It’s hard to follow up good episodes. This is true for any show but its particularly true for shows that have been on for an extended period of time like The Simpsons.

From Russia Without Love has the dubious task of following up last week’s near classic. It unfortunately isn’t able to ride any of last weeks momentum but I think this comes down to the fact that its a Moe episode. This isn’t to say that Moe episodes in general are bad, its just that they’re usually a bit more serious. From Russia, while not like last weeks entry is still good for other reasons.

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PHOTO SOURCE: The Simpsons, Fox

The episode follows a phone prank gone wrong wherein Bart, Milhouse and Nelson decide to up the ante. They purchase a mail order bride for Moe from the dark web who happens to be Russian and too good to be true. Moe rejects her on account of his bad history with relationships but he develops feelings for the Russian (Anastasia) and wins her back. On their wedding day Ana’s true motives become clear (she merely wants to marry in order to steal assets) and, seeing as Moe is in heavy debt, leaves him. Moe himself orders the wedding off with his trusty shotgun. Ana reveals herself to not even be Russian (she’s from Columbus, Ohio) and runs off with Willie after putting on an impressive Scottish accent.

Throughout the episode Moe displays a kind of maturity that’s not often seen on the show and I can appreciate that. He first off sees right through Bart’s prank call and even when Ana arrives he knows that the whole mail order bride thing is a bad idea.  Moe also knows that jumping into something like this is going to lead to him being hurt.  And, when he tries to win her back, he does it with tact.  This maturity may seem sort of uncharacteristic but it all works well with what we know of the bartender. He’s been through a lot in his life so it makes sense that he would proceed with caution. Even when he had to call off the wedding he did so with a pragmatism that just seemed natural.

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PHOTO SOURCE: The Simpsons, Fox

While never losing sight of his innate creepiness, venality, and general lack of business place hygiene, the show has used Moe as comic counterpoint to his own, scabrous image for both big laughs (Moe’s secret history of reading classic literature to the sick and homeless results in the all-timer threat “If this gets out, the next words you say will be muffled by your own butt.”), and surprising pathos.

Here, we get a bit of both and while this isn’t the best Moe episode by any stretch it works because it adds to the character in a way that makes sense.

Aside from Moe the episode did have some neat things about it but also some very forgettable ones. Most notably, the intro was pretty bad and quite unnecessary as it showed a prehistoric era on the founding of beer. It was nice though to see the return of Herman (the military vet) albeit very brief as he showed the kids how to shop on the dark web. John Lovitz also made a surprise cameo as Hacky the dark web help tool who if caught turns into Snitchy the weasel who gives all your information to the FBI.

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PHOTO SOURCE: The Simpsons, Fox

Duffman also makes a brief but welcome appearance since he’s also scheduled to attend a beer mitzvah where he’ll put the brew in Hebrew. Nelson too has a part to play but more on the forgettable side. He makes a reference early in the episode to his dad telling him he went to Mars and then at the end of the episode we get the tag with Nelson finally getting to Mars and his dad once again leaving him to get a pack of smokes. Kind of sad but wholly unnecessary.

So, all in all this was a decent episode that benefits from a singular, character driven story. In my opinion, season 30 is shaping up to be one of the best season’s in a long time, let’s just hope they keep it up!

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