For our second Golden Era + feature, it’s another Lisa episode in The Squirt & The Whale. Lisa’s actually the character I feel has gone off the rails the most since the Golden Era ended, so the Lisa episodes I like are few and far between. That said, because of their relative rarity, they’re a lot more special, which probably explains why she’s featured heavily so far.

Watch If You Like: Mother Simpson, ‘Round Springfield, Lisa The Iconoclast, Dog Of Death

Written By: Matt Warburton

Directed By: Mark Kirkland & Mike B. Anderson

MVP: Lisa

The episode starts slightly rocky; a sure sign of a post Golden Era episode is the inability to maintain high quality throughout. The Simpsons decide to embrace wind power, but when Homer realises they’re generating more power than they’re using, he disconnects from the grid, leaving them entirely reliant on wind.

It’s mildly entertaining, but perhaps takes a little too long to get to the main point.

Eventually though, there’s a major wind storm (linking in nicely to the wind power story), which sees Bluella the whale end up beached in Springfield. Lisa, ever the idealist, enlists the help of the town to get Bluella back in the ocean. Unfortunately, Springfield’s strongest don’t have enough might to pull her back into the sea.

Despite everything looking hopeless, Lisa stays by Bluella’s side. She’s always at her best when she’s heartfelt and genuine. There are fewer laughs to be had here, but it’s one of the most affecting stories the show has had since the Golden Era ended.

Lisa remains hopeful that Bluella will be saved, befriending the whale as she protects it on the beach. It’s a hopeless story, one with no real villains or heroes. Just a little girl coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how much you love something, it doesn’t always work out.

There’s a dream sequence where Lisa imagines the whale being saved then swimming amongst the stars, which comes with wonderful animation. It offers a brief flutter of hope too, bringing the eventual, stark ending into an even sharper spotlight.

The episode starts rocky, tells a brilliantly confident story which avoids pulling its punches, but unfortunately seems too scared of its own message. Having the Springfield police blow up the dead whale completely undercuts Lisa’s sadness and feels unnecessary and (worse) unfunny.

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