|"I'm gay, Daddy, I'm gay! Mrs. Simpson made me gay!"|
At a church fundraiser for a new steeple, Homer cheats as much as possible to win a rubber duck race, but Flanders wins it anyway. He has no interest in the prize, some hipster computer, so he gives it to Marge. As thanks, Marge decides to babysit Rod and Todd while Ned attends a left-handed business expo. As Ned gets bullied around by Randy Johnson at the expo, Marge has a great time with the boys, and after Ned somehow returns he agrees that Marge can spend more time with them.
As a result, Homer is left to spend time with the Simpson kids. Lisa suggest they go to a shelter for aging animal stars. There, they come across Toot Toot, a saddened female chimpanzee. All of Toot Toot's sons are currently in show business, and is feeling pretty lonely. So much so, that she's able to snatch Bart and make him her own. With Marge preoccupied with Rod and Todd, Homer is able to hide Bart's whereabouts for the time being, but he's unable to get the boy away from Toot Toot.
Thanks to Marge, Rod and Todd are trying new things, but Ned becomes deathly afraid that either boy could get hurt. Marge insists she takes the two out to a padded playground, but when she has Rod ascend a rock climbing wall, a snooping Ned freaks out. That fear seeps to Rod, who freaks out and loses control, losing a tooth by falling back into the wall. Its the last straw for Ned, who refuses to let Marge near his boys. Marge tries to defend her parenting, but then a news reports appears publicly showcasing Bart's dilemma.
As Ned goes through another round of child-proofing his home, Marge tries to get Bart back from Toot Toot. However, Marge accidentally lets Toot Toot escape the shelter with Bart and she starts climbing the yet-to-be-completed church steeple. Lisa has a solution: it turns out Krusty's monkey sidekick Teeny is one of Toot Toot's sons, and that upon reuniting with him Toot Toot will let Bart go. However, with Toot Toot high up on the steeple, only someone experienced in rock climbing could reach the two. Enter: Rod Flanders. Ned freaks out again, but Marge intervenes by having Ned realize that his fear is being picked up by Rod and Rod needs encouragement if he's going to get through this (and life in general). Ned finally relents and cheers Rod on, who is able to reach Toot Toot and free Bart. Going back down, Bart is able to trick Rod into thinking 'gay' means 'getting over your fears', and so Rod announces to everyone that Marge helped Rod become gay. Somewhere, Maude must be proud.
I enjoyed this episode. Rod and Todd provided a comedic foil that they hadn't provided in a long time, and what I suppose was the main plot - Bart getting kidnapped by Toot Toot - had several humorous moments to go along with it. It is certainly a shining star amongst the sea of mediocrity thus far in Season 17.
Final Score: 7.8