Recap / The Simpsons S 10 E 3 Bart The Mother

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Bart's troublemaking claims the life of a bird, and in repentance, he decides to take care of the eggs in its nest — until he learns that the abandoned baby birds are actually reptilian pests who feed off birds.

This is the last episode written by David X. Cohen before he left to work on Futurama. This is also the last appearance of Troy McClure. The episode is dedicated in the memory of Phil Hartman who voiced McClure, Lionel Hutz, Lyle Lanley, and various other characters on the show. Hartman was tragically killed by his wife 4 months before the episode aired.

Tropes:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills
    Nelson: You even compensated for the crooked sight!
  • Adults Are Useless: Before Marge goes after Bart, she tells Homer to punish Lisa for lying about his whereabouts (she knew he'd gone to Nelson's). Homer's punishment involves sending Lisa to the Kwik-E-Mart to pick up some beer and snacks for himself (as well as giving her a little extra to get something for herself).
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: Played for Laughs. Homer proclaims that he hasn’t been this excited “since Halley’s Comet collided with the moon.”
    Lisa: ...that never happened, Dad.
    Homer: Suuuuure it didn’t.
  • Artistic License – Ornithology: Principal Skinner insinuates that the cuckoo and the nene are extinct birds. Cuckoos aren't even a species (they're a family) and couldn't be more common, while the nene is classed as "vulnerable" (basically, "almost endangered") but not extinct.
  • The Atoner:
    • Bart, after Marge punishes him by neglecting him and Bart realizes that he made orphans out of the eggs in the nest, decides to take care of them in repentance.
    • Just in case you thought Marge was a little too hard on Bart for flat-out giving up on if not outright cutting off ties with him earlier (and also unwittingly endangering the eggs by unplugging the cord connected to the incubator), she helps him warm the eggs and even allows him and the lizards to escape from getting killed.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When the eggs finally hatch.
    Marge: I see a foot!
    Lisa: I see an eye!
    Bart: I see a neck!
    Lisa: (confused) A horn?
    (the eggs hatch, revealing lizards)
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: After Bart reveals that he began taking care of the dead bird's eggs, Marge looks a bit disapproving at first and prepares to scold him... but then she couldn't bear herself to do it and gives Bart a hug.
  • Cruel Mercy: A non-lethal variant. When Marge finds out Bart has killed the bird, he realizes he can't run from this and says he deserves to be punished. Then Marge ignores him and lets him "have fun killing things", even though Bart clearly isn't proud of what he did either.
  • Disappointed in You: Marge, after Bart kills the bird, and just ignores him (unless if she suspects he's up to no good again). She forgives him after discovering the birds' eggs.
  • End of an Age: This was the last Simpsons episode to use the production code "#F##", the last Simpsons episode to feature Phil Hartman (playing Troy McClure), and also the last full-length Simpsons episode written by David S. Cohennote , who became executive producer and head writer for Futurama, adopting the name "David X. Cohen" there.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode has some fun using very naughty-sounding words on account of them all pertaining to species of bird.
    Skinner: It's already wiped out the dodo, the cuckoo, and the nene. And it has nasty plans for the booby, the titmouse, the woodcock, and the titpecker.
  • Heel–Face Turn: If she was cruel for deciding to neglect Bart and then meddling with him afterwards, then Marge reconciling with him and helping to raise the lizards qualifies.
  • Hypocrite: Marge comes across as this for meddling with what Bart is doing in his treehouse, given how she declared earlier that she's not going to put up with him or his shenanigans.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Lisa and Maggie cheat at skeeball to get tickets, Nelson calls them out for this and then steals tickets from a machine that dispenses them.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Bart tried to explain to Marge that killing the bird was an accident. She doesn't buy it.
  • I Have No Son: Marge realizing that her constant punishments of Bart never sink in and coming to the conclusion that he can do whatever he wants has this sort of effect.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • While being a jerk is usually par the course for Nelson, this episode depicts him at his absolute worst since "Bart the General." His treatment of Milhouse at the Family Fun Center and his bullying taunts to Bart are more mean-spirited than usual, and he tops it all off by insisting that Bart shoot a bird and expressing absolute glee when its killed. No wonder Marge wanted Bart to stay away from him.
