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Recap / SpongeBob SquarePants S 3 E 5 "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV" / "Doing Time"

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United States airdate: January 21, 2002

Canada airdate: July 5, 2002

Mermaid Man accidentally leaves his Utility Belt at the Krusty Krab. SpongeBob picks it up and accidentally activates the belt's Shrink Ray, which causes all sort of chaos.

Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy IV contains examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Clearly noticeable is the CG imagery when SpongeBob slowly dents through the metal wall, before bursting through.
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  • Absentee Actor: Mr. Krabs is the only character to not appear in the episode.
  • An Aesop:
    • If someone accidentally leaves something, don't claim it as your own or mess around with it.
    • Also, it's better to confess your mistakes rather than trying to hide them until they grow into something even worse.
  • Balloon Belly: Mermaid Man shows that he has one when he unbuckles his belt.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After Spongebob shrinks and tries to detain the whole of Bikini Bottom from telling Mermaidman, they snap and enter his body to give him an internal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Easily Forgiven: Ironically, Mermaidman is quite understanding towards Spongebob about messing with the belt. By that point however, Spongebob has shrunk the entire (very angry) community of Bikini Bottom...
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A lot of this happens in this episode:
    • A few of Squidward's transformations include having his innards shown, his body cut in half, and grotesque lips.
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    • Right before SpongeBob shrinks the city of Bikini Bottom itself, the citizens immediately start attacking him from the inside.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Barnacle Boy calling Squidward "big nose." Not to mention his nose is thicker in width than Squidward's.
  • Loony Fan: Spongebob is depicted as the trope in the episode.
  • No Ending: The episode ends with everyone (except Plankton) and Bikini Bottom shrunk, but by the next episode, everything is back to normal.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: After seeing a few disgusting mutations SpongeBob inflicted on Squidward with the belt, the scene cuts to only showing SpongeBob going through different settings with Squidward screaming off camera and SpongeBob giving a worried look. One transformation has Squidward making really gross gargling and choking noises while SpongeBob visibly cringes.
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  • Shout-Out: When Spongebob zaps Squidward and an Eldritch Abomination appears on his head, he exclaims, in a very Ralph Kramden-esque cadence, "Get it off me! GET it OFF me!"
  • Shrink Ray: The one in Mermaid Man's belt is what causes all the chaos this episode.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Patrick and Mermaid Man's solution to help SpongeBob unshrink everybody: "Did you set it to Wumbo?"
  • Take a Third Option: When it is revealed that Mermaid Man himself is unaware of how to reverse the shrinking process and it seems like everyone is going to be small forever, Spongebob gets an idea: shrink Bikini Bottom to suit the size of the residents! The residents decide it makes no difference and everything is right in the world.
  • Tempting Fate: Squidward, in a dose of Laser-Guided Karma.
    • Spongebob assures himself he only has to keep two shrunken people under control. Then Sandy comes behind him and he shrinks her in a panic, then another person... then another... and another...
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Everyone forms a mob and beat up SpongeBob's organs after realizing that Mermaid Man has no idea how to unshrink everyone. They become satisfied after SpongeBob shrinks Bikini Bottom and himself.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Mermaid Man unwittingly leaves his belt in the hands on SpongeBob, setting up the entire plot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Patrick disappears right after being shrunk down.

Driving class goes horribly wrong for SpongeBob again, and it leads to Mrs. Puff going to prison. While inside, Mrs. Puff realizes she never has to see SpongeBob again if she's in jail. However she's not too thrilled to find that he and Patrick are trying to break her out.

Doing Time contains examples of:

