194. Dumbbell Indemnity

(originally aired March 1, 1998)
Moe’s Flanderization over the later seasons is a bit different than the other characters; while he did become a more exaggerated version of his angry, misanthropic persona, another side of his personality sprung forth, the one desperate for acceptance from other people. A handful of episodes down the line feature Moe’s attempts to be a decent human being, which seems a bit odd coming from such an angry, hate-filled man. I don’t mind this character turn as much, as we’ve seen glimmers of Moe’s softer side in the past, and how it’s clear what a sad, pathetic gargoyle he really is, so why not throw him a bone of happiness every once and a while. As lone as Moe is still Moe, I’m good. So I’m pretty much fine with characterization in this episode where Moe finds love, it’s just a few other points I have issues with.

Homer takes Moe out for a night on the town to find him a lady type, which he shockingly does in a kind flower girl named Renee. Never mind exactly who is selling flowers on a street corner at night, but we don’t really get to know anything about Renee’s character. At all. For the purposes of the story, she’s really just a prop anyway, but it would have been nice to give her some kind of inkling of a persona that could have assisted the plot in some way. What if she was a lady who got comfortable with the finer things Moe provided, and that’s why he gets desperate for money later on? I get why he’s spending so much, feeling he must compensate for his looks and boorish personality, but it would have had more bearing if it involved Renee in any way. It isn’t long before Moe out of cash to woo his girlfriend and comes up with a scheme to a temporary solution: if Homer can steal his car and wreck it, his insurance company will give him a cool five thousand. The carjacking is a spectacular wreck; the car is destroyed, but Homer is quickly apprehended.

Rather than bail Homer out, Moe decides to book a trip to Hawaii with Renee instead. But his conscious gets the better of him in the end and he admits the whole thing was a scam. Renee is understanding at first, but Moe’s crazy schemes run away from him, and she figures it best to just slink away and never look back. Meanwhile Homer has broken out of jail to tear Moe a new one, and the two have a brawl within the bar which is engulfed with flames. In the end, the two make up, and Moe sets up shop at the Simpsons for the time being. Guess he had his car insured and not his business. I dunno, the third act wanes for me because, like a lot of these episodes, we’re just waiting for the inevitable end: Moe will do the right thing. Except I really don’t know if he would; for a hot dame, I think he’d let Homer rot in jail while he soaked up a tropical paradise. Or maybe instead of something silly like Homer’s ghost, his confession could have been cajoled by a conversation with Renee. You know, something that could have given her character a bit more weight? So, yeah, there are a couple things here that don’t quite work, but the story’s solid enough, and there’s plenty of laughs throughout, so this one ain’t too bad.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer may be a bonehead, but I think wildly bashing the water heater with a club is a bit too much for him. The visual of the house leaking from every orifice is spectacular though, as is Homer’s ode to Moe’s (“To Marge; and all the years I’ve blissfully spent hiding from her in this bar.”)
– Moe’s love life ain’t so good, if you can imagine (“Whatever happened to your mail order bride?” “She got homesick for her old life; diving for tourist pennies in a Micronesian swamp.” “So her career got in the way.”)
– Stu’s Disco! But I thought Disco Stu doesn’t advertise. How do people know about his club? I do like Moe’s awkwardness and complete inability to socialize, as well as the Barcadi salesman, ready to strike with a ‘Drink Rum’ sticker.
– Always loved the loud, off-screen Homer line, “Stop kissing that cat and get in the car!”
– Aiming to please, at the Gilded Truffle, Moe orders the first most expensive meal stuffed with the second most expensive. So, lobster stuffed with tacos. Then we see the remnants of the meal, a lobster shell with a little sombrero on it.
– Moe tries to dictate a sweet card to include with Renee’s flowers, but Barney’s laughter interrupts him (“Renee my treasure… hey, shut up, or I’ll ram a stool down your throat!! …oh, no, no, I don’t want that on the card. Well, let me hear how it sounds. …nah, take it out. Take it out.”) The shop informs Moe his Player’s Club card is maxed out. He pleads with them to do him this favor, he has a real tenuous hold on his girlfriend. They promptly hang up.
– Renee is voiced by Helen Hunt, who does a fine job with the material I suppose. She was also with Hank Azaria at the time of the episode. Which I guess explains why she got the job.
– Moe slyly points out his car to Chief Wiggum for future reference, under the guise of his excellent parking job (“Hey, that is nice! Hey, Lou! Lou, check out that park job in 7A!”)
– Homer as carjacker has some good bits: his panicked looking at the clock at the dinner table, thwarting actual carjacker Snake, and of course his taking in the classic drive-in film “Hail to the Chimp.” Missing the train, he takes it up to a hillside, which faces where the police boat cruise is. Excellent timing and animation as Homer drops out of the car, rolls down the hill and ends up popping right back into the driver’s seat. Then we get an extended sequence of he and the car plummeting further in the depths of the water for some reason. Though I like this exchange from the cops (“That car thief can’t hold his breath forever.” “And if he can, Chief?” “Then God help us all.”)
– I do like at the end how Moe’s insane side gets the better of him, which scares Renee away (“Where you goin’, baby? You going to find the corpses?”)
– Yeah, I don’t really care for the ending. I can see Homer moving Moe’s to his house, but it kind of feels like too much.

