Hey hey friends! So after a bit of a break, The Simpsons is back with new episodes and 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 to catch as much as I can while jotting down notes. Without further ado… here’s my thoughts on Season 28, Episode 15: The Cad and the Hat.
To start this off for accidental clickers who just prefer the synopsis, here’s what my DVR had for the episode that aired February 12th, 2017:
“Bart deals with his guilt after betraying Lisa; Springfield is in awe of Homer when he is revealed to be a chess savant.”
Now on with the random recap observations of yours truly… fair warning, this is SPOILER heavy.
– It all starts with Hot Air Balloons advertising to vote for Lincoln and Washington that collide over the title words. Then, it’s right off to the hilarious Robot Chicken couch gag. You can watch it below and/or read a great post about it from our very own Pat aka the guy I lovingly call our curmudgeon.
– Comic books and loneliness aside, the episode kicks off with Lisa and Bart on the couch breaking the fourth wall to introduce the narrative of brother and sister fighting and then making up. “Way to spoil the ending nerd burger.” It’s funny because it’s just Lisa talking while Bart makes faces.
– It all starts with Quimby announcing that Springfield Bay’s waters (Site of Documentary “Killing Nemo”) are now safe to swim in courtesy of lowered safety standards. Homer sees the ribbon cutting on TV and is down for a family day at the beach. Bart would rather play Anzio Beach Invasion on his portable gaming device (and I laugh at Grampa saying he was there and it was nothing unlike the game until a Panzer aims at the screen and he surrenders).
– Snake is yoinking from purses at the beach, Bart and Lisa build a sand face that makes Homer’s head look like a booger. I am not a fan of the homeless guy in the carcass of a beached whale. That’s a joke that doesn’t fit in with my concept of the show. It’s the first of a couple gone too far moments. It looks like the Squidport is close to Springfield Bay since we see the boardwalk. Stores with names include Snack Shack, a Café, and Sunblock Sam’s (The “What You Forgot” Shop). Inside the latter, Bart gets a temporary tattoo (Bad to the Bone) and Lisa’s is enchanted by a yellow sun hat she names Sunny. I think that word applies very well since Lisa’s application of said hat takes her on an imagining of a unicorn Pegasus that can transform things with its laser-rainbow vision. Hamburgers become broccoli, Bart transmorfs into a recycling container, and Trump becomes a yellow-haired troll doll, and it is all set to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. Political joke aside, I’m just stoked we saw a display of only Bort license plates at Sunblock Sam’s.
– Alas, Bart’s tattoo can’t withstand the water quality of the bay (“It said water-resistant! It resisted nothing!”) but we do see a funny image of Apu walking his octuplets using an octopus. Let’s just say Bart’s day is not go great but Lisa is having a great one. Homer enjoys the beach day especially because he gets to watch Women’s beach volleyball and see the Boobs beat the Butts. Seriously… those are the team names but Marge is probably right about why people watch this sport.
– Marge suggests Homer watch chess instead and it turns out that Homer is a regular Blobby Fischer. He knows all the pieces: the King, Mrs. King, the light bulb baby, the mini ash tray, slit face, and Dr. Horse. Homer actually defeats Jasper using the Budapest Gambit. I’m right there with Bart in wondering how a guy who can’t remember the rules of chutes and ladders can play chess. Yes Homer, you CAN go down them but not when playing the game. Marge grumbling about this argument being a recurring one is great. Turns out that Homer used to play chess with Abe as a boy but Homer doesn’t want to talk about it or why the cat clock with the crazy eyes was so jive, man.
– Kearney, Dolph and Jimbo appear as the Simpsons are leaving to compliment Lisa’s new lid. Poor Bart… he’s so uncool he gets beat up by a beach turkey aka what Nelson calls a seagull. On the drive home, Homer stops at Krusty Burger for food (menu includes: #1 Krusty Burger, #2 Krusty Burger Jr., #3 Krusty Khicken, #4 Ribwich, #5 Kwarter-Pounder, #6 Khicken Knuggets, #7 McKLT, #8 Khicken Kaeser Salad, #9 Karne Asada Takos, and #10 Khicken Khimikhanga). Say those name out loud and laugh along with me. While Homer orders in a convoluted manner of multiplying his order by five that results in 125 Krusty Burgers being ordered, bad to the bone Bart tosses his sleeping sister’s sunhat into the convenient junk yard which happens to be next door to the drive-thru.
– That night, Bart is woke up to find a strange looking doppelganger of him sitting on his footboard. It’s the representation of Bart’s guilt (voiced hilariously by Patton Oswalt) who immediately snap’s the neck of Bart’s denial (which looks like a sad Bart in church clothes). Um… this is moment #2 of it taken a bit too far.
