Season 31, Episode 21
The Simpsons are heading into the finale on a strong note. In the penultimate episode the show scraps the intro entirely and goes straight to the story. Anytime it does this it’s usually a good sign. In Hateful Eight we pretty much get one main story with a very minor B plot.
The main plot sees Lisa get an invite to a sleepover by her new library friend, Addy, who shares her same love of horses. Everything seems fine when she gets there until the other girls show up. The cast of Riverdale guest stars and are brilliantly cast as Bella-Ella (Lili Reinhart), who comes from old money, like MySpace old; Sloan (Madelaine Petsch), who slurps her soda with a British accent, and social media beauty icon Tessa Rose (Camila Mendes). All of them including Addy gang up on Lisa by making fun of her and posting it to Instagram.
Lisa finds out that Addy had ulterior motives for inviting her: she wants to fit in with the cool girls. But even worse, Addy tries to convince Lisa to invite another ‘nerd’ next time so that they can all make fun of that person. Shocked she tries reaching her parents but they won’t answer or her messages won’t get through. She tries Bart and after a bit convincing he comes to her aid. He gets her out but not before getting Lisa to prank the other girls by cutting their hair to look like Lisa’s. In the end Addy sees where she went wrong and Bart and Lisa reconcile.
Lisa episodes are sometimes hard for the writers for the simple fact that Lisa isn’t as funny as the other characters. However, when paired with Bart she’s allowed to do things that she normally wouldn’t do. In Hateful Eight there’s actually not a lot of Bart but there’s enough to create a balance. To be fair though the Lisa plot is good on its own. I think it works because it gives room for Lisa to experience actual growth.
Like other kids her age she desperately wants to fit in and this episode showed the cost of that for a principled character like her. Having Bart come in is basically the cherry on top but his presence is beneficial in another way; he empowers Lisa to take action against her bullies.
It’s interesting because at the beginning of the episode the two get in an argument (Bart dislikes horses) and Lisa severs their sibling bond with her safety scissors. Yet despite this quarrel, they truly depend on each other when things get rough. They can easily dismiss one another over a petulant argument, but they’ll always find their way back home, which, is what sibling relationships are all about. Its no ‘Lisa on Ice’ but Hateful Eight carries a similar underlying sensibility.
The B plot is very minor and sees Homer surprise Marge with a booze cruise party. Homer eventually causes a riot when he knocks out the lead band member and accidentally spills all the booze. The people turn on him but not before Homer delivers an odd soapbox style speech on the nature of making plans.
Other than that the episode was really good because it focused on delivering a story of growth and sibling camaraderie despite there being hardships.