The Simpsons are now officially the the longest-running primetime scripted show in TV history! And while they have been beating that same drum over the last few weeks it was nice that they only spent the opening addressing it. We see Maggie wielding a pistol in a wild west setting taking down Gunsmoke’s Marshall Matt Dillon. It was cute but also effective and to the point.
We then dive into the story and if you’ve been following my reviews all season you’ll know that my main gripe is that The Simpsons just cannot keep to one storyline. In nearly all the episodes this season there has always been at least two, sometimes three stories in one episode. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, since it can be done effectively, but The Simpsons have stumbled to create really good episodes as a result.
In Forgive and Regret we thankfully settle on one storyline which doesn’t produce a ‘really good episode’ but it does provide a serviceable one. Abe is rushed to the hospital after a heart attack scare at a demolition rally and, thinking this to be his final goodbye, tells Homer a secret who has to promise not to tell anyone. Abe is revived thanks to Dr. Hibbert and Homer is goaded by his family to tell the secret: that when Homer was younger, Abe threw out a box of baking recipes, from his mother, he held dear. At the time Abe told young Homer that Mona took them with her when she ran away. The family turn on grandpa only to find out that he felt bad about the whole thing and went to get back the recipes from the forest. When Homer goes to save him, on account of the recipes being just off a cliff, they find that the box is empty. Before heading home they stop by a diner with apple pie very similar to the ones Mona used to make. They find out that the waitress had picked them up after she found them falling from the sky all those years ago.
The milestone that The Simpsons have reached while thankfully had nothing to do with the episode, did remind me that the show has a lot of backstory. I don’t envy the writers for having to juggle 636 episodes of continuity. I also don’t mind when they add to already established backstories, just as long as the core remains intact. In Forgive and Regret they did something slightly different. Season 7’s Mother Simpson is one of those classic episodes that not only stand out but is sancrosanct in the community for the backstory it provides. We learn that Homer’s mother is alive and the reasons for her disappearance when he was a kid. Abe’s real crime was telling his young son that his mother was dead. Homer’s life might have been different had he known the truth and his relationship with his father might have even been less rough.
In Forgive and Regret all of those what if’s, which were the backbone of Mother Simpson, are oddly moved over the act of Abe lying to Homer about the recipe box. I don’t mind that they’ve added this story to Homer’s past or the fact that it affected him a lot. The unfortunate bit was that the episode was a little too quick to attribute all of Homer’s developmental issues to this new lie when we already know the real cause of it, which was a lot worse. In the scene where Homer tells his family Lisa immediately bursts: “If this man had had those notes, his life would have been different!,” “He would have had confidence! He would have had his mother with him!” it was uncharacteristically harsh and not totally in line with what we know of Homer.
Other than that the episode was fine, the backstory itself just further reinforced the dynamics of distant father and loving mother. The reconciliation was also sweet with Homer himself having to lie about what the recipes actually said about Abe (from “your father’s a mean S.O.B” to “your father’s an ok guy”).
The episode was mostly sentimental but there were some laughs to be had. The running joke about conveniently installed silence barriers throughout Springfield was surprisingly funny. The demolition derby had some great sight gags: Napolean blown-aparte, truck-a-saurous 2, volkswagen thug, and car-rack obama the affordable health care mobile “which you can’t kill no matter how hard you try.” The NCIS spoof was also quite hilarious where everyone was pointing guns at everyone else and even the guns shot miniature guns.
If the episode would have respected the continuity a bit more then this might have been a really good episode but because it doesn’t quite do that it misses the mark.
For those with attention to detail
When Homer is given the recipes at the end of the episode by the waitress there is actually a recipe for apple pie on it
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