Next in line is The Simpsons season eight, episode two, entitled You Only Move Twice and originally aired on November 3rd 1996. I watched this episode by myself on Thursday night February eighteenth at my apartment on DVD and a 27 inch television. Unlike the previous episode this one takes place in the “normal” continuity of the Simpsons universe. While for this show normal is a relative term, the standard format of a main storyline with subplot(s) is in play here. After the clipped version of the opening credits (which shows Homer arrive home, nearly get hit by Bart and Lisa with their bikes, then chased into the garage by Marge behind the wheel of her car) we get the couch gag. In this case we see Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie parachute safely onto the couch. Seconds later Homer hits the floor, his parachute having failed to open.
The story begins with Waylon Smithers, boot-lick to Homer’s boss, being offered a job with the Globex Corporation from the window of a slow moving limo. He refuses all the financial enticements from the beautiful woman inside. She even informs him that they’ll provide full benefits for him and his life-partner. Smithers is a closeted homosexual and the fact that the representative knows this is foreshadowing that Globex is powerful indeed. When he refuses the job flatly they are forced to offer the job to the next senior man at the Nuclear power plant: Homer Simpson.
After accepting the job Homer is able to convince the family that moving to follow the new career is the right choice, with a little help from a PR video provided by Globex. After several unsuccessful attempts to sell their house in Springfield, the Simpsons nail a sign labeled “ABANDONED” across the front door and leave for Cyprus Creek. What they find waiting for them is a huge home with high-tech mod-cons to rival Bill Gates house. Problems begin quickly though as Marge finishes her housework by nine-thirty in the morning and is left with nothing to do but “go upstairs and make sure the beds are still made.”
At work Homer meets his friendly, progressive new boss Hank Scorpio, who takes an interest in Homer. When Scorpio asks what his dream is Homer tells him it is to own the Dallas Cowboys. Scorpio tells Homer to pursue his dream no matter what anyone says. After being introduced to his team Homer settles comfortably into his new management position. Unfortunately, Bart’s day is not going so well. When the teacher finds that he can’t read or write in cursive he is placed in the remedial class with a Canadian who has been mistake for slow, a girl with a head injury, and a pyromaniac.
Using his newly acquired disposable income Homer buys great Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry’s hat from a souvenir store in hopes that it will help him motivate his team. When this doesn’t have the desired effect and his team claims he’s working them too hard Homer has another brilliant idea. He’ll get his entire team “business hammocks.” To find out where to get one he heads directly to his boss’s office at which point Mr. Scorpio goes through an absurdly long list of hammock related stores in Cyprus Creek. Midway through the conversation Scorpio is interrupted by a satellite uplink in which, via enormous TV screen, he threatens the U.N. with a Doomsday Device if they “do not deliver the gold.”
Homer is naturally oblivious to the fact that his boss has just been revealed as a super-villain and Scorpio seems none-too-bothered by it either. Nor does Homer seem to notice that he’s working on the nuclear reactor that powers the aforementioned Doomsday Device. Meanwhile, Lisa doesn’t fare much better than Marge or Bart. Though an avowed vegetarian and “tree hugger” a nature walk reveals that she is allergic to nearly all the nature in Cypress Creek. Back at Globex, in a parody of Goldfinger (1964), Scorpio is in the process of using an industrial cutting laser to execute a secret agent named “Mr. Bont” who has infiltrated the facility. He looks, talks, and dresses like the 60’s era James Bond played by Sean Connery. In fact the title is a spoof of the Bond film You Only Live Twice. (www.imdb.com)
Bont asks “Scorpio, do you expect me to talk?” He replies, “No, I expect you to die and be a very cheap funeral.” Bont escapes but on his way out is tackled by Homer. Scorpio is effusive in his praise for Homer as four of his goons surround the prone spy and shoot him with their sub-machineguns (Bont is off-screen). Despite his success, the first of his life, the rest of the family is miserable. While the family is willing to stay for him Homer decides that he has to put their happiness first and returns to Globex to quit.
When he arrives he walks solemnly and completely clueless through an escalating battle between a breaching force of U.S. Army Rangers and Scorpio’s henchmen, scalding oil traps, and bikini clad ninja babes. The lethal ladies are another reference to far too many James Bond films to count and one of their victims who has his neck broken bears a striking resemblance to General Norman Schwarzkopf. Only five years after Operation Desert Storm this would be a timely reference if intentional.
Homer meets up with Scorpio in the middle of the battle to discuss his decision to return to Springfield. Despite the firefight Scorpio is engaged in conversation, killing all the while. He wants Homer to stay but understands that he can’t. Scorpio straps on a flamethrower and as he turns to flee he tells Homer, “On your way out if you want to kill somebody it would really help me a lot.” The last we see of the super-villain he’s chasing off dozens of soldiers with a blast from his flamethrower while laughing an evil laugh.
Upon returning to Springfield the Simpsons reclaim their now dilapidated house outside of which is a newspaper with a picture of Scorpio on it and a headline reading “Super Villain Seizes East Coast.” After clearing out the pot-smoking, guitar playing elementary school bus driver Otto and his girlfriend who’d been squatting in their house, Homer receives a thank you note from Hank Scorpio. It thanks Homer for helping accomplish “Project Arcturus” and as a thank you gives Homer the Denver Broncos. When Homer is disappointed Marge says she thinks it’s pretty good and he responds, “Marge you don’t know anything about football.” Right before fading to the credits one of the Broncos wide receivers has a pass bounce off the back of his head, thus neatly summing up what was, for a while anyway, a very hard luck franchise. Playing over the credits is a James Bond-esque song about Scorpio and all his corporate enticements.
This is one of the most well done Simpsons episodes ever and certainly one of my favorites. It illustrates wonderfully the masterful use of characters that had been developed over the seven previous seasons that was the hallmark of the Simpsons golden age which I place from about Season 3 to Season 9. When the Simpsons leave Springfield for Cyprus Creek secondary and tertiary characters, far too many to list, come out and give them a send off each with their own catchphrase. This illustrates the numerical depth of the Simpsons universe and the friendly, generous, and smoothly evil Super Villain Hank Scorpio (played by series semi-regular and producer Albert Brooks) is one of the funniest one-time characters in the series canon.
What makes this episode truly wonderful is that it reinforces the best reason to love Homer Simpson. In Cyprus Creek he is successful, well-to-do, and respected but he is willing to sacrifice all of that for the happiness of his family. He’s funny for a million reasons but we love him because no matter how inconsiderate he usually is in the end Homer would do anything for his family. All this and the verbal and visual nuances that can only be expressed by reading the entire script verbatim or watching the episode are the reasons that is one of my all time favorites.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #2: You Only Move Twice
Rating: 5 out of 5