Lifetime of Simpsons

S31 E20 – Warrin’ Priests: Part Two

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Well, here we are again. Last week I had the gift of talking about one of my least favorite episodes of the Simpsons I’ve ever seen. And, against all logic, that was only the first half of a two-party story, so I also got to dread revisiting the second half of the story this week. I had a vain hope that maybe it would turn things around, take a turn that would actually justify the twenty minutes of my life spent watching that first episode. But, nope!

After a brief “previously on the Simpsons” segment hosted by Kent Brockman, we head right over to the First Church of Springfield, where attendance seems to have skyrocketed. Hell, they even have the bullies acting as valets due to the amount of cars. Everyone in Springfield seems to be in church this week, even Fat Tony as he talks about his life of crime and tries to reconcile it with his new enlightenment.

The Simpsons are obviously there, and Lisa tries to poke fun at Marge at the fact that she’s all dressed up for church, assuming that Marge has the hots for Bode and is trying to look attractive. Which, is creepy since Lisa has been written to obviously have a massive crush on Bode, but whatever.

Bode then comes out to begin his sermon, and after making some potshots at how he’s more popular than sports, he starts talking about how church attendance is hitting an all-time low around the world. He talks about how people don’t really trust Christians, because they think they’re judgmental weirdos. Which is false? He then starts talking about how he wants to reach people of all creeds and bring all faiths together, just as long as they believe in some religion.

And, everyone seems to be down with this. Except for Ned Flanders, who has a breakdown and starts arguing with Bode in front of everyone. But, his indoctrination won’t let him just storm out, so he sits through the rest of the sermon. Until the end that is, when the two get back at it with each other, leading to Bode telling Ned that he just recites the Bible like a parrot, and doesn’t know what it means, missing the point of Christianity.  Meanwhile, Lisa is sitting there, falling in love with Lisa, and starts having fantasies about becoming Christian again, and how excited she is to start praying, all because she thinks Bode is a hunk.

 

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While all of this is going on we see that Tim and Helen Lovejoy are in Michigan, trying to track down Bode’s shady past. They end up finding that he worked at a mega-church at one point, ,and head inside to try to meet with someone. We get lots of tired gags about mega-churches, until Lovejoy gets to meet with one of the preachers. And, he instantly makes it clear that he hates Bode, and tells Lovejoy a long and rambling story about what he did, before finally showing them some video of Bode talking about how possessions don’t matter, before he lights some unseen object on fire.

Back in Springfield, Lisa is just hanging out, reading the Bible, and pointing out how problematic it is, when Marge comes in, thrilled that she’s becoming Christian again. She also teases Lisa about her crush, and tries to warn her that Springfield always crushes what’s new and “better,” and also points out that she has a terrible track record of falling in love with older men who disappoint her. but, Lisa’s sure that it’ll work out this time.

Bode has ingratiated himself pretty well with the people of Springfield at this point, even going to Moe’s with Homer one day so he can sit there while Homer gets drunk and tries to have some sort of confessional thing. But, Bode has to excuse himself when he has to go meet Ned for some sort of church meeting. Which, turns out to be an ambush at Ned’s home, where he tries to have some sort of scripture war. They just sort of yell passages from the Bible at each other until Bode apparently wins, and Ned is officially defeated.

So, it seems like Bode no longer has anything standing in his way, and continues his new way to church. Until a fateful Sunday when they’re having Hawaiian themed church service and Reverend Lovejoy comes barreling in. He proclaims that Bode is a heretic, and explains that Bode is only in Springfield because he was fired from a church for burning a Bible. And, that really seems to bother the people of Springfield. They instantly turn on Bode, and Lisa demands that they have some sort of trial for Bode.

 

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Sometime later everyone in town goes to Town Hall, where Lovejoy and Bode are having some sort of debate, moderated by Lisa. People point out that this is strange, but they just kind of move past it, and Lovejoy starts snarking about people ever trusting Bode. Lisa tries to talk about how the Bible talks about forgiveness, but Lovejoy just keeps whipping the crowd up into an angry mob.

Bode finally gets a chance to speak for himself, and ends up saying that he came to Springfield to unite them, but has only succeeded in dividing them. So, he’s going to leave town. He wanted people to learn something from him, and is afraid that they’re too angry to have done so. But, before he leaves, the Simpsons invite him over for dinner so he can say a grace about how their adventures will never end.

The next day, Bode is getting ready to leave town, when Lisa arrives to talk with him, and figure out why he burned the Bible. He explains that it was a dumb mistake he made when he was younger, because he was trying to get people to understand that what matters is the message of Christ, not the actual Bible. Lisa tries to get him to realize that that was a dumb way to go about things, and just kind of deflects it, making it clear he’s just going to wander the world, teaching towns until they find out about his past. He then packs up and leaves.

 

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I am just so baffled by these episodes. They irritate me so much, and have done a pretty great job at getting me absolutely uninterested in anything Pete Holmes will ever do after this. It’s just such an insanely egotstical thing, showing up and writing a meandering two-part episode where he arrives and blows Springfield’s mind, causing Lisa to fall in love with him and completely change her spiritual beliefs, only to just strut out when things return to the status quo, claiming some sort of moral superiority. There is absolutely no reason that this story needed to take up two entire episodes, and mainly just served to be a vehicle for a bunch of Holmes’ rambling thoughts on religion, with a modicum of plot spiced in. And, that plot is an incredibly hackneyed one at that, which the episode even calls out. Lisa is always falling for these weird idealistic people, only for them to break her heart, but to have it also entail her be willing to completely change who she is as a person so that she can be in love with the guy writing the episode just feels creepy. It’s rough folks, but I guess the season can only get better from here.

 

“Warrin’ Priests: Part Two” was written by Pete Holmes and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2020.

 

 

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