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Recap / The Simpsons S 23 E 19 A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again

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"Katakata mai (kata mai), Hihiva mai (hihiva mai), Fakalogo ki te pate (aue), Ma te luelue"note 

The Simpsons are going on a cruise vacation — one that Bart doesn't want to end. He fears his life on land is boring, so he fakes a viral pandemic on land.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • And You Thought It Was Real: Bart manages to trick everyone into believing that an outbreak in a movie is actually a news report.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: The cruise doesn't last a single week after the "virus" before degrading to a gigantic mess. People are implied to have killed and eaten each other because of the lack of food, it's horribly unhygienic, and Lisa and the other smart kids turn the game room into a monastery to try to preserve general knowledge and pop culture information for future generations.
  • Art Shift: A montage of Bart engaging in all the different events available on the cruise has him jumping into a map of the cruise ship, with his character design exaggerated with a bigger head and noodle limbs.
  • Big Eater: Homer steals Bart's breakfast every day for a week; it's one of the things that compels him to believe his life sucks.
  • Butt-Monkey: Bart at the beginning of the episode, much like in "Bart The Murderer". Every day for a whole school week, Homer steals his breakfast, he has to endure an annoying bus ride, Nelson bullies him, Milhouse gets food all over him, and Bart gets chased by someone or something until he falls off his skateboard.
  • The Cameo:
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: Before telling his family that he loves them for helping him achieve his cruise dream, he mentions how weird it is for him to say it.
  • Continuity Nod: The opening depicting all the days of Bart's week shows Wendell (the kid whose reputation for getting sick on the bus is emphasized in "Homer's Odyssey") throwing up in Bart's backpack and Bart being chased home by the dog from "The Lastest Gun in the West."
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After the cruise falls into despair, one of the public punishments involves enduring many hours in a conga line.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: It turns out that Treat Williams, the actor that plays the man who delivers the "pandemic" message, is actually on the boat. The other passengers all look at him clearly baffled that he didn't come forward to say that it was a fake message, preventing the whole mess. Turns out Williams didn't recognize himself, saying that "he does a lot of movies" (he gets a Death Glare as a result).
  • Cruise Episode: The episode is set on a cruise.
  • Cult: Several of the fitness center members have formed a cult which is led by Dave the Lifeguard.
  • Deal with the Devil: When Bart suddenly found himself with enough money for the cruise vacation, he initially thought the Devil agreed to the deal (to accept Snowball II's soul).
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • While it can be argued that Bart is a ten-year-old kid, even he should have realized that lying to the ship that a pandemic had broken out was a bad idea in the long run. If he wanted to prolong the vacation, at least think of a way to keep it going for another week without scaring the passengers and crew.
    • When you're entertaining your guests, maybe you shouldn't remind them of how miserable they will be once the cruise is over and they have to return to their boring, monotonous, dead-end lives.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bart's prank was pretty horrible, but that doesn't mean the whole family has to be stranded in Antarctica because of it. At the most they could've just thrown Bart in the brig on the return trip. Given the poor state of the ship in the end, it is heavily implied that the Simpsons were the sole survivors.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Homer's advice to Bart at the end is "Stop thinking about fun and have it!"—which he punctuates by pushing Bart down the ice slide, forcing him to actually enjoy the same experience he's dismissed as a fleeting and therefore pointless one for the penguins.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The flash-forward at the end has old Bart on his deathbed, saying he had a fun ride. This contrasts with a previous scene where he was unsatisfied, and shows how Bart's mind changed
  • Failed a Spot Check: Treat Williams, the actor that appears on the pandemic movie Bart airs to fool the cruise into staying off shore, is one of the passengers on the cruise. He doesn't recognize his own face, and when the other passengers get angry at him, he says that he does a lot of movies.
  • From Bad to Worse: Delightfully inverted. The Simpsons have to undergo several changes in their cabins with each one being better then the last.
  • Good-Times Montage: Bart lives one of his best moments doing all the great activities the Fun Schedule has to offer.
  • Hard Work Fallacy: Played with. Bart takes initiative to raise the money necessary for a cruise ship vacation, but comes up short despite selling most of his toys and collections. Distraught, he goes to bed only to wake up in the morning finding the money in his jar has tripled. Marge and Lisa explained that they sold some of their own stuff, and Homer's, in order to help finance the rest of the trip since he already made a significant dent.
  • Here We Go Again!: Bart says this in the beginning as he prepares for another dreary week of life.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the cruise guests freaks out because he thinks he ate "people meat" during the time the ship was isolated from land. Its never confirmed, but judging by the general state of the boat, it's entirely possible.
