TV Recap: “The Simpsons” Season 32, Episode 2 – “I, Carumbus”

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of Laughing Place’s regular recaps of new episodes of The Simpsons on the FOX Network. Tonight saw the airing of the second episode of the show’s 32nd season, entitled “I, Carumbus” (a play on the novel / film / TV series I, Claudius combined with Bart Simpson’s early catchphrase “¡Ay, caramba!”

Chalkboard gag: None

Couch gag: None

As the episode opens, our favorite family is at the museum looking at an ancient Roman exhibit. Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) is bored, naturally, and Marge (Julie Kavner) says she wants him to show more ambition in his career so they can get more out of life, after he admits to having skipped a training program to be there. The museum curator (Monty Python’s Sir Michael Palin as this week’s guest star) interrupts out of nowhere to tell the arguing couple the story of Obeseus the Wide. “Once again, bickering in public gets us free therapy from strangers,” says Homer.

We dissolve to a poor but burly Obeseus– who appears as Homer to us– working the plow on a farm in ancient times. His father (Grampa Simpson / also Castellaneta) buys an ox by selling him into slavery. Obeseus and his friends are taken into Rome to become gladiators. Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna) provides Obeseus with a weapon and sends him into the arena, where he fights Rainier Wolfcastle (Harry Shearer)– AKA Wolfus. Wolfus break’s Obeseus’ sword in half with his axe, so Obeseus uses his plow-dragging skills to defeat him. Marge AKA Majora is watching from Fat Tony’s box, as she is revealed to be his daughter, and pleads for Obeseus’s life. “The man-ox will live to fight another day,” declares Fat Tony.

We see a montage of Obeseus killing more opponents. “The women wanted him, the men wanted to be killed by him,” says the curator in narration. Obeseus makes a sacred pact with his friends that if any of them ever get free they would do whatever they can to free the rest of them. Majora visits Obeseus in the prison and they become intimate. Later, Obeseus is leading a gladiator training session when Fat Tony enters to accuse someone of impregnating his daughter. What follows is an “I had sexicus” parody of the movie Spartacus. After all of his friends make their false confessions, Obeseus is irate. “You jerks! You knew I liked her.” “We were covering for you, jackass.”

Fat Tony decides to set Obeseus free under the condition that he marries his daughter. “What can be more liberating than marriage?” As a wedding present, Fat Tony gives them the deed to one of his businesses and presents Obeseus with his own friends as slaves. He’s about to set them free, but Marge butters him up and Obeseus decides to delay their release. “Now I feel stupid getting him a wedding gift,” says Moe (Hank Azaria), as he gestures to a dejected Gil in the background.

Obeseus is running Fat Tony’s laundromat when Bart and Lisa visit with Majora and mock his business, as apparently ancient Roman washing was done with human urine. Obeseus’s slaves have the idea to use other people’s pee, collected from local taverns, and it sets them on the path to success– cue the Latin version of The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up.” Moe asks Obeseus to set him and the other slaves free since they gave him the idea that made him rich, but he postpones again. In church, Reverend Lovejoy (Shearer again) sacrifices a baby goat, but the Simpsons can’t even see the entrails, as according to Majora, “they save all the best seats for the senators.”

So Majora now encourages Obeseus to become a senator. Emperor Mayor Quimby (Castellaneta) laughs him out of his office. “I’d do anything to be a senator,” Obeseus laments, as Mr. Burns (Shearer) pops up as the emperor’s adopted son. He offers to make Obeseus a senator if he kills the emperor, so Obeseus sneaks into his private vomitorium and stabs Quimby to death. “Et tu, pee guy?” Cut back to the present where Bart says “History rules!” and pretends to stab Lisa to death. Marge is upset by this turn of events in the story, but in the past Majora is elated by Obeseus’s escalation through societal ranks. “Give me a kiss, you big stabby go-getter!”

“X” years later, Senator Obeseus has grown as large as his power. He still hasn’t let his slaves go, though they keep reminding him how much they want their freedom. “You give slave owners a bad name.” Bart has become a monster by growing up rich and spoiled. “My son’s a maniac, my daughter’s not a song, my slaves hate me for some reason,” Obeseus complains. Majora subtly suggests killing the new emperor so Obeseus can complete his rise to the top. In the gladiator arena, Burns suspects someone is trying to kill him, so he has Smithers drink from his goblet, but Smithers knocks over a column while choking to death and accidentally kills Burns anyway. In a surprise twist, Marge suggests her son Bartigula become the new emperor. “And so began the reign of Bartigula the Jerk.”

Bartigula blames the troubles of Rome on foreign invaders, which keeps Groundskeeper Willie from entering the city. Bartigula then declares himself god, which makes Obeseus decide to take a stand and attempt to overthrow his son. In response, Bartigula sentences Obeseus to be eaten by the lions. “Hm… we’re gonna need more lions,” says Sarcastic Man (Azaria). Back in the jail cell, Obeseus finally sets his slaves free, as he was allowed to bring “a few possessions” with him. Lisa comes to release them, but Obeseus’s former friends immediately abandon him.

Despite being incredibly large, he still has the heart of a warrior, so Obeseus takes up a sword and enters the arena once again. “I will teach this old fool who is the true gluteus maximus,” says Bartigula, who cuts off Obeseus’s ears, but Obeseus manages to belly flop him onto the ground. While Obeseus is distracted by Majora cheering him on, Bartigula is able to stab him in the throat, but in turn Obeseus chokes Bartigula to death before he dies. Majora drinks poison when she realizes her family is no more. “But mom, what about me?” says Lisa as she enters. “We never really clicked.

Back in the present, Homer sums things up: “The moral of that story is clear– Marge is wrong and ambition is terrible.” “I just wanted you to go to one lousy training seminar,” replies Marge in her usual sensible manner. “When will humanity ever learn… to stop letting stupid people into museums?” concludes the curator. In the coda over the episode’s end credits, the Roman gods look down and complain that The Simpsons has gone off the rails. Jupiter agrees, “I know, but I want to see how it ends. It definitely feels like they’re wrapping it up… any day now.”

The Simpsons airs Sunday evenings on FOX.

Next week: “Now Museum, Now You Don’t”