Behind Us Forever: Paths of Glory


“Well, Bart, uh, did you make sure to return all the guns?” – Homer Simpson
“Sir, yes, sir!  Luckily I am now trained in six additional forms of unarmed combat, sir!” – Bart Simpson
“Well, he’s got more confidence.” – Marge Simpson
“Uh, yeah, I’ve always said the boy could use more confidence.” – Homer Simpson

Paths of Glory is a terribly underrated Kubrick movie staring Kirk Douglas as a French colonel in World War I.  This episode, which shares its title for some unaccountable reason, should in no way be held against that fine film.  In one of the plots, Lisa goes looking for a long lost invention by a forgotten female inventor.  In another one, Marge and Homer start thinking Bart is a sociopath so he gets recruited to join the Air Force, or something.  I tuned out by then for reasons that will become clear should you be bored enough to read the rest of this.

– The “couch” gag didn’t involve a couch, but at least it was short.

– We’re off to a bad start here as each kid at a kind of science go-kart race spends time explaining what kind of car we’re seeing as we see it.

– And Lisa loses the race because Duffman swooped in driving the Duff blimp, then Martin, Uter, and Database (who just appeared from nowhere and wasn’t even racing) start teasing her for being a girl for some reason. Okay.

– Huh, there’s Kearney and Dolph ragging on liberal arts colleges because, you know, that’s the kind of thing they would do, know or care about.

– Now the Old Jewish Guy appeared for no reason to exposit this:

OJG: “Don’t you worry kid, they also laughed at Amelia Vanderbuckle.”
Lisa: “Amelia Vanderbuckle, who’s she?”

Guess what happens next? Go on, guess.

– Some guy just got his head cut off. Carry on.

– Lisa is reading a fake Wikipedia article out loud. I have nothing to add to that, but it’s been going on for a full minute.

– Lisa is now explaining that “if we can find those inventions, we can prove that Amelia was scientifically significant”. So, so much exposition.

– Bart and Lisa are now wandering around an abandoned asylum, where Jimbo and Shauna are making out and expositing how they feel.

– Lisa is reading names that are also printed on the screen. Fillertastic!


You heard her say them!  Now watch them on screen!

– Lisa found a wax cylinder, then she found a player for it, now the exposition is playing from it. Hooray.  Oh, then it caught fire and now she’s using it as a torch.  Weird.

– Holy shit, they’re doing it again. Lisa is reading labels that are also on screen.

– Bart found a maniac’s diary, then declared, “Look at me, I’m enjoying reading”. They do know characters are allowed to display their feelings instead of say them out loud, right? I would think they would know that, but I’ve been wrong before.

– Look at this collection of kids:


File this as yet another example of how characterless they’ve made all their characters. Ralph and Nelson are just there because, well, shutup that’s why.

– Chief Wiggum just pulled up in a bowtie to tell us, “Ralphie, come on, we got daddy-son tap class. Tap class!” Did repeating “tap class” get a laugh at the read through? If so, has anyone checked to see if there’s a gas leak?

– You’ll never believe it, but Wiggum goes on to exposit about tap class before shouting “tap class” two more times.

– Now Wiggum is talking to Marge because he has pages from the diary. Wiggum thinks Bart wrote them because keep shutting up, that’s why.

– Marge is now declaring how she feels out loud.

– Homer got home, so Marge is explaining what we just saw.

– Now Lisa is talking to Milhouse. Is their conversation reductive and repetitive? You know it!

Milhouse: “Wow, this is a surprise, I’m usually sweating when we talk, but not this time.”
Lisa: “It’s amazing how you can charm and disgust me at the same time.”

– Now Milhouse is helping Lisa track down the missing invention and . . . nope, can’t care anymore.

– Marge just told us she printed out a “Sociopath Test” for Bart as we saw her do it, Homer then declared that they can’t just give that to him. Marge then says they need him to think the test is for something else. This episode is just people talking to each other about what they’re going to do.

