682. Warrin’ Priests (Part Two)

Original airdate: May 3, 2020

The premise: Having uncovered Bode’s most terrible secret, Lovejoy returns to Springfield to expose their newly beloved reverend, inflaming the town’s ire and shaking Lisa’s newfound renewed faith.

The reaction: So here we have part two, and I still have no idea why they made this a two-parter. After a brief recap, the entirety of act one is all just repeating information we already know: Bode is a hit with the people of Springfield, Lisa admires him as a wise man of faith, and Lovejoy discovers Bode’s secret in Michigan. While he rushes back home to reveal the truth, we get some time-filling fluff with Bode vs. Ned Flanders, which really doesn’t culminate to anything. They scratch the surface of what Ned’s gripes are, but he and Bode never have much of a back-and-forth that amounts to anything interesting. Instead, their showdown in church is interrupted by a musical number from Lisa about how much she loves Bode, more fluff to pad the runtime out. Finally, at minute 15 of the episode, Lovejoy returns for the big reveal: as part of a sermon as a young pastor, Bode burned a Bible. The congregation immediately turns on him, resulting in a “trial” between him and Lovejoy, where he doesn’t even attempt to try and give an explanation, nor does the crowd demand to hear one. Also, that was the big reveal? Why would the townspeople, who at the start of part one couldn’t get the hell out of church fast enough, care so deeply now about burning a Bible? I guess what the intention was is that Bode reinvigorated the townspeople’s faith, and this represents the ultimate betrayal of the religious tenants he stood for. I guess? But their reaction is less disillusionment and betrayal, and more just standard Springfield angry mob stuff (Moe yells out, “We’ve mobbed for less, people!”) Post-trial, Lisa meets with Bode where he finally explains himself: by burning the Bible, he was trying to illustrate how people put too much stock in the literal word and symbolic nature of the Good Book and not the actual message. Lisa rebuffs that symbolism like that is way too deep for her fellow dullard citizens. And so, Bode just leaves town and the episode is over. No resolution for Lovejoy, no final statement about any of the spiritual themes or meanings behind this two episode opus, just absolutely nothing. What a completely flaccid outing. As mentioned for part one, for all of the sermonizing Pete Holmes does in both of these episodes, I honestly don’t know what the point of all of this was. The concept of instilling Springfield with a practical, malleable version of faith could be an interesting one, but that idea goes completely unexplored and goes nowhere, over the course of two episodes. Both parts of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” are chock full of set-ups and pay-offs, great character stuff, the building and unraveling of a mystery, and laughs, laughs and more laughs. “The Great Phatsby” buffered its two parts with two B-stories to kill time. But “Warrin’ Priests” is just the A-story, and it’s a pretty shocking display of how little they manage to fill the time with. A wholly unremarkable outing.

Three items of note:
– The couch gag this week was some bizarre home-movie style thing where the Simpsons are eating outside with some horses? I eventually surmised this must be a parody of a show I wasn’t familiar with, but “thankfully” the show just flat-out told me that, showing a Kent Brockman report with the on-screen title “SHOW PARODIES OTHER SHOW.” Afterward, I figured out this was their tribute to the opening title of HBO’s “Succession,” and once again I’ll say for the ten millionth time that a) recreating a thing doesn’t count as a parody if there’s not a lick of satire to be found, and b) a good parody should still play to the people who don’t specifically know the source material. Having never seen the show, I have no fucking idea what this was supposed to be. Any readers out there big “Succession” fans? If so, please let me know how loud you laughed at the opening of this episode.
– Marge warns Lisa not to get her hopes up too much over Bode, drawing her attention to the vision board of disappointment conveniently hanging in her kitchen. On it are photos of characters and moments from previous episodes: Mr. Bergstrom, Princess the pony, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Lisa teaching Mr. Burns about recycling, and Jesse Grass. All but one of these moments are from the show’s golden era, with the lone outlier being from season 12, an episode that aired almost twenty years ago. As usual, when this show does direct callbacks, it is always something from the show’s most respected years, and it’s always the clearest indicator of how completely disposable and forgettable the last twenty years of the show have been. Where’s Laney Fontaine, the Broadway star Lisa went on tour with? Or Chloe, Marge’s high school friend and roving reporter  Lisa idolized? Lisa’s Wiccan friends? That homeless musician who was a drug addict? They’re not on that board because nobody gives a flying fuck about those episodes, and for good reason.
– Lovejoy’s trip to Michigan takes him to the doorstep of the megachurch Bode previously worked at, which only served to remind me of the wonderful HBO series The Righteous Gemstones, a very biting and truly brilliant satire on televangelist empires. Seeing the tepid jokes on display here on the subject (product placement in the stadium, the preacher being at the ready with a go bag of cash), it couldn’t be clearer how this thirty-one-year old show has been totally left in the dust by its sharper contemporaries.
– One bonus tidbit: balking at Bode’s Bible burning, Lisa comments, “Why couldn’t you have burned one of Bill O’Reilly’s books? There are so many!!” When I was a kid, my conservative father got me the best-selling book “The O’Reilly Factor For Kids,” and in a rare act of teenage rebellion, I burned it in a bonfire with some of my friends. What a little hellraiser I was. Also I am now looking at the five star Amazon ratings for the book and I’m getting sad so let me just close out this window…