8 thoughts on “194. Dumbbell Indemnity

  1. “…it would have been nice to give her some kind of inkling of a persona that could have assisted the plot in some way. What if she was a lady who got comfortable with the finer things Moe provided, and that’s why he gets desperate for money later on? I get why he’s spending so much, feeling he must compensate for his looks and boorish personality, but it would have had more bearing if it involved Renee in any way.”

    I actually think it is better that they didn’t have renee act in this way. it actually gives more characterization to her and moe. the fact she hasn’t gotten used to his lavish spending, or expects him to spend that kind of money on her, shows she is deeper than looks/money and really just likes moe for moe.

    as for our protagonist, it just goes to show how incredibly insecure he really is, assuming that the money and the gifts were the only things keeping her around because there was no possible way she could like him for him, and in the end it was his crazed behavior that drove her off, and not his lack of funds. renee really could have been the one for him, but because he wont give himself, or her for that matter, enough credit, he really has missed out on his chance, and he will ultimately die alone.

    really quite sad when to think about it…

    1. With all due respect to Mike, I can’t help but wonder if the reason for him not mentioning this much-GIFed moment is because he considers it overrated…

      If so, then I can understand – but I don’t think it would have looked too out of place in many classic era episodes (particularly “Flaming Moe’s”).

  2. this one could’ve worked for me if Renee didn’t come off as so fickle. One second she’s saying Moe is charming, the next she’s leaving because Moe has a crazy scheme. Really did this woman care for moe or not?

    Return to status quo really hurts romance episodes, which is one reason why Apu’s wedding to Manjula feels like it works, but if you can’t have the partner die having them slope off for no reason, especially when Moe is as devoted as he is (albeit in a very moe way), just makes things feel cowardly and makes the hole romance suspect.

    Did Renee actually care about Moe? Did Renee not know Moe was going over board to give her the high life, hell did Renee ever you know, tell! Moe that it was him she was fond of, not merely what he got her before baling out.

    Really Renee in this one comes off as either a harpy, or an opportunist, or a coward, or as some unpleasant combination of all of those.

  3. I have mixed feelings on this episode. It is no where near as bad as Pauper, Bart Star, or Last Temptation, but it isn’t that good of an episode. It’s entertaining, especially when Moe’s car is really being robbed and Homer stops it because he’s stupid and then the aforementioned bit about him rolling down the hill because he screwed up.

    Renee is fine for what she needed to be, but I do agree they should have done something with her. Maybe even forgo the crazy hijinks and just have a grounded episode about Moe with a girl.

    The ending is crap as Homer would not allow Moe to have his bar in his own home. At least not to the extent it is like at the end. Also, throwing a dart at Marge? No, just no.

  4. Hey, look, another episode with good jokes that elevate a somewhat rough episode. It’s almost like that’s season 9 in general. This episode does have its good moments (Moe’s recount of his previous break-up, “Stop kissing the cat and get in the car!”, Homer’s song about stealing the car, “The thief can’t hold his breath forever!” “If he can?” “God help us all.”) that are definitely worthy of laughs. That said, this episode is the big introduction to Moe’s sadder self. It works somewhat well here, but later episodes turn him into an absolute softie, and I hate it. This episode on its own is still okay, though, as it had enough good bits to keep it from being bad.

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