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Recap / The Simpsons S 24 E 15 Black Eyed Please

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Former Saturday Night Live head writer, cast member, Weekend Update anchor, Sarah Palin impersonator, and 30 Rock star Tina Fey voices a substitute teacher named Ms. Cantwell who loves all of her temporary students, except for Lisa, and Lisa tries to find out why. Meanwhile, Flanders tries to atone for punching Homer in the face after Flanders' parents take a liking to Homer rather than their own son.



  • Badass Boast: In writing, by Bart: I will make your life a living hell. The demonstration of what he can do within two minutes of arriving to her class is enough to send Cantwell running.
  • Bad Teacher Incompetent Teacher: When Marge and Homer talk to Skinner and Chalmers about Lisa's bullying (which Cantwell is not even trying to hide from the latter), neither the school principal nor the district superintendent are willing to do anything about it, and tell so to them bluntly (they cite that the teacher's union would be on their ass if they did anything). Principal Skinner even tells Cantwell that Lisa told on her. He says he did it to teach Lisa not to tell on bullies. When Cantwell runs off from her classroom, they actually try to stop her by telling her that all they needed her to do from day one was clock in every day.
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  • Big Brother Instinct: Ultimately, Bart is the one to drive Cantwell away. While it isn't shown, the fact that Bart agreed to do this at all shows that he does care about Lisa.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Homer will forgive Ned on one condition: he wants Ned's wife. One "Gasp!" and commercial break later...
    Homer: To elaborate, I want your wife — the teacher — to help get rid of Lisa's substitute.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: When Cantwell tries to run away from Springfield Elementary after getting a first-rate demonstration of how much of a hell-raiser Bart is, Skinner and Chalmers try to stop her by pointing out that all they needed her to do from day one was just to clock in time every day, with no teaching needed.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Lisa's reaction to Cantwell's Motive Rant that Cantwell saw she was pretty and considered her someone that used her looks to get by in life, and thus worth hating. It actually stuns Lisa (and makes her happy, because the teacher is calling her "pretty") long enough for Cantwell to deliver one last zing via splashing her with mud as she drives away.
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  • Dramatic Irony / Freudian Excuse: Ms. Cantwell explains the reason why she hates Lisa is because "Bookworms like her can't stand Party Girls", due to Lisa always wearing pearls and her blonde hair, Ms. Cantwell actually believes Lisa is one of these even though any fan would know that Lisa is not popular and is sometimes portrayed as friendless and even bullied to the point of suffering the occasional No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Dumb Blonde: Just because Lisa's hair is blonde, Ms. Cantwell assumed her to follow the stereotype. She also assumes Lisa to be a Brainless Beauty used to be complimented on the beauty part.
  • Evil Counterpart: From Lisa's point of view, Cantwell is one to Mr. Bergstrom.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Ned Flanders: I'm insisting on a fisting.
    Smithers: What's this about a fisting?
  • Hate at First Sight: Cantwell's reaction to Lisa.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Ned inisists that Homer hit him back so they can be even.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Skinner and Chalmers tell Homer and Marge they can't fire Ms. Cantwell because she already has two week tenure, Homer says he hates unions, because they even let a guy who has called three meltdowns keep a job at the nuclear power plant, only for Marge to remind him that he is, in fact, the same guy.
  • Innocent Innuendo: When Flanders is "insisting on a fisting", he's just using his rhyming Verbal Tic; he clearly has no idea what a "fisting" actually entails.
  • Ironic Hell: Ned's nightmare, with cameo guest star Richard Dawkins as his personal devil and, like him, kind of milquetoast (even the ominous chanting is loaded with "diddlys").
  • Jerkass:
    • Cantwell has absolutely no respect for anybody. On top of treating one of Springfield Elementary's top students like her personal punching bag, she insults her boss and her boss' superior to their faces and even says that she thought that they were in a gay relationship.
    • Homer decides to rub in Flanders' face that not accepting the latter's offer to get even for being punched by punching him back makes him the moral "better man" of the situation (very technically). Flanders punches him out again as a result.
    • Skinner and Chalmers refuse to do something, anything, about Lisa's situation, and say so to her parents' faces. They Hand Wave that this would violate Cantwell's tenure somehow and they would get in hot water with the union as a result, but later on what they tell Cantwell (that all she needed to do was clock in every day) to try to keep her from running off makes it look like they were telling Blatant Lies out of laziness.
