Recap / The Simpsons S 8 E 23 Homers Enemy

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Episode - 4F19
First Aired - 5/4/1997

A "normal" man named Frank Grimes who has had to work hard every day of his life with little reward gets a job at the nuclear plant and takes an instant dislike to Homer and his Achievements in Ignorance. Meanwhile, Bart wins an abandoned factory at an auction and uses it as his own personal playground.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Black Comedy Burst: A really unusual example for the show.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the episode, Mr. Burns orders Smithers to find a dog he saw on the news and to make him his executive vice president. A few scenes later, when Grimes knocked acid out of Homer's hand and the acid burned a hole in the wall, Mr. Burns is walking by with the dog that Smithers was ordered to find. It's also next to Burns at Frank's funeral.
  • Broken Aesop: Word of God said they wanted to show that a real person could not survive in the show's universe, except they did it by making Homer look worse than he really was in order to make Frank Grimes look better. What's worse is that Frank's mental breakdown and death, which were supposedly caused by Homer, was really his own fault. Homer had offered to make amends with Frank, but Frank didn't want anything to do with it, and he immediately put everything into destroying Homer. It doesn't help that they made Frank's life excessively miserable before he even met Homer.
  • Broken Record: When Frank Grimes rings the doorbell, Homer panics: "It's him! It'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shim...", and Marge has to snap him out of it.
  • Butt Monkey: Frank Grimes, and it isn't Played for Laughs, or at least it's not supposed to since his entire purpose in life is to suffer.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Everyone just stands there staring when any of them could have stopped Grimes from touching the wires.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Grimes sees photos of Homer as an astronaut (from "Deep Space Homer"), meeting President Ford (which happened at the end of "Two Bad Neighbors"), touring with Lollapalooza (from "Homerpalooza"), and winning a Grammy (from "Homer's Barbershop Quartet").
    • At the Create-a-Nuclear-Plant contest, Smithers is impressed with Ralph Wiggum's display, which is really just a Malibu Stacy dream house. Smithers was mentioned to possess the world's largest Malibu Stacy collection in "Lisa vs Malibu Stacy".
  • Downer Ending: Played for incredibly dark laughs.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Homer nicknames Frank Grimes "Grimey", which the latter hates.
  • Entitled Bastard: Frank Grimes has shades of this during his worst moments; adopting a self-righteous and borderline narcissistic attitude born out of resentment and petty jealousy. This ultimately overshadows his merit as a determinator and makes the audience turn against him in favor of Homer who, despite his stupidity and irresponsibility, comes off as being the better person.
  • Epic Fail: Ralph's model is not only not of a power plant (it is a Malibu Stacy dollhouse that had the word "nuclear" glued to it), but Ralph doesn't even knows what a power plant is. Smithers does take fondness to the design however.
  • Expy: Frank Grimes is based on Michael Douglas' character, Bill Foster, from Falling Down. Douglas was initially planned to voice Grimes, though the role ultimately went to series regular Hank Azaria.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: A highly unpleasant example.
  • The Everyman: Ultimately subverted. Frank Grimes may seem to be this, but his excessively miserable life prevents him from being this. Normally, Homer is supposed to be this, but this episode shows just how extraordinary his life really is.
  • Evil Laugh: Frank gives one when Homer falls for the "design your own power plant" contest.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Grimes turns into one after meeting Homer's family.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played straight.
  • High Voltage Death: How Frank Grimes ultimately meets his demise.
  • Idiot Houdini: The fact that Homer is able to evade severe reprimand (and even attain success) from his bone-headed (and, Grimes dares claim, incredibly lethal) stupidity is what drives him to develop hatred for Homer. That Homer manages to be acclaimed by everybody on the plant and wins a contest explicitly meant for kids (that Homer —even if being a plant employee— didn't knew about, and because Burns just happened to like the minor and absurd modifications Homer did to a carbon copy model of the plant) is what completely drives him over the edge.
  • Informed Attribute: Frank Grimes is described as a "normal" man. He ain't.
  • Irony:
    • A lot of Grimes' frustration with Homer is caused by communication of errors. Most prominently when Homer attempts to befriend him and invites him to his home, dolling up the family and the house. Grimes mistakes the formal occasion for their usual lavish lifestyle and is even more infuriated.
