Lifetime of Simpsons

S30 E06 – From Russia Without Love

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Hey, you know what type of Simpsons episode we haven’t had in a while? One where we focus on the love-life of a tertiary character that we really don’t have much investment in, and whose love-life has been proven to be narratively inert. So, you know what that means! Time to talk about Moe’s eternal quest to be loved and rejected!

The episode, for some reason, starts off by showing us the “Dawn of Beer,” during caveman times. We see a muscly Caveman Homer wandering through he woods, before coming across a clearing where Caveman Moe has set up a little bar. Moe introduces Homer to the concept of alcohol, and gives him a frothy beverage that instantly turns Homer fat and gives him some happiness in life, before making him too talkative and then sad.

We then jump to the present, where Homer and Marge are sitting around, talking about their budget for their Thanksgiving dinner. Marge thinks that they spend too much money, and have to start cutting people who drink too much. And, when it’s time to start cutting people she doesn’t really want at her house, the first person on her list is Moe. Because apparently Moe comes to their home every year for Thanksgiving.

So, the next day Homer heads to the bar to break it to Moe that he’s no longer invited. And, he proves to be quite bad at it. Moe doesn’t really understand the subtle way that Homer’s trying to let him down easy, causing Homer to have to get straight to the point and rip the band-aid off, which makes Moe start to get really angry, before sulky and petulant, trying to make Homer feel so bad that he invites him back.

While Moe’s having a little fit though, he gets a call to the bar, which of course ends up being Bart prank calling him. However, Bart’s really off his game, and Moe doesn’t even fall for it, instead just telling Bart he can do better. And this really upsets Bart, who’s hanging out with Milhouse and Nelson. They’re shocked that they failed at pranking Moe, and decide that they need to amp up their mischief. Which of course means they’re going to need to go get some weaponry.

The boys then head to Herman’s Military Antiques to pick up some weapons of war. Unfortunately, Herman can’t sell weapons to children. But, he is willing to take them to his sketchy basement and let them use his computer he has specially set up to visit the Dark Web to buy some weapons. Because I think the Simpsons writers think that you need a whole special rig to access the Dark Web. Regardless, the boys are able to access anything they want, and with the help of a special Clippy-esque AI are able to hack into PayPal and buy some revenge to let loose upon Moe.

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A few days later the boys arrive at Moe’s eager to see their purchase arrive, and what it will do to Moe. They then watch as a taxi pulls up, and a woman gets out. She walks into the bar, announces her name is Anastasia, and tells Moe that she’s his mail-order Russian bride. Because apparently Bart and the boys thought that buying Moe a wife was revenge?

Moe is quite confused why this woman has suddenly arrived in her life, since he didn’t order her, but she seems deadset on staying. Moe then spends quite a bit trying to convince her that he’s not exactly a catch, and that she should just get out while she can. Which confuses Anastasia, because she can’t quite understand why Moe is fighting this. Which is a good point, you would think that Moe would be super down with this, and not even question how this has happened to him. But, instead, he just pitches a fit, telling Anastasia that he can’t take the heartbreak when she inevitably rejects him.

That night at the Simpson’s house, while the family are having dinner, they start gossiping about Moe’s strange situation. Homer and Marge are shocked that this is happening, Bart start laughing to himself knowingly while really wanting to tell the family that it was all his weird doing, and Lisa is just baffled that mail-order brides is still a thing. They then spend a while as a family arguing about the plot of Fiddler on the Roof.

Meanwhile, Moe is still struggling to figure out what to do with Anastasia. She still thinks that she should stay and marry Moe, but he’s still refusing to do it. Although, he starts to melt a bit when she starts showing how great she is. She classes up the bar, gets a lot more customers than normal, and even is able to convince the new customers that they should stay and that Moe isn’t a complete nightmare. And, they end up making a lot of money, but Moe still doesn’t think it’s a good idea, and tells Anastasia she should leave.

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And, while Moe is dealing with Anastasia, Bart is busy continuing to order all sorts of weird things off the Dark Web, like pregnant rats. This eventually catches the attention of Homer and Marge, who realize that Bart is up to something fishy. So, they start to interrogate him, threatening to destroy his phone. This is enough to convince Bart, and he ends up telling them that he’s responsible for Anastasia, and tells them all about the Dark Web.

With that knowledge Homer decides to go tell Moe the truth. And he doesn’t really care. He’s too busy tearing himself up, because Anastasia has finally left. Due to him telling her she should. But, whatever, now Moe has decided he’s fallen in love with Anastasia, and is going to win her back. So, he heads to the Russia Tea Room that she’s working at, hoping to convince her to come back to him.

Unfortunately, Anastasia isn’t available, because she’s busy with her new boyfriend, Krusty the Clown. This crushes Moe, and he ends up returning to the bar to mope around with the guys. They give him a pep talk though, and he decides to go win her back from Krusty. Even though one of the major arguments was that she signed a contract, and owes Moe, which is sketchy as hell. So, Moe finds Krusty and Anastasia in a park, and proposes to Anastasia. And, seemingly quite reluctantly, she accepts.

They then throw a wedding together, incredibly quickly, in the alley behind the bar. They even get Duffman to walk Anastasia down the aisle. They then read some very sad vows before Moe prepares to sign some traditional Russian wedding contracts. But, while Bart is bringing them the contracts, he happens to read them, since he’s learned Russian from the Dark Web, and is weirded out by them.

Because the contract is primarily about how Moe will be giving Anastasia all of his money and belongings. Moe gets put off by this, while Anastasia claims that it’s all a prank from Bart. But, she eventually gives up and reveals that she’s a) a conwoman and b) not Russian. It was all just a scam. And, with her scam revealed, Anastasia leaves Moe behind to continue her life of scams, this time focusing on Willie. Episode over!

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So, this is still a pretty rough episode. I hate feeling like a broken record, but Season 30 has been incredibly shaky. I’m not quite sure why the show has been so creaky, but episodes like this are kind of emblematic of this slow sinking of quality. The episode doesn’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, it’s not particularly funny, and it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why does Bart think ordering Moe a mail-order bride is some sort of revenge? Why does Moe keep pushing Anastasia away and then immediately wondering why she doesn’t want to spend time with him? Why is Anastasia sticking with this con, even though it’s incredibly apparent that Moe isn’t a legitimate source of money? I don’t have any answers to these questions, or an explanation of how the Simpsons writers think the Dark Web works. All I know is that I can’t take any more episodes about Moe failing to be happy. Because there’s nothing left to say with it. Every single “Moe gets in a relationship” episode is exactly the same. Moe gets his hopes up, screws is up, and remains depressed without learning anything. And it’s just getting tedious.

 

“From Russia Without Love” was written by Michael Ferris and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2018.

 

 

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