Well, that was different.
Essentially, this episode was done largely in the style of a TV detective show from the 70s. After an open where we see Homer, Mr. Burns, and a woman identified as a tech billionaire named Megan Matheson (guest star Cecily Strong), things get a little mysterious. All three are bidding millions, and Lisa tries to drag Homer away when Matheson wins the auction for a painting that Homer loudly bemoans he will never get to see again. After some impressive security wraps up the painting, it still disappears before it gets to Matheson’s house. Someone stole it, and that means the insurance company will call in the best investigator it has in the form of…Manacek!
That’d be guest star Bill Hader. He seems a little portly, wears what looks like a loud polyester suit, walks around with a hand perennially in only one of his pants pockets, and is really good at insulting Chief Wiggum. Plus, everyone seems to say they like him at some point, even Marge, and, well, you’ll see.
Manacek believes he has three possible suspects: tech billionaire Matheson, Power Plant owner Mr. Burns, and Homer Simpson, who is somehow known for cheating at board games.
Manacek checks out each one, and while it doesn’t look good for Homer, Marge goes to plead on her husband’s behalf. It turns out Manacek is also a womanizing male chauvinist, so he won’t talk to Marge except over dinner.
Cue Manacek eating dinner at the rowdy Simpson house, surrounded by loud kids and messy pets.
Marge and Lisa try to explain Homer’s interest in the painting, The Poetess by Joan Miro (it’s a real painting), by explaining Homer was chaperoning a school trip to the art museum when he happened to spot it while waiting for a mob of kids to come out of the bathroom. And somehow, it reaches him and he learns to really appreciate it. While Marge has no time for abstract artwork, Lisa loves it since she has the same painting on a tote bag. But then when she and Homer return to the museum, they find the place locked up. Why? According to Mayor Quimby, the city can’t afford the museum anymore, and they will be auctioning off the artwork. That led to the opening scene even if Homer was told the auction house was well aware he didn’t have eleven million dollars.
And though Homer makes a run for it, the act of finding Homer in the museum tells Manacek exactly who stole the painting. Gathering the suspects, he explains it was Matheson, who hired the identical twin brothers of the guards escorting her artwork to her house so she could claim the insurance money. She pulls a gun and Manacek punches her out. But then Manacek explains that that she didn’t steal the real painting because Mr. Burns had tricked everyone with an identical auction house. He pulls a gun (when Smithers tells him it’s the right time), so Manacek punches him out too. After punching out a woman and an old man, Manacek reveals he knew who really took the painting, and it wasn’t the person we just met or the closest the show has to a regular villain. Who was it?
She’d slipped in and switched the painting for her tote bag so people like Homer could still appreciate the artwork.
As such, the painting reverts back to the city, and what did Springfield need all that money for anyway?
To build a new sports arena. The city hung the painting in there. Now Homer can have everything he appreciates all in one place.
Cue Manacek’s closing credits, but only after Marge tells him off.
She still likes him, though…