Wookiee taking a break from schoolwork again to keep up with episode recaps. I know I haven’t been around a ton but at a minimum, my goal is to keep these current. Who says a walking carpet can’t balance research papers and watching TV. Obviously not this fuzzball. SOmehow I’m still up to date. One of the features we like to have on this site is recaps of new Simpsons episodes for all our friends who can’t watch them immediately or like our silly reviews of them. I love when there are new episodes of the Best. Show. Ever. on TV and it’s my privilege to not only watch new episodes, which I would do with or without this awesome site, but then break them down for all of you. It’s also nice to have a break from research papers and historiography essays plus all the reading and brain-sucking tedium. I stuck to the stream of consciousness format for this. Basically I watch the episode once for my enjoyment and then a couple more times slowly to catch as much as I can while jotting down notes. Even better this episode included a TSTO tie-in so I’m super curious about it. Without further ado… here’s my thoughts on Season 28, Episode 7 “Havana Wild Weekend.”
To start this off for accidental clickers who just prefer the synopsis, here’s how my DVR had as a recap for the episode:
“When the Retirement Castle and V.A. Hospital can’t help Grampa with his health problems, the Simpsons decide to take a family trip to Cuba so they can get him some cheap medical care.”
Now on with the random recap observations of yours truly… fair warning, this is SPOILER heavy.
The Halloween black hole appears to suck the clouds away from ‘The Simpsons,’ the billboard advertises “Cletus’ Thanksgiving Turkey Eggs, Get To Love It Before You Eat It,” Bart writes “Being Right Sucks” on the chalkboard which is funny for multiple reasons and a smart joke that’s not in your face politically, and the couch gag is our favorite family as Greek gods. Homer is Zeus, Marge is Hera, Bart is Hermes, and I’m guessing Maggie is Artemis. Cupid really isn’t a god. Lisa isn’t there at first but for all your lovers of mythology, just like legend, she literally springs from Homer’s forehead to read Homer’s Odyssey, which then needs to be stoppered up with Maggie’s binky. Smart stuff.
The family is at home watching Shark Tank, Ah!, Vulture’s Nest which features Monty Burns: “Mr. Excellent”, Lindsay Naegle: The Wolf of Wallpaper, the Rich Texan: Rootin’/Tootin’, and H.K. Duff: Malt Disney (I love this joke). Just like Homer’s slip of the tongue, the show is one of those where people pitch ideas to rich potential investors. Welcome to the show where “billionaire investors swoop down on your business proposals and peck out the eyes.” In the Simpsonized version, Kirk Van Houten and Milhouse are pitching a new sort of retainer which would make kids look cool. Milly’s says ‘Killhouse’. As Homer eats Duff Ice Cream he states, “Now that’s a Milhouse I’d marry.” This bit is funny. “A retainer that’s a de-lamer,” the Rich Texan reveals he’s from New Hampshire (topical), and the show has a trap door for failed pitches. “I love seeing people I know fail. You want a beer son?” Wowza… we’re only two minutes in and I’m already chuckling a bunch… good sign.
Homer discovers a pee stain on the floor of the living room and initially blames Santa’s Little Helper (who Bart swears he walked). While Lisa reads “50 Shades of ‘A’,” SLH doesn’t help the case and chewing his leg doesn’t count as a yes (Homer knows from a real estate deal). Turns out that Grampa is the incontinent one. He’s eighty-six and “falling apart like toast in a dishwasher.” After seating Grampa on the couch (with newspaper underneath lol), they head to “the finest nursing home in town” to see what can be done. And the answer is nothing. The Retirement Castle just has a Monday thru Friday menu of mush (almost lobster Friday but crossed out for mush) and a barrel of “Partially-Used Flu Shots Help Yourself.” They just “specialize in keeping seniors from bothering their families then gently releasing them just before death.” All the home can offer is a ride to the next stage which is an ousting onto skid row (established 1981). For shame. That’s not a place for old folks, it’s a place for Wiggum to drop off Crazy Cat Lady and Barney to lie around drunk.
What to do? As a “veteran of every branch of the service,” Grampa should be able to get care at the Veteran’s Adminsistration (VA) Hospital. Here’s where Wookiee leans forward to see how bad they get roasted and laughs at the callback joke to Grampa’s war stories. Lisa points out that the VA has been called “America’s Shame” but Homer points out that that could be a lot of things. Why do I just picture a nun chasing America and calling out shame repeatedly all of a sudden? Anyhoo… the family heads to the VA Hospital (Making the War Your 2nd Worst Experience) and Grampa is all set to see the doctor undressed and sitting on an exam table. Too bad he’s just in the waiting room. The VA is ready to take care of “this proud warrior” in 5 minutes… and 23 years. Thankfully another vet pops by to let Abe in on the secret that Cuba has “high quality health medical care at no cost.” The vet learned about it when he was injured during the Bay of Pigs. And bring on a hilarious daydream of Homer floating among pigs and JFK and his brothers Bobby and Ted appearing in a PT boat looking for Marilyn Monroe. See… history can be funny. Grampa learns that “what costs $2000 here cost six bucks there” (I’m dying laughing as the screen says “This is true. Everyone head for Cuba.”) Marge offers Canada as an alternative but Grampa is not a fan of “that Commie Trudeau” so the Simpsons are headed to Cuba for Grampa and hilarity. The last thing to do is cancel the VA appointment. Laughing about the fee if you don’t cancel within 24 years. Ouch. It was a short grilling but poignant for anyone who deals with that system.