– Bart is now reading out loud. And now he’s realized they’re giving him the “sociopath test”. Then he tells us what he’s going to do, “Fine, I’ll pretend to be the biggest sociopath in the world.”

– Homer and Marge are expositing at the kitchen table, and I’m done. Let’s fast forward!

– One minute later (and I think missed a montage) there’s this:


Avert your eyes, children, he may have taken on another form!

– One minute more and Homer and Marge are in the treehouse still talking about what they’re going to do. More fast forwarding!

– Bart is in a bouncy castle driving down the highway. One more minute, please.

– Bart is in a mental institute where he’s apparently getting inducted into the Air Force or something.

– One minute after that, Homer and Marge are back at the kitchen table talking about Bart again. This is about the fifth scene like this, and that’s just in the parts I’ve bothered to watch.

– One minute later and Lisa must’ve found whatever it was she was looking for in the other plot. She is, naturally, explaining what we’re looking at.

– One minute more and Bart’s still in the military. He’s wearing his regular clothes, but whatevs.

– One minute after that and the general is speaking, “Son, the simulators we told you weren’t simulators, were simulators.” This is apparently a shocking revelation. Moving on.

– And things end with Marge saying, “What a day! What a day!” while they all hug.  Huh.

– Nevermind, Lisa is at a museum with the thing she discovered.

– During the credits, Homer is looking at loom porn. Don’t worry, that didn’t make any more sense in the episode than it does in text here.

So, that was a mess.  The ratings are also a bit of a mess this week because of both a football overrun and the President (who is a Demeecrat, according to Grampa) going on TV last night. Right now, “Presidential address/The Simpsons” is listed as having 8.20 million viewers, which is huge for Zombie Simpsons, but will probably change significantly once they get things sorted out.

39 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Paths of Glory”

  1. 1 milpool
    7 December 2015 at 3:43 pm

    The fact that this episode was written by the same screenwriter whom wrote Catwoman and Terminator: Rise of the Machines does not help its pedigree.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      7 December 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Wow, good catch. I didn’t recognize the name when I saw it in the credits, but that IMDb page is a nightmare:


      “The Game” wasn’t terrible, but that’s pretty much the only non-crap on there. Terminators 3 and 4 were unwatchable.

    • 7 Cal
      7 December 2015 at 10:18 pm

      What on earth would lead Al Jean & Co. to think this guy could write a Simpsons episode. “Hey, he wrote an episode of Married with Children back in 1991!”

      • 8 Gina Brevin
        9 December 2015 at 3:29 am

        Was it a good one? Cuz I kinda liked MWC over The Simpsons as a kid (still do, but I do appreciate everything the good episodes of The Simpsons have done for American pop culture).

        • 9 Gina Brevin
          9 December 2015 at 3:36 am

          Just found the MWC episode he did: it was part one of the episode where The Bundys win a grocery store shopping spree and Marcy and Jefferson compete against them (“You Better Shop Around”).

  2. 11 Sara_sp
    7 December 2015 at 4:01 pm

    “then Martin, Uter, and Database (who just appeared from nowhere and wasn’t even racing) start teasing her for being a girl for some reason. Okay.”

    Because the feminist narrative in the rest of the episode wouldn’t make sense otherwise. Not that this justifies the fact that it’s a lazy setup, but I’m just saying.

    and even then, watching the way Lisa went about in this episode was strange. It’s like the episode wanted people to believe that she’s been gender shamed her entire life.

    • 12 Charlie Sweatpants
      7 December 2015 at 7:30 pm

      “Because the feminist narrative in the rest of the episode wouldn’t make sense otherwise. Not that this justifies the fact that it’s a lazy setup, but I’m just saying.”

