Hey hey friends! We had it of a break from new Simpsons episodes but finally, the wait for more new hilarity is over. Since the show is back, so am I and it’s time for another episode recap for y’all. One of the many 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. 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. Without further ado… here’s my thoughts on Season 28, Episode 11, “Pork and Burns.”
To start this off for accidental clickers who just prefer the synopsis, here’s what my DVR had for the episode that aired January 8th, 2017:
“Marge becomes obsessed with the Japanese way of life; Homer must find a new home for the family pig and Lisa must say goodbye to her saxophone.”
Now on with the random recap observations of yours truly… fair warning, this is SPOILER heavy.
It all starts with a biplane with a banner that says “Goodbye and Good Riddance 2016” and then cuts past all the normal intro stuff to go straight to the couch gag… the family on the couch which turns into a playset on a toy display right next to dolls, t-shirts, video games, snow globes, and ball caps. All are being sold in a close-out sale, 3 for $1. Bart wants something but Marge adamantly says no.
Then we’re off to Japan where monks and creepy Japanese pixies are making books to be shipped by Amazon drones (mind your head). America has ordered the book and it’s time for these monks to go mass market over the traditional fine work approach in order to make one million copies aka “Dilbert territory.” The beautiful Shinto building quickly transforms into a factory where robots do the hand sewing and commit seppuku when they make errors. The Japanese Warrior Monks’ Guide to Tidying Up is going to the “finest booksellers in the land” which includes the Springfield Car Wash (Workers Now Have New Employee Smell). It’s on the book rack right nest to Killing Hannity by Bill O’Reilly, Eat Pray Love Divorce, You’ll See Me Later by Joyce Carol Oates, and No One Edits Me by Stephen King. Homer and Marge’s 1986 Plymouth Junkorola is done and Maggie was left in the backseat during the washing. Marge is browsing the cheesy birthday cards (“comedy can be so surprising”) when she comes across the Japanese book. Marge is excited for a bestseller where no one goes to heaven. Homer isn’t so sure about buying a car wash book (although the fresh sushi catches his eye). I just like that you can see Burly paper towels in the background of one of the shots.
Flash to the Simpson home where Marge managed to read the whole book while Homer was hospitalized for food poisoning from the sushi. She’s learned a lot and wants her home to reach “ a state of entidyment.” Also… we learn reducing the carbon footprint of Lisa’s college fund was easy for Homer. So basically, Marge is going to have the family declutter. If something doesn’t bring them joy, it’s gone after being thanked for its service. The first thing to go… a coaster, Homer’s “Oh Crap I’m 50” coaster to be precise. Makes sense since Homer’s not 50, she doesn’t like the word crap, and worries that Homer drinks too much beer. Homer want her to think of the kids before going “cuckoo with cleanliness”…. “The kids working in overseas factories to make this crap.” Also a funny line of Grampa complaining that no one thanked him for his service… he just got a pack of smokes and a college education. Makes me wonder when I’m gonna get my pack of smokes lol.
So the tidying up begins. Bart finds joy in everything he has though. Even the telescope, car door handles, and garden hose by his footboard. It all makes sense when you see the awesome Squishee prank he pulled on Skinner… “Thank you Galileo.” Now to wonder why Seymour was wearing his mother’s blouse.
Lisa is off to the Android’s Dungeon to try and sell her Businesswoman, Plus-Sized, and Non-Gendered Normative Malibu Stacey dolls to Comic Book Guy. Their “attempts to enter the 21st century brought joy to no one.” CBG tells her they’re not worth anything but Lisa catches him putting expensive price tags ($100 for Businesswoman Stacey) on the dolls. “Alright. Because up until now I’ve been such a great guy.” Not a huge fan of them showing CBG this way but I did snicker.
Marge wants Bart to work on what he wants to get rid of but he’s in to all his stuff including fake barf, a pencil sharpener shaped like a nose (“That’s what it is? Now I like it even more.”), his baseball bat, tank, Scratchy plush, blue Radioactive Man figure, plane, dinosaur, space alien, “Milhouse move,” rocket, flying saucer, slingshot, T-rex, and Lisa’s only B in Phys Ed giving her a 3.99999999999 scream (super joy).
Marge is in the spirit though. All the socks are origami folded into Japanese Warrior Monks’ 1000 Sock Boxes (15,000 socks in the closet if you counted like me). Homer is a little worried about having to throw away a lot of the things he really loved. Like his Mr. Plow jacket which Barney is excited to find in the trash. Homer thinks saving his 2014 joke a day calendar might be wise since it’ll be the same in 2031 when they may need laughs during World War China. Now Marge needs Homer to get rid of something that’s joyless for her… Plopper.
It’s at this point that I celebrate and am excited that we’ll be following Homer’s antics with Spider-pig. The episode may have been so-so up to this point but it just becomes a laugh riot for this fuzzball from here on out. Cue the Spider-pig music and the sty which is in the backyard. Marge has been the only one taking care of Plopper since Homer found him and let’s just say cleaning up after a pig is messy work. If anyone would now that, it’d be Marge Simpson.