    • Most of Homer's brilliant achievements Grimes fumes over were extremely bittersweet and only cemented him as a No Respect Guy. The Grammy award, which acts as the Rant-Inducing Slight for Grimes, was one he actually earned through hard work.
    • Just for an extra touch, Grimes' unpleasant lifestyle involves living between two bowling alleys, Homer's ideal job.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Grimes says that if Homer lived in any other country in the world he'd have starved to death a long time ago. To which Bart says, "He's got you there dad."
  • Just Ignore It: Carl and Lenny explicitly tell Grimes to do this when he starts getting angry at Homer's incompetence. Grimes ends up ignoring this advice to this eventual peril.
  • Kafka Komedy: Grimes tries his hardest to expose Homer as a fraud, liar, cheat, and incompetent employee — only for fate to foil Grimes at every turn. The coup de grace comes when Grimes tricks Homer into thinking a "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest is open to anyone, when it's really for elementary school students only. When Homer wins and is praised and lauded for his efforts, Grimes reveals the truth. And when he is ignored and told to "lighten up," Grimes goes berserkand it kills him.
  • Kick the Dog: Frank's vicious rant towards Homer when he sees just how comfortable the latter's life is. While Jerkass Has a Point is on full display (and Grimes had every reason to be angry at Homer up to that point), it's still exceptionally mean-spirited.
  • Missed A Spot Check: The kid's contest ad is a very visible part of the background on every scene that happens on the cafeteria (you can see it right above on the picture—Homer's face is even inches away from it on various scenes) until Grimes takes it for his scheme. Homer not only never notices it at all until Grimes places it on his station's chair (and is easy to notice that pieces of it were cut off), but doesn't notices that it says the plant is having a contest (meant for kids) until he reads it because it's on said chair.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Bart/Milhouse subplot seemed inserted precisely to be an infrequent breather from the Black Comedy of the main plot.
  • Mundane Luxury: Grimes is dumbfounded that Homer lives in a modest two-story home, which is downright palatial compared to his own apartment, which was located over a bowling alley and below another bowling alley. He is also shocked that they're dining on lobster, which Homer was only serving to impress Grimes.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Both Grimes and Homer. Grimes saved Homer from drinking sulfuric acid, damaging a wall and getting himself in trouble with Burns. Homer, upset about having made an enemy, tried to make it up to him by inviting to his house for dinner, only for Grimes to castigate him for being lazy and living comfortably.
  • Only Sane Man: Grimes and Marge, the latter being about the one person to understand the reason for Grimes' animosity towards Homer, and empathetically convinces her husband to show his point of view and that he is worthy (albeit haplessly).
  • Plot Hole:
    • Kent Brockman's report at the beginning of the episode show Grimes living in a normal house, yet later in the episode the latter claims to live between two bowling alleys — "above a bowling alley below another bowling alley." Then again, knowing his luck, Frank probably lost his house in some way, forcing him to move into that one-room apartment.
    • There's also another minor one at the Create-a-Power-Plant Contest. After Burns disqualifies Ralph, Chief Wiggum can be heard telling him to get off the stage. Minutes later, when we see a shot of Grimes heckling Homer's entry in the audience, Mrs. Wiggum is shown sitting nearby with her husband nowhere in sight.
  • Reality Ensues: Grimes touches some high-voltage wires without wearing safety gloves, and is electrocuted to death.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grimes gives one to Homer.
    Frank: God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase, and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?
    Homer: What?
    Frank: Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and [sniffs air] lobsters for dinner! And do you deserve any of it? No!
    Homer: [gasps] What are you saying?
    Frank: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
    Bart: He's got you there, Dad.
  • Sanity Slippage: Frank gets progressively more unhinged as his anger and annoyance toward Homer grows, until he finally snaps and runs amok through the plant imitating Homer.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Homer is upset that Frank Grimes hates him. Later, Moe tries to comfort Homer by saying that there are people who don't like him, too. Homer refuses to accept this.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why Martin's model (which was not only more advanced than the models of the rest of the competition, but was so fully functional it was providing power to the lights of the plant's auditorium) lost: Burns flat-out hated being "out-shown" by it.

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