Well, an episode focused on Brandine Spuckler? Can’t say I had that on my Season 33 Bingo Card.
Yeah, it turns out Brandine is smart. Marge is hosting a book club meeting for the women of Springfield to discuss Hemmingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and it isn’t going well. Patty and Selma thought there wasn’t enough smoking, Agnes Skinner thought it was boring, and most of the other women agree…except for Brandine, who makes a really smart observation about symbolism the likes of which clearly flew over the heads of, oh, everybody else in the room. Then Brandine realized she shouldn’t have done that.
But it’s too late. Rumor mill gets back to Cletus that his wife (and, for this episode, not any other sort of relative) is smart. Cletus is heartbroken. Not because she’s smart. No, it’s because she hid this from him, and he feels like he doesn’t even know her anymore. He asks Brandine to leave, and she will take most of the kids. That’s fair, but none of the many Spuckler kids want to go since they might have to wash their hands regularly if they do.
That’s a little harsh.
Brandine, with her hair down, moves in with the Simpsons since she has nowhere else to go. On a trip to the supermarket with Marge, she even relates how she, the middle child of 37, met Cletus at her sister’s shotgun wedding, and it’s been love ever since. When Marge asks if Brandine ever thought she could do better, Brandine reverses the question. Marge is then shocked to find out that everyone in the market thinks she can do better than Homer. Everyone says so. Even Disco Stu.
Oh, and in a nice turnaround, Marge tells Homer about this, and even Homer was aware Marge could have done better. Mostly because Homer, unlike Marge, was paying attention whenever anyone said that. And not just Patty and Selma on their wedding day. Reverend Lovejoy too. Heck, Bart said as much as a toddler. This is not news to Homer.
Now, to the episode’s credit, Marge never seems to consider leaving Homer over all this. She was just surprised people thought it, and by the time the episode is over, Homer has made some grand gestures, and the two are tighter than ever.
But what about Brandine? Will she go back to Cletus? More importantly, will Cletus take her back?
Well, it turns out Lisa is the key there, and not for the expected reasons. See, Lisa was showing off at school again, even knowing more unusual words than Miss Hoover. That got Lisa targeted by the bullies, led by Shauna, until other smart kids called her to an unused storage shed where they had a club that involved hiding how smart they are by using their smarts to be good at sports. Lisa is all set to join, but Brandine overhears and says what a terrible thing that is and that Lisa shouldn’t do it, so Brandine can go back to Cletus and see what happened.
Turned out Cletus went down to the courthouse to get an important government document to end this mess once and for all: a library card.
Well, that’s sweet.
Meanwhile, Lisa stands up for being smart at school, the other smart kids do to the same, and Principal Skinner, unused to love of learning in his school, decides to call it a half day. Then a full day off when the bullies insist. The bullies might even give lunch money back, but Milhouse declines since it’s fish stick day.
That kid has messed up priorities.
However, Cletus’s newfound library card pays dividends as he explains in his review of a classic work of American fiction exploring people with wealth far beyond Cletus’s dreams: The Grapes of Wrath. Cletus prefers the more recent film version of that story, National Lampoon’s Vacation.
Um, I think I have said enough.
Sweet Home “Episode Five”
The X-Files “Home”
Better Call Saul “Bagman”