– Lisa wakes up to find Sunny gone. I’m chuckling as she searches the Simpson sedan which is stuffed full of the wrappers from 125 Krusty Burgers (even the engine compartment!). She searches all over giving us a glimpse of the Olmec head (still in the basement) and then she’s off to the Springfield PD to file a missing hat report. Wiggum has her peruse mugshots of various hats (bowler, 10 gallon, chef, fedora, top hat, shark, pork pie, robin hood, pith helmet, fez, cheese head, and Valkyrie helmet) but nothing is close to her Sunny. Before I ask why Wiggum would take mugshots of hats or wonder if these were connected to criminals in town and if any were from Wisconsin, we’ll head off with Lisa back to the Squidport to look for her sun hat. Everything is closing for the night (yay for the Crab Shack showing up). Shauna is closing Sunblock Sam’s and let’s Lisa know there’s no more yellow hats like the one she looked really good in. Poor Lisa.
– Meanwhile, Bart’s guilt is still around. He grows grosser and bigger from Bart’s lack of remorse. This gag continues on with Bart liking cool things like slimed pillows and beating eaten and then pooped out.
– Homer is playing chess with Marge in bed (no that’s not a euphemism) and Marge is excited to learn something new about her hubby. Marge shares something new about herself too. She makes sweeping noises with her mouth sometimes when she’s cleaning. Lisa interrupts them kissing (dust pan to swooshing mouth) to report Sunny being lost. Homer is incredibly worried and ready to help find Sunny until he remembers that the baby’s name is Maggie.
– It’s morning and Lisa is sadly eating Not-So-Cheerios. Bart happily shows up for breakfast. His guilt grows and grows as Lisa reports her feelings over losing the hat while he pretends he doesn’t care or know about it. She loved it way more than Madeline loved her yellow hat (ask Pepito). Lots of grossness from Bart’s Hulk-like guilt here.
– At Moe’s Tavern, Homer is winning three simultaneous games against Barney, Lenny, and Carl. “You’re playing like Polugaevsky at Mar Del Plata.” Gotta admit I had to look up Barney’s ironic knowledge of an obscure Russian chess master playing in Brazil in 1962 and 1971. I guess I should have concentrated on him burping right after saying it since this dialogue only proves someone on the writing staff is a chess nut, not that Barney is a savant like Homer. Or does it? Moe’s compliments Homer for having “a special skill like a smoking monkey or a urinal cake with an ad on it.” The whole scene is worth it since Lenny’s special skill of fitting into a piece of carry-on luggage (“Oh no… I’m alone with my thoughts.”) was comic genius. I’m wondering who the other three luggage stuffers are.
– In the bar, Homer tells Moe more of his backstory with chess. He played with his dad and thought it was fun until he learned the pieces weren’t licorice. Abe enjoyed beating Homerand always made a weird laugh when doing so. Homer decided to learn the game that drove Bobby Fischer crazy and took lessons with a professor. Gotta love the chess books here (Masters of Checks, Boogie Nights – Chess in the Disco Era, and “Why Cant Black Mover First?” by Malxolm X). Problem is that Homer’s mastery of the game resulted in him beating his dad, ruining their “beautiful thing”, and ending their daily matches.They found a new thing of listening to the radiator hiss in the basement while Abe drank whiskey under a naked light bulb. Poor Homer.
– Bart is watching Itchy & Scratchy (Garfield is his cousin) with his guilt who ruins everything by saying it exploits children in Korea. To try and get rid of his phantom companion, Bart tells Lisa (sleep saxophoning in bed) that he threw away her hat. He asks for forgiveness but Lisa just hopes Bart’s guilt grows and grows until it’s the most hideous thing he can imagine even if he tries to pretty it up. I enjoy the background images of his guilt dressed as a beauty pageant contestant and then morphing into a 5th grade math book.
– Homer and Marge are leaving the Springfield Chess Club (Check for Bullies When Exiting) and obviously didn’t read the sign since Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney chase the nerds right as they hit the sidewalk.
– At school, Bart is trying to fix the situation with Lisa with respective offerings of a cupcake, the poems of Emily Dickinson read by Elizabeth Warren, cruelty-free saxophone reeds (from wood that fell off), a piggy bank, hammer, and a bunny. Lisa claims her wound can’t be healed by anything. At least the bunny and hammer allow Nelson to bring home dinner.
– At the Barney’sBowlarama, Homer is playing chess with Carl. Moe shows up to tell Homer that he found out on an alt suicide subreddit (that he was just checking in with) that Homer’s chess skills come from a patricidal impulse to off his dad. Moe may be right too since Homer is seen bowling strike after strike into pins that look like his dad.
