Recap: The Simpsons S 4 E 17 Last Exit To Springfield

Episode - 9F15
First Aired - 3/11/1993

In this episode, cited by Entertainment Weekly and several other critics as the series' magnum opus, Homer is unwittingly made the leader of the nuclear plant's labor union so he can fight back against Mr. Burns revoking the workers' dental plan, which Lisa needs for invisible braces.

This episode contains examples of (YMMV tropes can be found here):

  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Burns's fantasy sequence of him and Smithers running the plant includes them opening crates marked "Robot Workers - 100% Loyal." The scene switches to the robots chasing Burns and Smithers, chanting "Crush. Kill. Destroy!!"
  • Anachronism Stew: When Mr. Burns shuts off all the power to the city, one shot of a street shows several people dressed like they're from the 1930s.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Mr. Burns: (reading the union contract) Benefits? Perks? A green cookie on St. Patrick's Day?
    • After giving Homer a tour of his estate, which includes the world's biggest TV, an aviary filled with vultures that look like him (at least one does), and 1000 monkeys on typewriters, Mr. Burns finishes up inside his otherwise ordinary basement.
      Mr. Burns: Yes, I should stop ending the tour with it.
  • Big Entrance: In the McBain scene that opens the episode, McBain bursts out of an ice sculpture.
    McBain: Ice to see you!
  • British Teeth: The dentist scares Ralph Wiggum into healthy dental habits by showing him a book called "The Big Book of British Smiles".
  • The Cameo: Dr. Joyce Brothers appears in a single scene as the third member of Kent Brockman's discussion panel. Her only line of dialogue is, "I brought my own mic!" See What Could Have Been below.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The bad guy in the McBain movie ("To human misery!"). Homer reassures Bart there's no-one that evil in real life.
  • Comically Cross-Eyed: Principal Skinner tells a pupil to "put his eyes straight". When he answers: "But I can't", he realizes his mistake and says: "Oops, sorry Quigley!"
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer, for several seconds, is unable to make a link between the proposed disappearance of the dental plan and Lisa's need for braces.
  • Continuity Nod:
    Mr. Burns: (watching Homer tear up the contract on a hidden camera) Who is that firebrand, Smithers?
    Mr. Smithers: That's Homer Simpson.
    Mr. Burns: Simpson, eh? New man?
    Mr. Smithers: Actually, sir, he thwarted your campaign for governor, you ran over his son, he saved the plant from meltdown, his wife painted you in the nude...
    Mr. Burns: Doesn't ring a bell.
    • There is a slight Continuity Snarl: Marge ruined Burns' run for governor, not Homer. Though Burns blames it all on Homer, and threaten to make his life dreams go unfulfilled until he forgets.
  • Crapsack World: Springfield, exemplified when the power comes back on. Among the things we see lighting up again are the adult movie theatres, and the fake poo factory.
  • Depraved Dentist: Doctor Wolfe isn't depraved, but he is unflinchingly strict, and torments Ralph with "The Big Book of British Smiles", which reduces poor Ralph to tears. He also knows when someone's lying.
  • Description Cut:
    • While watching the film at the beginning, Homer tells Bart no-one could be as evil as the villain from it. Cut to Mister Burns watching a window washer dangling from a wire and laughing.
    • And this:
    Homer: Guys are always patting my bald head for luck, pinching my belly to hear my girlish laugh.
    Marge: Hmm, that doesn't sound like they like you at all.
    Homer: You know, I think you're right. First thing tomorrow morning, I'm gonna punch Lenny in the back of the head!
    (The next morning, Homer punches Lenny in the back of the head.)
  • Double Entendre: See Innocent Innuendo. Homer announces that he's not interested in "backdoor shenanigans" as he's convinced that Burns is coming on to him. Burns instead takes it as a sign that Homer is a tough negotiator.
    Homer: Sorry, Mr. Burns, but I don't go in for these backdoor shenanigans. Sure, I'm flattered, maybe even a little curious, but the answer is no!
  • Epic Fail: After going through all those security doors, the underground control room has a door that leads outside, which was left open and a stray dog came in.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: The family laughs in the dentist office in response to Lisa's lame pun (see below). Then it turns out they are laughing because the dentist left the laughing gas on.
  • Failed a Spot Check: How did no-one notice the human-shaped lump on the football pitch?
