On reflection, this episode may be my favorite one to prominently feature Springfield mob boss Fat Tony. Joe Mantegna does a fantastic job again, and we learn of Homer’s special power over him.
I’ll get to that in a bit.
Our story opens with a meeting of the Springfield Investorettes, an investment group made up of Marge, Mrs. Krabappel, Agnes Skinner, Maude Flanders, Luane VanHouten, and Helen Lovejoy. The group has been doing well, so Helen proposes getting a franchise of their own somehow. Marge isn’t comfortable with any sort of high risk stuff since it’s so risky, so the other kick her out for being a killjoy.
Distraught, the rest of the Simpson family head to the franchise convention to see what sorts of business Marge might be able to sink her money into. She’s not feeling it until she runs into the other women and has to be reminded of Mrs. Skinner’s first name. When the other women go for a “Fleet-A-Pita” truck, Marge runs into one Frank Ormand, a downtrodden kind of guy voiced perfectly by the late Jack Lemmon. He convinced Marge to try his franchise business, Pretzel Wagon.
Things start off well, but Marge’s first foray is to Homer’s work place at the Power Plant, and just as she’s starting, in comes the Investorettes to steal her customers. Man, those women sure are cruel to poor Marge for some reason and…hey, is that Mindy Simmons in the crowd? Wow. Marge should kick that woman’s ass.
But she doesn’t. Instead, the business world is kicking Marge’s. Cletus finds a loophole in Marge’s coupon offer, and the baseball stadium’s pretzel day giveaway doesn’t work when Mr. Burns wins a new car and all the angry patrons just toss the pretzels away and knock out Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Marge loses all hope.
So, Homer can’t stand to see his wife this way and decides she needs help, and while he can’t do diddily squat, he knows who can…Frank Ormand!
Homer arrives in time for the man’s funeral. Same with the executor of the estate. They were in the same car.
Now, really desperate, Homer goes to the church to ask help of someone he’s never gone to before. That’s right. Fat Tony. He advertises in the church bulletin.
What follows is a quick montage that manages to be a tribute to both Goodfellas and The Godfather at the same time. I’d show it, but the best video I could find of it is in Spanish, so that makes it even more surreal.
Well, the mob doesn’t do stuff for free. Fat Tony meets Homer to collect in the men’s room of Moe’s, and that’s where we find out Homer’s special power: he can shame Fat Tony into leaving.
HOMER: You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return? Oh, Fat Tony! I will say good day to you, sir.
FAT TONY: Yes, I will go. (exits Moe’s) Hey, wait a minute!
That cracks me up every time.
Well, Marge finds out when Fat Tony gives her 12 hours to give him 100% of her profits. She refuses, and when the hour strikes, she and Homer are terrified by a sudden knock…of Grampa at the door. He had that dream again. Homer closes the door and then when there’s a second visitor, this time it really is Fat Tony. Are Homer and Marge done for?
Eh, no. The Investorettes are mad Fat Tony’s people blew up their wagon and got their own criminal help from the Yakuza. Cue a mob war on the Simpsons’ lawn.
So, a simple story of investor jealousy ends in mob violence. Again.