Simpsons Did It!: “Better Off Ned”

OK, so, we have an episode without any guest stars, but this whole episode feels kinda…familiar, and not in a good way.

One day, while visiting a surprisingly with-in and fun Grampa (the nurses finally gave him real meds), Bart finds out what it feels like to be pranked when Grampa gives the lad the old man’s prize possession:  a hand grenade.

And the pin is missing.

After a bit of panic, Grampa has a good, solid laugh because the grenade is a dud, but it sure did look scary.  Bart, asking to borrow it, goes off to do the sorts of things Bart does on a regular basis.  That means doing the exact same prank during a school assembly.  Skinner wets his pants, people panic, Bart has a good laugh, and Ned Flanders tosses himself on top of the grenade.

That’s right…Ned teaches at Springfield Elementary these days…

Anyway, this one is so bad, Bart will be severely punished unless Homer and Marge commit to drastic actions or something.  That would be when Ned steps in with an offer to mentor the boy, something Homer is glad to let happen so he doesn’t have to.

But then an amazing thing happens:  Ned gets through to Bart, acting as a better father figure than Homer ever was.

That sounds familiar.

And when Ned is recognized for his accomplishment all over town, Homer gets jealous and decides he wants to mentor another boy as a form of payback.

That sounds even more familiar.

Anyway, Homer goes with Nelson, and he may be unique for Nelson in that Homer isn’t also dating Nelson’s mother.  Nelson loves having a mentor since by his own low standards, Homer is something of an improvement.  But the reason for this mentorship is pretty obvious to, oh, everybody.  And this time, people have a problem with it.  Marge would say something, but Maggie needs her diaper changed.  Lisa, however, has no such obligations and finds Homer watching Nelson at Moe’s.  She gives her father $40 to see a licensed therapist.  Moe doesn’t count since he doesn’t even seem to have a liquor license.

And even the therapist tells Homer he’s terrible because only rich people get told everything they do is OK in therapy.

So, Homer goes to break it off with Nelson, and Nelson doesn’t take it well.  Since Homer is an adult, Nelson opts to take it out on Bart.  Bart, helping the entire Flanders family with a float for the Christian Pride parade (finally, Ned enthuses, Christians can show off their faith in public), doesn’t know about this.  He only knows he has to march with the Flanders boys, and the older one (Rod?  Todd?) uses hand lotion.  Their float is a giant pair of hands set apart that come together in prayer at the end of the parade after all the parade goers pass through it.

Yes, Nelson will rig the hands to crush Bart as he passes through.

Yes, Homer will push Bart out of the way.

Yes, the two Simpson men reconcile by riding together in the ambulance because that’s their thing.

So, how can Homer fix this?  He’ll have Ned become Nelson’s new mentor.

Man, that sounds familiar.

The episode ends with the Muntzes having a nice dinner at the Flanders house, and the concept that Nelson may have renounced the Way of the Bully.

Then again, Milhouse seems to be closed up inside the Flanderses’ freezer.

OK, that was a wee bit new.

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