Recap: The Simpsons S 5 E 20 The Boy Who Knew Too Much

Episode - 1F19
First Aired - 5/5/1994

Bart sneaks out of school and finds himself at a party for Mayor Quimby's nephew, Freddy but when Freddy gets in trouble for allegedly assaulting a French waiter, Bart must choose to keep his mouth shut about the ordeal or expose the truth and admit that he cut school to see it happen.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Actor/Role Confusion: Bart and Chief Wiggum address Ranier Wolfcastle as McBain.
  • All for Nothing: In a deleted scene, Freddy would have been shortly taken back into custody after threatening the waiter for real, making Bart's sacrifice meaningless.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Bart argues that having Freddy acquitted cancels out his skipping school, Skinner gives him three months detention. Then he says "Wait", as if he's going to take it back, only to give him four months.
  • Book Dumb: Homer didn't know the meaning of words like "deadlocked", "sequestered" or "if" until Principal Skinner explained them to him. When he writes his verdict, he asks "How many S's in "innocent"?"
  • Brick Joke: During the trial, Homer wears fake glasses to trick people into thinking he's paying attention. At the end of the episode, he tries the same trick when Marge decides to tell him about her day.
  • Courtroom Episode
  • Crazy-Prepared: Homer's fake glasses, which he brings to jury duty, only for them to be taken from him. They show up again at the end of the episode when Marge tries to tell him about what she's been doing. Marge instantly notices, and takes them from him, along with the two spares.
  • Creator Cameo: Matt Groening as the courtroom sketch artist.
  • Determinator: Skinner will stop at nothing to get Bart back into the classroom. When Bart destroys a bridge, Skinner just walks through the river.
    Bart: Oh my god. He's like some sort of... non... giving-up... school guy!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bart skipped school and when he confessed to it so Freddie Quimby wouldn't be sent to jail for a crime he didn't commit-Skinner gives him four months detention.
    • The waiter attempts to cover up his clumsiness by framing Freddy for his injuries, who had insulted him beforehand.
    • Bart is afraid of being sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor in the cafeteria for skipping classes.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Skinner notices a chewed wad of gum on the ground and tastes it:
    Skinner: His brand of gum: Doublemint. Trying to double your fun, eh, Bart? Well I'll double your detention! Heh... I wish someone was around to hear that.
  • Fisher Kingdom: Otto snaps at Bart and Lisa, but quickly apologizes, blaming it on the prison bus he's been forced to drive ("This bus and I have sort of a Shining thing going on.").
  • Forged Letter: Bart creates one as an excuse to skip school.
    Please excuse my handwriting, I busted whichever hand it is I write with. Signed, Mrs. Simpson.
  • Freudian Slip: When Homer deliberately deadlocks the jury by voting not guilty instead of guilty:
    Homer: I'm only doing what I think is right. I believe Freddy Quimby should walk out of here a free hotel.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie try this on Lisa after Bart skips school, but it fails because they both keep forgetting whether they're supposed to be Good Cop or Bad Cop.
  • Hollywood Law: The entire jury was made of major cast members, such as Homer, Apu (Who at the time was not yet a US citizen), and Principal Skinner (whose presence is a plot point, because it means that Bart can't admit that he witnessed what really happened without admitting that he was skipping school to a school official). Part of the process to ensure jury impartiality is to ensure that none of the jurors are personally connected to the defendant, the plaintiff, any witnesses, or each other. No sane judge would impanel a jury where everybody knows everyone else. Plus witnesses are bribed right there in open court, and no one cares.
    • Lampshaded on one point. The judge acknowledges that re-opening the case when she does is grossly unconstitutional, but she 'just can't say no to kids'.
    • And it still might be an example, since re-opening the case due to new evidence which could have changed the original verdict is usually permitted.
  • Hollywood New England: Freddy, like all the Quimbys, has a Kennedyesque Boston accent. In fact, his insistence that the French waiter pronounce chowder "correctly" as chowdah is the whole reason the trial is taking place.
  • Imagine Spot: Bart has one when Skinner passes him when exiting the jury box:
    Skinner: I can't wait until the sentencing part. That's where I really shine!
    (Bart has a daydream where Bart's on trial and Skinner's the judge)
    Skinner: Bart Simpson, for the heinous crime of hooky, I sentence you to a lifetime of hard labor in the cafeteria!
    (flashes forward to the future, where Bart is serving the sons of the school bullies)
    Bart: (now with a hoarse voice, a la Lunchlady Doris) More cream corn, Jimbo Junior?
    Jimbo Junior: This cream corn tastes like cream crap!
    Bart: Watch the potty mouth, honey.
    • At the beginning of the episode, while riding to school, Bart sees a pond and imagines himself hanging out on a raft with Huckleberry Finn and Abraham Lincoln. Later, while he is at the pond, he sees a raft with two figures approach, assuming his fantasy is coming true. But it turns out to be two creepy men who offer to show Bart a dead body.
  • Infant Immortality: Hilariously averted in the McGarnagle clip.
  • Jury Duty: Homer's reaction to being summoned for it was wanting to make Freddy pay for it.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with. Freddy Quimby didn't do anything to the waiter except act like a jerk, so he did deserve a not-guilty verdict. On the other hand, he was also a massive jackass, and it's very easy to see why the jury would believe he assaulted the waiter (and he even did so in a deleted scene, which lands him back in court and makes Bart's sacrifice pointless). One review of the episode said that part of what made it interesting was that beating up the waiter was probably the only thing Freddy wasn't guilty off.