17 thoughts on “682. Warrin’ Priests (Part Two)

  1. Wow, this is getting insane. Absolutely no episodes in 2020 with any good moments whatsoever. Season 31 has truly toppled Season 28 as the most abysmal of Simpsons seasons. But I bet it still gets renewed for a Season 33 and beyond.

  2. Ladies and gentlemen, that was the spine-tingling conclusion of “Borin’ Priests!” See you all next week for ANOTHER episode where Lisa Simpson makes a new friend voiced by a celebrity!

    Mike burning a Bill O’Reilly book on the other hand, sounds way more interesting and entertaining than this stinker two-parter.

    1. Lisa demanding that Guest Star #492014 burn Right Wing Book does highlight Zombie Simpsons political “jokes”. In the old days, everyone was fair game and the show was more than willing to have teeth when it came to political satire, but today, politics boils down to surface level analysis about Trump being fat and having spray-tan. And the only way they feel goes at it for coming off as an equal opportunity critic is “Oh, that Bill Clinton is still thinking with his peter” stuff that stopped being hilarious 20 years ago.

      Yes, I endured “West Wing Story”, and I hate them for it.

  3. And that was the hair raising, spine-tingling conclusion of…whatever this crap was! Tune in for “Where the Bart-Fullo Roam”, where Homer caves in and buys Bart a buffalo named Matt, Lisa protests, and Marge strains her poor voice again while Disney tries to make Hudson x Maggie work! What aged mid-90s celebrity guest will they dig up? Find out SUNDAY…Sunday…Sunday…on FOX.

    1. The worst part? I genuinely thought this was an actual episode, all the way down to the awful pun.
      Not that the actual next episode is any better – “The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds”, where Lisa makes friends with another girl who’s a guest star. The originality is stunning!

    2. How is Disney doing anything? Season 31 was under development before Disney even bought Fox.

  4. So I proclaimed that Warring Priests Part 1 was without a doubt the worst episode of the show since The Serfsons. It was so boring to watch that it was almost painful. As such, I figured I’s start talking about what I liked in Part 2.

    I loved the music that was played for the couch gag. No idea what it is from, but it was cool to listen to.

    The second thing I did like dealt with Marge being upset with the banners she made being used for a 10 second joke. It was a tad saddening, but I did like the delivery of the line.

    As for everything else, yet again I asked myself why this was a two parter. Absolutely NOTHING happened in this entire episode. Like why was Ned so upset at Bode? It just came out of nowhere and felt like it was there just to be a time waster. Also, then we just have a random scene of Bode going to Ned’s house with western-ish music playing for a duel? Did I miss a scene where Ned challenged Bode to a duel in his home at a certain time? I just don’t get it.

    Also, the town just turns on Bode without Lovejoy even showing the video to them. What was the point of Lovejoy saving the video to a flashdrive when he never even showed it to anyone? That makes no sense either.