  • Homage: Plenty, including:
    • Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel Last Exit to Brooklyn
    • Jimmy Hoffa being buried at Giants Stadium
  • Identical Grandson: During the flashback to Mr. Burn's youth, one of the thugs who drags away the young thief is identical to one of the hired goons from later on.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "And that's the tooth!"
  • Innocent Innuendo: Homer thought Mr. Burns was "coming on to him".
    Mr. Burns: After all, negotiations make strange bedfellows. (winks with a chuckle)
    (Homer screams in his mind.)
    • Later on, Mr. Burns watches Homer apparently exercising (he's not, he's trying to get a sugar-daddy off his back).
    Mr. Burns: Look at him, strutting about like he's cock of the walk. Well, let me tell you, Homer Simpson is cock of nothing!
    Mr. Smithers:' (who's caught the innuendo) Hrrm.
  • Imagine Spot: "Mmm... organized crime..."
  • Kick the Dog: A literal version when Burns and Smithers head towards the underground control room which gives Springfield its electricity, and find a stray puppy had wandered into the room. Burns sighs "Oh, for Heaven's sake!" kicks it out of the shack, and slams the door shut.
  • Killer Robot / Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: See AI Is A Crap Shoot, above.
  • The Last Title: The name of the episode.
  • Mushroom Samba: That's some heavy gas the dentist gives Lisa.
  • National Stereotypes: "The Big Book of British Smiles" pokes fun at the idea that British people have bad teeth.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • What exactly happened to the last union representative that wound up with him buried in a football field. It's implied later on that the workers know exactly what happened to him.
    • Homer keeps asking Lenny to get his Sugar Daddy off his back.
  • Overly Long Gag: "Dental plan!" "Lisa needs braces!"
  • The Parody
    • Don Fanucci's first appearance in The Godfather Part II (Homer as a mob boss, taking bribes in the form of donuts);
    • Lisa's surreal dream under narcosis is a parody of Yellow Submarine, complete with an appearance by The Beatles.
    • The scene where she checks her reflection in the mirror and laughs demonically is a parody of the Joker looking into a mirror after his facelift in Tim Burton's Batman.
    • The montage Burns and Smithers heading towards the power grid is a parody of Get Smart.
    • Mr. Burns quotes Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick note  when he shuts down the power in Springfield.
    • The scene where the power plant workers sing in a big circle, overheard by Mr. Burns, is a parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
    • The closeup of a bird giving a Burns-like shudder references the infamous loudly-squawking parrot with a transparent eye from Citizen Kane.
  • On One Condition: Mr. Burns decides to give in to the union's demands and reinstates their dental plan privileges, but on the condition that Homer resigns as union president. Homer is ecstatic.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The episode opens with a villain revealing a new drug and making a toast "to human misery!" Suddenly, McBain appears and kills the villain's accomplices, only to be gassed by salmon puff. During the Evil Laugh, it is revealed that Bart and Homer are watching a McBain movie.
    Bart: That is one evil dude.
    Homer: It's just a movie, son. There's nobody that evil in real life.
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: Grandpa's favorite tactic in how to break up strikes is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. He then launches straight into the page quote.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Homer as president of the Springfield Power Plant Union. When Burns "pressures" him to resign to have the dental plan reinstated, he is overjoyed.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That:
    [Homer runs into a long corridor and begins checking every room.]
    Homer: Nope... nope... nope...
    [Homer returns.]
    Mr. Burns: Find the bathroom alright?
    Homer: Uh...yeah.
  • Take That: One of the pictures in the "Big Book of British Smiles" shows Prince Charles.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Burns's fantasy sequence.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: One of the vultures in Burns's aviary looks like him. Even sounds like him.
  • Worthy Opponent: Mr. Burns comes to regard Homer as this, as all of his attempts to buy or thwart Homer fail spectacularly. Of course, it's really all because Homer is Too Dumb to Fool.
    Mr. Burns: Smithers, I'm beginning to think that Homer Simpson is not the brilliant tactician I thought he was.