  • All Just a Dream: ...within a dream... within another dream... within yet another dream... within a, you get the point. It was basically Inception before Inception.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The police officers are first shown beating someone off-screen with their batons, yelling that they're going to "straighten them out". It's then revealed that they were fixing parking meters. Seconds later, SpongeBob drives through a building causing it to fall down. The officers are shocked not by the reckless action but because the car had no front licence plate. Bikini Bottom's finest ladies and gentlemen.
  • Cast as a Mask: Averted when Spongebob wears a Full-Body Disguise to impersonate a prison guard; the particular guard he disguises as is also voiced by Tom Kenny.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When Mrs. Puff lists out the things she won't have to deal with when she's in jail. Then, she mentions Spongebob, and she starts mentioning Spongebob many times:
    Mrs. Puff: No more phone solicitors, no more SpongeBob! No more company potlucks, no more SpongeBob! [gets into bed] ...No more road rage, no more SpongeBob! No more insurance payments, no more SpongeBob! No more SpongeBob! [laughing] No more SpongeBob! [screaming maniacally] NO MORE SPONGEBOB! [sighs] I think I'm gonna like this place.
  • Description Cut: When Spongebob has a conversation with Patrick about Mrs. Puff.
    SpongeBob: Just the thought of her alone and afraid in jail makes me think about her being alone and afraid in jail. I don't know how she's going to survive.
    (cut to Mrs. Puff breaking rocks, making license plates, and lifting weights while singing with a happy expression)
  • Didn't Think This Through: SpongeBob and Patrick forgot to bring guns to the bank robbery.
  • Drives Like Crazy: SpongeBob.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: You know you really screwed up when Patrick says you screwed up!
    SpongeBob: Maybe if I go talk to Patrick, he can ease my guilt. [tells Patrick the whole story]
    Patrick: [unimpressed] Well, it sounds like it's all your fault!
  • Epic Fail: The "bank robbery". To elaborate, SpongeBob and Patrick make a pathetic attempt at robbing a bank to get themselves thrown in jail. This hilariously fails for three reasons. First, Spongebob and Patrick are wearing socks covering up their eyes and not black ski masks, making it a piss-poor disguise. Second, while they were yelling at the bank teller, they were facing the wrong way. Third, due to neither Spongebob nor Patrick having any type of weapons to scare the bank teller, the bank teller isn't frightened and calmly asks Spongebob for his card. Spongebob politely gives it to him.
  • Fruit Cart: At one point in the beginning, SpongeBob hits a watermelon stand.
    Vendor: Hey, what do you got against the melons?
  • Full-Body Disguise / Latex Perfection: At one point while Mrs. Puff is freaking out in her cell, Spongebob and Patrick disguise as two of the prison guards this way, but does not help things. When Mrs. Puff closes her eyes she cries out, Sponge and Pat leave and the real guards they're impersonating try to calm her down, but Mrs. Puff claims she isn't fooled by their disguises and tries to unmask them, only to tear off their real faces and reveal their skulls underneath.
  • Gainax Ending: A dream within a dream within another dream and the cycle goes on?
  • Great Escape: Inverted. It's SpongeBob and Patrick who are trying to break Mrs. Puff out of prison.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The prison guards completely failing to realize that SpongeBob and Patrick have infiltrated the facility is a Running Gag.
  • I Choose to Stay: Mrs. Puff takes a liking to prison in spite of having to sleep right next to her toilet and sink just because she can get away from SpongeBob.
  • I Have a Family: SpongeBob begs the police he has a snail to feed when it's his turn to go to jail.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The police arrest Mrs. Puff rather than SpongeBob for the reckless driving in the first rendition of Mrs. Puff's hallucinations. Though nobody said the police on the show were smart.
  • It's All My Fault: SpongeBob blames himself for getting Mrs. Puff incarcerated.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: When Mrs. Puff cries out that she doesn't belong in jail, her fellow inmates can be heard crying that they don't belong in jail. There's only one inmate at the end who declares that she does belong there.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: How Mrs. Puff tries to explain why she prefers jail over being outside with SpongeBob.
    Mrs. Puff: "And besides, if I'm in here, that means I won't have to deal with you... [she sees SpongeBob sad and about to cry] ...uranium! In the water supply."
  • Literally Shattered Lives / Major Injury Underreaction: SpongeBob and Patrick, disguised as rocks, are mistaken for real rocks and get smashed to bits, but SpongeBob is more worried about losing the deposit on their costumes than the harm done to themselves.
  • Mind Screw: The ending.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Seriously, what did the police arrest Mrs. Puff for? SpongeBob was driving!
  • Mistaken For An Impostor: After Mrs. Puff sees Spongebob and Patrick perfectly disguised as two of the prison guards, when she's not looking Sponge and Pat leave and the actual guards they were impersonating enter, but Mrs. Puff thinks they're still really "Spongebob and that guy who likes the chili" and tries to rip off their rubber masks... only to tear off their actual faces and reveal their skulls underneath! This act gets Mrs. Puff put in solitary confinement.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: SpongeBob for getting Mrs. Puff arrested.
  • No Ending: Again. Mrs. Puff and SpongeBob keep falling in their boat, and the issue is left unresolved.
  • Not So Different: SpongeBob thinks that Mrs. Puff taking a liking to prison means that she's forgotten what it's like to live on the outside, to not be in prison: you wake up, you stay in congested traffic, you work a dead-end boring job then you go home and repeat that over and over.
  • Plot Hole: How can Mrs. Puff have been dreaming all this up if she was screaming?
  • Police are Useless: The security guards lazily brush off Mrs. Puff's pleas to properly get rid of SpongeBob and Patrick, instead just flushing them away or mistaking them for inanimate objects.
  • Prefer Jail to the Protagonist: Not having to teach SpongeBob anymore is enough for Mrs. Puff to love being an inmate.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: The Mayor of Bikini Bottom does this with an unfinished bridge... just in time for SpongeBob, Mrs. Puff and the cops chasing them to drive off it.
  • Rule of Funny: Bikini Bottom is apparently allowed to accept opening an unfinished bridge.
  • Series Continuity Error: Mrs. Puff acts like this is the first time she's ever been to jail but two previous episodes; Hall Monitor and No Free Rides ended with her going to jail. This might have been lampshaded during one of her nightmares where SpongeBob is arrested instead of her and a cop asks "Why would you go to jail? You already did your time."
  • Skewed Priorities: After SpongeBob knocks down a building with his boat-mobile, the police witness this but seem more interested in the fact he was driving without a front license plate.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The heavenly OST "Springtime for Lovers" is played as Mrs. Puff declares that the gruesome and intimidating inmates are "her people".
  • Tear Off Your Face: Mrs. Puff does this to a couple of security guards when she mistakenly thinks they're SpongeBob and Patrick in disguise.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In a flashback for when she first opened her boating school, Mrs. Puff vowed to never give up on any student who is willing to learn. And then SpongeBob came along.
    • Similarly, when Mrs. Puff is locked in solitary confinement, she again attempts to stay optomistic over the fact that she's alone and away from spongebob in her nice soft room... made of sponge.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Mrs. Puff clearly does not want to be broken out of prison.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Donna sounds just like a gruff man!
  • Working on the Chain Gang: At one point, Mrs. Puff is laboring on the rock pile while in prison. SpongeBob and Patrick disguise themselves as rocks to help break her out. She tells them she doesn't want to go free, since she then she won't have to deal with SpongeBob anymore, and the prison guards think she's insane from talking to inanimate objects. To add injury to insult, another prisoner smashes SpongeBob and Patrick's disguises (and by extension, the duo themselves) to bits.
    SpongeBob: There goes our deposit on these costumes.

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