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Recap / The Simpsons S18 E14 "Yokel Chords"

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Original air date: 3/4/2007 (produced in 2006)

Production code: JABF-09

When Lisa threatens to expose Principal Skinner (Harry Shearer) and Superintendent Chalmers (Hank Azaria) for refusing education to Cletus Spuckler's kids due to their low social standing, she becomes their homeschool teacher, only to lose them to Krusty (Dan Castellaneta), who exploits them. Lisa reaches out to Brandine Spuckler (Tress MacNeille), who is currently serving in the Army in Iraq. A helicopter brings her to Sprinfield so she can rescue her kids.

Meanwhile, Bart is sent to therapy after manipulating his classmates with an urban legend of a cannibalistic Lethal Chef. Guest starring Meg Ryan as Dr. Stacey Swanson.


  • Accidental Truth: Bart wanted to scare a free lunch out of his classmates so he came up with a fake story about a murderous chef. Except he didn't know it was real... ...or that Stanley killed Dr. Swanson's son...
  • As Himself: Stephen Sondheim, Andy Dick and James Patterson.
  • Art Shift: The "Dark Stanley" sequences are based on the illustrations of Edward Gorey.
  • Big "NO!": Krusty gives one after being told by Brandine that only two of the seven Spuckler children were fathered by Cletus—the one that can't sing and the one that can't adlib.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Bart tells Dr. Swanson that he once dreamt that the Simpsons were cartoon characters, and that their success led to a "crazy propaganda network called Fox News."
  • Brick Joke: Bart was sent to therapy for making up a story about a child murdering chef known as "Dark Stanley." But when Dr. Swanson goes to see her own psychiatrist, it turns out that Dark Stanley was actually real— not only that, but Dr. Swanson's own son was murdered by Dark Stanley, by whom she's still deeply traumatized.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Initially, Skinner and Chalmers consider giving Lisa a 5 dollar gift card to the Gap (a clothing store).
  • Couch Gag: At a vending machine, Ralph buys Homer.
  • Crashing Dreams: Marge is dreaming of James Patterson, and he's about to ask her to kiss when he suddenly sounds like an alarm clock, waking her up.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Bart's relationship with Dr. Swanson plays out like a romantic relationship in which he's miserable to be "dumped" upon running out of paid-for sessions. The tables are turned when Marge buys another session and Bart walks out without using the last 20 minutes.
      Dr. Swanson: Will I see you again?
      Bart: Anything could happen. One of these days I might have a complete psychotic breakdown.
      Dr. Swanson: I'd like that.
    • Two of Dr. Swanson's clients are Apu and Snake, who are working on their relationship as though they're in couples counseling.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bart speculates that he acts out with behavior like scaring everybody with the "Dark Stanley" story because he was conceived before his parents were ready to raise a kid, and getting both of them angry at him was preferable to seeing them fight with each other. That and his dad used to hit him with a Stanley-brand hammer.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Krusty largely hijacked the main plot on whether or not Lisa can teach the Spuckler children by getting them into a contract on his show.
  • Heroic BSoD: After her own psychologist alludes to her losing her son to Dark Stanley, Dr. Swanson curls into a ball on her chair, saying she's not ready to remember that yet.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: We learn more about Bart's when he's in therapy. A game of Mad Libs leads him to confess, "My dad never takes me on the merry-go-booger. He's always passed out in the parking snot."
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Upon meeting Krusty, one of the Spuckler kids (Birthday) remarks that he's "one of those funny people with a big crazy nose"; Krusty assumes he means a clown, but then Birthday clarifies, "No, a j-", at which point Krusty yells out "Joker". Krusty then lampshades the whole thing by joking how he isn't a "practicing joker" and that he isn't offended.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Apu and Snake go to therapy acting like this.
    Apu: He used to rob me two, three times a week. Now, I'm lucky if I get it once a month.
    Snake: He never initiates it. I have to do all the work. He just stands there.
    Dr. Swanson: Now, now, don't talk through him; talk to him.
    Snake: Apu, sometimes when I rob you, it's like you're not even there.
    Apu: That is because you're robbing my brother Sanjay.
    Snake: Dude, I didn't know.
    Apu: Oh, just shut up!
  • Married Too Young: Bart feels this way about Homer and Marge and blames their Shotgun Wedding in the wake of Marge becoming pregnant with him for their relationship problems in the present.
  • Musical Episode: Half the plot has several songs. There's the Springfield Elementary staff singing about how to prevent Lisa from telling everyone that they denied' Cletus' kids education, Lisa gets a brief song about being a tutor, there's a musical montage of all the artistic sights downtown, and Cletus's kids get a song on Krusty's show.
    Chalmers: Let's sing while we think. It'll make it more fun for everyone.
  • Never Learned to Read: Cletus merely signs the contract after pretending to read through it.
    Cletus: Hamburger, hamburger, hamburger, hamburger...
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Dr. Swanson's son was killed by Dark Stanley.
  • Pimp Duds: Cletus wears them after becoming his kids' manager.
  • Real After All: Shockingly enough, Dark Stanley.
  • Shout-Out:
  • That Came Out Wrong: After Marge scrapes together the money for one more session with Dr. Swanson.
    Marge: Bart, honey, this is all we can afford for now. If it doesn't work, maybe when you're an adult, you can pay some lady to make you happy for an hour.
    Bart: You know, I'm pretty sure I will.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Cletus, after signing on to being a manager to the children. Ultimately subverted when Brandine saves the Spuckler family and is able to get the kids out of their contract by revealing Cletus is only the father of two of the seven children ("the one that can't sing and the one that can't ad-lib," she claims).
  • Wham Line: While Bart's therapist is talking with her own doctor about how she can't stop thinking about Bart, her doctor puts forth a theory that winds up completely tilting the sideplot onto its head:
    Therapist: Do you think maybe Bart is replacing your son... who was killed by Dark Stanley?
  • Wingding Pupils: Invoked. Krusty gets dollar signs on his eyes when he learns that the Spuckler kids don't have agents. He then takes off the dollar sign contact lenses and comments that he knew he would find a use for them someday.
  • Wrongfully Attributed: Krusty thinks Stephen Sondheim was the one who wrote Cats.