There seems to be a new trend where Homer and Bart are like cartoon cat and mouse to the point where characterization is thrown out the fucking window. Honestly, this episode is trash and it's a shame because the ongoing nature of Homer choking Bart that has been iconic throughout the series has never really had a full episode to tackle the subject before. They blew it though.
Everything that was done right like the Burns intro and some of the build-up was just your ordinary Jean era averageness, and everything else was just absolute garbage. First off, the ending of the first act might be one of the most disturbing moments in a while (a short while). Admittedly, I thought the "Make an ass out of yourself" jumbotron was great satire, but then I realized this was going to be like provoking a humping dog. Maybe it was some kind of commentary that there are more disturbing things than a beloved choking gag, but even if that's the message, I did not need to see Homer tickling Bart until he wet himself. It was such a long, awkward, and unnecessary moment that would make even Michael Scott cringe.
From what I remember Homer was more concerned with starting a wave than feeling sorry for what he put Bart through. He says he's sorry, but it's in that "I'm seperate from reality and trying to be funny" tone. After that there is no justification for Bart, and Homer feels no remorse, but goes to group therapy only to make a joke out of it. Why doesn't he talk to his son?
Anyway, nothing is discussed or touched upon in therapy in regards to delving into Homer and Bart's relationship other than bring the choking gag to the forefront. Nothing real is focused on though, and they just let Homer get a taste of his own medicine for a pretty lengthy montage. Of course when Homer is cured from pursuing the urges to strangle his son, this means that his authority as a parent is completely vanquished.
You would think even with the unrealistic nature of this plot point, that they would use it as a way of Homer realizing that the dynamic between him and his son is pathetic and if he wants to escape being the punching bag of Bart, then he's going to have to bring himself back down to reality and make some serious changes in his parenting techniques, but of course the writers don't fucking know how to connect themes or realize what the hell the point is of their own story. I mean, that's why I figured they made Homer act so unaware and annoying, so that they can call attention to it. It was just a lousy setup though for Bart to be in prank-heaven, which ends with Bart saving Homer's life only when his own life was in trouble. Bart ignoring his dying dad was just disgraceful, but it's a comedy right? Yes, a character-driven comedy. Learn the characters writers.
So the moral of the story is that even the cowardly, pathetic dad can become allies with a shithead son as long as they have a common enemy like a murderous therapist. It's a plot like this that makes an out of nowhere Marge and Lisa scene feel welcomed. Nothing was learned, and this episode just created problems and did nothing to solve them. 1/5