This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 18
The Simpsons season 29, episode 18, “Forgive And Regret” is a very special episode. It marks the series’ 636th installment, which puts it one ahead of the western series Gunsmoke in the longest-running primetime scripted show in TV history race. But saying a “very special episode” about The Simpsons doesn’t mean the same thing as it does to other comedies who use the phrase to let people know there’s more than just comedy going on, and to prepare viewers to be moved emotionally. Maggie, the pacifier-addicted infant of the Simpson family, shoots that idea out of the way before the credits even roll.
Maggie out quick-draws Marshal Matt Dillon, played by the late James Arness who wore the silver star of having played the same prime time TV character the longest until Kelsey Grammer’s Dr. Crane got egg all over his face. Maggie Simpson shoots him dead like a dog and leaves him on the street to die some mmore. Maggie’s original voice, the legendary Elizabeth Taylor, has passed on, but would appreciate the cold blooded killer baby-face Simpson is turning into. At large since the shooting of Mr. Burns, she’s been racking up the collateral damage. She is barely on tonight’s episode, but when she is, she turns her cold, dead, baby eyes on Grampa Simpson.
It seems Grampa hasn’t been as upfront with his family as we’ve been led to believe, and we haven’t been led to believe much the old man says. The incident began when Homer was a young boy at his father’s side while he’s indulging in his only hobby, assembling model planes. It is the only thing Abe can turn to for relief from his grueling day job on the model plane assembly line. This is, of course, a little creative revisionism, because we all know Abe’s real job was as a night watchman at a grain silo. It’s what gave him the life experience to write for “Itchy and Scratchy” while the other writers, like Conan O’Brien, only had things like degrees from Harvard to draw from.
Abe Simpson was also a snake oil salesman known as Grifty McGrift, a farmer, laser-tag owner and a professional wrestler known as Glamorous Godfrey. His history is littered with inconsistencies that were never ironed out after people couldn’t tell if he was in the army or the navy while he was in the marines. But we forgive him, not because his memory is shot, but because it’s the only way to get him to stop babbling incoherently about random things. What we can’t forgive Abe for is destroying Homer’s dreams and memories of his mother.
Homer forgives. He does it on his father’s deathbed, another lie. Abe doesn’t die, but he makes a confession that Homer promises to forgive, and then gets buyer’s regret. The whole family pays for it, with the interest they got for selling Homer’s car for cash. Abe’s heart attack comes on just as Homer is living out his lifelong dream, to see the family car smashed up in a demolition derby, where all the characters from the movie Cars come to commit suicide.
Homer gets a soundproof window for Marge’s car that not only drowns out the kids and Grampa in the back seat, but Marge in the driver’s seat. Is the sticker price worth it? It’s priceless but the episode’s casual comic highpoints come from noise again this season. Dan Castellaneta gets to sing two songs, one as a young Homer, innocent and hungry, praising the memories of recipes. The other as an old hater, saving hate in a bottle because there’s barely enough time to hate the things you want to hate, while you hate them. Marge has consistently cutting asides, a little more cutting than we’re accustomed from the former Miss Bouvier, who still can’t get over how slippers don’t even have bottoms anymore.
Moe is in good form tonight as the least but best supporting player. First he redistributes the regurgitated pickled eggs that started the whole ball rolling. Then as the saloon-keep whose jukebox can’t afford to pay royalties to the estate of the late Ray Charles, but a quarter will bring you a cover by Charles Ray, who is white and has excellent vision. Yes, excellent vision.
The Simpsons’ delivers a root cause for all of Homer’s problems. Being abandoned by his negligent and negligible father, Homer’s mother taught him food is love. D’oh is more than a deer, a female deer, it is also the foundation of every pie known or yet-to-be discovered. “Forgive and Regret” goes into the oven promising a giant “screw you,” but ultimately ties everything up with a bow. It skirts close to vengeful revisionism, but winds up uniting the family in a common cause. Even Abe hates Abe by the end of the episode, it’s why we love him.
“Forgive And Regret” was written by Bill Odenkirk.
The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Abe Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Kirk Van Houten, Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer is Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest star Glenn Close as Mona Simpson.