The Mysterious Voyage of Homer

The Mysterious Voyage of Homer, 1997 is episode nine season eight of American animated series, The Simpsons. There is something special when a show deviates drastically from a well established style. This episode was certainly different, featuring surreal and psychedelic sequences which set it apart from any other episode in the series. 

The episode features Homer attending a chili cook-off at the town’s local chili festival. A dedicated Homer is unable to stomach a spoon of Chief Wiggins extremely hot Guatemalan Insanity Peppers chili. In response to the burning sensation, Homer douses the internal flames with a beer. This upsets Homer’s wife Marge as she didn’t want Homer mixing alcohol with the chili; Marge leaves the festival due to her felt betrayal. Homer decides to stay and  discovers he can ingest the peppers whilst coating his mouth in candle wax. Homer eats a number of the impossibly hot peppers before the peppers cause a sudden and extreme psychedelic effect. Homer hallucinates and runs alone into a surreal desert setting deep within his subconscious. 

This sets up the key theme of the episode which questions what truly is a sou-mate? Homer often makes impulsive and dangerous decisions while Marge is responsible and caring. This creates doubts in his mind as to whether they are right for each other. 

As Homer’s visual perception stabilizes a talking coyote appears, voiced by singer Johnny Cash. The coyote is presented as a spirit guide who  challenges Homer’s preconceived notions of what a soul-mate truly is and helps him to confront his doubts surrounding his relationship with Marge. The next day a sober Homer searches for a soul-mate from the existing people in his life. 

Finding only disappointment in his current circle, Homer sees a lighthouse in the distance during a lonely late night walk. Desperate, Homer decides the lighthouse keeper would surely be the cure to his loneliness. As he reaches the main console Homer realises there is in fact no-one who mans the building, it is automated. At this point a crazed Homer breaks the main light in a delusional rage believing that any boat which crashes will surely contain the cure to his isolation. 

It is at this point we see Marge find Homer due to her intimate knowledge of her husband. Helping him repair the lighthouse. In this moment Homer understands that all the differences the two have ultimately make their relationship special.

While the lighthouse is repaired in time to stop a catastrophic shipwreck, there is some cargo containing short-shorts which is spilled to the delight of all the Springfield residents. All of Springfield is now dancing in their haul while Marge and Homer embrace in resolution knowing they are true soul-mates. The audience is left with a new understanding that we all, indeed, like short shorts. 

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