The Simpsons are finally back after an extended hiatus and much like the Sea Captain in this episode are in need of a bit of luck. I say this because the show often times has great ideas but doesn’t want to commit to them.
This episode starts off rather brilliantly with a young swashbuckler in a drinking game with a love interest. The two thwart a Nazi plan to steal their half of a treasure map. Once they get the other half its revealed that a large bounty lies in Springfield. Fast forward to the present and the young swashbuckler is now the grizzled and tired Sea Captain (Horatio) still looking for the loot just outside Springfield waters.
Intermittent glimpses of his home life show that his marriage to that long-ago woman has turned exhaustedly bitter in his futile quest, with the young woman now clinically depressed and resentful of Horatio for continuing his futile search. Horatio himself doesn’t know how to help and so he suggests upping her medication. This comes off as a cruel joke but it speaks to how far they’ve come.
Then on the next day he finally succeeds in finding the treasure. His joyful proclamation “I didn’t waste my life” is so sincere but also heartbreaking (which makes the next scene even more astonishing). Mayor Quimby quickly confiscates the treasure on some bogus remapping of Springfield. The twist is that he was informed by Horatio’s wife and as they take the gold away she laments to him that “I should have been your treasure.”
Phew, all of this in just the first few minutes. And then the show pivots to a ‘Monorail’ like episode and we never see Horatio or his wife again. With all due respect to the rest of the episode, the Sea Captain prologue is some of the best work the show has done with a secondary character ever. That the writers decided to go a different route is quite baffling.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the episode is bad, it actually has the makings of a good idea its just that the prologue was good it didn’t need to be cast aside.
With some help from John Legend and Chrissy Teigen the city decides to invest in a STEM school. It appeals to both the ‘gifted’ and average to below average students in unique ways. Bart is sucked into the VR gaming style of learning so he can unlock more skins for his avatar. Meanwhile Lisa is learning complex algorithms. She eventually finds out that the school is prepping the students, not for innovative future jobs, but instead to be ready for the gig economy.
There’s even a subplot where Homer fears that robots will soon take over his job. He wages war on the vending machine in his work lunchroom by serving drinks himself. He can’t keep up though not for lack of trying.
Everything post prologue was pretty decent and funny even in a quirky kind of way. Its just a shame the show didn’t have the confidence to continue the Sea Captain story.
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