      Sorry, should’ve been clearer (my dripping sarcasm doesn’t always come across). I get that it’s a setup, it’s just that it’s so oddly out of character for them. Like, Database is a shunned nerd just like she is, and while the world has no shortage of sexist nerds (see: internet, the), he was one of Lisa’s Superfriends. If they’d even just had a scene of the boys beforehand standing around and turning their noses up at a girl in their race, it would’ve at least given it some motivation or context. Instead, and with no warning whatsoever, they just come up in a series and mock her for being a girl. They don’t even interact with each other.

      “It’s like the episode wanted people to believe that she’s been gender shamed her entire life.”

      Yeah, that was bizarre. She was always very gender conscious (even in Season 1, telling Bart that it’s the “fe-mail carrier”, for example), but never in this kind of panicky wet blanket way where she desperately needs validation just for being female.

    • 13 Sarah J
      8 December 2015 at 12:11 am

      Yeah, a lot of shows that want to do a feminism/gender/battle of the sexes plot are really bad about this kind of thing. Characters who aren’t normally sexist will suddenly act sexist to kickstart the plot. It’s pretty annoying. If this show wanted to do this kind of plot, surely there are better ways to set it up? Maybe Lisa wants to join some kind of inventor’s club/program (perhaps at a science museum or community center) but it’s boys only, and there is a girl alternative, but it’s much more shallow and dumbed down than the boy one. This kind of setup would reflect and satirize real life things, it would provide Lisa the motivation to look for the inventor or whatever, and it wouldn’t feel forced or random.

      • 8 December 2015 at 1:48 pm

        They kind of did that in a Season 17 episode where Springfield Elementary gets a new neo-feminist principal who splits the school into boys’ classes and girls’ classes. The girls only learn about weird abstract concepts with no practical application (“How do numbers make you feel? Is the number 7 odd, or just different?”) while the boys basically devolve into animals. Never saw it, but from what I’ve heard, it’s not as clever as it sounds.

        • 15 Sarah J
          9 December 2015 at 10:01 pm

          Yeah, I remember that episode. One of the few ZS episodes I can remember, since, by ZS standards, it’s not terrible. (but that’s not really saying much, it only means I can watch it without flying into a rage) That episode had some good ideas, but alas had the weak-at-best, awful-at-worst writing of ZS.

  3. 16 Stantastic
    7 December 2015 at 4:52 pm

    This shit keeps holding onto airtime because of the adjacent programmings. What a shameful situation for the director who lacks shame.

  4. 7 December 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I was hoping with Brooklyn Nine-Nine moving to Tuesdays it would free the 8:30 slot for my beloved Bob’s Burgers but instead we get a new animated abortion called Bordertown. Will it last longer than Allen Gregory or that Napoleon Dynamite cartoon?

    • 21 Mr. Incognito
      8 December 2015 at 8:34 pm

      MOAR MACFARLANE!!!11!!1

      • 22 Gina Brevin
        9 December 2015 at 3:33 am

        Bordertown, while it does have MacFarlane on as producer, is created by Mark Hentamann (who worked with MacFarlance on the early Family Guy episodes and did this short-lived cartoon on MTV called “3 South” about a Harvard-bound college student forced to go to a college full of idiots).

        And it’ll probably only be one season, if only because FOX always cancels shows that could have the potential of being good.

  5. 23 Victor Dang
    7 December 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Is a Compare & Contrast forthcoming? I’d like to see whether you use “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” or “Lisa the Iconoclast” (another episode where she makes a “mysterious” discovery, except it evened things out by also being funny).

  6. 29 Ryan
    7 December 2015 at 10:45 pm

    According to Al Jean’s twitter, the title is supposed to be ‘paths of glory (with an apostrophe). But none of the advertising campaigns listed it as that, I guess because who really cares.

    • 30 Ah Hee Hee Hee
      8 December 2015 at 8:55 am

      “Who really cares”

      Shoulda just left it at that, Meady.

    • 8 December 2015 at 6:42 pm

      Wouldn’t it have been less complicated if they’d just called it “Sociopaths of Glory”?

