The Simpsons Season 30 Episode 6 Review: From Russia Without Love

The Simpsons travel the dark net to find Moe a bride From Russia Without Love.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 30 Episode 6

Poor Moe, pug ugly, fugly, pug fugly Moe. Unlucky at life. Unlucky at love. Barely acceptable as a bartender. Tonight he has a chance to trade in his sad sack of a life for a paper bag with a pathetic smiley face scrawled on it in permanent marker. Bart Simpson goes dark tonight, as he puts illegal dots to illicit coms and nets Moe a mail order bride who comes “From Russia Without Love.” The Simpsons season 30 episode 6 begins at the dawn of beer, when Homer was thin, muscular and full of his animal nature. It ends in a stellar future, on a Martian surface, where a young boy and his dad share a cigarette.

None of this set up has anything to do with the plot of this episode, but we also learn the date Moe brought to last year’s Thanksgiving dinner had a knob in the back for easy inflation. Moe gave up on love a long time ago, maybe once every other season, unless his casual regard for linguistic restraint is labeled poetry. But Moe has grown as a character. He’s woke as hell. This is sad, though because of all the things he’s learned in his many, many years wiping that same rag across the bar, he now can see through prank calls and sound out the name Ima Buttface before announcing it to the bar. I trust he will revert soon, but one more thing about that rag. I don’t think he’s cleaned it since before the pickled onion spill in season 5, and god knows what Barney’s been drooling in his days off the wagon.

Further reading: The Simpsons Season 30 Episode 5 Review: Baby You Can’t Drive My Car

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Bart may go to the darkest part of the net known to Springfield, at the spooky one-armed, sometimes no-armed military antique salesman Herman’s place, to destroy Moe, but really how far can the guy with that rag and that face fall? Well, he falls pretty hard, right on that face of his, and he does it with full knowledge the collateral damage to his face, which they call “nightmare face” in Russia, will only be seen if he takes off his shirt. Admittedly, he does spend an inordinate time in this episode without pants.

Nelson has become part of the in-crowd this season. He is part of a new triumvirate with Bart and Millhouse. It doesn’t seem the coolest place to be, and I don’t know what Jimbo and the gang would say if they knew he was slumming with a kid who dreams of needlepoint. Although, probably nothing because he’d if they muttered a word he’d pummel them until they cried he beat the dickens out of him and get beaten again. Nelson has also grown as a character since his introduction as the school bully. He happily goes dark all the time. Admittedly, he can probably get into far more trouble with Bart. Who else would do crime with a partner turns into snitch the weasel and rats you out to the FBI if he gets caught besides the kid with the spiky hair?

Further reading: The Simpsons Season 30 Episode 2 Review: Heartbreak Hotel

But for all their dark doings, and in the discovery of it by everyone involved, Moe still gives up a good thing. His Russian bride offered to fill his desires with hope and his belly with beef stroganoff when he’s been doing the opposite all his life. There are a lot of dark thoughts in Moe’s head, yet he gives up the chance to live a life in the kind of movies we wish Tom Hanks would go back to playing. I heard his next one will be called “Too Many Captains.” Anastasia, Moe’s contractually obligated bride, is the best thing to happen to him since Barney, even at her con artistic best.

The episode has a few very fast series of jokes that build perfectly, though the master of the rejoinder tonight is Duff Man, who can only put in a short cameo because he’s booked to play a beer mitzvah, where he’ll be putting the brew in Hebrew. The Simpson family also plucks out a short Fiddler on the Roof riff. Marge is straddled with a vegetable oil secret she can’t wait to pass on to her kids. But now we may never get the image of Krusty the Clown as Pennywise the clown in the gutter out of our heads, nor what Rita Moreno saw in him.

Further reading: Are The Simpsons Conservative, Liberal or an Equal Opportunity Offender?

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The Simpsons says yes to Moe’s inner cold war, but there’s Dr. No in the white of its eyes. When From Russia With Love came out in 1963, the world had already been on the brink of what everyone feared could have been nuclear annihilation. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Dr. Strangelove. James Bond. Boris and Natasha. “From Russia Without Love” comes after a thawing on the crucible of social media fit a square peg into an oval orifice. There is no political commentary in the episode, and the social commentary is only on the catfish. The international incident turns out to be all too domestic.

“From Russia Without Love” is a long sad look into Moe. Something most communities prefer to avert their eyes from. But Springfield isn’t just any neighborhood. It doesn’t even know what state it’s in. The episode ends on further sorrow as Nelson gets stranded on an outpost a planet away where smokes are hard to come by. Featuring the two secondary characters lets the series breathe a little less shallowly as The Simpsons 30th season finds them looking back at narrative and internal development.

“From Russia Without Love” was written by Michael Ferris and directed by Matthew Nastuk.

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, Professor John I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink Jr., and Moe. Harry Shearer is Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers.  Guest stars: Jon Lovitz and Ksenia Solo.

The Simpsons‘ “From Russia Without Love” aired Sunday, November 11 at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.

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3.5 out of 5