Well folks, we’ve made it through another season of the Simpsons. When Season 30 began I kind of hoped that we would be bidding farewell to the show, but it seems like they still think there’s something to squeeze from this stone, and we’re getting at least another year. So, before our summer break of Lifetime of Simpsons, it’s time to talk about the season finale, which I am absolutely shocked to tell you, was actually decent.
The episode begins at the Nuclear Plant with Smithers giving Mr. Burns a financial report on the Plant for the year. And, Burns is absolutely horrified to learn that for the first time in decades the Plant didn’t make as much money as it had the last year. It wasn’t a substantial dip, but that slight financial decline causes Burns to be thrown into a panic, looking for some way to offset it.
And, the solution he finds is to announce that the Plant will no longer be covering any children’s health care benefits. Which, seems weird. Just children, not all dependents or something like that, but what do I know, I’m not a cartoon supervillain who thinks its okay to play with people’s healthcare. And, as you might have guessed, Homer doesn’t take this news well, panicking about how screwed he is now. All while Lenny and Carl just mock him for having a family.
Marge tries to be a voice of reason, but it’s pretty clear that they’re going to be in a pretty rough situation. And, Homer’s only idea is for them to cut back on the kids’ medication and give them generic stuff. However, Marge starts to lose faith in that plan when she watches a video where a drug executive voiced by Werner Herzog warns that all the generic versions of Bart’s ADD medication cause insane side effects, which he starts having all at once just to hammer in the fact that this plan will never work.
Which means that their only hope is to start going to Dr. Nick and hope for the best. But even that doesn’t work, because he’s apparently a vet now! So, without any feasible options, Marge decides to try something insane. Because, as she and Bart are walking home they pass by a store that sells healing crystals, and Marge decides to give it a shot.
She strikes up a conversation with the lady working there, who immediately starts trying to hock all of that crap to Marge. giving her healing crystals that contain ancient databases of magical energy. And, more out of awkwardness than anything else, Marge picks some random crystals, and gives them to Bart, who is stoked because he just sees them as potential weapons.
But then something weird happens. Bart aces a history test, and Marge immediately jumps to the conclusion that it’s because of these crystals. Lisa is obviously dubious of this proposal, but to Marge it’s the only logical answer. And, slowly but surely, the news of Bart becoming intelligent thanks to magic crystals starts to spread around town, and Marge gets approached by Luanne Van Houten who asks Marge to buy her some crystals too.
Unfortunately, when Marge goes back to the crystal store she finds the lady is closing the shop so that she can go join a cult. But, the good news is that she’s more than willing to give Marge all of her inventory, for free. So, Marge brings a shitload of crystals back to the house, along with a bunch of other New Age stuff, and starts learning how to charge the crystals and get them all nice and magical.
And, it works. The women of Springfield become obsessed with the power of these crystals, and start coming to Marge as their crystal dealer. So, she decides to start a new business out of her garage, pushing down any self-doubt that she’s taking advantage of the many idiots of Springfield by selling them snake-oil. And, after some initial successes, Marge is approached by Lindsay Naegel, who is now selling all sorts of New Age garbage at wholesale, and Marge expands her product line to become a veritable superstore.
Marge starts making an absurd amount of money from the crystals, to the point where Homer decides he should become a kept man. And, there seems to be no end. They just keep making more and more money, and start having weird hallucinations about crystals, just living on top of the world.
But, one night while they’re attempting to close down they get a surprise visit from a woman named Piper. She explains that she’s a rival New Age shop owner from Shelbyville and she’s here to intimidate Marge and get her to back down and close her shop. Which, you would think would be time for Marge to give up. But, surprisingly, she decides to stick with it, and even declares war on this Piper woman, deciding to crush her instead. And she does this by buying a kiosk in the Shellbyville mall, right next to Piper’s kiosk.
However, this is when everything comes crashing down. Because the whole time that this crystal nonsense has been going on, Lisa has been investigating Bart, sure that he’s making it all up. And, sure enough, she realizes that he’s been cheating in an incredibly elaborate way. Milhouse has been making posters for their classroom that have minuscule test answers hidden in them, and Bart has been using the crystals he keeps on him as magnifying lenses to read the answers and ace his tests.
So, it’s all bullshit. And, Lisa wants Bart to tell Marge that her whole new fixation is based on a lie so that she can end it gracefully. And, when Lisa points out that Bart is lying to the only person who has never stopped believing in him, he finally starts to get guilty enough to tell Marge the truth.
They head to the Shellbyville mall just in time to see Marge begin her assault on Piper, having Patty and Selma use all of her free samples while Jacquelyn hassles her with returns. But, when Bart shows up and tells Marge the truth, she realizes she needs to end her power trip. Which also just so happens to correspond with all the women of Springfield arriving to tell her that the crystals aren’t working, and that they’re done using them. So, Marge concedes to Piper, and shuts her job down, returning to life as normal.
I’ve frequently lamented the fact that Marge Simpson often doesn’t get many good episodes devoted to her. More often than not they revolve around Marge attempting to get more out of her life, usually by getting a new job, and then watching as it all falls apart either due to incompetence or weird external factors. And, while this episode certainly hews pretty closely to that formula, I actually found myself having a good time with this one, primarily because Marge actually seems to be really killing it. It all comes apart at the end, because healing crystals are nonsense, but for the majority of the episode Marge is absolutely dominating her new business, having a hell of a time, and enjoying some swagger as the crystal queen of Springfield. Plus, she never really seemed overly invested, pretty clearly having some serious self doubts about the whole thing, but figuring that if other people were enjoying it she might as well make some money. I didn’t end up feeling sad for Marge by the end of this episode, which is a real rarity for Marge episodes. Instead, it felt pretty triumphant to see her succeed for once, doing the sort of weirdo scheme that’s usually reserved for a Homer episode. It had decent jokes, it subverted some decade’s long expectations, and overall was just a fun little episode. It wasn’t anything momentous, like you’d maybe expect from the season finale of their thirtieth season, but I’ll take any excuse to be positive about the Simpsons these days.
“Crystal Blue-Haired Persuasion” was written by Megan Amram and directed by Matthew Faughnan, 2019.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons