419. Mona Leaves-a

Mona Leaves-a(originally aired May 11, 2008)
“Mother Simpson” is a definitive Simpsons classic, one of the most heartwarming episodes of the series. “My Mother the Carjacker” cheapened things a bit, but mostly remained innocuous in more or less telling the same story over again. But this show… it turns Mona Simpson’s character and entire past on its ear, turning this farewell episode into hackneyed schlock and more or less shitting all over the good vibes established from “Mother.” Out of the blue, Mona just reappears at the Simpson house, asserting that she’s through running from the law and wants to be involved in the family again. The feds still think she’s dead from the events of “Carjacker,” so how exactly would this work? Anyway, Homer feels apprehensive about this, not wanting to get hurt again by his mother’s seemingly eventual re-abandonment. Unfortunately when his change of heart comes, Mona has already died. To make peace, Homer vows to accomplish her dying wish to release her ashes at a specified time from a tall rock formation… which ends up clogging the guidance system of a missile set to dump nuclear waste to the rainforest. Now the Simpsons have to stop this evil James Bond plot! What the fuck is this?!

I’m going to bypass the third act, because it befuddles me way too much to even try to analyze. We kill off Mona in this episode, but her character is completely sullied. If you’ll remember, she was a 60s radical fighting for change, but she was a caring mother first, always looking out for her little Homer. That’s why she left in the first place, to keep him safe from harm. Here, in one of the most infuriating scenes of the entire series, we see young Mona callously saying goodbye to her son for the night (“See you later, honey! Mommy has to go chain herself to a nuclear submarine. Hugs and kisses!”) Li’l Homer reaches out for a hug, but is rejected. Fucking. Terrible. Homer’s life only went to shit when he was left to be raised by Abe, but I guess he had a terrible, unattended childhood both ways now, I guess. And despite her selfless effort to keep her son from harm in the past, Mona has Homer sabotage that missile launch, which ends up getting him into harm’s way. He could have suffered the same hardships she did, and it would have been all her fault. Mona was a saintly mother figure, now she’s a rambunctious hippie leftist, akin to what Lisa has become now. Just a ghastly episode, trying to elicit emotion from an untimely death, but completely betraying the character they’re killing in the process.

Tidbits and Quotes
– What a terrible title, first of all. One of the worst ever, I think.
– We start at the mall at “Stuff-N-Hug,” another transparent pop culture surrogate. Lots of jokes to be made about Build-a-Bear, are there? Not really.
– “Mom, I can’t believe you’re here. You keep appearing and reappearing and it’s not funny! You’re just like that show Scrubs!” Again, guys, pot to kettle. Also, what a clumsily written line.
– Glenn Close just sounds tired as Mona, which I guess makes sense given her imminent demise. But not even death will keep her from the writers scrounging her character back up one more time, I think in that Inception episode where Homer keeps wetting the bed. Thank God I don’t have to watch that one.
– The moment where Homer finds his mother dead by the fireplace at the end of act one is a little chilling; I just wish there were a more serious, competently written episode surrounding it. Then act two begins with Homer at the funeral home sobbing, “My mother’s dead!” It’s one of those exposition lines you get after a commercial, but I feel it could have been accomplished in a more natural way.- Homer tries to find solace with his friends, but to no avail. Apu talks about reincarnation, while Ned is very compassionate (“Look, Homer, people don’t come back as anything, except for our Lord, who came back as bread, that’s it.”) Then it becomes a pissing match between Apu and Ned; what a wacky religious odd couple! Two more dead characters.
– Homer climbs the mountain to fulfill his mother’s last wish, or rather, he makes it part way up having Marge carry him (“Marge, your back is so sweaty! I’m starting to slip off!”) Class act.
– The third act… God, who cares. It ends with the secret base exploding and Homer flying out with an English flag parachute for no discernible reason or explanation, and him believing if he adds water to the ashes, Mona will come back to life. Then we end with a montage of clips from past Mona appearances. For some reason, I’m annoyed by them adding new animation of her kissing young Homer goodbye and walking out of the room, right before the old clip from “Mother Simpson” of sleeping Homer’s face as the door closes.

32 thoughts on “419. Mona Leaves-a

  1. I honestly do not hate this episode as much as you do. I don’t think it is anywhere near the insult you make it out to be, nor do I think it is as bad as the Car Jacker one, however, I do agree on the third act as the whole secret base thing is stupid.

  2. – “Mom, I can’t believe you’re here. You keep appearing and reappearing and it’s not funny! You’re just like that show Scrubs!” Again, guys, pot to kettle. Also, what a clumsily written line.

    Frankly I find Scrubs way funnier than ZS and would watch that over this dreck of a show way past it’s prime and yeah that line doesn’t make a whiff of sense…

  3. Here’s something I never understood about this episode: Did Mona know her death was imminent? If so, why didn’t she tell Homer? And if she -didn’t- know she was going to die, how could she have made a pre-taped video message giving the exact date and time to spread her ashes in Mr. Burns’s missile silo? It all seemed very clumsy.

    The third act felt very out-of-place, tone-wise. Actually, aside from a couple minutes in act one, the whole episode felt off. “Mother Simpson” was a masterpiece in the way it balanced comedy and drama, but this… wasn’t.

    This will (probably) be one of the last blog posts I comment on, as I stopped watching new Simpsons episodes at the start of season 20.

    1. Honestly, while I think it is great Mike is doing these, I won’t miss them when he is done. Lately, it has all been nothing but complaint after complaint about how this episode does this wrong, or does that wrong, or the classic episodes did insertwhatever. It gets a little boring after a while and I think he is really just trying to plow through them as fast as he can to post his thoughts instead of taking his time to digest the episode and take it for what it is.

      Don’t get me wrong, the series is pretty bad at this point, but it is still far better than any prime time show on tv to this very day. I would rather watch a bad Simpsons episode over any Family Guy, South Park, American Dad, or Clevland Show episode. Sure, those series have had some really great episodes (well, American Dad did until they had Roger have sex with Snot), but even their best episodes are as good as a bad Simpsons episode.

      1. While it’s true that I am yearning to reach the end, I must respectfully disagree. I also used to say that new Simpsons was better than all other TV… until I actually watched other TV. Community, Bob’s Burgers, South Park, Parks and Recreation, these are brilliantly written shows that put the Simpsons to shame. I’ve gotten really jaded at this point, but I do honestly try to stay open about these new episodes. Although now… I’m sorry, but the series has gone from the best show on television, to perhaps one of the worst. It brings me no pleasure to say that, but it’s what I believe.

      2. Hey Mike, I gotta say you’re doing a great job and I totally sympathize with you. It is definitely less fun to read than it used to be, but I imagine it must be way worse to actually watch and review these things. I mean, maybe if you’re watching the show once a week, at its regular time, and not thinking about too much as you watch it, I could see it being a somewhat enjoyable experience. But watching them almost every day, with the great episodes so fresh in your mind… That would definitely make me something-something.

        And while I would say Marcus’s point about the Simpsons still being better than the majority of TV is probably technically true, this is only because TV is so terrible in general overall. I’m sure there are plenty of knockoffs of American Idol, Family Guy, The Bachelor, etc. that are way worse than anything Zombie Simpsons has ever done. But if I’m going to watch something, I set my standards a little higher. I want to watch something that’s actually GOOD. Especially since there are more and more other things besides TV that I can do to entertain myself.

        But anyway, I want to say THANK YOU to Mike for doing this. As someone who stopped watching the show soon after the “Zombie Years” started, this has been very informative.

      3. See Mike, given that I watched the entire series in a month this past summer, I definitely think the series lost its fun. However, I still think it it outdoes everything else.

        Never seen Parks and Recreation though, but that is because I’m pretty much done these days with most shows that aren’t from Japan or Europe. I’m tired of getting into shows that are canceled just as they are getting good or have ratings drop 4 seasons into it and instead of giving it an ending, they just end it.

      4. Gotta disagree too, Marcus. After the Simpsons zombified around 2000 or so, there have been dozens of shows that are smarter, more emotionally resonant, more culturally important, and more cognizant of the basic rules of sitcom writing. Futurama, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Office, It’s Always Sunny, Louie, HIMYM, Parks and Rec, Community, Archer, South Park, Bob’s Burgers, Happy Endings, Modern Family, etc. If you like recent Simpsons, I’d definitely recommend checking out some of those

      5. I also disagree with ZS being better than the rest of TV and I also disagree about American Dad jumping the shark at “Jenny Fromdablock” (although I did worry it did at the end of Season 7 and the first episode of Season 8 but it bounced back and is still hilarious).

        Marcus if you have time give some other shows a change and you’ll see how much better they are than ZS.

    2. That’s very depressing to hear that The Simpsons is the worst show on television now. Mike, do you think The Simpsons is as soulless as The Emoji Movie, if not worse? And if the answer is yes, then what makes The Simpsons as soulless as The Emoji Movie?

      1. It was a bad touch, and I need to know if those who consider The Simpsons soulless find it to be as soulless as The Emoji Movie, or more soulless than The Emoji Movie, or just “almost but not quite” as soulless as The Emoji Movie. I for one, find The Simpsons to be less soulless than The Emoji Movie is.

  4. Regarding the title… I think the play on “Mona Lisa” is the most recycled episode title in the show’s history:

    -Moaning Lisa
    -Moe’N’a Lisa
    -Mona Leaves-a
    -Loan-a Lisa

    Tons and tons of title “puns” have been used twice, but the second worst offender I can find is A Star Is Burns/A Star Is Born Again/A Star Is Torn.

    1. You forgot:

      Phone a Lisa – After talking Moe out of another attempted suicide, Lisa stars in a call-in radio show until a jealous Marge sabotages her with a phony call. Meanwhile, Bart’s “Gangnam Style” parody starring Superintendant Chalmers goes viral. Dr. Drew guest stars.

      Zone and Lease, uh – Mayor Quimby caves into a business lobbying group and rezones Evergreen Terrace as a commercial street, forcing the Simpsons to turn their house into an upscale shopping boutique.

      1. You almost got me, but I know that their inevitable Gangnam Style parody won’t come for another 5 years!

      2. LOL sounds like a true ZS plotline cue with unfunny old references that have been done over and over again when the ep airs lol

      1. The Boy Who Knew Too Much
        The Dad Who Knew Too Little
        The Girl Who Slept Too Little

        A Star Is Burns
        A Star Is Born Again
        A Star Is Torn

        The Old Man and the Lisa
        The Old Man and the “C” Student
        The Old Man and the Key

      2. They did Mypods and Boomsticks (that still sounds stupid) and then Rednecks and Broomsticks a year later. That’s not to mention Million Dollar Abie (Also stupid) and Million Dollar Maybe,

      3. Take My Wife, Sleaze
        Brake My Wife, Please
        Take My Life, Please

        Moe Better Booze (A Star is Burns)
        Moe Baby Blues
        Moe Letter Blues

        Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
        D’oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (Tales from the Public Domain)
        Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?

        Coming Season 25: Homer’s Knight Out, Burns’ Air, The DMV Disbands and Blurst Episode Ever

      4. The Boy Who Knew Too Much
        The Dad Who Knew Too Little
        The Girl Who Slept Too Little
        The Man Who Grew Too Much

        Holidays of Future Passed
        Days of Future Future

    2. It’s funny to talk about repeated title puns. I can’t believe The Simpsons has never had an episode called Bart Mitzvah! It’s a combination Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, in case you couldn’t tell. Glad I could join this discussion thread.

    3. This episode’s title must be one of, if not the laziest of the bunch.

      Seriously. forcing a fake Italian accent just to make the pun?

    4. Oh! And while we’re at it, can we include Treehouse segment titles too?

      * Dial Z for Zombies (THOH3)
      * Dial N for Nerder (a regular episode, who would’ve thought?)
      * Dial M for Murder, or Press # to Return to Main Menu (THOH20)

  5. The Simpsons is still a good series but some episodes and, yes, even seasons are poorly written and produced to say the least. Also, I will miss Marcus and the other commentator’s/bloggers on here as well when Mike writes his last blog post on here, I hope he forever keeps this blog open for future generations, bloggers, internet geeks and critics to see. And I suppose we could keep posting on here, maybe once in a while, unless the comments are disabled or whatever. Anyway good show chaps, good show so far….

  6. “Don’t get me wrong, the series is pretty bad at this point, but it is still far better than any prime time show on tv to this very day.”

    Archer is way, way way better.

  7. For fuck’s sake, can we please get a moratorium on titles that are plays on “A Star Is Born,” “Mona Lisa,” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much”? These titles are awful.

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