It’s 2020 and The Simpsons have now aired in 5 different decades. Whatever you think of the show, it’s a pretty impressive feat. Especially since the show continues to be a part of the zeitgeist via its eerily spot-on predictions. Underneath it all, I’m curious if the show has predicted its own future (ie. its eventual end) and we just haven’t noticed. Only time will tell.

One thing that can be predicted is that The Simpsons gets a lot of mileage from its extensive catalog of side characters. Artie Ziff makes his slimy return because that’s just something he would do.

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Hail to the Teeth splits time almost equally between a Marge/Ziff and Lisa however I’ll give the A story to Lisa since the episode is named after her section. In the A-story, Lisa is told by an old man that she should smile more. Coincidentally, she is forced to get braces again via a two-part procedure. The first forces her to smile. This, in turn, makes her more popular and after resisting the urge to take advantage of this she gives in. She runs for student body president but the second part of the dental procedure now forces her to frown which makes her lose the election.

This one makes the obvious reference to season 4’s classic Last Exit to Springfield (“dental plan, Lisa needs braces”). Last Exit was about organized labor vs big business and the casualties in between, Hail to the Teeth sees a more grounded kind of struggle. It’s school politics but layered with societal commentary on how women are perceived in positions of power. It’s great stuff and Lisa actually struggles to come to terms with the power her smile brings. She sees that this could be a way to exact change but ultimately realizes that its superficial base cannot stand.

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On the B side, Ziff sends the Simspons a hologram invite to his wedding. Its revealed that he’s become wildly rich and he shows off his grandness to Homer at his bachelor party. At the wedding, no one is sitting on the bride’s section and Homer is asked to walk the bride, who is veiled, down the aisle. It’s revealed that the bride looks exactly like Marge. Shocked Homer and Marge leave but try to reach out to the bride to let her know what she’s getting herself into. Ziff reveals that his bride is actually a robot and that all this time he’s been trying to perfect a Marge clone. He had hoped that the sight of his marriage would somehow turn Marge over to him. Marge convinces Artie to use his talents for good and using his robots helps build an orphanage in her name.

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Let’s not forget that Artie once tried to force himself onto Marge and that she knew better to not let him take advantage of her. Artie is a creep and this episode takes that to another level. In the tag we see him having dinner with four of the clones as he gauges which one will sleep with him, again just creepy. But Jon Lovitz plays him with so much gusto it’s almost addicting to watch. This is especially so when the writers add in the more zany qualities of his character. The hologram was spot on and the fact that it wouldn’t shut off was typical Artie. Marge proves herself the better person once again by trying to talk sense into the bride and then after the reveal, convincing Artie to use his talents for good.

Hail to the Teeth was a solid episode and one of the rare ones where time was spent equally well on both stories; this despite the fact that there was a full intro.

Its the second half of the season so new episodes will be scattered here and there pretty much until April/May.  In the meantime, keep it locked on TGON for all your news, reviews and analysis.