Hello and welcome to Laughing Place’s weekly recap of new episodes of the long-running animated sitcom The Simpsons on the FOX network. This week’s episode, entitled “Warrin’ Priests (Part Two)” concluded the religion-themed storyline that began last Sunday.
Chalkboard gag: “I will stop reminding the principal I have a later bedtime than he does.”
Couch gag: A parody of the opening title sequence from HBO’s Succession, ending with Homer telling his family they won’t inherit anything because he doesn’t have anything.
The episode begins with news anchor Kent Brockman (voiced by Harry Shearer) recapping the previous week’s events, followed by an odd “Spy vs. Spy”– or maybe Japanese Kabuki puppet theater– reenactment of the conflict between Reverends Lovejoy and Wright. In Springfield’s church, the pews are packed. “This is the first time I’ve been to church when it’s not part of a big montage of my enemies being whacked,” says mob boss Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna). It seems everyone there except Mr. Burns (Shearer), who Smithers (also Shearer) says prefers to stay at home and read his own original copies of scripture. We cut to burns discovering the passage that reads “blessed are the poor” and immediately shredding that ancient page.
Marge (Julie Kavner) has dressed up out of her obvious desire to impress Revered Bode Wright (returning guest star Pete Holmes), who continues his refreshing sermons on the function of religion. Ned Flanders (Shearer yet again) misses the church the way it was, though it would seem the chirping crickets are the only ones who agree– until we see them saying “We said no” in subtitles. Bode asks Ned if he agrees that God loves Everyone, and Ned hesitates while Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) fantasizes and musical dream sequence set to a parody of the Liza Minnelli song “Maybe This Time” from the movie Cabaret. This sequence features Lisa finding an image of Moe Szylak on toast and a kick-line dance number starring Buddha, Albert Einstein, “and Jesus makes three.”
Bode suggests Ned read the bible more carefully, to which Flanders balks, saying he already travels with extra copies to leave in hotel room refrigerators. He tries leaving the church but his sons Rod (Pamela Hayden) and Todd (Nancy Cartwright) won’t let him, citing his own criticism back at him: “You call it Homer Simpsoning.” “Yeah, don’t Homer Simpson, you jerk!,” yells Homer (Dan Castellaneta). In Michigan, Reverend Lovejoy (would you believe it’s Harry Shearer?) arrives at the church from which Bode had previously been fired. It’s now a megachurch with a bovine virtual reverend named Holy Cow, foam crosses that constituents bang together rhythmically, and a monkey mascot with a halo and angel wings. When he asks for help, a clergyman asks “You’re not from the Boston Globe, are you?,” as he prepares to make a break for it.
Pressed for information on Bode, the pastor prattles on for hours then concludes by handing Lovejoy a USB drive. Popping it into a laptop, Lovejoy witnesses Reverend Wright burning something during a sermon, but we don’t see what it is. Back at the Simpson home, Marge and Lisa gush over Bode, but Marge is worried about her daughter getting too attached to the new-age preacher. She points to a vision board full of Lisa’s previous disappointments, including the second-season character Mr. Bergstrom, but the vision board itself then collapses. Lovejoy speeds back to Springfield while Homer takes Bode to Moe’s Tavern. Upon seeing the pastor, Moe (Hank Azaria) breaks all his “nudie glasses” but when Bode says he didn’t have to he starts gluing them back together: “Remind me– how many boobies does a woman have?”
Later, a drunk Homer confesses his many wrongdoings to Reverend Wright, including how he had “impure thoughts about the mother bear in the toilet paper ads.” Bode isn’t bothered by this, but he does ask Homer, “Does this Flanders guy ever annoy you?,” which triggers one of the longest spit-takes in Simpsons history. Lovejoy finds himself stuck in traffic and Bode goes to Flanders’ house to confront Ned. The two engage in a Scripture Challenge, quoting Bible verses back and forth to each other to support their own interpretations of Christianity until Ned finally collapses on the floor and gives in. Cut to “Aloha Sunday” at the church, which Homer says “is what it would be like if they believed in God in Hawaii.”
Suddenly Reverend Lovejoy busts through the door, having made it back from Michigan. He shouts “This man is a heretic!” and Lisa immediately gets up to defend her new idol. Lovejoy reveals that Bode once burned a Bible, and everyone is shocked. Even boxer Drederick Tatum (Azaria) agrees, declaring “Psalms are not for burning; they’re for tattoos!” On the Channel 6 news, Brockman gives his op-ed about the incident during his evidently-regular segment “Talking, Saying Nothing.” After a quick David Silverman cameo, we enter into a debate between Lovejoy and Bode moderated by Lisa, who emphasises the importance of forgiveness in the Bible. She even had Marge sew a number of banners quoting specific lines. “I did all that work for a ten-second bit?,” Marge complains.
The crowd at the debate begins chanting “banish him, banish him” and Grandpa Abe Simpson (Castellaneta) compares Jesus to another long-haired prophet, Willie Nelson. Bode says he’s going to leave town, and cites the Sea Captain (Azaria) as the only Springfieldian to be surprisingly woke– “Activism means nothing if it’s not intersectional,” the Captain confirms. Bode says goodbye to everyone, but the Simpsons invite him to dinner at their home. “Dear God, please let the Simpsons never end,” he says in thankful prayer before the meal. Lisa asks Bode why he had to burn the Bible, explaining that the residents of her hometown don’t understand subtext– heck, even the local NPR station broadcasts wrestling.
Bode defends himself by saying he did it when he was 19 and was trying to make a point about Jesus residing in one’s heart and not in any book. “I’ll have faith in this town’s open heart,” he says just before a brick crashes through a window and hits him in the head. The next day Bode drives out of town past Chief Wiggum (Azaria), who says he’s lost his faith. Officer Lou (also Azaria) has trouble consoling him without laughing at the concept of Wiggum having an attractive and comforting family.
Next week: “The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds”
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.