  • Imagine Spot: After hearing how their cruise adventure is about to end, Bart imagines himself on his death bed with portraits that showcase how dull and dreary his life turned out after the cruise. Once he dies, an elderly Nelson gives one last "Haw haw!" before passing on himself.
  • Irony: Homer was briefly reading a magazine titled "Magazine Hater".
  • Ironic Echo: The cruise director's Catchphrase is "always have fun!". When he and the rest of the cruise passengers leave the Simpsons stranded in the middle of the Antarctic as payback for Bart's scam, he ruefully tells them to "never have fun!".
  • Left Hanging: It's never actually stated how, or even if, the Simpsons made it back to Springfield at the end.
  • Love Triangle: Lisa mentions that two diplomat sons, one Ghana and one Portugal, are in love with her.
  • The Magazine Rule: This episode features a magazine for magazine haters.
  • Meaningful Echo: Bart has an Imagine Spot where he's on his death bed and laments that the cruise adventure was the only fun thing he enjoyed while everything that came after was dull and disappointing. But after learning his lesson of enjoying life when he can, it cuts to him on his death bed only now he looks happily at his portraits with each one showing him enjoying his mundane life.
  • The Needs of the Many: Realizing that the world's greatest stories of literature and media will be lost to the epidemic, Lisa and her new intellectual friends have resorted to replicating them via written copies and recorded plays so they can be preserved for future generations.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • The vacation was going fine with no hitches whatsoever (they even got two upgrades for free). Then Bart panics when he realizes that it'll eventually end within the week, so he fakes a pandemic on the mainland just to keep it going. The ship falls to hell by the time the second week hits.
    • As mentioned before, also the cruise director, singing people of how fun the cruise is, whilst reminding them about how boring and monotonous their everyday lives are. For Bart, who just had to go through an extremely stressful and boring week, it's the breaking point.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The cruise quickly runs out of food and falls into disrepair as a result of Bart's prank, due to the fact that ships need to dock in order to restock supplies. It is heavily implied that this lead to cannibalism.
  • Officially Shortened Title: The title of this episode is too long for Prime Video; on its listing, the first and last words are cut off.
  • Only One Finds It Fun: Bart is the only one still enjoying the cruise by the second week—understandably, as he's also the only one on board who knows that there's not really a killer pandemic ravaging the mainland.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Marge is so mad at Bart for pulling such a selfish stunt that she throws a snowball at him out of anger.
  • Sad-Times Montage: The beginning of the episode has Bart going through one lasting a full school week:
    • Monday: Homer takes Bart's juice, Bart rides the bus next to Lisa playing her sax, Nelson blows a spitball at Bart, Milhouse accidentally covers Bart in potato chips, Bart gets chased by bullies as he skateboards home.
    • Tuesday: Homer takes Bart's Krusty-O's, Bart rides the bus next to Ralph picking his nose, Nelson throws chewed gum at Bart, Milhouse squirts Bart with his juice box, Bart gets chased by Skinner.
    • Wednesday: Homer takes Bart's eggs, Bart rides the bus sitting in between Sherri and Terri playing pat-a-cake, Nelson throws a pencil at Bart, Milhouse squeezes his banana into Bart, Bart gets chased by Chief Wiggum.
    • Thursday: Homer takes Bart's pancakes, Bart rides the bus next to Wendell throwing up in his backpack, Nelson throws his shoe at Bart, Milhouse gets ketchup on Bart, Bart gets chased by a dog.
    • Friday: Bart pulls his plate of sausages away before Homer can take them - only for Maggie to spill a glass of milk on them, Bart rides the bus next to Otto - who is somehow not driving the bus, Nelson throws a hamster wheel at Bart, Milhouse accidentally gets meatballs from a sandwich on Bart, Bart falls off his skateboard.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Exactly why would somebody publish a magazine geared towards people who hate magazines?
  • Scenery Gorn: As an Ironic Echo to the trope below, there's a shot of the whole cruise which has fallen to ruin and disarray after being stranded in the ocean for twelve days to avoid the "global pandemic".
  • Scenery Porn: When the Simpsons reach the docks, an overview shot shows all the wonderous sites and activities that the Royalty Cruise has to offer.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: To Marge's sorrow, the cabana boys that attended her with a smile have now become bitter and hostile after being stranded on the ship like everyone else.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bart wasn't even thinking about anything but having fun... until the cruise director kept repeatedly singing "enjoy it while you can!" and making it absolutely clear nothing in his life would top this. It ultimately is the spur for Bart to sabotage the controls. Arguably, Bart could've easily blamed him for putting the idea in his head to begin with, had everyone, including him, not seemed to forget that fact.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Bart was willing to fake a global pandemic to keep the vacation going longer. While it was something he really shouldn't have done, he only did it because the Simpsons were having the time of their lives and he wanted to keep things that way for as long as possible. Marge and Lisa soften up after Bart explains this to them, but Homer doesn't buy it, trying to strangle Bart but failing due to his fingers being too numb and frostbitten to manage it.

"What a great ride..."