  • Jerkass to One: Cantwell makes Lisa's school life a living hell. All of the other students at her classroom get an exemplary teacher that likes them all and gives them high grades... better than Lisa's, at least.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Everything Cantwell does to Lisa, motivated by hatred.
    • Skinner not only refuses to do anything to stop Cantwell's bullying but he even tells Cantwell that Lisa tried to tell on her (which makes her even more hostile) and tells Lisa that this so will learn to never rat on bullies ever again.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Bart being put into the second grade and causing chaos in just two minutes would destroy Cantwell's life for her evil actions against Lisa.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Cantwell questions "what eight-year-old wears pearls".
  • The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay: Invoked.
    Ned: Homer, if you punch me, we'll be even according to Exodus, Leviticus and Matthew.
    Homer: So you hired a law firm, eh?
  • Mistaken for Gay: Ms. Cantwell seems to think Skinner and Chalmers are a gay couple.
  • Nuclear Option: What Ms. Krabappel calls sending Bart to Ms. Cantwell's class to drive her away.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: When Bart arrives to Ms. Cantwell's classroom. Played with on Ned's nightmare—the chanting is full of "diddlys" and thus ends up sounding pretty milquetoast for an actual (although equally milquetoast) vision of Hell.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The plot treats Bart and his pranking expertise this way, to the point Krabappel actually calls the idea of placing him in Lisa's class so he can torment Cantwell "the Nuclear Option" and when he arrives Ominous Latin Chanting plays as background music. He then goes on to demonstrate that he definitely deserved the treatment.
  • Plot Hole: The first time Homer is hit by Ned, the doctor forces Homer to wear an eyepatch while he recovers, which he does up until Ned hits him again, and then he doesn't wear the eyepatch anymore, and actually seems to heal within hours if not a day or two. Homer is also told that the punch gave him severe nerve damage on the eye, but this is never addressed again within the episode nor later.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Flanders reaches it twice on the episode regarding Homer: first when his parents which came to visit like Homer more than him (although the three of them smoking pot may have helped), and the second time when Homer decides to be "the better man" by not hitting Ned and stupidly decides to rub it in.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Subverted at the very last minute. If not for Lisa actually jumping on Cantwell's car hood to insist on knowing why, we may have never known that Cantwell bullied Lisa because she thinks she's pretty and thus a Dumb Blonde party girl like the ones that bullied her as a kid and would have had to accept her explanation that "sometimes people just won't like you".
  • Sadist Teacher: Ms. Cantwell to Lisa, and only Lisa. To everyone else she's great. She even likes Ralph Wiggum over Lisa.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The reason Lisa gets a "B"-grade on her work while Ralph gets an "A" on his lousy drawing? "Because I said so".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Right after two minutes of dealing with Bart (during which he wrecks the classroom, incites a riot, writes a hundred times on the chalkboard "I will make your life a living hell" and posts an embarrassing video of her on YouTube), Cantwell decides to run away from the school.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Lisa can't imagine why any teacher wouldn't like her. Turns out that Cantwell thinks she's a pretty girl that deserves a living hell because of Freudian Excuse (even if Lisa is an established Hollywood Nerd that oftentimes lives a living hell because she's not "pretty" enough).
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Lisa's Substitute. The first one gives Lisa a Be Yourself message (and her first, dramatic, heartbreak), while this episode is about her (kind of) learning that some people will hate you from the second they meet you and you may or may not know why.
  • Take a Third Option: How the Cantwell situation is resolved by Homer: with option one being hitting Ned (which he doesn't wants to do) and option two being doing nothing, Option Three is him convincing Edna that he will accept Ned's apology if she can think of something. Edna decides on the Nuclear Option.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm / Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Played with: Cantwell arrives to the classroom and it appears to be set up to be similar to the episode Lisa's Substitute, and apparently she does a good job teaching the rest of the class. It's Lisa that bears the brunt of her mean-spiritedness.

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