Marge wants him gone and needs his wallow gone too. There’s funny banter between husband and wife involving the word wallow but I just love watching Plopper in the background of the story and most of the scenes which happen.
Homer agrees to find his pig a new home after Marge threatens to withhold. I don’t blame him. Homer is off to gregslist springfield to put up an ad. Homer tries to be selective in finding a new owner. “World’s best pig. Nonsmoker only; by which I mean he can’t end up in your smoker.” He quickly gets a taker that he meets at night in the vacant Sprawl*Mart parking lot. It’s none other than Snake in a creeper van who wants to make sure “the bacon is worth the takin’.” Homer knows it won’t be a good fit and says Snake “makes guys with a windowless van look bad” and then promptly takes an offered ride from an even seedier fellow in a different van. Why he just says hello to the leather bound man in the back is only known to Homer. It is a fun way to spoof Pulp Fiction though. Zed is dead Homer.
Anyhoo… Homer, Bart, and Lisa are walking Plopper later while Lisa seems to have drank the Kool-Aid regarding living a decluttered life. She runs into Joyce Carol Oates (see previous book titles) eating with Kent Brockman at Luigi’s but unfortunately has nothing for her to sign and Joyce only signs checks or books. Alas, Lisa tossed her autograph book (which had Dean Cain!). Homer tries to go into Luigi’s but is barred from entering with Plopper (who “has to stay outside like a common snowman”). “You keep-ah that unsliced prosciutto outside-ah my restaurant-ah.” Krusty had walked in just before them with a poodle but that’ was different because the dog is a therapy animal licensed to calm those with anxiety. Luigi just uses his mama’s method of saying shut up and banging his noggin with a wooden spoon for calming down. Also Krusty’s face paint is lead based and the dog really shouldn’t lick him. Homer is inspired to get an anxiety diagnosis so he can keep Plopper. He asks Lisa the symptoms which she shows by having a panic attack thinking about the trouble her dad might get into faking anxiety. “All the little children have-ah the adult anxiety now.”
Homer goes to see a lady doc to get a prescription for a therapy animal for anxiety at Dr. Bud’s Medical Marijuana Clinic but all she wants to give him is a script for cannabis instead of a “letter for a therapy animal of the pig persuasion.” Homer’s fakery sickens the doc and harshes her clinic so it’s off to Dr. Nick for the Rx. Homer gets his wish plus five opioids from a Dr. Nick Pez dispenser.
Back to the Simpson house where Marge discovers Lisa’s adherence to the warrior way of entidyment has left her room completely empty minus a Bleeding Gums Murphy From Ogdenville to Paris poster and her saxophone. All she needs is her instrument and underwear “because this dress is mighty short.” Problem is she goes to toot “a riff of joy” and finds she can’t. All she can do is play the blues and only feels “hours of tedious practice” while doing so. Marge thinks it sounds beautiful (guess Marge learned her lesson in Season 27) but now Lisa feels the way about her sax that everyone else does. Marge is shocked and so is Plopper.
At the Nuclear Plant, Plopper is all kitted up in a therapy animal vest and easily mistaken for his owner by Lenny and Carl when Homer goes to the little pig’s room. “Is that Homer or a pig that looks just like him?” Plopper may sound like Homer and smell like truffles but when they toss a bag of chips in and it’s devoured… they definitely think it’s their drinking buddy. Homer walks up to the confusion but isn’t bothered by being mistaken for a pig. He’s not insecure and just happy to be fake crazy and allowed to bring Plopper to work. The nuclear plant is pretty lax and we get details of Lenny once being in jail for a year and paid the whole time unlike the unfair McDonald’s that turned him down for employment.
Homer bring home his therapy pig and Marge isn’t very happy. Homer says she’ll barely see Plopper just like him because of work and Moe’s. The irony is that while Lisa announces giving away her honkamaflute at dinner, Homer understands her feelings. Bart accidentally spills gravy on Homer (one of his “top 3 strangulation triggers”) and he just chills. “I could never strangle a boy… in front of the pig.” Maybe therapy Plopper is a good thing for him? Homer looks at animals differently now… pass the pork chops. Excuse me while I laugh my face off at Plopper’s reaction to being offered one.
Off to the Springfield Nuclear Family Day (Part of the Settlement for Your Sterility Program) at Burns’ mansion we go. The whole Simpsons family including the curly-tailed one is there. Everyone is looking at them (“It’s like bringing Elizabeth Taylor to the Oscars.”) Lisa donates her sax to a Tunes for Tots bin while there. A bunch of kids with hands covered in barbecue sauce pet Plopper enticing the attention of Burns’ hounds. Homer is ready to spray them with a hose but is only holding a snake from the petting zoo which he hilariously tosses into a bouncy house. Poor bouncing Wendell. Poor Spider-pig. The hounds do a real number on him and Homer is devastated and finally has real anxiety (“There really is such a thing?”)
