plopper gone, and gives Homer a deadline to find the pig a new place to live.

Homer’s really worried about the kind of place that Plopper will end up, and decides to put him on Craigslist so he can be picky. He almost immediately gets a potential buyer, but when he has to drop Plopper off at a Sprawl Mart parking lot in the middle of the night, he gets creeped out. Especially because the buyer ends up being Snake. So, Homer decides to call the whole thing off, and tries to find a new solution to the Plopper problem.

A couple days later Homer is walking with Plopper through town, and tries to bring him into Luigi’s to get some lunch. Unfortunately, Luigi won’t let Plopper in, since the only animals allowed inside are service animals. Which gives Homer an idea. He’s going to go to a shady doctor and get Plopper declared to be a service animal. He tries a few doctors, but ends up finally getting Doctor Nick to sign off on it. He also gets some marijuana and opioids. Because Doctor Nick doesn’t mess around.

While all of this is going on Lisa has run into a bit of a conundrum. Her saxophone is now basically her only possession, and she’s still worrying about seeing if things bring her joy. And she’s worried that the saxophone no longer is bringing her joy. She’s unable to bring up joyful songs, and is terrified that she no longer enjoys playing her saxophone. So, she decides to do something insane, and announces at dinner that night that she’s going to give away her saxophone.

Homer has meanwhile been going all around town with Plopper, enjoying his company as a helper animal, in theory to help with anxiety. However, at the same dinner that Lisa makes her insane proclamation, Marge starts to notice that Homer legitimately seems to be more mellow and kind now. It appears that Plopper is actually working, and she decides to just accept that and let Homer keep Plopper. Even though he kind of looks insane.

Sometime later the Simpsons end up going to some sort of party at a mansion nearby to Burn’s mansion, I’m not really quite sure why, and Homer of course brings Plopper. Which becomes a problem when Burns’ hounds manage to get out of their pen, and come to attack Plopper. He ends up surviving, but does get pretty injured, which instantly throws Homer into a panic attack.

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Smithers is worried about Homer suing Burns due to Plopper’s injuries, so they offer to take care of him. They call up that vet that Lisa interned with, and he starts to take care of Plopper. So, to cover his ass, Burns ends up inviting Plopper to stay at some sort of personal health clinic that Burns has attached to his mansion, promising that he’ll get the best healthcare in town. And, Homer agrees, even though it starts to cause him some stress.

Before we see how the whole pig thing shakes out though, we need to check back in on Lisa. Because she’s not doing great. She’s now decided that there’s no more joy in her life, and has no idea how to cope. Bart ends up noticing this, and tells her that there are other ways to find joy in life. Namely, pranks. He then comes up with a way to rekindle her old passions while potentially finding a new one by helping her design a prank.

And it’s kind of a lame one. They basically just take over the school’s announcement frequency, so that their own pirate jazz-station will play over the loudspeakers. Lisa gets to program her own radio show, and it ends up showing her that she still loves jazz. Which is a shame, since her sax is gone now. Or is it? She starts complaining about how shortsighted she was, and Marge ends up revealing something insane. She didn’t throw out all the stuff that didn’t spark joy, she just bought a storage locker to stick it all in. So, Lisa’s sax is still in their possession, and they go pick it back up.

A couple days of rehabilitation ends up going well for Plopper, who is now basically healed except for a large scar on his back. However, when Burns sees the scar he ends up getting a flashback to watching football with his father, and ends up getting a powerful nostalgic connection to Plopper. And, just like that, he decides that he’s going to just keep Plopper for himself, and lie to Homer, even when he comes to the mansion to find out what’s going on.

Homer realizes that Burns is screwing with him, and goes to Bart for some help in planning a pig heist. They sneak up to Burns’ mansion in the middle of the night, and actually do manage to get Plopper out of the mansion. However, along the way the hounds are alerted, and come out to attack Plopper. Luckily, Smithers shows up and is able to make the hounds heel, letting them get away with their friend. Homer bring Plopper back, and Marge ends up making a deal with him. He can keep Plopper as long as he gives up beer. Homer agrees, since I’m sure the show will immediately forget both this promise and Plopper.

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This is a very strange episode. I think it’s really weird that we’re just told that Plopper has totally been a part of the family this whole time, it’s just a coincidence that we’ve never seen him in about ten years. But, that’s kind of how the Simpson’s often rolls, so whatever. That doesn’t ignore the fact that this episode really didn’t seem to have a good idea of what to do with Plopper. The whole “service animal” thing was a fun little plot, but it completely derails for a last-minute change into an obsessive Mr. Burns plot. Both of those could have worked, but they feel really weird when paired together, like they rapidly changed their minds on what this episode is actually about. But none of that is as weird as the Lisa plot, where she ends up giving her saxophone away for a ridiculous reason, only to immediately want it back, and be rewarded for her indecisive actions. I don’t know. At least no one forced a religion upon another person, so it worked better than yesterday’s episode.

Take Away: If you want a service animal just get one of those fake vests from Etsy, it’s way easier than trying to fake a pig through the system.

 

“Pork and Burns” was written by Rob LaZebnik and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2017.

 

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