Hello and welcome to Laughing Place’s regular recap of new episodes of The Simpsons on the FOX Network. This week’s installment, entitled “Wad Goals,” is the 13th episode of the long-running animated sitcom’s 32nd season.
Chalkboard gag: None.
Couch gag: None.
The episode opens with Ralph Wiggum (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) believing himself to be the star of a parade down Springfield’s Main Street, though he’s really just holding up traffic while he hallucinates. He walks through a big hedge to find “a secret” and then brags to his friends at school. The other kids argue over what’s in this mysterious location, and then they all follow Ralph over to check it out. “I’ve seen my dad do this,” says Bart (also Cartwright) as he is slowly absorbed backwards into the hedge, referencing a popular Simpsons meme. To their shock, the friends find themselves on a fancy golf course. “I’ve never seen a golf course anywhere, except in those commercials for pills that give old people their lives back,” says Milhouse (Pamela Hayden).
Bart and Milhouse find Jimbo (Hayden again) caddying for Dr. Hibbert (now voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, taking over from Harry Shearer in this episode), who tips him generously when he pretends to be ambitious about a career in medicine. Naturally the two pals want in on this cash grab, so they seek out caddy assignments from the Sarcastic Man, who sets them up with Mr. Burns and Kent Brockman (both voiced by Shearer). “You know, I’ve never really sucked up to anyone before,” says Bart, but Milhouse is a natural at it, being a Van Houten. Brockman is quickly iwon over by Bart’s moxy, advice, and compliments as they chat on the course, but Milhouse doesn’t have quite as much luck with Mr. Burns, who just wants him to muzzle himself. In a montage, we see Bart collect wads of bills as tips, hence the episode’s title.
At home, Homer (Dan Castellaneta) is impressed by Bart’s swift success as a caddy, and the family is shocked to learn that Homer pads his wad of money with dryer sheets. The next day, Bart caddies for the Rix Texan (Castellaneta too) and thanks him profusely for his oil industry insight, earning him a $20 tip while Marge (Julie Kavner) spies on him from behind a tree. “On one hand, I’m glad you’re being polite. On the other hand, yech,” says Marge. Bart displays his ability to suck up to Marge in an attempt to dissuade her disgust. Later at the ice cream parlor, Marge brags to his parents about his $50 tip from Judge Snyder. Bart tips the counter staff who then sing him a song while Marge and Homer argue outside about Bart’s new gig. “Sucking up is the American way,” says Homer. “Of all the things that Bart might do for money, this is by far the most legal.”
Marge says her mothering spirit is telling her Bart has to quit being a caddy, but at home Bart bribes Homer to convince Marge otherwise. Bart buys his own above-ground pool for him and his friends to relax in as they chat about possible investments. Bart dreams of buying a ATV and refuses to share it with his buddies, while Marge fumes as home to Lisa (Yeardley Smith), who says private golf clubs are pretty evil. Together they decide to shut down the club and go to city hall, but get frustrated when they see that all the politicians are obvious golfers. At the course, Bart talks with Principal Skinner (Shearer), who has also become a caddy for the summer, but even his own mother Agnes (Tress MacNeille) would rather not play than use him. Lisa and Marge start an online petition to shut down the golf course, which gets attention on the local news because of Marge’s use of the abbreviation “S.J.W.” (which she intends to mean Springfield Junipers Wealthy). “A signature’s a signature,” defends Marge.
Kent Brockman says the golf club will have to pay a hefty tax fee thanks to the petition, but he also delivers an op ed on the air about how the club shouldn’t shut down. Bart is angry that Marge is trying to shut down the country club, but the next day he is enlisted to caddy for the club president (NewsRadio’s Stephen Root as guest star), who asks him to convince Marge to call off her campaign. Bart compares the golf club to a church, and that gives the club president an idea: to have Mayor Quimby (Castellaneta) declare the sport of golf a tax-exempt religion: “May golf have mercy on us all.” Marge tears off her famous red necklace in anger and one of the beads rolls slowly into a hole, to the applause of the crowd in attendance.
Marge invites a group of religious leaders to the golf course to condemn the new religion, where inside the clubhouse a gospel choir sings the Kenny Loggins song “I’m Alright” from the movie Caddyshack. “The Ten Commandments of Golf” are posted on the wall and an old lady lights a candle to “The Shark.” Reverend Lovejoy says “this religion checks all the boxes” and the others agree “it’s a faith.” Homer tries to console Marge to no avail, and Marge tries to relate to Bart, saying she’s worried about his future. Bart says he only wants to suck up to rich people until he himself is rich and other people start sucking up to him. The club president tells Bart he’ll never caddy for him again now that his mother isn’t a problem. Bart says someday he’ll be a member at the course and he’ll be cool to the caddies, which makes the president and his regular caddy laugh: “There’s no path from where you are to where I am. Once a suckup, always a suckup.”
Bart quits his job as a caddy but on his way home he runs past the ATV store where he decides to say goodbye to the wad of bills he earned in tips. At the golf course parking lot, the rabbi Marge invited to help her accidentally breaks the Simpsons’ car windshield with a stray drive, causing Marge to go on an irate tirade. Suddenly Bart comes crashing through the hedge on the ATV and wreaks havoc on the golf course, ruining the landscaping. Bart then reveals that instead of buying one ATV, he rented “a whole bunch of them” for him and his friends, who also crash through the hedges and start driving all over the course. “Look at me– I’m playing golf!” cries Nelson Muntz as he sprays dirt all over the place. Marge reluctantly berates Bart on his destruction of property, though she smiles at his antics. The police show up and the club president assumes they’re there to arrest Bart, but instead Chief Wiggum (Hank Azaria) says he’s there to take in the president. “Like every new religion, sooner or later it turns into a sex cult,” says Wiggum, as the cops roll out several men in compromising positions. “In your case it was really sooner.”
In the coda, Ralph Wiggum is the gopher from Caddyshack, dancing as the golf course blows up behind him while “I’m Alright” plays again over the end credits.
New episodes of The Simpsons air Sunday nights on FOX.