April 23, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “The Yellow Badge Of Cowardge”

In which Bart does a cowardly thing at the expense of Milhouse.

Lisa acts as an unseen narrator for this episode, leaving her visually unseen for most of it.

Draw your own conclusions.

It’s the last day of school, and probably not for the first time.  Bart, for one, is excited, and Homer’s plans to put Bart on a prison chain gang are out since they took Bart last year and decided he couldn’t come back.  The kid was too wild.

But it is field day at Springfield Elementary, and that means all kinds of fun events, many of which are easily won by Cletus’ kids who have three legs naturally or come in the shape of a wheelbarrow.  Don’t call them freaks!  But the big event is the race around the school, and Milhouse reveals he has a secret weapon:  he’s been working out.  Yes, wearing a fake stomach to hide his six pack abs, Milhouse is in the best shape of his life and hoping to join such luminaries that have won the race in the past like Sideshow Mel, Bumblebee Man, and guest star Edwin Moses, who is not impressed by anything.

You know who else isn’t impressed?  Probably Homer.  He’s too upset the town canceled its annual Fourth of July fireworks show.  That’s his favorite event of the year going back to his childhood when the explosions drowned out the sounds of his parents arguing (yeah, Glenn Close has a few lines).  As such, Homer will put on his own show with the retired Italian stereotype Giovanni Granfinale, the guy who used to do the show every year.  We’ll skip to the end for the resolution of that subplot.

Anyway, Milhouse is showing off and Martin sees how fit he is.  Martin runs off to the bullies to place a $20 bet on Milhouse winning the race at 1000-to-1 odds.  That seems odd, but Jimbo takes the bet.  Then the race starts, Bart gets off to an early lead, and there are shots of numerous one-shot kids from past episodes like Jessica Lovejoy, Fat Tony’s nephew (not his son, the original Fat Tony died!), Kent Brockman’s daughter, Snake’s son, and that weird Frank Sinatra kid.  But then Milhouse pulls out ahead and the bullies get suspicious, especially since they know they’d be ruined if Milhouse wins.  As such, Jimbo dispatches Nelson to stop Milhouse somewhere out of sight of any and all adults.  And that’s what Nelson does, but when Bart sees it, he panics and runs around Nelson rather than help his friend and get a beating himself.  Bart wins the race, gets the blue ribbon, and may get away with his cowardly act as Milhouse was so traumatized by the beating he doesn’t remember what happened.

But Bart does, and he’s having nightmares.  Plus, Maggie seems to have an endless supply of chicken feathers.

Will Bart come clean?  At a gathering of great Springfield athletes led by Drederick Tatum and including Bart and still Edwin Moses, he sees Milhouse cheering him on, and Bart tries to come clean.  No, wait, no he doesn’t.  He suggests Milhouse not try to remember because that might be for the best.  Then Kearney hits Milhouse in the head with a rubber armband and that causes Milhouse to remember Bart ditched him in a time of need.  Now the whole town hates Bart.  Even Santa’s Little Helper hates Bart.

Except maybe Homer.  He’s too busy with his fireworks show.  In fact, the night of is looking great when he and Granfinale get in a fight and tip the fireworks barge sideways.  And that’s when Kearney hits the trigger with another armband.

Who keeps giving that kid armbands?

Will the people of Springfield be hit by a lot of fireworks?  Not if Bart, who took lessons on cowardice from Grampa and the other guys at the Retirement Castle (they lived that long for a reason), can say anything about it!  Grabbing Milhouse, Bart drives the senior’s bus to act as a shield for everybody before the fireworks hit.  Then he shoves Milhouse out the door and claims his friend saved everybody by driving the bus.  That makes Milhouse a hero, which is what he really wanted, and Bart’s problems are forgotten.

What else might be forgotten?  Season twenty-five.  This is the last episode of the season.