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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E22 "Blood Feud"

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Original air date: 7/11/1991

Production code: 7F22

The Season 2 finale of The Simpsons. Mr. Burns is in dire need of a blood transfusion, and Bart is the only one who has the same rare blood type as Mr. Burns, so Homer forces Bart to donate under the impression that the family will get a buttload of cash for the generous deed. But when all they get is a "Thank you" card, Homer writes a strongly-worded letter — which Bart ends up sending after Marge talks Homer out of putting it in the mail.

This episode provides examples of:

  • AB Negative: Mr. Burns has the very rare (and fictional) blood type Double-O Negative. Bart is the only other person in Springfield with this blood type.
  • Androcles' Lion: Homer tells a variant of the classic story (he throws in Hercules and claims it's from The Bible) to convince Bart to donate blood.
  • Artistic License Medicine: If Smithers's blood type of B Positive was not compatible with Burns, his kidney would not have been either. From context it is possible that Burns actually ate the kidney.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Homer hoped to secure a valuable and extravagant reward for saving Mr. Burns's life. He eventually got it in the form of a giant Olmec head that he doesn't want, has no use for, and can't get rid of.
  • Bowdlerise: Bart's line "Yeah mom, we got hosed!" was originally "Yeah mom, we got screwed!", which made Homer's sudden outburst at Bart more sense.
  • Blood Transfusion Plot: Burns has a rare blood type for which Bart is the only available donor. The episode doesn't make it totally clear whether this is because nobody else has the type or because nobody will donate to Burns.
    Carl: I'd give him my blood, except for one thing.
    Lenny: What's that?
    Carl: I don't wanna.
  • Call-Back: The sign that displays the current status of the Nuclear Power Plant features Smilin' Joe Fission on the side.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits down on the couch and it falls through the floor.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Bart. Homer takes over after Burns' half-hearted thank you to Bart outrages him, and - after shoving the letter into the mailbox himself - the only significant thing Bart does for the rest of the episode besides following Homer is making a prank call to Moe's Tavern for "Mike Rotch."
  • Dramatic Thunder: Happens the moment Mr. Burns calls Smithers a "Judas".
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Homer does this after being fired for his letter to Burns. Moe and Barney remind him that he should not get drunk to forget but only to improve his social skills.
  • Embarrassing Hospital Gown: Mr. Burns is about to die until he gets a blood transfusion, getting healthier by the second until he stands up triumphantly, unfortunately giving the audience a perfect view of his rear end.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Smithers puts a stop to Homer being beaten behind his boss's back.
  • Establishing Character Moment: While previous episodes had dabbled around with Smithers's characterisation, this one is the first to fully develop his passionate devotion to Burns, along with it conflicting with his moral compass.
    • This episode also does a complete 180-degree turn from "Simpson And Delilah" earlier in the season by showing the other side of Smithers' devotion. While Smithers showed a vindictive desire to destroy Homer for threatening his position as Burns' main lackey, here Smithers is overwhelmed with gratitude to Homer for saving Burns' life.
  • Fictional Disability: Mr. Burns is diagnosed with a fictional condition called "hypohemia" (which would mean something like "not enough blood"). It's seemingly a Fictional Counterpart to, or just an inaccurate way to describe, the real conditions hypovolemia (fluid depletion) and/or anemia (insufficient/inadequate red blood cells).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: According to his letter to the Simpsons, Burns' address is 1000 Mammon Lane. "Mammon" is a Bible term for wealth, profit, and general greed or desire for them. Perfect for Burns.
  • Heal It with Blood: Mr. Burns falls deathly ill with "hypohemia", a fictional malady that can only be cured by a blood transfusion. Exaggerated when a unit of Bart's rare blood type transforms the frail old man into a top-notch athlete.
    Mr. Burns: You know, it's funny, Smithers: I tried every tincture and poultice and tonic and patent medicine there is, and all I really needed... was the blood of a young boy.
  • Hidden Depths: When Mr. Burns and Smithers are at the mall looking for a present for the Simpson family, Smithers briefly plays with a banjo (and he's quite good at it).
  • Hypocrite: Homer doesn't know Mr. Burns's first name despite hearing it in past episodes. Future episodes would make it a Running Gag that Burns doesn't remember Homer's name and the latter gets very annoyed by it.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: When Homer tries to get the letter straight from the post office.
    Homer: Hello, my name is Mr. Burns. I believe you have a letter for me.
    Clerk: Okay, Mr. Burns. Uh, what's your first name?
    Homer: (beat) I don't know.
  • Irrevocable Message: Marge actually talks Homer into sleeping on his angry letter to Burns, and in the morning he thanks her for her caution—only to learn that Bart, knowing full well he'd come to his senses, has taken matters into his own hands.
  • I Will Show You X!: Homer's "I'll show you MAD IN THE MORNING!"
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While a monetary reward being his primary motivation is wrong, Homer does have a point in wanting to call out Mr. Burns for only sending a card when Bart's blood saved Burns' life.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Homer becomes enraged when Bart's donation of blood to Mr Burns fails to result in this trope and writes an angry letter. In a Spoof Aesop, Mr. Burns is initially furious and prepared to make the Simpsons suffer, but Smithers points out that Bart saved his life, and as a reward gets the family a massive Olmec monument, which is seen in their basement in later episodes.
  • Lost Aesop: Discussed in the end, when the Simpsons try to figure out a moral to the story (such as "No good deed goes unrewarded" or "The squeaky wheel gets the grease") and then realize that something that occurred contradicts the moral. They eventually conclude that "it was just a bunch of stuff that happened."
  • Love Letter Lunacy: A Hate Letter Lunacy unfolds when Bart sends off the Strongly Worded Letter to Mr. Burns.
  • Loving Details: Marge demonstrates an intimate knowledge of not just her husband but her whole family, including Homer's blood type and earmuff size, Lisa's ring and shoe sizes, and Bart's number of teeth and allergies.
  • Man Hug: Smithers does this twice:
    • When Smithers meets Bart and Homer after they donate Bart's blood to Mr. Burns, he isn't sure which of them to hug first. Homer tells him to hug Bart, who doesn't appreciate it.
    • Burns sends Smithers to have hired goons beat up Homer. But Smithers feels this is too harsh, especially since Burns owes his life to Homer on more than one occasion. So when giving the instructions to the goon, he teeters back and forth between letting Homer off and letting him live, to the goon's exasperation. When he asks what Homer did, Smithers bawls out "He saved Mr. Burns's liiiife!!" and collapses sobbing on his chest, holding him tight. The confused mook looks around and does the pat-pat-pat-on-the-shoulder thing.
  • Marshmallow Dream: Homer's happily munches on his pillow, imagining it as pancakes, after his anger at Mr. Burns cools off.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Happens twice in the episode.
    • Homer lampshades this after failing to retrieve the letter. For context, after a good night's sleep and a talk with Marge, he realised that it was foolish to even write that letter and plans to destroy it. Unfortunately, Bart, not knowing that Homer had changed his mind posts the letter before Homer can do as he said. Despite Homer's best efforts, Burns ultimately receives and reads the insulting message and reacts just as badly as Homer expected. When the now-fired Homer returns home, he is left not only cursing himself for his stupidity, he genuinely fears for his life. The situation is so bad that Homer tells Marge to leave with the kids just so that they won't become victims of Burn's wrath, before completely breaking down.
    • The Simpson children are watching the aforementioned breakdown. Seeing his father's despair, Bart recognises the full gravity of his blunder and is genuinely regretful and horrified for what he has done. Lisa's comment does not help him.
      Bart: They always told me I was gonna destroy the family, but I never really believed it.
      Lisa: That's ok Bart, nobody really believed it. We were just trying to scare you.
  • Never My Fault: Homer sarcastically congratulates Bart on his plan after it fails due to Homer not knowing his boss's first name.
  • Oh, Crap!: Homer reacts this way after Bart tells him he mailed the letter.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • The fact that Burns even bothered to send the Simpsons a thank you card.
    • Him sending an Olmec Indian statue as a genuine show of gratitude to Bart for saving his life.
  • Prank Call: Bart calls Moe to ask for "Mike Rotch".
  • Pull the I.V.: Mr. Burns yanks his I.V off when the blood transfusion is over.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Mr. Burns's goon Joey seems to genuinely like Homer, but will still beat him up if ordered to. Luckily for Homer, Smithers calls it off.
    Smithers: You know Homer Simpson?
    Joey: Yeah, nice guy. Play poker with him.
    Smithers: Beat him up.
    Joey: You got it.
    • Even earlier when Burns orders Joey to boot Homer out of the plant after reading his angry letter:
    Homer: Hey, c'mon, Joey! Do you have to twist my arm?!
    Joey: Homer.... I don't tell you how to do your job, okay?
  • Rule of Drama: This episode's plot would not have happened if Smithers did have the right blood type all along.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • When we first see Burns convulsing on the floor, it is still bright outside. But when he gets his grim diagnose, it is suddenly darker outside.
    • When Smithers confesses to Burns that he called off their beating of Homer, it's raining outside. The rain subsides as Burns admits he feels no ill will towards Smithers.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: A piano/violin variant is heard everytime when Mr. Burns is seen suffering in hypohemia.
  • Stopped Reading Too Soon: Homer writes an angry letter to Mr. Burns, which starts out as a fake thank you note. Mr. Burns at first reads the thank you part and is deeply touched until he later discovers the following sentences.
    Dear Mr. Burns... I'm so glad you enjoyed my son's blood and your card was just great. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic! YOU STINK!! You are a senile, buck-toothed old mummy with bony girl-arms, and you smell like an elephant's butt!
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Homer's angry letter to Mr. Burns.
  • Superhuman Transfusion: Downplayed: Burns gains new vitality after the transfusion and attributes it to the fact that it's specifically "the blood of a young boy." Director David Silverman emphasized the line in question with a closeup as a deliberate Red Herring to make viewers think the rest of the plot would be about Burns seeking more of Bart's blood. However, it's never brought up again.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Homer believes Burns is one for only sending a "thank you" card after Bart's blood saved his life.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bart took the letter behind Homer's back and shoved it into the mailbox. So, he is the reason that Mr. Burns initially planned to get goons to beat Homer to a pulp after reading the letter.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: Mr. Burns notes that his revenge on Homer left him empty.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Homer allows Bart to participate in the blood transfusion solely on the assumption that Burns will reward the family for saving his life.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Subverted by Burns.
    Mr. Burns: I could crush him like an ant, but, no. Revenge is a dish best served cold. I'll bide my time until... Oh, what the hell, I'll just crush him like an ant.