Something interesting happened on the season finale of The Simpsons. The show finally gave some respect to continuity but it also played with it in problematic ways. That’s not to say the episode wasn’t good, it had its moments, it just took some liberties.
In Ladder, the wifi gets cut and after a brief VHS scene Homer and Bart decide to steal Flanders internet router. In the process Bart gets struck by lightening and ends up in a coma. Lisa in the meantime, in an effort to get revenge on Bart for an earlier prank, decides to whisper scary stuff to him to induce nightmares. It works and part of the episode sees Bart in a dream world where he has to confront the town’s dead.
The prank scene was classic Bart and Lisa. He gets her to take a quiz only to have it be one of those pop up scares. He relishes in the moment and even posts her reactions online. The only thing that was just a bit off was Lisa wanting to torment her brother while in a coma. It just seemed a bit out of character. I could see her trying to get back at him but while he’s on his deathbed? It was a bit much in my opinion.
The dream sequences were pretty good except for one detail. Bart’s main tormentor turns out to be Maude Flanders which doesn’t make much sense. Maude and Bart had no relationship, the fact that Homer was the inadvertent cause of Maude’s T-shirt cannon demise has never once been shown as affecting Bart in any way, and—worst of all—their interactions here aren’t funny.
It was nice that they at least didn’t retcon her death. In fact they respected it by showing the old footage which was a nice touch. Leaving aside the controversy of Maude’s death for another day it was fitting that her version of revenge was to get Homer with T-shirt canons. But the decision to pair Bart and Maude was still an odd one.
The pairing that did work but only got one scene was Bart with Milhouse’s therapist. “I can’t tell you what a relief it is not to be talking to Milhouse,” he confides to Bart, before revealing that he, too, is a ghost: “If you’d been on time, you might have saved my life, but whatever.” It was funny and the easy breezy nature of the conversation left me wanting more of it.
The episode did try to go for emotion at the end with Bart nearly dying on account of Homer dying in his dream sequence. It was kind of funny to see Bart try and persuade Homer that he shouldn’t die; nothing worked, not someone else raising his kids, not Marge remarrying or even someone else riding his lawnmower. The parallel scene with Lisa pleading for Bart not to die was nice though it felt a little unearned; the stakes didn’t feel high enough for that kind of emotion.
The episode ends with Bart recovering but wondering if this is also a dream. Milhouse tells him its real because he’s not wearing a sweater. Bart is shocked that Milhouse knows this just as dramatic music plays.
We then get a ‘post credit’ type scene where Bart tells Lisa how everyone dies. Its done in the style of Six Feet Under’s series finale which is a bit odd at first but you get into it. It was interesting seeing all the deaths but a few comments:
- Chief Wiggum is only 3 years older than Homer? but he was around during Mona’s escape as a cop so he must at least be 10 years older than Homer.
- Flander’s ends up marrying Marge? that’s a bit weird but he also has a wall of all his other marriages which includes the crazy cat lady
- When Bart dies he’s in a judicial robe which means he does actually become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
- Ralph becomes an evil king a la Joffrey Baratheon
- funniest of all Maggie never dies
All in all this was an interesting episode to end the season on not least because the ending had a series finale kind of vibe to it. Otherwise, it was funny in moments but it made some questionable decisions. It felt like a Treehouse of Horror episode which was good because those are usually good but the episode also tried hard to be emotional which felt a little forced.
A final note on this past season: a tale of two halves. The first half of the season was actually pretty good as far as modern day Simpsons are concerned. The second half featured less than stellar episodes with some dubious artistic choices and a splash of controversy.
For those with attention to detail:
In episode 2: Springfield Splendor there was an Easter egg about Dr. Marvin Monroe and I questioned whether he was actually alive or dead. Well here its confirmed that he’s dead as he was one of the dead ghosts in Bart’s coma.
That’s it for this season thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed these reviews. Make sure to keep it locked on TGON for all your nerd content!