The Simpsons: Paths of Glory Review

What a day. Bart and Lisa are living up to their potential and its almost lethal.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 8.

The Simpson kids are finally living up the promise of the Simpson family legacy. We always knew Lisa would one day find immortality because of her oversized yellow head and big brains and we always suspected Bart was just short of being criminally insane. Lisa’s science projects and, to a lesser extent, her dioramas, always come in just shot of the finish line, though still better than the car that’s powered by prayer.  It seems, sometimes, that The Simpsons are trying to turn Bart into a criminal when all he really wants to be is a petty thug. “Paths of Glory” didn’t exactly break new ground, but it found an original way to play with Simpsons chestnuts.

This isn’t the first time the Simpsons have thought Bart is a budding sociopath. There was a “Treehouse of Horror Episode” episode that referenced M*A*S*H where Marge was worried that Bart still thought that the homeless guy he choked was a chicken. She saw a budding career delinquent when he shoplifted a Bonestorm video game. His mother also worried when Bart killed a bird with a BB gun. In both cases, Bart was reacting to peer pressure. Shoplifting is, after all, a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark. And in all cases Bart feels bad about the bad things he’s done.

Ad – content continues below

Bart shows all the early indicators of sociopathololgy. He’s hurt animals, manipulates people, maintains a respectable distance from guilt and responsibility and is ever-escalating towards true destructive behavior beyond flooding gymnasiums with hot dog water. Lisa always saw this coming. In the season 21 episode “Planet Claire,” she congratulated her big brother for officially becoming a sociopath, but hey, at least he was on a path.

Lisa’s path is less social. An inventor’s life is a lonely life, especially for women scientists like Marie Curie and Velma from Scoobie Doo. Springfield isn’t the most forward thinking when it comes to women of the female sex, to throw in yet another M*A*S*H reference. They drove their original lady inventor Amelia Vanderbuckle into early enforced and confinement, I mean retirement. Of course, the savage steam-powered barber chair might have made a small contribution. Some day  a liberated woman will get permission from her husband to do something bold and creative, but until that day, it lies in the hands of eight year old school girls whose solar powered cars lack the testosterone touch of cadmium batteries.

Lisa isn’t actually driven by her feminine overreachism. She identifies with feminism and champions it, but like most great thinkers, regardless of gender, her creativity is a natural extension of being a smart kid. Authority and limitations don’t mean all that much to kids, no matter how many straitjackets there are in the Springfield Home for the Criminally Different. Mm that’s good crazy. It’s sweet how Millhouse can charm and disgust Lisa at the same time, but it also cuts into gender roles as they are defined by comic socialism.

The Simpsons also get to take on what appears, on the surface, to be cutting social satire, the idea that the war room veterans see the value of inducting sociopaths into the military. But reality has a way of annexing satire and turning it into the mundane. While most soldiers sign up with some of the best intents, love of country, fear of enemy, trying to win the girl back home or getting out of a lengthy jail sentence, it seems almost certain that the military industrialists would love budding section eights in their ranks. Bombers who can kill without remorse, guilt or exhaustion are the next best thing to killer robots, who Professor Frink believes will one day turn the screws on their masters. Why right now there is probably a closed-door joint chief of staffs meeting where someone is proposing things about sanity challenged heroes where one thing led to another mumble mumble mumble. There is a reason Willie burns all the alternative-energy vehicles and everything else that smacks of progress.

Homer sees the true potential of the early loom, erotic patterns. He also invents the quick clearing of the cache before the wife sees that while it may look like nothing, what he was weaving was actually bad. But Marge will never be forgiven.

“Paths of Glory” is timed well, with enough gags to go around. Like most episodes, there are more jokes per square frame in the early scenes and the setups, but they keep the larfs coming at a steady pace. The episode also makes you think, but not that hard.

Ad – content continues below

“Paths of Glory” was written by Michael Ferris and directed by Steven Dean Moore. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Groundskeeper Willie and Chief Wiggum. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns.

But It All Went By So Fast: Alternative Energy Derby: Exploiting our one remaining resource: Children. Putt Putt Power mini-golf windmill farmers. National Petroleum: Greening the arctic. Try Krusty Burger’s New Sunchoke Burger. We don’t know what sunchokes are either. Mushroom Water: Cap your thirst.  Yabba Dabba Dune Buggy – powered by Nelson’s bare feet. Patient records and Napoleon hats. Laudanum addicts. Mad Ottomans. Naked Mumblers. Homicidal maniacs: Extremely Dangerous. Encyclopedia of Mother’s fears: Volume 20 – Salmonella to Sound Bites. Twelve-day Dry Cleaner. Suburban Dictionary. Crazy Train. Springfield Squidpark. If your child is a sociopath we can help. New Beginnings. Gino’s: Best Pizza in the Asylum District. Vanderbuckle Unboxed.


4 out of 5