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Recap / The Simpsons S10 E7 "Lisa Gets an 'A'"

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Lisa's A+++ grade she got on a test for the book, The Wind in the Willows, gives Springfield Elementary the grant money it sorely needs to update the school. The problem: Lisa cheated on the exam after spending her sick days from school playing video games instead of studying. Meanwhile, Homer raises a lobster to eat, but makes it his pet.

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  • Adopt the Food: Homer buys a small lobster to raise in an attempt to avoid having to pay for a full grown one (ignoring the fact that such a thing would be more expensive in the long run). He comes to view it as a pet and spoils it, but accidentally cooks it alive when it gets dirty and he makes it a hot bath.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Pinchy the lobster whimpers and wags his tail like a timid puppy. Homer is even seen walking him on a dog leash later on.
  • The Alleged Computer: The Coleco computer that Gil is selling not only looks and acts like a mid-80s 8-bit in an episode on the precipice of the millenium, and Gil unwillingly ends up mentioning that the computers of this brand rust incredibly fast. He then chides himself for providing Too Much Information right in the middle of his sales pitch.
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  • Artistic License – Biology: Homer is somehow able to grow a lobster to full size in a small fish tank that's just had some table salt added to it, which wouldn't be sufficient for a lobster to survive in. Pinchy also acts like a puppy and tends to squeak and huddle whenever frightened, which real lobsters can't and don't do.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Superintendent Chalmers after Lisa threatens to report Principal Skinner to him for covering up the fact that she cheated.
    Chalmers: Skinner!!! I am outraged that you kept this from me! You were supposed to call as soon as the new scoreboard was in. Tell me, does it play that song "charge"?
  • The B Grade: Lisa's immense fear that getting a single bad grade will ruin her chances of getting into her dream University (anyone but Brown) is what drives the whole plot.
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  • Black Comedy: Homer weeping over the death of his beloved pet lobster... while eating him.
    Homer: (in between sobs) It's so good! I wish Pinchy were here to enjoy it!
  • Broken Record: In Lisa's Imagine Spot, when she's told the only school which would accept her would be Brown University, Lisa says "No, not Brown, Brown, Brown...", repeating Brown, which leads Miss Hoover to ask "Lisa, you're saying 'Brown' an awful lot, are you okay?"
  • Call-Back: The oblivious rich mother and her rude son from "Marge Not Be Proud" return for a brief appearance.
  • Canada, Eh?: Comptroller Atkins mentions he's Canadian as a Hand Wave for why he allows Springfield Elementary to keep the money after Lisa did a brave thing and admitted she cheated... or rather, the fake Comptroller Atkins says this, and there's no telling if the real Atkins would have taken the money back in the face of such a thing.
  • Captain Ersatz: Dash Dingo is an obvious parody of Crash Bandicoot.
  • Cast as a Mask: An interesting aversion: during the fake ceremomy where Lisa confesses, the "Comptroller Atkins" on stage turns out to be Otto in a latex mask, and his fake comptroller voice, while sounding radically different from Otto's normal voice, was still done by Harry Shearer (Otto's regular voice actor.) And then the real Comptroller Atkins that shows up for the real ceremony is voiced by Hank Azaria.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The decoy of himself Bart made in shop really only serves to set up his making the fake Lisa puppet to fool Comptroller Atkins.
  • Death by Irony: Homer stopped Marge from boiling Pinchy. In the end, it's Homer who ended up boiling the lobster by trying to give it a bath.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: While trying to convince Principal Skinner to spend part of the extra funding money on Coleco-brand computers, Gil accidentally mentions something bad about them.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: At the end, Bart asks what smells so good, after Homer says he put Pinchy in a hot bath to clean him up. Homer is in the middle of asking the same thing, then realises to his horror that in giving Pinchy a hot bath, he has accidentally killed him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: See Felony Misdemeanor below.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Lisa worries that an F on her exam will cost her admission to Harvard University, and the only school that would accept her would be Brown University.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: After Lisa seemingly reveals to Comptroller Atkins that she cheated to get her A+++, Marge commends her for getting the highest grade in the class (which she pointedly repeats after Lisa tries to correct her). Cue the reveal that Lisa was tricked into thinking she revealed this to Comptroller Atkins, and that the ceremony she had attended was fake (as to get her away from the school before the real Comptroller Atkins showed up, with Bart staying behind to help Skinner and Chalmers deceive Atkins).
