Lifetime of Simpsons

S31 E04 – Treehouse of Horror XXX

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Well, after a rocky start for Season 31, both in terms of the episodes and my ability to discuss them in a timely manner, I think today is hopefully a good sign. Because it’s a Halloween episode, and even when a Treehouse of Horror isn’t that great, it’s usually still pretty damned entertaining. Which, this one generally is.

But, it takes a while to get going, because the episode has a shockingly long title-sequence that’s essentially a fourth segment, beginning with Marge giving birth to their third child. But, it’s a boy, and Homer decides he doesn’t want another boy in the house, so Dr. Hibbert offers him a girl who has abandoned because she scored very high on an evil test. And, this is Maggie. So, Maggie comes home, where she immediately starts using her evil psychic power, clearly because she’s some sort of demon, leading things to become an Omen parody. Which, eventually reaches a climax when Ned decides he needs to kill her in a church, only for Marge and Homer to come to her rescue. But, Maggie still uses her abilities to destroy the church, causing them all to die and become the XXX for the episode’s title, all while bragging about how this episode ended up being the 666th of the series. We can then get onto the real segments.

 

Danger Things

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Our first segment is a pretty standard parody of Stranger Things, set during the unspecific 80’s where Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin are hanging out in the Treehouse playing the E.T. video game. But, when the game is over Milhouse rides his bike home alone in the middle of the night, where he’s promptly attacked by some sort of monster.

Kirk and Luanne become worried about Milhouse after realizing that he’s missing, causing Kirk to lose his mind and start breaking the house. He also ends up stringing up the Christmas lights, so I guess he’s supposed to be parodying the Winona Ryder character, but I don’t remember her breaking down walls. But, I guess that doesn’t really matter.

Now that Milhouse is able to control the electricity in the Christmas lights, he uses his power to call Lisa. And, with the knowledge that Milhouse is still alive somewhere, she gets Bart and they head to Professor Frink for help. Luckily, he has a sensory deprivation tank which can send them to the other dimension. Lisa offers to travel there, and shaves her head to look more like Eleven, because she apparently messed up giving herself bangs.

Lisa then travels to the Over Under, as they call it, which looks just like the Upside Down. But, she also encounters the Tracy Ullman Show version of herself and Bart, which is fun. She eventually finds Milhouse though, and manages to free him just as they’re about to be attacked by monsters.

The pair race into the evil version of Springfield, doing their best to flee from the monsters while knocking off as many Stranger Things references as they possibly can. And, eventually they’re rescued by Homer, whose new job at the Plant is to apparently come into the Over Under and kill monsters with a flamethrower. But, it’s a one-way trip, and because the Over Under has affordable housing the entire family decides to travel there and live in the Over Under permanently. They just have to occasionally incinerate monsters.

 

 

Heaven Swipes Right

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The middle segment is, as so often is the case, the weirdest of the bunch. Not really fitting in with the whole Halloween theme, it begins with Homer and the guys at a football game, where Homer gets a chant going. But, he also ends up choking on a hot dog, and because the crowd is so into the chant they don’t notice, and he dies in the stands.

Homer’s soul then heads up to Heaven, where he’s immediately put off by the strangely casual atmosphere. Which is explained when an administrative angel tells him that God sold Heaven to Google so that he could retire to Florida, and they’ve redesigned the place after their headquarters. But, at that point they realize that the system has made a mistake.

Homer wasn’t supposed to have died yet, meaning he’s allowed to return to Earth. But, his body was thrown into the ocean by the police, where it became too bloated for him to use. So, as a courtesy, they allow Homer to return in the body of someone else who was supposed to die that day.

And, Homer chooses the ripped body of a football player. He returns home, and introduces himself to Marge, who is a little hesitant at first, but quickly realizes that this is indeed Homer’s soul. Homer still sees himself as his old body, but Marge gets to enjoy the new football player. Until the next morning when she finds that Homer has already ruined the body with donuts and beer.

So, they decide to start tracking down a new body for Homer to use, as a family, and Bart suggests Superintendent Chalmers, who is apparently about to die. Homer takes over his body, leading to a reign of terror at school that harms Principal Skinner and makes Bart king. But, when Homer sees how little Chalmers make, he decides he needs another body. And, after switching between several bodies, none of which seems to stick, Homer finally ends up selecting Moe’s body, which seems to make everyone happy. Even Moe, who gets to be in the body of Maggie? I have no idea, the segment ends at this point without making any sense.

 

When Hairy Met Slimy

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The final segment of the episode is probably the most fun, while also being one of the more strange. In typical Simpsons fashion, it’s a parody of a movie that’s already several years too old, this time the Shape of Water. It begins with Selma working in at the Nuclear Power Plant as a maid after getting fired from the DMV.

And, while cleaning one of the special laboratories, Selma discovers a tank containing Kang. The two get talking, and start smoking together, quickly falling in love. Which, seems primarily cigarette based. Selma does find it a little weird, assuming that Kang actually wants to either eat her, get a Green Card, or put her in a zoo, all of which he awkwardly denies.

But, things are complicated one day when Burns arrives to tell him he’s going to be dissected soon. So, Selma decides to break him out, and enlists Homer’s help, who is more than eager to help get Selma off the planet. They stick him in a drum of toxic waste and rats and attempt to just sneak Kang out of the Plant, immediately getting an army of Plant security agents after them.

They manage to make it to Mount Springfield ahead of Burns and his soldiers, where Kodos arrives to save them. Unfortunately, right as they’re about to escape Burns and the soldiers arrive, and end up shooting Selma. And, in a rage, Kang then pulls out his Infinity Gauntlet and vaporizes everyone before bringing Selma back to life, and informing her she’s pregnant. At which point Patty shows up, ready to shoot down this entire thing, until she and Kodos immediately fall in love too, and they all decide to go, living happily every after, I suppose.

 

Is this the best Treehouse of Horror episode I’ve ever seen? No, of course not. But, it’s also not one of the worst. It’s just kind of decent, which honestly has been a bit of a rare find in these later seasons, so I’ll take it. The opening sequence seems a little superfluous, and kind of feels like they should have just made it a full segment, perhaps at the expense of the weird ghost one. But, at least it’s horror related, which is a shocking rarity nowadays. And, while relying on some seriously tired jokes, the Stranger Things parody isn’t bad. It really get the feel of the show, even making fun of the strangely hard to pin down years that it’s taking place, it just doesn’t really have anything new or funny to say about the show. And, as I’m intimated, I’m not quite sure what the hell was up with the ghost thing. It just felt really slapdash, ending with a premise that honestly would have made for a better story than what preceded it. And, while it’s hilarious that the show would be making a Shape of Water parody several years after that film had relevancy, it’s not bad. I always appreciate Kang and Kodos heavy stories, and it works well. It’s not a terrible episode, and it’s not a great one, just a decent little helping of Halloween horror.

 

“Treehouse of Horror XXX” was written by J Stewart Burns and directed by Timothy Bailey, 2019.

 

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