Well everyone, it’s time to talk about one of the most special times of the year. It’s another Treehouse of Horror here on Lifetime of Simpsons! No matter how rough the show may be at the moment, the good old Treehouse of Horror episodes are usually an oasis of fun, something to unapologetically enjoy, because surely at least one of the segments will work. And, as I’ve discussed, this hasn’t been the strongest season of the Simpsons I’ve ever seen. We’re only a few episodes in, but things have been pretty rough. So, does this episode serve as a spooky little balm? Well…
Things start off in a New England town called Fogburyport, because these title sequences just keep getting more and more elaborate. We do get a series of tombstone gags though, which we haven’t had in forever, so that’s cool.The Simpsons are in the little fishing village for some sort of oyster-eating competition, despite the fact that the town is clearly haunted. And, as the contest is about to begin, the townsfolk announce that this was all a scam to sacrifice the Simpsons to Cthulu, their god. The Great Dreamer then rises from the sea, and is about to eat Homer, when Homer comes up with a scheme. He challenges Cthulu to the oyster-eating contest that he came all this way for. Cthulu agrees, and ends up losing quite handily to Homer, thus having to submit to Homer’s wishes. Which are to eat him. And, as Cthulu’s head explodes into the titles, the episode actually begins.
Invasion of the Pod-Y Switchers
Our first segment opens up in the secret underwater headquarters of the Mapple corporation where an army of stockholders are awaiting a message from Steve Mobs, the long-dead head of the company. He gives some updates to the new MyPhone, before saying that the company is in the competent hands of his replacement. Unfortunately, Mobs doesn’t know that that replacement is actually a member of some sort of plant-based alien race who has infiltrated Mapple as part of a grand scheme. And, it’s time for that plan to begin.
A signal is sent to the Plant People’s homeplanet, sending a wave of mysterious spores through space, covering Springfield, and presumably the world. The people of Springfield are too busy playing with their new MyPhones to notice these spores, causing them all to get covered by rapidly growing plant, spitting out vegetable clones of whoever got eaten.
We see several people in town get replaced with duplicates before running into Bart, who becomes aware of the invasion while hanging out at the Android’s Dungeon. He then runs home, only to find that Homer and Marge have already been replaced. So, Bart and Lisa flee from the house, hoping to get some help from the police. Which, not surprisingly, doesn’t go well, because Wiggum has already been replaced.
Lou is fine though, and he offers to help the kids escape, racing around town looking for survivors. But, the plants are too crafty, and end up trapping our heroes, eating Lou before replacing Bart and Lisa. But, they don’t die. When the plants surround Lisa she has a trippy Stargate sequence where she sees a lot of plant-based stuff like Smurfs, the Jolly Green Giant, and Luci from Disenchantment smoking. And, when her trip is done, she finds that she and every other citizen of Springfield are now on the Plant People’s planet. Apparently this wasn’t a malicious invasion, they were attempting to save humanity, and have transported Springfield across the universe to a wonderful utopia. And, in response, they immediately start using their phones again.
Our middle segment opens up with Bart getting beaten up by Nelson in a strange cell while Milhouse watches. Bart’s disoriented, but quickly realizes that they’re all chained up inside the cell, with no memory of what’s going on. The last thing they remembered was being at Milhouse’s home for a sleep over when they drank drugged Sunny D, causing them to pass out. So, it looks like they’ve been kidnapped. But by who? Why, Lisa of course! It then becomes clear that this segment is a parody of the film Split, because Lisa is full of crazy slip personalities, all with their own ridiculous accents. She turns into a Broadway singer and sings them a song about how she’s finally snapped, and has kidnapped them before killing them.
While all of this is happening, Lisa is still living at home though. She’s keeping the rest of the family from snooping into Bart’s whereabouts, all while switching between personalities. And, while she’s doing that, the boys are still locked up, trying to escape. And, as they’re trying to use Milhouse as a battering ram, Lisa arrives to free them. She says they can escape, they just have to get away from her. The boys flee, and end up finding that they’ve been trapped in a recycling plant. And, when they get into the larger factory, Lisa completely snaps and goes full super-villain. She throws Milhouse into a newspaper bundler, and impales Nelson with a bunch of magnets, leaving only Bart alive.
Lisa then explains what’s going on, saying that she snapped when Bart took one of her tests and made some changes to it, giving her her first F. This has caused her to go completely insane, and make her willing to murder her brother. She does give Bart one last chance to give her a loving speech though, and he does that. Lisa ends up unsnapping, going back to normal, and deciding everything will go back to normal.
Our final sequence is a incredibly topical parody of the first Jurassic Park film, and opens up with Mr. Burns explaining to Smithers that he’s devised a method to rejuvenate the elderly, using dinosaur DNA, and will be opening a special island where they can live youthfully again. This is obviously a great plan, and the segment then jumps ahead a year with the Simpsons taking a helicopter ride to said island to visit Grandpa. They pass over the wreckage of every other Jurassic Park site before coming across Geriatric Park, where they get to watch a video explaining what’s going on with the other visiting Springfielders.
The video promises that the dinosaur DNA is perfectly safe, and has turned their loved ones into models of physical perfection. Unless they turn into dinosaurs, which is possible. They then get to see the old folks, who are living in a wonderful utopia. Until Homer nudges the thermostat slightly, which causes a massive chain reaction where all the old folks turn into massive dinosaurs. They then begin attacking the younger Springfielders, slaughtering them all, leaving the Simpsons alone. They attempt to flee, and get caught up by Grandpa and Jacqueline, who have become massive dinosaurs. Lisa then decides that they should just talk to the dinosaurs, offering to hear all of their stores and opinions. And it works! The dinosaurs calm down, and become kindly old dinosaurs, ready to get used to their new lives.
Listen. Things haven’t been that great this season. The episodes have been incredibly lackluster, and you can just feel the steam running out of the show. I usually find that the Treehouse of Horror episodes can be outliers, giving us some good old fashioned Halloween joy. And this episode delivered that, at least a bit. This isn’t the strongest Treehouse of Horror episode. It’s pretty forgettable. But, it’s at least a little interesting, which is more than I can say for the rest of this season. The whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers segment was pretty fun for a while, watching Bart and Lisa race around town trying to avoid the invasion. But I think the whole teleportation across the universe thing was really weird, and then the segment ends immediately after revealing it, just leaving you confused about why that was even included. The middle segment is probably the best, but that might just be my affection for Split talking. I enjoyed seeing Lisa snap though, giving Yeardley Smith a chance to swing for the fences. And then there’s that Jurassic Park thing, which just felt like they were pulling plot elements out of a hat, coming up with a segment that makes absolutely no sense, and just generally lands with a thud. It’s not perfect, but it’s a Treehouse of Horror episode. I have a serious soft spot for these episodes, and this one at least managed to scratch that itch and resemble the show I love so much.
“Treehouse of Horror XXIX” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Matthew Faughnan, 2018.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons