So, I monitor Wikipedia to get an idea when episodes are coming out in advance. That way I know when and where to schedule a Doctor Who write-up, but it may also give me an idea on what guest stars are coming up. The entry for this one just said Melissa McCarthy would be playing Homer’s brother, and I was wondering if they just recast Herb Powell or something.
That is not what happened.
No, instead I got me an episode that is about Homer and Grampa’s relationship. Yeah, not a Homer and Lisa episode (that was last time). Homer and Grampa. They actually don’t seem that different when I think about it.
Anyhoo, the episode opens with the Simpsons visiting some kind of arts and crafts expo where a lot of the stuff is made from things people threw out. And while Marge gets a new wood polish for a small box she purchased, Homer has a good laugh at some old man with his sparse hair in a ponytail with some girlfriend. That is, until the man turns around and it’s Grampa with his new lady friend Blythe (guest star Carol Kane). Grampa is in love. Not for the first time either. Homer might have known had he checked his voicemail for the dozens of Grampa messages, but he didn’t. In fact, Grampa is moving into Blythe’s house, so Homer won’t have to pay for the Retirement Castle anymore.
OK, let’s get the B-plot out of the way here. Lisa learns she isn’t invited to parties, but when she and Bart learn Grampa’s room is paid up for the next two weeks, she realizes she can throw a great sleepover (with Bart’s help), and the first party is a huge success. But success goes to Lisa’s head even as Bart knows you gotta space these things out, and her attempts to top her first party lead to something out of control. Lisa has to narc on her own party, but she gets to stay cool because Chief Wiggum is very easy to bribe a ride out of in the back of a police car.
No, most of the plot deals with how Homer reacts to Blythe’s young son Calvin (McCarthy, and if I didn’t know it was her, I would have never guessed). Calvin is a weird little kid who is into taxidermy as an artform. And Grampa adores this kid, even when he gets his glaucoma drops and can’t see anything. Homer is a little upset because Grampa always treated him like crap. He gets a lot more upset when he has an allergic reaction to Marge’s new wood polish and has to move into Calvin’s room until the stuff dissipates in a few weeks. And though Calvin in unfailingly polite at first, a prank war isn’t too far off, but Homer eventually realizes what’s wrong and shares with the kid what the problem is, and those glaucoma drops sure do make it easy to prove things. I guess Grampa’s hearing is even worse than his eyesight when he compliments Homer and yells at Calvin without realizing he was thinking he was speaking to the other one. Can Homer and Calvin get through to Grampa how Homer feels?
Yes. With taxidermy.
See, Calvin is competing in an art expo, and Homer enters at the last minute with some googly eyes glued to some conch shells. After some shouting, Grampa sees through the power of taxidermy what he did wrong, explaining that he was hard on Homer because his son made him feel old when he was younger, but Calvin reminds him of how to feel young while being old. It was never about Homer. It was always about himself.
All is forgiven.
Even in the closing scene where Grampa, returning to the Retirement Castle, explains without the slightest bit of regret that Blythe met someone else, and she and Calvin moved away with this new man. Homer might have heard that if he didn’t let the call go to voicemail.
Maybe Grampa isn’t really the problem here after all…