Critics and fans agree that “Mother Simpson” is one of the most heart-warming episodes of The Simpsons ever written. The show’s viewers wondered for years- where is Homer’s mother? In season seven (1995) fans discovered her whereabouts.
After faking his own death, Homer explains to an employee at the Springfield town hall that he is indeed alive. His records show that his mother is alive. Homer argues that she passed away when he was a child. He stresses this fact by pointing to a statue in a nearby cemetery and says that angel is his mother’s grave. When he sees that the angel is Walt Whitman’s grave, he shouts, “DAMN YOU WALT WHITMAN! LEAVES OF GRASS MY ASS!” Then he tumbles into a pre-dug grave site, which happens to be his own. Here’s a glimpse into the scene:
Mona Simpson: You awful, awful man! Get out of my son’s grave!
Homer Simpson: I hate to rain on your parade, Lady, but this is my grave. Hey, wait a minute – – Mom?
Mona Simpson: Homer?
(They look at each other)
Homer Simpson: I thought you were dead!
Mona Simpson: I thought you were dead!
This episode resonates well with most fans of the show. Some dissenters argue that the episode tries too hard to be emotional while others praise its ardent subtleties. One review praised how the episode was groundbreaking and full of pathos without appearing forced. Other reviews state how the story works well and fits in with current characterizations.
“Mother Simpson” isn’t in my top ten episodes. However, this episode works because Homer reveals a side of himself that no viewer had seen yet: he is a simple man that wants to win the affection of his mother. In true Freudian tradition, Homer is walking on his hands to show his mother his infinite capabilities. She missed the events of his life that shaped him into the man he is today. Therefore, Homer feels compelled please her in any capacity. Homer isn’t spewing laugh out loud lines in this episode (aside from shouting at Walt Whitman’s memorial). Homer Simpson gained a lot of depth in this episode. Viewers get to see Mother Simpson sing Homer a lullaby, even if it is a Nabisco Fig Newton television jingle.
The plot of this episode comes full circle when Mona Simpson’s past is revealed. The viewers learn that Chief Clancy Wiggum was a student security officer at C. Montgomery Burn’s now defunct germ lab. Mona Simpson and her radical friends destroy the germs with an antibiotic bomb. Wiggum’s asthma disappears due to the inhalation of the healing gas.
Clancy Wiggum: Wait a minute- bronchial tubes clearing… Asthma disappearing! Acne remains, but…asthma disappearing!
Despite hiding with underground hippies for decades, Mona Simpson’s re-emergence into society doesn’t go smoothly. Mr. Burns recognizes Mona Simpson at the post office and he enlists help to track her down. However, someone tips the Simpson family off and Mona Simpson escapes to safety. Some of the most touching lines of the episode are uttered as mother and son say goodbye to one another.
Mother Simpson: Well, there’s my ride. The underground awaits.
Homer Simpson: (sniffles) At least this time, I’m awake for your goodbye.
Mother Simpson: (sniffles) Oh. Remember, whatever happens, you have a mother, and she’s truly proud of you.
Hippie: Oh! Hurry up, man. This electric van only has twenty minutes of juice left!
Homer Simpson: Don’t forget me!
Mother Simpson: Don’t worry, Homer: you’ll always be a part of me. (hits her head on the door frame) D’oh!
Charlie Sweatpants, a blogger for Dead Homer Society, wrote a review of “Mother Simpson.” In his review, he commented that he liked the episode because it has an ending. In later seasons of The Simpsons, the writers are criticized for leaving ends unfinished. However, this particular episode is very concise in its actions. Having drawn out suspenseful or emotional scenes in this episode would have threatened the episode’s ability to touch audiences on a deeper level. The viewer caught a glimpse into Homer’s motherless young world instead of being forced to watch a montage of sad memories.
An anonymous tipster phones Homer and tells him that the police are coming. When Mother Simpson’s hippie friend arrives at a secret location to take her away, Homer addresses the anonymous tipster and asks why he helped them. Turns out, Chief Clancy Wiggum was able to enter the police academy after his asthma disappeared… a result of Mother Simpson’s germ lab bomb. He felt compelled to help the Simpsons out. This plot twist is endearing and it fits in well with Wiggum’s dim-witted but big-hearted character.
The episode’s ending is worth mentioning as well. Homer sits atop his pink car and watches the stars come out in what appears to be a desert sky. The music is reflective and different than normal episodes. Homer’s character went through a range of emotions in this episode. He is taking time out to reflect on his crazy life as he bids his mother farewell. This is the kind of tear-jerking usually omitted from The Simpsons’ repertoire, but it serves a meaningful purpose.
Sweatpants, Charlie. (July 1, 2009). Wednesday Evening Cartoons. Message posted to http://deadhomerssociety.wordpress.com
Gooden, Doc. (June 6, 2008). Message posted to http://www.nohomers.net