The final show of this group is The Simpsons season eight, episode nine, entitled El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer). It originally aired on January 5th 1997, the first episode of 1997. I watched this episode by myself on Monday afternoon February twenty-second at my apartment on DVD and a 27 inch television. This episode’s couch gag was a repeat.
This show begins with Homer discovering that Marge has been trying to hide from him that it is time for the big annual chili cook-off. She tells him that she did this because the previous year Homer embarrassed her by getting drunk and acting like a fool. She makes Homer promise that he won’t drink and reluctantly he does. When he arrives Homer intimidates everyone by brandishing his own homemade chili spoon which co-worker Lenny observes, “They say he carved it himself … from a bigger spoon.” He stands before the crowd like an old west gun fighter to music that is a clear take-off on the Ennio Moricone composed theme from Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966) better known in America as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly which is one of my favorite films (www.imdb.com).
Homer goes from booth to booth sampling the chili and insulting the cooks because none of it is spicy enough for him. However, Police Chief Wiggum has a secret weapon. His special ingredient is “the merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango, grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum.” Homer tries eating one of the peppers which is so spicy that it causes him to freak out and look for any way to cool his mouth. He grabs an armload of pitchers full of beer. Just before quenching the fire on his tongue Marge appears and accuses him of breaking his promise. She storms off.
After Homer recovers Ralph Wiggum gives him the idea to coat the inside of his mouth with candle wax so that he won’t feel the heat of the pepper. He returns to Wiggum’s booth and in the face of ridicule from the crowd he promptly swallows half a dozen of the peppers. The crowd cheers and Homer regains his fame. However moments later Homer’s stomach begins to ache and he starts to hallucinate. The sights are so freakish that he runs from the cook-off in terror. His hallucinations continue and grow progressively more disturbing. They end up leading him on a trek through an imaginary desert. Marge returns to the cook-off and when she discovers that he made a fool of himself and ran off she becomes angry.
Homer hallucinates a message that instructs him to follow a tortoise. It leads him to a pyramid which he must climb. At the top he discovers a representation of Marge. When he tries to talk to her he discovers that she has no front and no matter where he moves in relation to it her back is always turned on him. The image blows away like desert sand and a dejected Homer sits down. He rants about his circumstance and screams “Why am I here?!” He is answered by a voice that tells him that he’s on a quest for knowledge. When Homer looks for the source of the voice two planets in the sky come together to form eyes. They are set in the floating head of a coyote which melts from the heavens and onto the top of the pyramid in the form of a full-bodied coyote, voiced by legendary musician Johnny Cash, one of my all time favorites.
He reveals that he is Homer’s spirit guide. Homer’s quest is to find his soul-mate, the person with whom he shares a profound mystical understanding. Homer insists that his soul-mate is Marge to which the coyote replies, “Is it?” He dashes off into the desert and leaves Homer in the path of an oncoming train. When it hits him he wakes up in a sand trap on a golf course. He rationalizes that the entire experience was a crazy dream. When he gets home Marge is still furious with him for breaking his promise and humiliating her. He tells her she’s his soul-mate too which she angrily yells, “Don’t soul-mate me!” With his bedding set up on the couch and unable to sleep Homer realizes that Marge doesn’t understand him and must not be his soul-mate. He goes out in search of his soul-mate but everyone he tries explains that they are something else: a friend, a chum, a contemporary. Moe the bartender says that he’s “a well-wisher in that I don’t wish you any specific harm.”
After failing all night he hears the Coyote say “Find your soul-mate, Homer. Find your Soul-mate.” When Homer asks “where?” the voice replies, “This is just your memory. I can’t give you any new information.” This begins a montage of Homer walking aimlessly at night against black with signs fading in and out over the top, all of which suggest solitude or a blocked path. This is a reference to a similar montage in The Lost Weekend (1945). (www.imdb.com) Finally Homer sees a lighthouse in the distance and he believes that the lighthouse keeper must be lonely and will understand him. When he gets there he discovers that the lighthouse is automated and empty.
Homer loses it and after spotting an approaching ship he smashes the light hoping to draw the ship to him so that he can make friends with whoever’s on board. Marge shows up after looking for Homer because she was worried. She managed to deduce that along with other clues Homer’s love of shiny things would lead him to the light house. Homer realizes that Marge does love him and that their differences are only skin deep. Marge says that they have “a profound mystical understanding.” Homer loudly celebrates, “We’re number one! We’re number one! In your face, Space Coyote!” To which Marge confusedly replies, “Space Coyote?” They are interrupted by the impending ship crash but Marge replaces the light bulb for the spotlight. The ship sees it and turns but runs aground anyway. The show ends with the silhouette of Marge and Homer kissing projected onto the night sky by the lighthouse beacon.
This episode makes me glad I chose this season. This is the second consecutive show that is among my favorites. The dialogue is smart and wickedly funny, the situations comically absurd, and the hallucinations inspired. The stranger the visions get the more incredible the animation becomes to meet the task. There is no subplot and while this is the second “Marge & Homer versus their relationship” episode it easily trumps A Milhouse Divided. While you know all along that in the end Homer and Marge will find each other, the way they get there is fantastic. The film references are excellent and fitting. But the icing on the cake is the deep, gravelly voice of Johnny Cash. If I ever go on a spiritual vision quest I want The Space Coyote to be my spirit guide.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #9: El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer
Rating: 5 out of 5