What I thought to be a sweet story about the return of Homer's mother turned out to be a huge joke fest. Well, actually more a joke fest during the second half of the show than the first half. The first half was actually kind of sad as Homer couldn't take one more of Mona Simpson's promises that she had stopped running from the government and was now ready to devote her time to Homer and his family. The second half was a totally different Simpsons episode.
This has been done many times on the show, but it seemed like such a drastic change in tone that it was hard to grasp. One moment, Homer is mourning the loss of his mother and wallowing in guilt that the last thing he said to her was said in anger. The next moment it's a parody on James Bond movies. Yes, it was really Mona's last protest request, but it really didn't play out that way.
Fact is, when Homer was tied to the chair in the missle silo and the door opened I really felt that it was going to be Hank Scorpio who walked through. Now, that would have been pretty cool and fit right in to the whole James Bond motif that was being built. Alas, it was only Mr. Burns who entered. While not as good as Hank Scorpio would have been it was nice to see Mr. B. in this small role since he has barely been around this season. Plus, it gave Homer the setup to tell his boss he would need Thursday off.
Getting back to the first part of the episode -- the return of Mona Simpson. There were some good moments between Homer and his mother during this installment, particularly when Homer expressed his feelings of disappointment to his mom about all of the times she was not there for him. Homer has been disappointed many, many times over the 400-plus episodes of The Simpsons, and he has rebounded fairly quickly from most of them. But, this was someone he loved and cherished. Which meant that the disappointment he felt wasn't going to be washed away any time soon.
The predicament Homer fell into -- angrily asking Mona to go away shortly before she died -- is one very common in real life. None of us really know when our last day will be on solid ground. Yet, we are always walking out of the house angry for some reason, or leaving work in a snit due to something a co-worker or manager did. Then, when the people we were angry with unexpectedly pass away, enormous guilt sets in because we never got the chance to say good-bye or 'I love you' or millions of other positive and nice things. This is where Homer was this episode and, although it was a bit jokey, it was done tastefully.
Other memorable things that went down this week:
Moe playing with the emotions of all of the parking lot drivers at the mall. I knew that someone like Moe existed! In addition to positioning themselves at malls they also have personnel down at the beach who load up their trunks with their chairs, umbrellas and beach bags thinking they are going to leave, then it turns out they're just dropping everything off so they can walk the boardwalk. By the way, if it sounds like I'm bitter, you're absolutely right.
Ah, the Stuff-N-Hug: one more store to add to the ever-growing list of mall offerings the Simpson family will probably be banned from, especially after Homer destroyed their entire stock of talking hippos (thanks to the speed-recording efforts of Bart). Best lines from this vignette: "How much love do you want in your Stuff-N-Hug?"; "I want all the love!" -- Squeaky-voiced sales person and Ralph Wiggum.
The ESPY Awards featuring Lance Armstrong and Fozzie Bear. Pretty funny since, after grabbing Fozzie and throwing him away, the puppeteers hand continued to speak 'Wokka, Wokka.'
The discovery of Mona by the fire. It was a little silly at first, but became sad when he found out his mother was dead. The scene where Homer softly calls out "Mom?" with the shot of house exterior was a nice touch.
Cameo appearances by Seth and Munchie at Mona's funeral.
Homer using his chain-and-block device not once, but twice in the episode. Although, he wasn't sure what to initially do with the chain and block when he saw them in the silo.
Poor Lenny -- his mother won't even talk to him. However, she is more than willing to speak with Carl and happy to let Moe know that she wishes he were her son.
The religious debate with Apu and Ned. Apparently, religion is confusing but the sing-a-longs are fun.
The nice tribute to Mona Simpson at the end of the episode.