Homer joins the Naval Reserve after getting fired again, with world-threatening results when he shoots his commanding officer out of the submarine and steers it into Russian waters. Meanwhile, Bart gets his ear pierced so he can be cool.This is the fourth of four episodes produced by Al Jean and Mike Reiss instead of the current showrunner (in this case, Mike Scully). Jean would return as showrunner starting in season 13.
- Ambiguously Gay: Barney has a pin-up of a cross-dressed Homer. Homer is understandably confused.
- Ambiguous Syntax: After Tenille is fired into the side of the opposing submarine.Crewman: We've been hit by an officer!
Captain: If they're going to fire on us, we'll respond in kind. Fire. Fire!
(two men grab the captain, intending to drag him to the torpedo tubes)
Captain: Not me! A torpedo!
- Back from the Dead: When Soviet Union decided it was time to show it wasn't over, Vladimir Lenin rose from his grave.
- Bait and Switch As the sub sails out of port, Captain Tenille leads the crew in singing a traditional sea shanty- no, it's not "Anchor's Aweigh", it's "In the Navy".
- Blatant Lies: Homer's first attempt to get away with a blunder by claiming it's his first day at the plant fails because Smithers tells Mr. Burns that Homer has been an employee for ten years. When Mr. Burns asks why Homer lied, Homer once again claims that it's his first day. Mr. Burns figures out on his own that Homer is lying this time.
- Brick Joke: Earlier in the episode, Homer's excuse of it being his first day at the plant failed because Smithers reminded Mr. Burns about Homer having been an employee for ten years. Near the end, Homer tried the same excuse. Only this time it worked.
- Chekhov's Gun: Homer taking Bart's earring as punishment for getting pierced would help him save the submarine from filling with water.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: One tries to bust Homer and company into shape because their mothers aren't there to coddle them (except Barney's).Drill Sergeant: All right, Simpson. I don't like you, and you don't like me.
Homer: I like you.
Drill Sergeant: Um, all right, you like me, but I don't like you.
Homer: Maybe you would like me if you got to know me better.
- Freudian Slip: When Bart notices that Milhouse got an earring:Bart: Milhouse, my mom wears earrings. Do you think she's cool?
Milhouse: No, I think she's hot!! Sorry, it just slipped out.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Captain Tenille takes such a liking to Homer, that he leaves him in command while he goes to investigate the torpedo tube. It ends up costing him his life.
- Hypocrisy Nod / Parental Hypocrisy:: When Homer is upset with Bart's earring:Bart: Come on, dad. Didn't you do anything wild when you were a kid?
Homer: Well, when I was ten, I got my ear pierced... but this is completely different!
- Impact Silhouette: Tenille leaves a person-shaped dent in the submarine he is shot into.
- "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal:Marge: What on earth possessed you to get an earring?
Bart: Milhouse has one.
Marge: If Milhouse jumped off a cliff...
Bart: Milhouse jumped off a cliff?! I'm there!
- Karma Houdini: Homer avoided punishment for his actions while in charge of the submarine because each member of the committee judging him had his own legal trouble.
- Late to the Realization: When Homer was court-martialed, he needed a janitor (who looks like the old man from "Marge Gets a Job" who was forcibly retired) to explain to him he was released.
- Make the Bear Angry Again: Turns out the Soviet Union never disbanded, it was just in hiding.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The WWI historical recreationist graduates all have one of these after they follow the example of the Naval Reserve graduates and the pastry school graduates by throwing their pickelhaube helmets into the air, causing them to come down points-first. They let out a big "Uh-oh!" just before the hats come down and the show cut to an ad break.
- Mistaken for Profound: Combined with One Dialogue, Two Conversations. Tenille wants to discuss philosophy with Homer, who's more concerned about food.Capt. Tenille: Tell me, young man, what do you want out of life?
Homer: (reaching for a bowl of peas) I want peas!
Capt. Tenille: We all want peace! But it's always just out of reach.
Homer: (sadly) Uh huh...
Capt. Tenille: So, what's the best way to get peace?
Homer: (uses his knife to retrieve some peas) With a knife!
Capt. Tenille: Exactly! Not with the olive branch, but the bayonet! Ha, ha, Simpson, you're like the son I never had.
Homer: And you're like the father I never visit.
- New Job Episode: Homer joins the Navy after losing his job at the plant. How he ever got his old job back is never explained.
- Noodle Incident: Apparently, Homer had two embarrassing photos of himself taken that only two people know about:
- Barney has a Betty Grable-style pin-up of Homer.
- Lisa once warned Homer against having a photo of himself as a Communist Russian posing outside the St. Basil Cathedral with a bottle of vodka in his hand. It somehow became a file photo for Channel 6 News when Kent Brockman did the report on Homer piloting a nuclear sub into Russian waters.
- Off on a Technicality: Homer, during his military tribunal:Admiral 1: Seaman Simpson, your actions have given the Navy a black eye from which it may never recover. I would throw the book at you, but I've been indicted in the Tailhook scandal. Goodbye!
Admiral 2: I, too, would punish you, but, I'm under indictment for accepting bribes from military contractors.
Admiral 3: I torpedoed a Carnival Cruise ship.
Admiral 4: (wearing a wig) Impersonating the First Lady!
(a janitor approaches)
Janitor: I think you're off the hook.
- Predatory Business: When Bart goes to the mall to get an earring, every other store he passes is a Starbucks. When he makes it to the earring store, the clerk tells him, "Better make it quick, kiddo. In five minutes, this place is becoming a Starbucks." Bart leaves with an earring and coffee, and the camera pans out to reveal that virtually every store is now a Starbucks.
- Skewed Priorities: In the event of World War III, Skinner has elected to save only the best and brightest... which includes the school's championship kickball team (the bullies).
- Spontaneous Choreography: The "In the Navy" sequence, including an appearance by The Village People themselves (and, inexplicably, Smithers). Where did Barney learn to dance like that?
- Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: "I'm a man of few words...any questions?"
- You Are in Command Now: Homer was placed in command of the submarine while Captain Tenille was cleaning out the torpedo tubes, which Homer later stupidly ordered to fire.
- Zombie Gait: How Lenin moves about."Must crush capitalism!"