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Recap / The Simpsons S12 E17: "Simpson Safari"

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After Homer's jerk ways at the supermarket cause a bag boy strike, the Simpsons are left without food — until they find a 1960s-era box of animal crackers advertising a contest where the winners get to go to Africa.

Tropes appearing in the episode:

  • Artistic License – Biology: Rhinos lay eggs and giraffes live underground. Lisa is neither impressed nor amused. This is completely forgotten about until towards the end of the second act when a hippo is afraid to swim after them.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Joan Bushwell turns out to be guilty of this when it's revealed she's been using the chimps she's supposedly been researching to run a diamond mine within her refuge to make herself rich.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • As the Simpsons fall down a waterfall, the camera cuts to a shot of jagged rocks at the bottom... before it quickly pans to the Simpsons landing in a giant flower.
    • Just as it looks Joan's madness for collecting diamonds would convince the Simpsons to put her in jail, the family (except Lisa) accepts her diamond offer and happily leave Africa behind with a bunch of it.
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  • Blatant Lies: Joan Bushwell tells Lisa her diamond-covered pen and clipboard were a graduation present after it's revealed she's been using the chimps to run a diamond mine.
  • Bowdlerization: The original airing of this episode had a scene where Kitenge and Homer sing along to an African song with a very disturbing translation ("They think people are like toys. They throw them in jail. Mistreat them badly"). Versions shown in syndication (including the season 12 DVD and FXX) have the translation captions removed. Disney Plus, surprisingly, has it uncut.
  • Broken Pedestal: Lisa says that Joan Bushwell's research has really inspired her when they first meet. At the end of the episode, Lisa is disgusted by the revelation that she's actually using the chimps to run a diamond mine, and is the only one to leave Africa without any diamonds.
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  • Dark Is Not Evil: Played for laughs with the warriors who watch the Simpsons floating down the river.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After enduring the repeated abuse of the shoppers, the bag boys go on strike, which for some reason deprives all of Springfield of food.
    • From their interaction with Lenny when he was carrying his groceries himself, the bag boys aren't just refusing to bag food, they are preventing people from buying anything.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The bag boys going on strike due to their poor treatment was understandable. But them preventing the customers from buying anything at all (even if they carried it by themselves, as Lenny can attest to), to the point of Springfield suffering from widespread hunger was taking things too far.
  • Eat the Camera: Homer, at the end of the second act.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Homer points out that their old tour guide, Kitenge, became the new president of Tanzania. Marge wonders what became of President Muntu. He immediately appears as a flight attendant, clearly humiliated, and the Simpsons all laugh when they realize that he was overthrown.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Or chimpanzees in this case.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Marge and Lisa shoot bees at a jeep to deflate the tires with the stingers. Somehow, this also causes the jeep to burst into flames.
  • Evil Poacher: Subverted. The poachers turned out to be Greenpeace members.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Homer triggers a Strike Episode through being a Jerkass Unsatisfiable Customer, then the family finds a token for an African tour prize in a long-forgotten box of animal crackers that they found when they ransacked their home out of sheer desperate hunger, leading into an almost totally unrelated Vacation Episode... except for Homer wondering (while the family is about to fall down a waterfall) if the strike is still ongoing in Springfield.
  • Language Barrier: When the Simpsons are lost in the jungle, sailing down a river, they encounter two ominous sounding tribesmen, so Homer tries to hit them with a spear. However, they were actually saying very nice things, at least according to the subtitles.
  • Mandatory Line: Bart, in act three. Also doubles with Out-of-Character Moment:
    Bart: I think we should look at her research before we condemn her entirely. [pause] I haven't said anything for a while.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Subverted for laughs, as noted under Reality Ensues.
  • Narrating the Obvious: Lisa, as per usual, does this when she sees... "The chimps are running a diamond mine!"
