All images used in this review are from FOXFLASH, Fox’s press release site. The Simpsons ©2021 by Twentieth Television. They are used with their permission, as they are publicity images.
Episode summary (spoilers): Bart goes to Ned Flanders’ book sale to buy some Christian books, only later to burn them in the forest for his latest skateboarding trick. While there, he finds a diary as one of the books he bought, but didn’t burn. It’s the deceased Mrs. Krabappel’s diary. Milhouse tells him that if he reads her diary, he will regret it. But Bart reads it anyway. He first sees a secret about Superintendent Chalmers then proceeds to steal his car with that known secret. He then explores the teacher’s lounge, showing that the teachers are doing their second jobs during lunchtime.
While continuing to go through the diary, Bart sees that Mrs. K’s wrote good things about him and he changes his attitude, to the point where he even gets an A on his test. This makes Lisa and Marge confused as they go through his room to find his “secret”. Lisa makes it to his treehouse and finds his diary. Turns out that the “spiky haired guy” Edna was referring to was not Bart, but rather his cat. Seeing how happy Bart is, Lisa doesn’t tell him the truth. She gets anxious. At the assembly, Principal Skinner calls Bart Simpson up to the stage for being the school’s most improved student, and has Lisa and the class sing and cheer for him. Bart then decides to enter the spelling bee. This forces Lisa to tell him the truth, about the cat, and Bart runs off crying.
Later that night, Ned decides to pay a visit to Bart and tells him a story about their decision to move away from Springfield. While Ned, Todd, and Rod wanted to move, Edna refused, saying that she needed to stay to help children like Bart become better. Bart decides to give Ned Edna’s diary, which he reads in his room. A collage of Edna Krabappel is then shown.
My thoughts: I was not very happy when Fox decided to show recaps of previous NASCAR games instead of Animation Domination while the 2021 Daytona 500 was delayed due to heavy rain, but I did see the episode on iTunes on February 14. And by the time you’re reading this review, you would have already seen the episode for yourself, and I have to say, I did enjoy it. The Simpsons has been no stranger to flashback references and continuity episodes, and having an episode dedicated to Edna after her death was nice to see.
The episode does start off very slow though, with the townspeople singing a song in the first minute or two. The main story doesn’t hit until about a quarter into the episode, which is a little bit of a problem. I felt like things were wrapped up a little bit too quickly in the end, and if they had eliminated that singing montage in the beginning, I feel like it could have had more time to cover up that ending. It’s still good don’t get me wrong. I did like seeing Ned tell Bart about what Edna thought about kids like him, and the ending with Edna being happy to her marriage with Ned was sweet. The episode did have some laughs too. I liked seeing Chief Wiggum telling Lou that instead of chasing Bart for stealing Chalmers’ car, that they should cruise around instead. I also got a good laugh out of the kids using the freeway while lifting Bart because it’s faster. Living in California, freeways suck, but when they don’t they’re really fast to get places, so it’s relatable to me.
The cutaway with Milhouse in a bubble doing karate was amusing as well, although it feels Family Guy-ish. But I didn’t really like the filler moment like how the Springfield Mafia dumps a man into the river, and then they shoot him. And also the part with Willie nourishing the bunny Bart gave him wasn’t funny either. I thought those were just a plain way to fill time in the episode. Maybe that’s why they included that 2-minute singing montage in the beginning.
The episode does get more interesting, however, when Lisa steps into the picture. Seeing her wanting to make her brother happy is part of why Lisa and Bart are special siblings. They are able to differentiate themselves from other animated sitcom siblings like Meg and Chris and Steve and Hailey because of that bond they have. They’re always there for each other. So when Lisa doesn’t tell Bart, she gets rash from all that anxiety. And her Buddha chanting in her sleep turning into “Hum, Hum, Hum, My God!” got a laugh out of me. Coming from a Buddhist family, that is all too relatable to me. Visiting the nearby Buddhist temple was something I did a lot in my childhood. But after a while it gets too much to her and she decides to do the right thing and tell him. And even though it breaks her heart, she was able to tell him the truth. It’s nice to see episodes about Lisa where she’s no all too self-centered as well.
And that ending was pretty sweet too. Seeing Ned share a story to Bart about Edna was very nice to watch. The Simpsons is no stranger to sweet episodes. The classic years had a lot of those moments that were enjoyable a nice to watch. I just thought this episode’s heart moment was just a little rushed building up to it. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was good. But the writers probably should have rewritten it to tie it back to the school at the end, eliminate the entire singing montage in the beginning, and it would have been even better in my opinion.
“Diary Queen” is a decent episode, despite it’s irrelevant opening, and very slow pacing, and rushed ending, but it was a little light on the laughs department. However, it does pay off with the final act with that montage of Edna and Bart learning what Edna really thought about her through Ned. The show has been starting 2021 off decently, with last month’s great hit, and this one being decent. I just hope it can stay at least way because we have a few more great episodes to look forward to as well. The 700th episode is coming and an episode called “Mother and Child Reunion” as well. With those two to look forward to, plus a few others, I think season 32 can close off on a good note like season 31 did.
Overall rating: 6/10