Wait, the Simpsons take another trip to another country, and this episode isn’t filled with weird stereotypes of that country, like, at all?
Well, times change.
You know what else changes? That the show remembered that the Simpsons have a limited budget, but it’s Marge, not Homer, who encourages everyone to go on this expensive trip. This time around, the country in question is Costa Rica. Marge gets an invite from Luanne VanHouten for the entire Simpson clan to come spend time in this beachfront luxury Costa Rican villa the VanHoutens rent every year for a nice vacation. Each family needs to pay its own way, but that’s not what Marge sees. She sees a chance to have Instagram photos that aren’t just loads of laundry. Marge is so thrilled, she drives home fast enough to knock a billboard over onto Lou the cop and set a wind chime store on fire.
And it isn’t hard to sell the rest of the family. Homer can lie on a nice beach, Lisa can enjoy the biodiversity of the rain forest, Bart can go to a country where kids can carry machetes (something he does for the rest of the episode), and Maggie can chew on the guide book. Sounds like a good deal!
OK, but there has to be a problem or two here. First up, Lisa overhears her parents worrying over the money. It’s actually Homer who is worried, especially as under their current mortgage, the car might technically own the house. But Marge really wants to go, and Lisa, well, Lisa can spend the rest of the episode worrying.
Next problem? Well, Lou the cop was supposed to go with his sister, but a billboard fell on him and her wind chime shop burned down. Enter Marge’s sister Patty with Patty’s new girlfriend Evelyn (guest star Fortune Feimster, and no, I do not know who that is). This is Patty’s last chance since the dating apps started to tell her not to bother, so can Homer be nice to Patty and Evelyn?
That turned out to be no problem at all. Evelyn is from the South, and her quirky expressions amuse Homer to no end. She also drinks heavily and seems rather clumsy when she isn’t stuffing her face. Marge’s one goal is a perfect photo by a picturesque waterfall, something that Homer, despite drinking and having a monkey party in the house, gets right! Until Evelyn ziplines down into the water, knocks Marge’s phone into the lake, only for it to be eaten by a fish. And Homer’s efforts to get the fish only result in Patty taking a fish to the head. Patty, naturally, wants to blame Homer, but Marge quickly points out it is Evelyn’s fault because Evelyn is a Homer.
Oh, that was not a good break-up.
That goes much better than the subplot with Superintendent Chalmers’ teenage daughter Shauna facetiming boyfriend Jimbo the entire trip.
And the Simpsons end up getting kicked out early when Lisa appears to ruin the vacation for everyone else. She thinks something is up. Since when did Kirk VanHouten become such a worry-free big spender? She wants a look at his ledger and, with Bart’s help, finds something that looks like stolen valuable artifacts. They aren’t. They’re salt and pepper shakers meant to be gifts to all the families that are all the people I mentioned so far plus the Hibberts. Homer has to write a very large check (he’s in tears at the end, huddling under a blanket) and off the Simpsons go to return to Springfield when Lisa notes the bill is very large…a little too large. The Simpsons even paid for their salt and pepper shakers but then didn’t get a pair. Since everyone went off to zipline, the Simpsons go to get themselves some shakers.
And then they find…something.
Yes, the VanHoutens were scamming everyone. After ziplining up the lines, Homer reveals that, well, the VanHoutens weren’t renting. One of Kirk’s ancestors built the house. The VanHoutens own the place and overcharge the other families to get a free vacation for themselves. And while Marge is there with Patty, she gets Patty and Evelyn to reconcile because while Evelyn may be a Homer, Homer loves Marge but hates Patty more than anything in existence, even Selma. Homer, apparently, feels bad for Selma’s having to live with Patty. Evelyn, meanwhile, loves Patty, so she isn’t a complete Homer. Patty and Evelyn make up, Homer and Marge get their money back, and everyone goes home except for the VanHoutens.
They have to clean the place up for Kirk’s cousin.