El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer

El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)

"El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)", also known as The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer, is the ninth episode of the eighth season of The Simpsons, which originally aired January 5, 1997. The episode sees Homer eat an "Insanity Pepper" and go on a mysterious voyage, which features surreal animation to depict the elaborate hallucination. Following this he questions his relationship with Marge and goes on a journey to find his soulmate. The episode was written by Ken Keeler, directed by Jim Reardon and features Johnny Cash in a guest spot as the "Space Coyote".

Plot

After a series of distractions from Marge, Homer suddenly remembers the annual Chili Cook-Off. Marge admits that she had tried to keep Homer from going because of his drunken antics at the previous year's event (he jumped into a cotton candy machine, claiming he was a "puffy pink cloud"). She allows Homer to go, on the condition that he not drink any beer. At the cook-off, Homer demonstrates an extraordinary ability to withstand hot foods, until he falls victim to Chief Wiggum's chili which is spiked with "The Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango - Grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum".

After nearly drinking a candle, Homer decides to coat the roof of his his mouth with melted wax, enabling him to eat several of the peppers, leaving Wiggum and the crowd astonished. The peppers bring on a hallucination in which Homer is trapped in a bizarre fantasy world. He encounters a large snake, a gigantic butterfly, a tortoise and destroys the sun. He finally arrives at a large pyramid and meets his spirit guide - a coyote. The coyote advises Homer to find his soulmate, and questions Homer's assumption that he has already found her in Marge. Meanwhile, Marge hears of Homer's strange behavior and, believing he has broken his promise, drives home.

The next day, Homer regains his senses while lying in a golf course sand trap. He rationalizes his dream, comparing the desert he wandered in to the sand trap, and the talking coyote with a passing talking dog. (The dog barked three times, and Homer said, "Damn straight!") After returning home, he finds Marge angry with him for his odd behavior at the cook-off. This leads to Homer making note of their fundamental personality differences, causing him to question if Marge is truly his soulmate, and he leaves. Filled with doubt, he searches elsewhere for a soulmate, yet fails in each instance.

Eventually he becomes convinced that a lighthouse keeper might be his soulmate, since they would both be theoretically lonely individuals. Instead he finds the lighthouse is operated by a machine. Seeing an approaching ship, Homer destroys the lighthouse's light in hopes that it will cause the boat to come closer and the people inside will befriend him. Marge arrives, having known exactly where Homer would go, and the pair realize that they really are soulmates. Meanwhile, the ship runs aground, spilling its precious cargo of hot pants, even though Marge was able to change the lightbulb Homer broke. The citizens of Springfield happily retrieve the pants while Marge and Homer embrace.

Production

The episode was pitched as early as the third season by George Meyer, who was interested in an episode based on the books of Carlos Castaneda. Meyer had wanted to have an episode featuring a mystical voyage that was not induced by drugs, and so he decided to use "really hot" chili peppers instead. The staff, except for Matt Groening, felt it was too odd for the show at that point. Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein resurrected the story, and decided to use it for season eight.

Most of the hallucination sequence was animated completely by David Silverman. He wanted it to look exactly as he had imagined it, and did not want the risk of sending it to South Korea. The coyote was intentionally drawn in a boxier way so that it looked unlike the other characters. During Homer's voyage, the clouds in one shot are live-action footage, and 3D computer animation was used for the giant butterfly. During the same hallucination, Ned Flanders' line was treated on a Mac computer so that it increased and decreased pitch. The Fox censors sent a note to the writers, questioning Homer coating his mouth with hot wax. The note read: "To discourage imitation by young and foolish viewers, when Homer begins to pour hot wax into his mouth, please have him scream in pain so kids will understand that doing this would actually burn their mouths."

Homer waking up on a golf course was a reference to something that happened to a friend of the producers, who blacked out, waking up on a golf course in a different state. He had to buy a map from 7-Eleven in order to find out where he was. He then had to walk several miles in order to get back to his friend's house, which was the last place he remembered being the night before.

Casting

Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan were the writers' top two choices to play the coyote. Bob Dylan had turned the show down many times, having previously been offered a role in season seven's "Homerpalooza". Johnny Cash was offered the role, which he accepted. Matt Groening described Cash's appearance as "one of the greatest coups the show has ever had."

Cultural references

The main plot of the episode is based on the works of Carlos Castaneda, with some of the Native American imagery being similar to that used in the film Dances with Wolves. The lighthouse keeper actually being a computer is a reference to the episode of The Twilight Zone "The Old Man in the Cave", in which a man in a cave turns out to be a computer. The music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is used during the scenes when Homer walks into the chili festival, and the song "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian plays in the background as Homer walks through the town of Springfield looking for his soul-mate after he wakes up from his vision. The scene at the end of Homer's hallucination, when the train is heading towards him, is a reference to the opening titles of Soul Train. Homer's record collection features albums by Jim Nabors, Glen Campbell and The Doodletown Pipers.

Reception

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "Homer's chili-induced trip is brilliant, complete with the surreal tortoise and Indian spirit guide." The episode was placed eighth on AskMen.com's "Top 10: Simpsons Episodes" list, and in his book "Planet Simpson", Chris Turner named the episode as being one of his five favorites, although he found the ending too sentimental. IGN.com also ranked Johnny Cash's performance as the fourteenth best guest appearance in the show's history.

References

External links

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