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Recap / Arthur S 7 E 10 April9th

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April 9thIn this Very Special Episode, a seemingly normal spring morning takes a turn for the worse when a fire destroys part of Lakewood Elementary School, and the kids react in different ways; Arthur's dad was at the school at the time catering a breakfast for the faculty and could've been seriously hurt, Sue Ellen's journal she's had since first grade is destroyed in the fire, Binky catches a glimpse of the flames during the evacuation and doesn't want anyone to know it frightened him, and Buster misses the whole disaster because he overslept.

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Tropes for this episode include:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Arthur fears for his dad's life because his dad was catering a special breakfast for the faculty at the school when the fire happened. Even though he wasn't hurt apart from mild smoke inhalation, Arthur now starts to worry whenever his dad goes out to a catering job. Eventually, the dad tells Arthur a similar story from his childhood when his mother Grandma Thora was in a car accident and he began to worry whenever she'd drive somewhere, and that it's his job to worry about his children, not the other way around.
    • Binky develops a phobia of fire after the school burns on the inside. He pulls the fire alarm at Mighty Mountain so he can see how fast the firefighters come and has a panic attack when their regular school is open. He runs away and finally talks to Mr. Frensky about it, and how he doesn't feel safe walking through the halls or going to class. Mr. Frensky calls Principal Haney to let him know that Binky is safe and takes him on his rounds. It's implied that Binky needs a while to recover.
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  • Anxiety Dreams: Arthur has a nightmare about his dad catering at the aquarium while serving pirates. The pirates hold Arthur back as the octopus in the tank grabs David, who starts screaming for help as he's drowning. Arthur wakes up and starts worrying about what will happen at the aquarium.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Binky Barnes, Art Expert," Arthur and Buster tried to lie to Binky that the school burned down "only on the inside". Binky naturally scoffs at them. Here, in one of the greatest fits of irony, Arthur and Buster's words come true and Binky is traumatized.
    • Sue Ellen's diary was the center of an episode where she lost it at the public library. Here, the journal is damaged beyond repair in the fire.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: The first part ends with a mysterious gloved hand pulling the fire alarm at the Mighty Mountain Elementary School, and all the kids gasp in fear among hearing the horn sounding, to which eithe "Word From Us Kids" interstitial (on PBS and other educational station airings) or an ad break (on some other international network) airs, and then the second part begins with the kids outside the school learning that someone had allegedly pulled the fire alarm.
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  • Continuity Nod: Francine's job as a report for the school's newspaper, as first seen in Season 6's "Citizen Frensky," reappears here when she is interviewing kids about the reopening of Lakewood Elementary.
  • Dramatic Drop: Downplayed, but Binky starts spilling the litter he's supposed to be cleaning when Mr. Frensky mentions he was a volunteer fireman. He then laughs nervously when Mr. Frensky points it out.
  • Grandfather Clause: The fire alarm systems at Lakewood Elementary and Mighty Mountain Elementary sound fairly old, with scoreboard buzzer-like horns pulsing when set off and no strobe lights. Though it's justified in that a later episode mentioned Lakewood Elementary was built in The '50s when such fire alarm systems were common in new construction, and it's also Truth in Television that several older public school buildings in the USA may still have such older fire alarm systems in use, unless the school renovates or the old alarm system fails, then which the system needs to be replaced with a newer up-to-date system, which means they are noticeably less common in schools at the start of this current decade compared to back in 2002.
  • Hero Antagonist: It's revealed that the Mighty Mountain kids are actually quite nice when they aren't playing sports. Francine even does thumb wrestling with them commenting on how good they are.
  • Hidden Depths: Buster had encountered Mr. Morris when solving mysteries at school but had never really talked to him. When he does in the hospital, he learns that Mr. Morris plays the accordion and believes in alien encounters.
  • Hollywood Fire: Defied; it's not the fire itself that hurts Mr. Read but the smoke. When the firefighters evacuate him, he's visibly coughing as Arthur goes to him.
  • Injured Limb Episode: Mr. Morris breaks his leg during the Lakewood Elementary fire, and when Buster visits him later on and sees Mr. Morris having to get around on crutches, he mentions a kid he knew broke his leg but healed in just a few weeks, to which Mr. Morris explains that's because the kid was much younger, and at his age, his leg could be hurt for much longer.
  • Jerkass Ball: Justified; Binky grabs it in this episode and reverts to his season 1 behavior when he's around his friends. It's a trauma response to the fire and a means for him to reassess control over the situation. Talking about the fire with Mr. Frensky helps him finally overcome this.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Right when the kids are about to take a test at Mighty Mountain Elementary, someone who turns out to be Binky pulls the fire alarm, and the kids all gasp in fear hearing the horns sounding.
  • Not So Different:
    • Francine's dad sees that Binky is very jittery during community service and finds him when he runs away from school. He relates that he couldn't sleep for a week after his first fire after seeing the devastation.
    • Mr. Morris and Buster are happy on learning they both are interested in aliens. Buster also finds it fascinating how Mr. Morris can play the accordion and starts taking informal lessons from him.