On board the Che Gue-Ferry, the family is lounging on deck chairs heading to the Pearl of the Antilles. Homer gets his hotdog and bun stolen by sea gulls and Grampa is shivering in his lounge for fear the Homer is going to throw him overboard. In fairness, Homer might have if Marge had agreed to his inarticulate plea. Marge is just excited to have fun and try “plantains. They’re like bananas you have to cook.” Poor Grampa, even mushy cooked bananas are too hard to chew. Lisa states that there’s always “Cuba’s vibrant jazz scene.” Thanks for the warning Lisa. Homer is just excited to finally use the Spanish he learned on I Love Lucy which is offensive to the Cuban man who looks like Desi Arnez and his buddy Fred Mertz. Cubans can pronounce psychiatrist and don’t say “fish-a-key-a-trist.” Ricky, errr. I mean Desi does still say “splain” though. Strange I Love Lucy scenes begin here with the men trying to deal with their wives dressing up as men in a cigar store. For edification purposes, this references an actual episode when Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel went to Cuba so I guess it makes sense. I’m gonna skip the other two scenes shown real quick in the episode but suffice to say, maybe the show runners just wanted to point out the misogyny of the 1950s? I do agree with Homer wondering “how a band leader was such good friends with his landlord” though.
Anyhoo… the Simpsons arrive in Cuba, The Hawaii of Russia, and pass Guantanemo Bay and head for its vibrant culture once they pass Customs. There’s “twelve types of visits to Cuba that are legally permitted: U.S. Business (next), professional research (I don’t know what any of those words mean), educational activities (those words I know and hate), family visit (is there a VIP entrance to this place?), religious activities (God no), public performances (Never!), mistook us for Aruba (is that that weird lettuce?), here to smuggle cigars (you guys have cigars?), fell off a fishing boat (many times, not today), transmission of information (who wants to know?), really love Gloria Estefan (getting warmer), and the last one is journalistic activity.” Thankfully Lisa is a journalist for the Daily 2nd Gradian. I love this exchange between the customs lady and (Homer) while lots of seedy activities stream into the country. My favorite was Declan Desmond with a terrarium of mosquitos and Sideshow Bob. This is just one of those scenes worth watching a bunch of times for how clever it is. I also love Lisa’s scoop of Skinner the “Skimmer!” taking a stapler home.
Cuba… money for playing dominos, Grampa seeing awkward sixes everywhere due to Cataracts, a book called Cuban Escapes by Elian Gonzalez, and an even more awkward reveal of what Grampa looks like to Maggie that makes me miss The Ren & Stimpy Show. Grampa is glum sitting in front of the birthplace of the mojito… sad. Even worse, the Cuban doctor can’t do anything for him and can only offer a festive shirt. “I don’t like the way the birds are looking at me.” But the exotic island vacation isn’t all for nothing when Grampa is revitalized by the sight of and ride in a classic 1958 American car from the past.
“Razor sharp fins, little triangle windows that weren’t good for nothing, and a front seat you could fit all your newborn babies on.” Even better, “car keys that don’t go bloopity bloop.”
Grampa has a “Cubagasm” and is feeling better than he has in years from exposure to an item from the days of his prime and “a lungful of leaded gas.” The helpful Cuban car owner took Grampa back “to a simpler time when our only worry was being obliterated by nuclear weapons.” The Cuban points out studies have shown “exposure to objects from jour jouth can help jew feel joung again.” It’s actually true that Dr. Ellen Langer did studies on mental attitude effecting the aging process. Also super great that in Cuba, Bart spray paints “The Bart” on walls.
Grampa is now as vibrant as Cuba, getting “a woman’s attention without flat-lining” and can play Spanish guitar… even the Simpsons theme which sounds super rad when played that way. Could heavy petting be on the horizon? Homer gets postcards to save the family from other sightseeing and they are in the new premium Havana Private Home.Homer is worried about what it means for a restaurant to be in a home and what the deal is with who does the dishes even if Bart points out that he never does them at home (”Never discuss family business in front of the Cubans!”). Marge loves it, Grampa is eating like a horse, and Maggie is actually eating horse. Laughing as she slaps the table to show Lisa how many bites she’s had and the cut away is perfect.
