My Way or the Highway to Heaven
|"My Way or the Highway to Heaven"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 30|
Episode 3 (642nd overall)
|Directed by||Rob Oliver|
|Original air date||October 14, 2018|
|Couch gag||Homer finds himself in Bob's Burgers during the show's opening sequence. The Belchers look inside the restaurant at Homer.|
In heaven, in apparent homage to the show’s traditional opening segment’s couch gags, God and St. Peter sit on the couch discussing possibly relaxing their admissions requirements to address the perceived lack of people there after a recent building project. They look on as Ned Flanders leads a Sunday school class: “Who will get into heaven”. In a montage, to the soundtrack of Ted Moock’s cover of “Cheek to Cheek” with its lyric “I’m in heaven”, the children are seen imagining how they die and ascend, with Bart Simpson’s vision including his deathbed conversion repentance. Ned tells them the only way to heaven is to “never stray from the path of righteousness”, and after goading from Nelson Muntz, recalls his non-religious, Bebop upbringing as Neddy to beatnik parents, and his subsequent trail of “depraved” jobs until he started doing door-to-door sales.
As a salesman, of Vertebreaker Trampolines, Ned is initially discouraged, but then the 1971 televised moonwalks of Apollo 14 astronauts “bouncing” on the moon sends sales skyrocketing. He revels in his success, including a promotional billboard stating “Ned Flanders, Your Key To Getting High”, until another salesman tells him that the trampolines are death traps, where a static charge is built up with each bounce, then released en masse on the 500th bounce killing the child. Ned vows to save a then-young Homer Simpson, who the Springfield Shopper reports intends to surpass the “500-bounce barrier”, and enter into the Duff Book Of World Records, likely in reference to Guinness World Records. Ned rushes to intervene, and pushes Homer out of the way, and is electrocuted, appearing in heaven before a hippie-stylized, Che Guevara poster-donning Jesus who offers him the chance to live again if he becomes a Christian. He wakes up “reborn” in his hospital bed with “a sign of [God’s] mercy”, a permanent scar which is hidden by his mustache.
Back in heaven on the couch, St. Peter suggests God consider another potential pool of candidates: atheists, who don’t believe in God but might still be righteous. Back in the Sunday school class, Marge Simpson tells a story of her atheist grandmother, Genevieve Bouvier, who she claimed lived in Nazi-occupied France in 1944 during World War II; however, the caption reveals her grandmother was actually living in Nazi-aligned Vichy, France in 1944. She co-managed Cafe Meaux with the cafe’s namesake, her husband Meaux, a Nazi-collaborator. While self-admitted treasonous Meaux bootlicks a Nazi commandant, and his entourage of officers; Genevieve goes down to the expansive cellar to prepare dinner for the officers. There she discovers some U.S. paratroopers , who she disguises as dinning staff. During the meal, one of the U.S. soldiers mistakenly reveals the plan for Normandy landings. To stop the Nazis from warning others, the U.S. soldiers sing “La Marseillaise”, France’s national anthem, which prompts the cafe patrons to stand and join in blocking the Nazi’s exit. Genevieve and Meaux lead the killing of the Nazi officers thus proving Marge’s point that atheists can also do great things. Back in heaven God agrees to opening heaven to atheists.
In heaven still, God and St. Peter are visited by Buddha who encourages them to open heaven to other faiths. In the Sunday school class, Lisa Simpson tells the class that besides redemption, and good works, there is the Way of enlightenment. She shares a story she calls “The Princess not affiliated with Disney, unless we are now owned by Disney”. (As of March 2019, Disney owns 21st Century Fox.) In Lumbini, Shakya Republic of Nepal during the 6th century BC, a spoiled princess Siddmartha, likely the feminized version of Siddhārtha Gautama, founder of Buddhism. Siddmartha remained dissatisfied despite being denied nothing, she sought a middle path between opulence and decadence. She ventured out of the palace disguised as a poor boy. In search of scholars she goes to Kathmandu U. but frustratingly finds the university a party school; being void of ideas, she opts instead to sit under the Bodhi Tree until she was enlightened. Back in heaven, God agrees that “all the good souls are welcome”.
Heaven is instantly crowded again including a shocked Mr. Burns, who was let in as Waylon Smithers’ guest as a plus one invitee. Burns demands to get in later under his own merit, and Smithers goes after him.
Dennis Perkins of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B- stating, "The episode takes the form of a sort of religion-based Treehouse of Horror, with three stories (told by Ned, Marge, and Lisa, respectively) that test out the new criteria by which God will choose who deserves to hang out for all eternity in the show’s traditionally cloudy and harp-strewn paradise. Written by marrieds Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta, along with first-time Simpsons writer Vince Waldron, the result is a decidedly low-stakes outing that, nonetheless, isn’t without its charms."
Tony Sokol of Den of Geek gave the episode 3.5 out of 5 points ranking stating, "The Simpsons may not preach against evolution, but they have evolved from the kind of show that was uproariously laugh out loud to evoking us to say, oh, clever. The series will always be a little intellectual, as it is a constant battle between the selfless wisdom of Marge and Lisa and the chaotic buffoonery of Bart and Homer. Where were Bart and Homer, by the way? We get a story from Ned in place of a family member? Could it be it wouldn't matter what they brought as an offering it would send the whole town of Springfield straight to hell? "My Way or the Highway to Heaven" should have let the boy and his Homer offer their own dark alternative. The episode is tinted too bright."
"My Way or the Highway to Heaven" scored a 1.0 rating with a 5 share and was watched by 2.51 million people, making "The Simpsons" Fox's highest rated show of the night.
- Perkins, Dennis (October 14, 2018). "A trio of sweet religious tales sees The Simpsons finding goodness, if not greatness". TV Club. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
- Bereta, Jesse (2018-10-15). "Review: The Simpsons "My Way or the Highway to Heaven"". Bubbleblabber. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
- Schwartz, Matthew S. (March 20, 2019). "Disney Officially Owns 21st Century Fox". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
- Perkins, Dennis. "A trio of sweet religious tales sees The Simpsons finding goodness, if not greatness". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
- Sokol, Tony. "The Simpsons Season 30 Episode 3 Review: My Way or the Highway to Heaven". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2018-11-28..