  • One Episode Fear / Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: When Mr. Ratburn's class evacuates the school due to the fire, Binky catches a glimpse of the flames in the teachers' lounge on the way out and it he develops a fear of fire, and he won't admit to anyone. Later on when he watches an episode of The Bionic Bunny Show, the fiery villain Hothead appears and pushes Binky's Trauma Button. A little later when the kids are temporarily housed at Mighty Mountain Elementary, Binky pulls the fire alarm there so he can see how quickly the fire department would arrive as an attempt at reassurance, but this ends up getting him sentenced to community service of cleaning up trash at the park, where Binky learns Mr. Frensky was a volunteer firefighter in the past. Then when Lakewood Elementary reopens and Binky can't go back in the school due to the trauma of the fire, Mr. Frensky finds him and Binky finally confesses, to which Mr. Frensky fully understands as he went through something similar during his volunteer firefighting job, and this helps Binky feel better.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Normally, Arthur's dad laughs off his son's attempts to get out of school or chides him. Here, his expression changes when Arthur blurts out, "But what if something happens at the aquarium?!" Then he talks with genuine sympathy and reassures Arthur that he will be fine.
    • Binky tries to revert to his tough-guy persona to hide his trauma. Then he runs out of school in a panic, ignoring a concerned Mr. Haney calling after him, and seems on the verge of tears when talking to Mr. Frensky.
    • Sue Ellen is so upset about losing her journal that she writes "I have nothing to say" in the new one Muffy gives her for several days. She's only able to write in it earnestly at the end after doing the mural with her classmates.
  • Playing Sick: Arthur attempts this on the morning his dad is supposed to go to the aquarium to cater for a deep-sea fishermen's convention, leading to the talk mentioned above in Adult Fear. His dad doesn't buy it when Arthur shouts in worry, despite having a sore throat.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Buster does a platonic version. When he learns that Mr. Morris has to stop working so that his daughter can take care of him, Buster offers to take care of him. The janitor is touched but tells Buster that it's too much for a kid to handle.
  • Put on a Bus: Mr. Morris, the school janitor who has been a semi-recurring character since the first season, retires and moves out of Elwood City after breaking his leg during the fire. Buster is heartbroken.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: This episode was written largely in response to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • The main characters' elementary school catches on fire and affects the kids in different ways.
    • Binky pulls the fire alarm in a panic to time how fast the firefighters will come. Mr. Haney is sympathetic but tells him that he could have been suspended for doing that. Instead, he sentences him to community service with Mr. Frensky, sensing it was due to the trauma.
    • Buster starts visiting Mr. Morris at the hospital. He asks innocently why Mr. Morris's leg hasn't healed. Mr. Morris says that unlike if a kid breaks a bone, adults need more time to recover. It turns out to take so long that he has to retire from the school so that his daughter can take care of him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Haney proves to be this. He's annoyed that Binky pulled the fire alarm at Mighty Mountain, which could have gotten the kid suspended, but senses that Binky did it for a reason and gives him community service with Mr. Frensky instead. Considering that Mr. Frensky was a volunteer firefighter, the pairing seems intentional. Later, he calls after Binky when the latter runs out of Lakewood Elementary in a panic, looking genuinely worried for him. Offscreen, he gives permission for Binky to spend time with Mr. Frensky when the latter calls him.
  • Saying Too Much: Among the kids learning that they evacuated Mighty Mountain Elementary School due to an intentional false fire alarm, just as they wonder who could've pulled it, Binky comes in making fun of the scared reaction of some of the Mighty Mountain kids, but then explains how he was impressed with the firefighters' quick arrival time and reveals that he actually timed them, which earns him suspicious looks. And then the clincher comes when the fire chief and the Mighty Mountain principal appear behind Binky with his knapsack he left beneath the fire alarm pull station he activated.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Buster, who overslept during the Lakewood Elementary fire and got to the school just as the firefighters boarded up the school and left. As a result, the fire doesn't feel real to him, causing him to be alienated from his friends who were affected.
    "The biggest event of the year happened and I slept through the whole thing!"
  • To Be Continued: At the end of the first part, when the fire alarm sounds at Mighty Mountain Elementary and all the kids gasp in fear, the text "Stay tuned..." appears on the screen as it fades to black. Early airings did not have the "Stay tuned" title, though.
  • Trauma Button: Anything relating to fires or the Lakewood Elementary building to Binky Barnes after he catches a glimpse of the actual fire during the evacuation. The biggest one is on the gang's first day back at the repaired and renovated school, Binky stares into the repaired teachers' lounge (where the fire started) and can't help but remember the flames and smoke in there, and he runs from the school screaming.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: Of a sort. Muffy initially doesn't understand why Sue Ellen is so upset at the loss of her beloved journal, and so she decided to buy her a new one. She doesn't have success with the first one, particularly after somewhat offending Sue Ellen at calling the original journal a "ratty old thing", though a while later when she gives Sue Ellen a fancy personalized journal, she accepts it, as she now feels somewhat better. Though when Sue Ellen rejects the first journal, we get this gem from Muffy...
    "This wasn't cheap, you know! Eight dollars, and it was on sale!"
  • Wham Line: Mr. Ratburn's "What's that smell?" after sniffing the air while starting the school day, spoken right before the fire alarm sounds.


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