  • Funny Background Event: Behind Lisa's desk when she's fretting about her test, Ralph is putting a pencil in his nose.
  • F--: Inverted Trope. Lisa's test gets an "A+++" (it would have been quadruple, but one of the "plusses" was a stain of Drambuie that Miss Hoover had while grading papers), and with it comes a lot of attention that she absolutely detests.
  • Giant Novelty Check: The check Comptroller Atkins (and his faked appearance by Otto) hands the school. Skinner says that he knows a liquor store that will cash that immediately.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Ninja Koalas is one of the enemies of the Dash Dingo game — the weirdness of that makes Lisa decide to quit playing... for a few seconds, at least.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: When Homer tries to show Marge how cute Pinchy is, he suddenly changes into a highly detailed, realistic lobster(though still red when he should be dark green).
  • High School Hustler: For this episode, Nelson is one. He uses one of the stalls in the boys' bathroom as an office and he sells test answers in a way that sort of resembles a drug dealer (after he sells Lisa the answer to the "Wind in the Willows" test he meets her again and offers her the answers to another test — he'll give her the consonants for free but she will need to buy the vowels).
  • Honor Before Reason: Despite the fact that it would benefit everyone in school, Lisa ultimately confesses out of her guilt from cheating and the school using funds that they didn't earn. The school is quick to figure this would happen, though, and works around it.
  • Imagine Spot: When Lisa gets an Oh, Crap! upon learning she will have to sit a test she hasn't studied for, she imagines Mr Toad on the front cover of The Wind in the Willows saying (in an accent similar to that of the Dash Dingo baddie), "Game over, mate."
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Homer, after accidentally boiling Pinchy, succumbs to eating (and thoroughly enjoying) him, all the while still bawling traumatised.
  • It's All About Me: Lisa is willing to admit she cheated on her test so she can feel better about herself, even though this would mean the school wouldn't get a grant it desperately needs. Skinner and Chalmers work around this so they get the money anyway. She also seriously thinks that a single bad grade in her record will be enough for her to not make Ivy League, which is what makes her cheat to begin with.
  • Just One More Level: Lisa starts playing Dash Dingo and gets hooked, so she pretends that she's still sick so she can keep playing.
  • Latex Perfection: The mask that Otto wears when posing as the comptroller. Also, earlier in the episode, Bart shows Lisa a replica of himself he left in the class so he could skip it, saying it's "Mostly latex."
  • Lethally Stupid: Homer sets a boiling hot bath and leaves the being he placed within it unsupervised for an extended period of time. As awful as it is, it sure is lucky that what got killed was a lobster.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: Knowing that Lisa will absolutely refuse to keep quiet that she cheated once she is given a chance to speak up, Skinner and Chalmers organize a faked meeting with Comptroller Atkins, which includes giving Otto a Latex Perfection mask and make him pretend he's Atkins, Bart making a Lisa puppet that will refuse to make an acceptance speech, and convincing a good chunk of the PTA to participate.
  • Medal of Dishonor: The "accidental" kind. As mentioned on Honor Before Reason, Lisa would prefer to throw the school's welfare to the wolves before accepting the reward (and the extra funding money that comes with it, which the school directly needs and they have already used some of to buy stuff).
  • Motor Mouth: Lisa tells Marge rapid-fire what she would like for breakfast while trying to stay home sick despite obviously being well enough to go to school.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Homer has one when he realises that he has accidentally killed Pinchy by giving him a hot bath. The last scene has him sobbing over Pinchy while eating him.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Lisa's first time playing the video game has her quitting because Ninja Koalas kill her character.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Willie recommends Lisa not cheat on the test, and just take the F. After all, he got an F once, and his life "turned out just fine." Note that Willie says this while unclogging a school toilet with his bare hands.