  • The Klutz: The Reveal as to where the French waiter's injuries really came from. Freddy teased him a little, then got distracted by a bottle of champagne and walked off with it. The waiter promptly slipped and stumbled around the kitchen, brutally beating himself against various appliances. The case is made when the waiter, standing up to protest this as defamation, undergoes a similar experience in the courtroom before falling into the back of an open truck carrying a load of mousetraps.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Marge mentions an uncle who used to say "Shoot 'em all and let God sort it out." And he did just that.
    Marge: It took 75 federal marshals to bring him down. Now let's never speak of him again.
    • And then Marge actually does speak of him again when she tells Bart to listen to his heart, and not the voices in his head like a certain uncle did one gray December morn.
  • Lost My Appetite:
    Da Chief: Well McGarnagle, Billy is dead! They slit his throat from ear to ear!
    McGarnagle: Hey! I'm trying to eat lunch here!
  • Never My Fault: Skinner looks for Bart in all the places he thinks a boy would go for fun, but when he can't find him at the museum or the 4-H club (which is long abandoned), he considers "Am I so out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong."
    • The whole courtroom plot is pivoted by a waiter more willing to falsely accuse and jail a man for assault than admit he suffered injuries from being a klutz.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Bart suddenly has the ability to read Skinner's and Homers minds, and they both know it.
  • No Sympathy: When discussing the "slouch-eliminating" chairs:
    Milhouse: (slurring) I lost all feeling in the left side of my body. (tries to lift hand but fails)
    Edna Krabappel: Yeah yeah.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Freddy's attorney says it's ludicrous that his client would attack someone for the way he says chowder, Freddy snaps back "That's 'chowdah'! Chowdah! I'll Kill You! I'll kill all of you! Especially those of you in the jury!"
    • Even worse is that he was almost home free at that point.
    • In a deleted scene, Freddy walks out of the courthouse, only to grab the waiter demanding he say 'chowdah' correctly. And the cops pull him back inside.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: While skipping class, Bart found Homer and then hid before Homer saw him. To avoid getting caught for skipping class, Bart pushed his hair forward in hopes Homer wouldn't recognize him. Homer, on the other hand, actually saw and recognized Bart but was too afraid of getting caught for skipping work to care about the boy skipping classes so he put a hair comb on his face to pass it as a mustache. They pretended not to recognize each other.
    • Homer's fake glasses, which don't hide the fact he's snoring and drooling in court.
  • Precision A-Strike: "I know you can read my thoughts, Bart. Just remember, if I find out you cut class, your ass is mine. Yes, you heard me. I think words I would never say."
  • Re Cut: Homer is watching Free Willy, but instead of making the famous jump, the whale doesn't and crushes the boy.
    Homer: Oh, I don't like this new director's cut.
  • I Resemble That Remark: spoiler:"This is an outrage! I am not some clumsy Clouseauesque waiter! I will..." [falls out of the court window into an open truck fall of rat traps].
  • Rogue Juror: Homer deadlocks the jury for the sole purpose of staying sequestered and enjoying the free hotel room and amenities it entails.
  • Saved by the Awesome: Bart tries to invoke this, explaining that if he hadn't skipped school an innocent man would have gone to prison, and thus should not be punished for it. Skinner gives him three months detention anyway, stating that he's a "small, petty man." Then he adds an extra month.
  • Scandalgate: During his report, Kent Brockman said he suggested that the name of the media event covering Freddy Quimby's trial should be "Waitergate" instead of "Beat-Up Waiter", but he was howled down at the press club.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mayor Quimby bribed witnesses to help his nephew's case. They were given money while on the stand.
  • Shameful Source of Knowledge: Bart can't testify without revealing that he skipped school.
  • Shout-Out: Skinner's Non-Giving-Up School Guy moment is a Shout-Out to Westworld where a robot does the same walking through a river trick.
    • Bart hears Homer's thoughts, which at that moment happens to be the Meow Mix jingle.
    • Skinner imitates part of the opening sequence from The Odd Couple, and even notes it, until Homer yells at him to shut up.
    • Bart's daydream is of course a reference to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    Chief Wiggum: Oh my god...somebody's taken a bite out of the giant Rice Krispies square! ...Oh, and the waiter's been brutally beaten. Heh...
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The waiter that was more willing to frame Freddy Quimby for assaulting him than admit he was merely The Klutz.
  • Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: Homer takes "souvenirs" from the hotel room where he's being sequestered, including the table at one point. At the end he has put all of the room's furnishings into his bedroom.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: The waiter objects to being seen as a "clumsy klutz waiter." He elaborately pratfalls and injures himself in a slapstick fashion twice over.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Marge: (reading the paper) Mmm. It says Freddy Quimby beat a waiter half to death! Those Quimby children are so wild and rich, I hope he finally gets what's coming to him.
    Bart: But Freddy Quimby's innocent!
    Lisa: How do you know? There weren't any witnesses.
    Bart: Heh, oh yeah, right.
    Lisa: You'd think someone would have seen something at a crowded party like that.
    Bart: Well they didn't, OK? They didn't. It says right here in black and white, "No witnesses." Case closed. (grabs paper) Now let's all read the funnies. (reads) Oh look: Charlie Brown said "good grief". Hah. I didn't see that coming. (forced laughter)
  • Take That: Bart and Chief Wiggum criticize Ranier Wolfcastle for his latest movie, which is obviously meant to be Last Action Hero. "Magic ticket, my ass."
    • Walt Disney is one of the people mentioned as having the "evil gene".
  • Tempting Fate: When Bart compares going to school to being in prison, Lisa scoffs at the comparison. Then Otto drives up on a prison bus because the regular school bus is being repaired.
    • Lisa talks about Freddy Quimby being judged by a fair, impartial jury, just as Homer gets his jury summons and plans to convict Freddy just for having to serve.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Based on a comment by Kent Brockman in this episode, it's in a state where it's illegal to broadcast trials.