Dr. Bungee the veterinarian is there to patch up poor Plopper who “has contused his baby back ribs.” There is the Luau option but Homer won’t “subject him to something that has three vowels in a row.” Smithers is worried about a lawsuit since Burns’ Lloyd’s of London policy excludes the hounds. Burns offers tot ake care of the pig in his sanatorium, the Burns Medical and Longevity Center Best U.S. Hospital for a Single Patient. Smithers says he’ll be well taken care of and even knows Plopper’s secret identity and that Bart is El Barto. “These things are very easy to figure out.” Plopper is off to care with Dr. Bungee after being carted off on a table under a silver tray (uh oh). Homer is worried about Plopper and his tail being all curly just like Bart when he was a baby (wait… what?). Marge tells him not to worry since the place seems nicer than the Mayo clinic bringing on an excellent Homer daydream involving sandwiches, Hellmann’s and Best Foods Mayonnaise doctors, and a brave self-sacrificing Miracle Whip surgeon. “Some were just interns.”
Lisa is lying joyless in her empty room (still with the BGM poster). Nothing brings her joy but Bart recounts a time he thought his life was horrible too… when she was born lol. He tries to help her get over it (funny that when they put their heads literally together they match perfectly like building blocks). At Springfield Elementary, Skinner is doing announcements about an upcoming mandatory required test where students must bring their own pencils and a quiet lunch (Approved: Bananas/Yogurt/Egg Salad/Baby Food. Not Approved: Corn Chips/Slurping Noodles/Fizzy Sodas/Pop Rocks). Bart takes over and overpowers the school PA system using his Kinder Karaoke machine to broadcast Springfield’s pirate jazz station (WJZZ). Basically he plays Lisa’s demo tack on a myPod (If Found Please Send to Wynton Marsalis) through his machine which also cancels math to a bunch of happy kiddos in the school. The kids dig Lisa’s original jam (Ralph: “It sounds like how paste tastes.”) and her joy for the saxophone is rekindled. Lisa’s so happy she even hugs her bro who wouldn’t have done it if he knew that was gonna happen. A sweet moment.
Back to Burns one-man hospital where Dr. Bungee has fixed Plopper all up with “a pop-up thermometer just in case.” The vet even does it all pro bono just for the chance to get his hands inside a pig. The stitching on Plopper’s back reminds Burns of a moment with his own dad watching Yale beat Harvard at old timey football with only three people killed. Burns decides to make Plopper his faithful companion. Back rubs, horseback rides, bedtime reading of Charlotte’s Web, and dancing to classical music. Now poor Homer has to control his own emotions without his beloved therapy animal.
Lisa has the joy of jazz back but no saxophone. Good news is Marge didn’t really fall into the warrior way of decluttering. She just bought a storage space at the Springfield Lock ‘N’ Leave Storage Facility (Historic Site of the First Storage War). “The Japanese may have tidiness but in America we hve storage lockers… our only growth industry.” Marge kept everything including Homer’s coaster, Lisa’s sax, and a Gnome in the Home Maggie must not have gotten around to beheading yet. Lisa excitedly plays some happy jazz and disturbs Gil in another locker who is trying to throw a wedding.
Homer and Bart sneak to Burns’ mansion all robber style which is funny considering one moment he’s sneaking and the next he has a key to unlock the gate. He tosses Romeo Brand Window Tapping Pebbles at Burns’ bedroom window to wake up his pig and convince Plopper to come home. Plopper does it even though Homer’s directions are confusing and long. Thankfully he’s a smart pig. Burns’ hounds suddenly show up but Smithers is there just in time to stop them by saying “heel” Wait? They’ve known that all this time? I won’t waste time considering every moment that changes from past episodes. Anyways… Smithers knows what “it’s like to have true love thwarted” (funny because Burns’ naked tuckus is seen in the background) and reunites Homer with his beloved pig. Now to a slow motion reunion with Whitney Houston’s famous Bodyguard song (which I must point out was originally written and sung by Dolly Parton) in the background. “So the pig, and Plopper, were reunited. Chyron by Bart.” Homer spins his baby around, Japanese pixies return to videotape and be eaten by Plopper, and Homer offers to give up beer to keep Plopper. Marge says deal. Uh oh. I’m sure we can guess how long this reunion will last.
Commercial including a great clip for next week’s one hour special.
One last clip of the Mayo Clinic. The fruit on the cafeteria menu makes it a nightmare that Homer wakes up from.
So… on second viewing and writing this all up, I didn’t laugh as hard as I did the first time I watched this with my kiddo but truly I think this was a great episode. Probably my favorite of the eleven so far. Everything is better with Spider-pig in it and in this episode, it was watching Plopper do pig stuff that just made me gleeful. I still think Season 28 of the show has been great and this is another episode I really liked… nay, loved. On my blah/meh/oooh/aaaah/wowza/woo hoo scale, this gets a solid Woo hoo! There were laughs, heartfelt moments, silly satire, and of course… Spider-pig.
But enough with my words… what did you think of the episode? Anything you loved or hated that I didn’t mention? Are you enjoying Season 28? How would you grade this episode? Sound off in the comments and happy classy tapping. I’ll be back with another recap in a week.
TTFN… Wookiee out!