At the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Bart is using informal Spanish with a non-family member (Ay, Carumba) and Homer is playing a drinking game while watching Castro. “All the best world leaders have beards. Him, Santa Claus, and every time he says collective farming I take a drink.”
In a local bar, Grampa is having a mojito aka an El Presidente cocktail and bragging about eating a peanut to his friends back at the Retirement Castle. He must feel young if he’s figured out the video feature of a phone. Maybe not though since Jasper knows how to do it too and hilariously and literally sends Grampa a picture of his junk. The bartender lady seems to dig Gramps (“Hey Macarena. For me that’s a topical reference.”) and wants to hook up later for nylons and chocolates. He also runs into Wells McGrath, a buddy from his time in the Air Force. (Aim High!). Grampa loves Cuba. “It’s like Florida before all the Cubans came.” Yes I know that joke is awful but it made me spit my soda out of my mouth when I first heard it. McGrath got to Cuba by hijacking a plane and wants to take his old buddy to see something for old time’s sake. It’s here you get the second of the awful I Love Lucy scenes if you’re curious.
Grampa and Hugh machete their way through the Cuban jungle, not because they have to, there’s a perfectly good walkway, but because McGrath likes to hack stuff. He takes Abe to “the most hijacked plane in history,” a Skyhawk Airliner. Not an actual airline but still funny since their motto is “nobody try to be a hero” and makes me nostalgic for the old days when kiddos could meet pilots and get wings. McGrath’s idea is to open the plane up as a night club and hack a path to civilization. Grampa is more than willing to invest the money he was going to leave for Homer. All that’s left is for Grampa to let his family know he’s staying in Cuba where he feels healthy and young and has found love. Homer is just worried based on Grampa’s past. He once donated his wallet to a bush as an investment.
The conversation continues. Grampa may always be weak in the knees (not just for his new chica) because he sold his cartilage in the 70s which became Hank Aaron’s wrist. Obvious not true but it’s Grampa, right? Homer wants to make sure Grampa isn’t just embracing this new thing like when he tried to marry his new hypoallergenic pillow. Grampa doesn’t care and figures he can stop being a “smelly anvils” burden to his son. “Think of me every time you don’t visit someone.”
Abe is off to start his new life as a night club owner where he sings Cuban-style music (not sure whether it is Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, soukous, or babalou but it’s great) with his new belle, Isabella. I think if I spoke Spanish there’d be even more jokes in this episode. Homer meanwhile goes to the U.S. Embassy to speak to their “black ops department” to help find his dad. The friendly surveillance expert locates him easily since “every AARP card contains a secret tracking chip.” All Homer has to do in return is sneak baseball players home with him. Homer thinks he can manage twelve.
In the Skyhawk night club, Abe meets all sort of seedy clientele like a guy who sells secrets to the soviets, “the biggest drug lord in North American history,” and “the guy who came up with the service fee for Ticketmaster.” Yes Abe, I’d slap him too. McWatt is right though, everyone does have their embarrassments and I laugh as Abe’s comes walking in to rescue him. Everyone needs a Homer. Another good chuckle when Homer punches the Ticketmaster guy. Isabella pops by to invite be to the flight deck to “sit there, so nothing, and do as (she) says.” Wowza… it’s either nookie or Isabella plans to fly away all the fugitives from justice in the plane since she’s a secret CIA agent.
We all know how this turns out, right? Yup… it is the second one (“Jitter Bug Justice bringing back an Early Bird Special”) but at least Grampa got to avoid the knock out gas. It’s the end of Grampa’s “island paradise” but not all bad. Homer got to actually sleep on a plane, Maggie got some snacks (and a cigar from an earlier scene), and father and son get a sweet moment. Plus, Grampa claims to have already forgotten the whole thing so it doesn’t mess up any continuity (as if that’s really a thing with the show). The men bond by blowing air horns at golfers. Even Bart partakes in the bonding but I hope he doesn’t try to get golf balls from the water hazard… those logs look sketchy.
One last scene of Homer pitching an idea to the Vulture’s Nest. It’s a silly invention to facilitate toilet breakfast-eating but Lenny popping out claiming there’s more and the bit ending is so stupidly funny to me it was worth it. Burns is also right that the idea probably came while Homer was working.
And that’s it. An Abraham Simpson-centric episode that saw the gang go to Havana, Cuba and was hilarious. In fairness, the skewering of the VA probably would have won the episode a prize. I really like the last few episodes concentrating on one solid plot. I really think this season has been five for seven in good episodes so far. This one gets a solid wowza from me. I’ve watched it four times now and giggled and smiled through each viewing. Lots of laughs and good stuff. Bonus: The wonderful Buena Vista Social Club had music in the episode. My one critique would be the Lucy stuff but it’s forgivable. What did you think of it? Anything you loved or loathed that I didn’t mention? Sound off in the comments and happy Thanksgiving tapping. I’m thankful for quality Simpsons.
TTFN… Wookiee out!