Overview (Spoilers Below):

As the family prepares to celebrate Christmas Santa’s Little Helper begins to act out.  They hope to find him help through canine psychologist Elaine Wolff.  Her unorthodox methods and connection to the dog means she is the only one that can help him.  Though she is reluctant to get involved when the vet threatens to euthanize him, she takes the case.

Elaine brings Santa’s Little Helper back to her institute.  While the family misses their beloved pet, Elaine uncovers his PTSD from being a racing dog.  The Simpsons help him to return to the ranch where he was born where he is reunited with his mother.

Our Take:

And that is a wrap on season thirty-one of The Simpsons.  The incredible record-breaking run of this animated family will return next fall.  It will soon be time to look back at the successes and failures of the latest 22 episodes.  For now, we can pick apart one more episode before summer.

This episode brought a lot of things full circle for The Simpsons.  And had it been the end of the series it would have been a thoughtful touch.

683 episodes ago, The Simpsons premiered with “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.  The Christmas themed episode was a dreary one with a heartfelt conclusion.  That warming ending involved one special character who has been hiding in the background for the majority of the series run, Santa’s Little Helper.

Over thirty years after the Simpsons brought him into their home that fateful Christmas, Santa’s Little Helper is only now facing PTSD of the life he lived before his new family.

Surprisingly, the episode includes the return of his previous owner and a flashback to the series premiere episode. If you think it is hard to watch the animation of that first season, it looks sketchier within a modernized episode.

Bringing Santa’s Little Helpers story all the way around would be a thoughtful conclusion to the series as a whole.  It would say that our eyes and ears into this world have always been through the dog. If Santa’s Little Helper were to stay with his mother at the end it would tell the audience that the era is over.

Of course, the series is not done, and season thirty-two was signed at the same time as this season was. So, any thoughts that the showrunners thought that this was the end can be put aside.  Or can it, as there were rumours before this season aired that there were discussions involving pulling the plug.  Though rumours are all those are, and everyone seems on board to keep the show alive forever.

Regardless of whether this was intended to be the series finale or not, we can be grateful that it caps off season thirty-one.  Dog lovers will tell you that poor Santa’s Little Helper does not get nearly enough screen time.  Guest star Cate Blanchett really brought the story to life with her character full of rich quirks and background.  And the energy going into the summer break is full of positivity for the show.  Should the show ever actually end I would hope that it would be with a much bigger bash.  So, it is a good thing that they were able to wrap up Santa’s Little Helper’s story now.

Jesse Bereta

Jesse (Green Onion) Bereta is a chef of words. Classically trained in the kitchen, Jesse changed careers in ‘015 to pursue his passion of writing (and being a full time pop culture nerd). Aside from his work as a freelance writer, Jesse also operates his own website, podcasts, and is a father of two budding sprouts. The Green Onion headquarters is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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