Carl Carlson Rides Again
| "Carl Carlson Rides Again"
| Episode Information
"Carl Carlson Rides Again" is the fourteenth episode of season 34 of The Simpsons and the seven-hundred and forty-second episode overall. It originally aired on February 26, 2023. The episode was written by Loni Steele Sosthand and directed by Mike Frank Polcino. It guest stars John Autry II as Monk Murphy and Henry Louis Gates Jr. as himself.
- "When Carl is smitten by a beautiful black woman, he looks into the roots of his own identity by discovering the origins of a mysterious rodeo buckle."
When Homer wakes up in the morning, he smells Marge cooking chili con carne. However, he is disappointed to find that Marge made it for Ned Flanders, who had broken his arm. Marge explains to Homer that she and several other people in Springfield had set up a Meal Train for Ned where everyone makes food for him since he can't cook with a broken arm. This gives Homer an idea to pretend to be injured so that he can also get people to make food for him. Homer and the barflies then put their Meal Train scam into action and start getting various meals from people. However, Carl decides to quit the scam early as he needs to get into bowling shape for the start of the bowling league. After losing weight, Carl needs a belt to hold his pants up and uses a belt buckle with a man riding a bull engraved on it.
At Barney's Bowlarama, the Pin Pals get ready to play their first game of the league when Carl sees Naima and immediately becomes smitten with her. Carl goes to talk to Naima and ends up spending the day bowling with her instead of his team. He and Naima then decide to meet up again on Friday at SoulHouse, the restaurant that Naima owns. When Carl tells his friends about Naima, he finds that his team lost against the worst team in the league, The Weaklings.
Carl gets ready for his date by going for a makeover. He goes to get a new haircut and realizes that he doesn't know what style he should have. Eventually, Carl settles on a Denzel Washington style cut. When the people in the barbers see Carl's belt buckle, they tease him about it. After the haircut, Carl goes to get a new wardrobe at Second Hand Bros Clothing. After a short changing room montage, the store employee offers to give Carl an outfit in exchange for the belt buckle. Carl accepts and gets the employee's own clothes. Carl then goes on his date with Naima. After he learns more about her, Naima asks Carl about himself. Due to a mixture of Carl not knowing about his heritage and pretending to be someone he wasn't to impress Naima, the date goes badly and Carl goes back to Moe's. Carl reveals that the belt buckle he traded away was the only thing he got from his birth parents. When none of Carl's friends want to talk about his insecurities over his racial identity, Carl decides to take some time away from Moe's.
Homer worries about Carl and he and Carl's friends decide to go and get the belt buckle back. Carl also has the same idea and meets them there. However, they find that the employee had sold it to The Rich Texan. The gang then goes to The Rich Texan's mansion to see about getting it back, but he reveals that he had sold it on too. He reveals that Henry Louis Gates Jr. bought it from him so the gang goes to see Dr. Gates. When Dr. Gates hears that Carl doesn't know his family history, he invites Carl onto the show and researches Carl's family history. He reveals to Carl that his family was descended from a former slave turned cowboy called Ellis. His father, Wyatt, was a bull rider and won the belt buckle after riding a bull for 20 seconds. After learning his history, Carl becomes more sure about his identity.
Carl invites his friends and Naima to watch him ride a bull, much to their shock. Everyone tries to talk Carl out of it since riding a bull isn't something that can just be passed down by blood. However, Carl does it anyway and manages to ride the bull for three seconds before being thrown off. Naima is impressed with Carl for listening to her and finding out about his heritage and she gives Carl blood as they are driven to the hospital together.