      It’s just like when “The Lastest Gun in the West” from Season 13 aired. Whoever wrote the FOX press release assumed that was a typo and called it “The Latest Gun in the West”, and there’s still a ton of people who think that’s the episode’s real title.

      • 32 Ryan
        8 December 2015 at 9:44 pm

        Not to mention that Sociopaths of Glory would definitely be a cooler title to draw people in, but… it’s best not to question the writers at this point. I… I guess they… know what they’re doing.

  7. 33 Disenchanted Viewer
    9 December 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Just few notes.
    Final ratings came out and the episode scored a 2.3 in adults 18-49 and 5.53 million viewers, pretty low if you consider that the football lead-in before had 7.2 in young adults and 20.82 million viewers. Granted, there was the President’s speech in between if I understand correctly, since it does not have a separate rating.

    To answer the question of ecco6t9 above, as far as I know, Nielsen families have to press a button every 15 min. or so to be recorded in the ratings. They cannot leave the TV on in the background without caring at all. Obviously that doesn’t mean they care about what they are watching.

    As for the episode, I was impressed by the thinness of the 2 stories. Really, as someone already noted for a previous episode, they are at the level of comic strips now. If this trend goes on (and there’s no reason to believe otherwise) soon we’ll have: intro, couch gag, Al Jean reading the episode synopsis in front of a camera, roll the credits, the end. Everything is way to schematic, simplistic and undetailed that I can’t even care about the story.

  8. 34 Rob K.
    10 December 2015 at 1:36 am

    Bill Waterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame ran them from 86 to 95 and didn’t merchandise, animate or capitalize on his creation, shame on Matt Groening for doing so.

    • 35 Stantastic
      10 December 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Groening spends his time taking caviar bathes at Martha Stewart’s. Leave the guy alone.

    • 10 December 2015 at 9:02 pm

      For what it’s worth, Groening had the good sense not to sign over his most personal creation, Life in Hell, to the FOX bigwigs – he still owns that 100%. And even though his name is on every Simpsons episode, despite having moved on to other projects long ago, he really has no control at all over what FOX does with the show. If they want 30, 40, 50 seasons out of the thing, then dammit, the writers gotta write ’em.

      If you read between the lines on Groening’s syrupy-sweet book and DVD introductions and publicity interviews, not to mention his conspicuous absence on most of the later DVD commentaries, you can tell he’s just as sick of this show as we are. He just can’t say it outright ’cause FOX owns his ass.

      • 37 Gina Brevin
        14 December 2015 at 1:53 pm

        Didn’t Groening give up on the show when he went to work on “Futurama”? It seems like he’s more into trying to get people to watch “Futurama” (his comments on how he’s looking to put the show on another channel or make yet another made-for-DVD movie, even though I like how the series ended with Fry and Leela finally married and The Professor making it so that way we can relive the show all over again by zapping Fry back to 1999) than “The Simpsons”.

        And caviar is too slimy and salty for a bath. Why not Dom Perignon or Cristal like all those rappers do in their videos?

        • 38 Sarah J
          14 December 2015 at 8:07 pm

          Yeah, I’ve heard that Groening wanted to focus on Futurama and didn’t intend for The Simpsons to last much longer, and only went back to focusing on TS after Futurama got cancelled.

          Futurama did continue to produce some good episodes and I was disappointed that it got cancelled again, but at the same time I was glad that it wouldn’t get run into the ground like The Simpsons. Still, it would be cool to see the series continue in the form of TV movies. (also, the series finale had the Professor send them back in time from before he invented the time button, not go back to 1999) I quite liked the movies that were made before the series revival and it would be nice to see the show get to do more “big” storylines through movies. I also would’ve liked to see some of Fry and Leela’s married life, or the future of the characters in general.

  9. 39 Anonymous
    10 December 2015 at 1:37 am

    85 to 95

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