    • While Marge's resentment towards Bart is chalked up to Rage Breaking Point and at least understandable, she ends up bordering into jerkassery when she barges in on what Bart's doing due to suspicions he's up to no good again, right after deciding to ignore him from then on, and she doesn't even bother to listen to him. Of course, Homer didn't exactly help by suggesting Bart could be operating a drug lab in his treehouse.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As harsh it may have been, Marge did have every reason to be angry and fed up given Bart is normally an endless troublemaker and she insisted he shouldn't hang out with Nelson (for good reason).
  • Karma Houdini: Lisa, Maggie and Nelson don't suffer any consequences for the cheating and the stealing they did to get tickets.
  • Kick the Dog: While storming to Bart's treehouse, Marge unplugs the cord connecting to Bart's incubator, which could have seriously endangered the eggs. Granted, she did not know about this.
  • Mama Bear: By the climax, both Bart and Marge feel this way towards Bart's lizards. Bart because he raised them, and Marge because she knows how it feels to love a kid even when everyone else thinks they're a monster.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Played for Laughs towards the end.
    Lisa: I don't get it, Bart. You got all upset when you killed one bird, but now you've killed tens of thousands, and it doesn't bother you at all.
    Bart: Hey, you're right ... I call the front seat!
    Lisa: You had it on the way over!
  • Mythology Gag: When she learns Bart has disobeyed her by hanging out with Nelson, Marge says "Bart is in deep, deep trouble.", referring to the Simpsons song "Deep, Deep Trouble".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: In as much as you could call Skinner a villain in this case, but his attempts to forcefully pull the lizards away from Bart results in their escaping into the wild.
  • Not So Different: Bart tells Marge during the climax that while he knows everyone else thinks the lizards are monsters, he still loves them because he sees them as his children. Marge of course, assures him that she knows exactly how that feels and helps him protect them.
    Bart: Everyone thinks they're monsters. But I raised them, and I love them! I know that's hard to understand.
    Marge: Not as hard as you think.
  • Parents for a Day: Bart, hence the title.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Marge is already upset when she finds out Bart had disobeyed her, but discovering he also killed a bird causes her to reach her wit's end and become fed up with him.
  • Running Gag: Homer falling downstairs into the unlit basement.
  • The Scapegoat: When Bart asks for a go with Nelson's gun, he says he'll be pleased to have Bart's fingerprints on it.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Nelson gets enough tickets to win an easy-bake oven or a BB gun, he replies with this gem:
    Nelson: Hmm... hot food is tempting, but I can't say no to a weapon.
  • Suck E. Cheese's and Noodle Incident: According to the sign outside, the Family Fun Center was once seen on the FOX reality special, "When Disaster Strikes 4." Viewers aren't given more information on how and why the Family Fun Center was featured there.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Done 4 times in a row. After Bart releases the lizards to prevent them from being killed, Skinner warns him he has no idea what he has unleashed... and later changes his tune because the lizards wiped out the pigeon population, which the town considered a plague.
    Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
    Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?
    Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
    Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
    Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
    Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
    Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Marge's reaction upon learning Bart shot the bird.
  • Wham Line: When the eggs are hatching, we get this from Homer...
    Homer: I see a horn!
  • Wing Pull: Just when Chirpy Boy and Bart Jr. look like they're going to be sent hurdling off a building, it turns out they have gliding membranes like flying dragon lizards, which allow them to parachute down unharmed.
    Lisa: Wow, did you know they had those webbed flaps for gliding?
    Skinner: Yes. But I was hoping they didn't know that.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Nelson inflicts this on Bart.
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