    Willie: Oh, you've got yourself a partner, do ye?
  • Not So Above It All: Lisa's a vegetarian and a fierce advocate of animal rights, but she complains about Homer not cooking Pinchy because she enjoys the smell of cooked lobster.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lisa upon being told she will have to sit a test on The Wind in the Willows, a book she hasn't read.
  • Out-of-Character Moment:
    • While it makes sense that Lisa would feel desperate enough to cheat if she didn't know the answers on a test, it does seem unlikely that Lisa wouldn't have already read The Wind in the Willows since she's the kind of person who would read books like that for fun.
    • She also complained about Homer sparing Pinchy the lobster, despite being a vegetarian and a fierce animal lover. Homer even lampshades it by calling her out on it.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: Lisa has this to say when she realises she can't do the test: "I am in deep blank."
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Lisa becomes addicted to playing Dash Dingo and tries to stay home longer than expected so she can continue playing it. Marge gets fed up and takes her to school when it's obvious Lisa has recovered.
    • Lisa attempts to bluff her way through a test she hasn't studied for, only to find herself unable to answer any of the questions.
    • Homer decides to buy a lobster so he can raise and eat it at home. However, since Homer raised it from a young age. He can't bring himself to boil it due to the bond they've created.
  • Say My Name: Homer during his Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap! moment, saying "Pinchy?" three times, starting quietly, then rising in volume each time and culminating in a scream of "PINCHY!" when he realises he has accidentally boiled Pinchy in the bath.
  • Saying Too Much: When the real Comptroller Atkins hands the check to Skinner and leaves, Skinner says into the microphone: "let's give a hand to the real Comptroller Atkins!" Atkins stops walking and turns obviously thinking "what did he just say?" and Chalmers has to drag him along, giving Skinner a Death Glare.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Lisa. The drama is that she believes this is worth ruining the school.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Every Springfielder but Lisa.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To "Bart Gets an F". That episode saw Bart trying desperately to avoid getting an F on an upcoming test by intense studying. This sees Lisa trying desperately to avoid getting an F on a test she did not study for by cheating. In this same vein, Bart's F would mean he had to repeat the fourth grade, while Lisa's A+++ meant the school would be (unjustly) using it for grant money.
  • Take That!:
    • Marge telling Bart that they're not converting to Catholicism because "...three kids is enough, thank you." The Catholic League at the time spoke out against that line.
    • The Imagine Spot of Lisa being forced to go to Brown University due to her one "F." Ian Maxtone-Graham, who wrote the story, went to Brown University.
    Skinner: Mmmm, Brown. Heckuva school. Weren't you at Brown, Otto?
    Otto: Yup. Almost got tenure, too.
  • Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: In real life, lobsters only turn red once they're cooked. Downplayed with Pinchy being a pale dark red while he was alive, only to turn bright red when he's cooked.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Homer starts off the whole plot by shoving Lisa into a freezer to look for ice cream flavours, and buying Pinchy at the same time.
    • Marge suggests Lisa play one of Bart's video games, Dash Dingo, while she recovers from her cold. Lisa becomes addicted to the game and ignores the homework Ralph brought her, meaning she is unprepared for a test on said homework when she returns to school, and resorts to cheating in order to pass the test.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Superintendent Chalmers claims that Springfield Elementary School used to be considered the most dilapidated in Missouri until they brought it to Springfield. Lisa's and Skinner's looks of surprise when Chalmers mentions "Missouri" suggests that Springfield isn't there. Chalmers seals it by explaining that the school was moved brick by brick from its original location in Missouri and placed on Springfield.
  • Working Through the Cold: Played with when Marge, realizing that Lisa is just making up excuses to continue playing Bart's video game after her health recovers, drops her off at Springfield Elementary anyway.
    Lisa: But I might infect the other kids.
    Marge: That's a risk I'm willing to take. (drives away) So long!
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