    Finally, I don’t get the big deal with burning a bible when there was a purpose behind it. It’s a freaking book, not a living creature. All he did was burn a dead tree.

    Overall, I continued to be bored out of my mind as everything found in this episode could have just been the second and final act to a regular episode. It just goes to show the writers are too afraid to make any ever lasting changes to the status quo and that’s fucking ridiculous when you are in Season 31!

    1. “Did I miss a scene where Ned challenged Bode to a duel in his home at a certain time? I just don’t get it.”
      It was only set up during the scene with Bode and Homer at Moe’s so I can’t say I blame you for missing it. Regardless the whole stuff with Ned felt tacked on, and we never get why he doesn’t actually accept Bode’s teaching when most Christians would be willing to listen to his words (at least Lovejoy has the excuse of Bode replacing him to hate his guts). Is it just because the writers keep forgetting that there’s more to Christianity than the staunch Fundamentalists these days, or do they just not care?

      As for the “trial” scene, it just felt like “Shit, we need status quo back and fast!” Like Lisa doesn’t even get the crowd to listen to Bode’s side of the story or even ask Lovejoy to actually show the footage of him burning the bible (Heck, she and Lovejoy barely give Bode the time and day at all during the scene). It’s just “This town likes being an angry mob, so better leave now.”

      After watching this two-parter, I think i can safely say that this show has no reason to be making any more of these if this is what it comes down to. Great Fatsby had no reason to be a two-parter either (let alone a reason to exist). And the fact they included a clip from Who Shot Mr. Burns in the intro just makes me wish that was the only two-part episode of the series. Because if they can barely make episodes last a full 22 minutes without pointless filler, dropped plotlines, and plot holes these days, then what chance do they have with a story that spans more than one of those epsidoes?

    2. But what I’m ultimately trying to figure out is… what does Reverend Lovejoy earn by chasing off the new guy? Sure, he gets back his church and his congregation, but the town goes back to ignoring him, and he most likely goes back to giving the same old, tired speeches about sin and damnation that the townsfolk have long droned out of. And, that’s my biggest problem with this episode.

      Episodes like this and “Much Apu About Something” present the same problem; the status quo is presented as tired, old, and shitty, with them spending all their time bitching and moaning about how miserable it is to still be doing this, and then something newer, and younger, comes along that presents something different that gives this podunk inspiration, and their reaction is… unbridled rage. Granted, in both examples, you can argue it’s Old Man gripes seeping into the script about how much the staff hate the young folks with the younger person having a bit of pompousness and coming in to be an ungrateful bastard, and then they go out of their way to want to see them fail so they can go back and take over… and once again be tired, old and shitty, and then continue spending all their time bitching and moaning about how miserable it is still be doing this, but they’d rather it be them doing it, not anyone else, dammit! That’s Al Jean’s Simpsons in a nutshell.

      Lovejoy is so excited to find “the smoking gun” to ruin this man’s life, but again, the first part firmly established that he’s terrible as a priest and the spark is long gone. Hell, the past 20 years or so have turned him into the worst kind of religious leader; he’s in it only for the money or the fame, and actually detrimental to the cause. A much better series would have him reflect on whether or not he should do this, as the Bible itself reflects on stories of those who seek revenge, to which he certainly would know (at least, we’d hope), thus setting up the emotional climax and perhaps the first real change in ages. But, no. We gotta keep things as is cause as it was Mayor Quimby’s re-election slogan in “See Homer Run”: Change Is Bad.

  5. Haven’t seen the episode, but the Bill O’Reilly line is pretty much the level of political satire I’m used to from The Simpsons now. Which is very, very sad.

  6. Didn’t see the episode so not sure – but why is Krusty in the picture. Isn’t he Jewish?

  7. Marge going out of her way to convince Lisa to never follow her dreams or ambitions has been a writer’s fetish for quite some time. In the beginning, it made some sense since Marge herself was a tragic character that had hopes and dreams but was forced to settle in to the traditional role of suburban housewife and likely wanted to prepare Lisa for a similar fate, but as the years have gone by, you’d think they would be more open minded given that Lisa is their favorite character to write for due to her being the vessel for their political and ethical views and America’s social climate have made women more influential than ever.

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