The Simpsons season 26, episode 12, “The Musk Who Fell To Earth,” is the most original episode of the year, and it’s already January. This season has been a lackluster clip episode of past season retreads, except for one episode that was supposed to be season finale. Not this week. The Simpsons take aim at an environmental savior who is a potential economic pothole and hit an off-center bull’s-eye.
Who says The Simpsons are anti-American? Just look at the way they treat the bald eagle, the only bald thing Bart could ever love, it’s like kicking George Washington in his wooden nuts. Poor Squawkie is part of a proud, protected species and is killed by the gaseous emissions of the environment’s best friend. This is an allegory wrapped in an allusion of subliminal foreshadowing. All these great world-saving ideas suck for America, the land of the free market and the home of brave venture capitalists.
This episode shows how to mix the liberal/conservative skewering in the true Simpsons tradition. Hanging slightly to the left, the problems of both sides are laid bare. Genii like Nicola Tesla and Elon Musk may possess the answers to all of the world’s problems, but how on earth can you make a profit off that? And he’s up against the idealism of Charles Montgomery Burns. There’s no more lovable Republican than Monty Burns, except maybe Dick Cheney, he’s such a cutie. Healthy and vibrant as Detroit itself, no, that’s Henry Ford.
Sure there’s a darkness in the soul of every truly wealthy person, but when you look beyond the forked tongue and into the eyes of Mr. Burns, you see and understand, there is no soul. Burns is the perfect villain, cut from the same gib as Mr. Henry F. Potter of It’s A Wonderful Life. How could you not love the old moneybags? When the good deedery of the auto, and slightly erotic, designer drives Burns to the brink of Howard Hughesery collapse, we can’t help but feel the pain in our own underfed wallets. The trickledown theory really doesn’t work when the spout’s broken.
What does Musk care? To him the whole monetary system is just a series of interconnected heterogeneous databases. To Burns, money is fiduciary fulfillment. It’s more than that, it’s like bacon to Homer, except Burns’ drool is flammable. All he wanted was to make obscene profits in the last year of his life that he would leave to no one. Why does Elon Musk hate dreamers?
Elon Musk finds love. Homer’s broken synapses are poetry in motion to the planet hopping automaker who is intellectually running on empty. This proves the old scientific hypothesis that laziness is the mother of all invention. It takes a mix of grand and mundane ideas to make scientific history, but when you throw in Homer’s pure unadulterated free associations, it’s a Science Digest Mad Lib. White meatballs and raison d’etre entrees, you just know it would go great with Tang.
Lisa is sadly sidelined. A soul lost in an intellectual sea, she follows in the wake of genius, but is only perceived as perceptive, not especially gifted. A real space man like Musk would take a chance on exploring the galaxy with the open eyed enthusiasm of an eight year old first chair sax player.
When Marge looks into Homer’s eyes to show him how to break up with Musk, is she really miming how she gets out of gym memberships or is she drawing on her inner desire to be rid of Homer? There seems to be a visible crack in their relationship. Homer seems convinced, but his crack is always showing.
Musk himself, the actor, gives a great understated performance. How understated? He’s got an app for emotions he doesn’t have the facial expressions for. It’s a little sad how he beats Professor Frink to the patent office with his Glavinator, rendering Frink’s life of glavinating useless. Musk’s best invention is the creamer container made of sugar. Mmm, container.
So many quick gags and all of them worked. The Simpsons uses gags like musicians use passing notes. Sometimes the gags are bogged by slightly embarrassing warts, falling into their own stereotypes. Tonight’s tender cop moment was a classic. Chief Wiggum wants to know why he and his partner can’t have fun driving around at work like Homer and that inventor guy and then proceeds to show Lou exactly why. Because Wiggum can’t tell a trigger from a safety.
Kent Brockman’s buildup on the Little Rascals tragedy was wonderful. We all knew it was coming. The Little Rascals can’t all live forever, though I did give a fleeting thought to Bobby Blake. The title “The Musk Who Fell to Earth” is a play on the Nicolas Roeg science fiction classic The Man Who Fell To Earth, starring David Bowie. The closing number, “Starman,” is from Bowie’s 1972 masterwork The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
Last week I complained that The Simpsons’ wit get less sharp in direct proportion to the sharpness of their animation. This week’s episode is sleek. It moves quickly and none of the jokes fall flat. Leave it to Musk to make The Simpson family aeroanimadynamic.
“The Musk Who Fell To Earth” was written by Neil Campbell and directed by Matthew Nastuk. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Pattie and Selma Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Chief Wiggum and Professor Frink. Harry Shearer is Mr. C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest star: Elon Musk.
But It All Went By So Fast: Mouse Catch. Raisin Detra: Eating This Gives Out a Raison D’etre. I have to keep beating myself with the fact that I am zero. Springfield Nuclear Plant, Your suggestion, Installing a M.H.D. generator would allow the plant to operate at a higher temperature without the tyranny of moving parts. Using conducting plasma as the moving conductor (continued). 1) Town powered by electricity. 2) Electricity sold by plant. 3) I’m back. God bless Homer!
Springfield Nuclear: Smell the Musk. Feel the Burns. Sad Granddad Whiskey. Hyperloop operational. Spuckler retransmission grid and roadside care. No upside for years. Makes no financial sense but it’s cool. A terrible sacrifice now. That future generations may appreciate. Today: Layoff announcements. Depression Museum: More Depressed Than Ever. Will work for food. Will drive for juice. Krustylu studios: No Foley Work.