– Bart and his guilt are riding to the junk yard on the off chance he can save Lisa’s hat. He finds it just as it’s being crushed into Gil’s car/house. Yay for a Gil joke!
– Homer is burning his chess pieces at home. Marge has skyped Norwegian World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen to give her hubby emotionless advice about getting away from chess. There’s a great joke of the chess guru speaking in English to Homer but him exclaiming that he understands Norwegian. Robotic-voiced Carlsen (actually voiced by the real guy) admits the bomb in Stratego scares him and virtually fist bumps Homer over a mutual disdain for exercise. Magnus’ advice is for Homer to play his dad in a final game of chess to find his true feelings. I think it’s clever that Magnus knows exactly what Homer’s response to the news will be (gasp, nod, eat a piece of cheese while Marge isn’t looking, undo the top button of his pants, and then have his car towed) because he’s always three steps ahead. Technically that’s four or five but it’s funny nevertheless.
– At the junk yard, guilt is carving bad to the bone into his arm while Bart has Rod and Todd float the crushed cube of a car with their faith through the power of prayer (or they have nosebleed-causing telekinesis… take your pick for the explanation). It doesn’t work until Bart realizes that Buzz Cola dissolves metal (and his stomach) so they try one more time. Cube floats into kiddie pool of Buzz and Bart is able to extricate Sunny. Seriously, Cola dissolving stuff is not as far-fetched as you might imagine. It’s just not pure acid like Buzz is here. The #3 moment of taking jokes a bit to far is Bart’s stomach being eaten away by drinking buzz. It’s a good thing cartoon physics are different.
– Homer heads to the Retirement Castle for one last match with his old man. Lots of tactics used to psyche each other out and the match is so popular (How popular? They picked it over the Super Bowl), it’s being watched by a large crowd at Moe’s on TV while Magnus (who is Carl Carlson’s cousin apparently if you forget that their last names are spelled differently) commentates via Skype until they mercifully let him go to bed since it’s 4am where he lives. Homer is ready to win but realizes his relationship with his father may be more important than victory. Homer resigns the game. “Dad, dad, it seems I love you. Can’t you say it seems you love me too?” It’s sweet and funny when Grampa says he can die in peace knowing his son loves him but yelling “hold your horses!” when Homer is surprised by the first statement.
– Bart rushes home to “Lisa, stupid Lisa” to return Sunny to his sister. She says the wound will never heal and suggests Bart work on his relationship with Maggie who likes Raisins. Fortunately Lisa’s own version of her guilt shows up and she forgives him. “In the right hat, anything is possible.” Bart’s guilt watches from the outside and laments that people always feel so good when he leaves. He rises to the clouds but ricochets off a plane into one of the nuclear plant’s cooling towers and becomes a gigantic mutated monster that Mr. Burns can see and thinks will come in handy (Burns seeing a figment of someone else’s imagination is the fourth and final too far moment). It’s certainly a weird way to end what could have been a great brother-sister bonding moment. Homer discovers his kiddos hugging (“I do some of my best fathering when I’m not around.”) and his own version of what I assume is guilt pops up. Homer’s not worried though, he has a whole gang of inner-demons including one named Sloth who is also Drunk. Basically Homer’s personification of the seven deadly sins.
– And we end with Bart and Lisa back on the couch. Bart learned he has a conscience, Nelson is there to laugh about it, and the meta fourth wall breaking continues with the camera panning off-set to Jeff the Gaffer who is dating Nelson’s mom and not proud of it. “You seemed pretty proud when you ate all our ramen noodles.”
– One last convo between Homer and Magnus about chess groupies. Magnus just wants Homer to stop talking. The Skypes may be free but Magnus still doesn’t want to talk to him.
So… I don’t know how I feel about this episode involving more flashbacks from Homer’s past and a retreaded plot of Bart upsetting Lisa and then earning back her love. The use of imaginary inner demons was strange even if I like the voice talent of Patton Oswalt. I much preferred him as T-Rex in the hipster brown house episode from Season 24 though. There were laughs to be found in the episode and the plot was coherent but really it sort of felt like there was a really neat idea for an episode that just didn’t quite come together. FInding four different times I felt the writers took a joke too far just doesn’t sit perfectly with me. I didn’t think this was awful but it wasn’t the best either. I’d say it’s a middle of the road episode that people who love chess, Mr. Oswalt, and/or the Beach Boys might like more than others. On my blah/meh/oooh/aaaah/wowza/woo hoo scale… I give this a middle-of-the-road oooh/aaaah. Sure that makes me sound like Al Pacino but it’s how I feel. Just imagine me saying that much less enthusiastically.
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 more recaps as new episodes air.
TTFN… Wookiee out!