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: "Don't worry. Getting eaten by a crocodile is like going to sleep... in a giant blender."
  • Nobody Poops: Averted by Homer pointing out that Bushwell's cabin smells of faeces, and not just monkey faeces, causing her to change the subject.
  • Off-Model: The leopard caged by the "poachers" suddenly develops a cheetah-like face and build when Kitenge fires a warning shot.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Lisa gets one when she sees the boat the family is on is heading for Victoria Falls. Then everyone has one when they go over the edge.
    • Marge then has one when the flower they landed in is closing up and she thinks it's eating them. Homer simply rips it open to let them out.
    • Joan Bushwell when the Greenpeace member asks her about the diamond mine she's running.
  • Out of Focus: Bart has almost no lines during the second half of the episode, which he lampshades near the end.
  • Reality Ensues: While lost in the jungle, the family falls into a large flower that closes its petals around them which causes Marge to exclaim that it's trying to eat them. Homer casually tears one of the petals open and walks out.
    Bart: Wow, Dad, how did you do that?
    Homer: (deadpan) It's a flower.
    • When Homer goes to the company that produced crackers and tries talking a trio of executives (consisting of two men and one woman) into honoring the contest for him and his family, they refuse to do so, as...
      • The contest ended thirty years previously and their company doesn't even make animal crackers anymore (the female of the trio claims that the company now makes household poisons and Christmas lights). Regardless of whether or not a winner is ever found, contests like that don't go on indefinitely.
      • When Homer tries pushing them into honoring what the box says, the executives say they don't have to because, as they put it, "an old box of cookies is not a legal contract." They only end up going through it to prevent a potential lawsuit when Homer gets hurt by the box and the executives realize that he could end suing their company.
  • Red Herring: The episode starts with a bag boy's strike. It is referenced by Homer twice during the trip just to really drive home its Herring status.
  • Sanity Slippage: "No! Don't put me away. I'll give you diamonds. Everybody wants diamonds. Diamonds will make everything all better. Diamonds! Diamonds!!!" Everyone but Lisa accepts her crazy proposal.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Lisa wouldn't take any diamonds Joan Bushwell tried to bribe the Simpsons with.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Or diamonds in that case as Homer, Marge, Bart and even Maggie can confirm.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: As the African tribal chief N'Gungo senses the Simpsons are coming.
    Tribesman: What is it, N'gungo?
    N'Gungo: Evil is coming...
    Tribesman: What shall we do, N'Gungo?
    N'Gungo: (takes mask off and puts it on the Tribesman) You are N'Gungo now! (runs away screaming)
  • Strike Episode: The first act involves Springfield suffering one (thanks to Homer).
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: The Springfield populace are somehow unable to pack their own shopping bags.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Homer causes all the whole mess that the people of Springfield have to deal with in this episode by being a hard-core example of this:
    Homer: Wait — I changed my mind. Stack it in the order I'll eat it driving home.
    Bag Boy 1: Sir, please! I already bagged it by color, and in order of each item's discovery by man.
    Homer: Customer's always right; that's what everybody likes about us. Now, mush!
    Homer: (poking Bag Boy 1 with a french loaf) Hurry up! I can't stand here jabbing you all day.
    Bag Boy 1: Please — ow! — stop. Bag boys have feelings, too, you know.
    Homer: No, you don't.
    (suddenly, the manager walks over)
    Manager: Excuse me. Is there a problem here?
    Homer: No, I can handle it. (to Bag Boy 1) I'll get you, squealer. (pinches him)
    Bag Boy 1: Ow! Oh, that's it. On behalf of Sack Stuffers Local 199, I'm calling a strike!
  • Vacation Episode: The Simpsons travel to Africa, while everybody else back in town deals with a strike.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Joan Bushwell produces her diamond-covered pen and clipboard from inside her shirt.
  • Vine Swing: This is how the Simpsons get to Joan Bushwell's camp.
  • Whale Egg: The rhino has just hatched out of the egg!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The bag boy crisis is never resolved on-screen (Homer even wonders at one point if the strike is still going on). Subverted with Kitenge and President Muntu. At the end, a billboard proclaims that Kitenge has become Tanzania's new president, and that Muntu got overthrown and became the Simpsons' flight attendant.

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