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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E4 "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish"

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Original air date: 11/1/1990

Production code: 7F01

Bart and Lisa's discovery of a three-eyed fish in a river near the nuclear plant prompts Mr. Burns to save his tarnished image by running against Governor Mary Bailey in the upcoming election.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Appeal to Flattery: The flip side is invoked in Burns's campaign jingle: "Only a moron wouldn't cast his vote for Monty Burns!"
  • Ascended Extra: Blinky was just a throwaway gag in his previous appearance (see Continuity Nod). Here, his existence is a major plot point.
  • Bribe Backfire: Mr. Burns's blatant attempt to bribe the government inspector only puts himself in more hot water.
  • Characterisation Click Moment: Mr. Burns was mostly only a standard Mean Boss in season one. It's this episode that he begins his penchant for Zany Schemes and hones his role as a behind-on-times Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Characterization Marches On: Mr. Burns is outraged that it will cost approximately $56 million to bring the power plant up to code. Sure, that is a lot of money, but he behaves as though he can't afford it (even getting drunk and crying over it) despite later episodes confirming his net worth is roughly $16.8 billion.
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    • Then again, he is also usually known to be greedy, so he has the money but he probably didn't want to pay.
    • Burns's net worth has also varied over the years. In "The Old Man And The Lisa" it's quoted as less than $100 million, down from the $200 million he believed it was.
  • Clung on Tight: Maggie clings affectionately to Mr. Burns' leg. Burns, having apparently never seen a baby up close, reacts as if he's being attacked by a wild animal.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bart pastes the picture of him catching Blinky in a scrapbook next to one about how some vandal took a statue's head.
    • Blinky first appeared as a throwaway gag in "Homer's Odyssey" Also, after Burns's campaign video, you can hear the jingle for Duff Beer, whose commercial premiered in that episode.
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons sit on the couch, which opens into a bed, flinging the family into the air and landing on it.
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  • Did Not Think This Through: Did Marge really expect Mr. Burns to not throw a fit after she destroyed his campaign? Status Quo Is God was the only thing that saved her and her family from the old man's wrath.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Subverted. Homer thinks this is happening when Mr. Burns glares at Homer for saying that he (Mr. Burns) could afford to run for office when no honest man could. His babbling in fact inspires Mr. Burns to put himself in the running for governor so he can keep his plant from closing down.
  • Dinner with the Boss: Mr. Burns does this with the Simpsons as part of his political campaign.
  • Dirty Coward: Zig-zagged. Marge is bold enough to directly sabotage Burns's campaign on live TV, but she loses her nerve when Burns throws a tantrum over this and shamelessly orders Homer to intervene.
    Marge: (as Burns and Smithers wreck the living room) Homer. Homer! Make them stop!
  • Election Day Episode: When an inspection of the plant reveals numerous safety violations, Mr. Burns runs against Mary Bailey for governor to prevent the plant from being shut down. The night before the election, Burns has a televised dinner with the Simpsons to show his appeal to the common voter. Marge, who supports Bailey, sabotages Burns' political stunt and dooms his campaign by serving him the head of Blinky, the three-eyed fish.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: In a discussion with another member, Burns's advisor admits pleasant surprise that their "cornball stunt" is actually pulling off, making it no surprise when he abandons the old guy the moment his popularity is left in tatters.
  • Humanizing Tears: Happens to Mr. Burns, of all people, near the beginning of the episode. After a spectacularly failed safety inspection, Mr. Burns downs a whole bottle of wine, staggers into the parking lot, and breaks down in tears in the front seat of his car, sobbing into the steering wheel. This vulnerable moment humanizes him a bit; even Homer feels sorry for him to the point of outright asking him if he's alright.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The Safety Inspector does not even entertain the notion of accepting a bribe of tens of thousands of dollars yet he also gives Burns the opportunity to rectify his violations.
  • Irony: Mocked. After losing the campaign, Burns gives an analogy to the situation that he believes is this. He doesn't quite grasp the trope, however:
    Burns: Ironic, isn't it, Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, and yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail. That's democracy for you.
    Smithers: You are noble and poetic in defeat, sir.
  • Jerkass Ball: Marge acts like Homer is some sort of villain for supporting Burns, ignoring Homer's blunt declaration that he's doing so because the old man is his boss and would no doubt fire him out of spite if Homer supported Mary Bailey. She directly and openly sabotages the campaign anyway, and when Mr. Burns throws a tantrum, she cowers, tosses Homer into his boss's line of fire, and makes no attempt to claim responsibility for her actions when Burns vows revenge against Homer (the best she does is reassure Homer that Burns can't destroy his dreams, but the way she does so, which is mentioning that they are too small for Burns to destroy, is not really that reassuring). While Burns was a corrupt, tyrannical scumbag who deserved to lose the election, Marge still unrepentantly threw her husband under the bus after putting her family's livelihood at stake.
  • Karma Houdini: Marge essentially gets away with letting Homer receive all the blame for the destruction of Burns's political campaign even though he had nothing to do with it.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Mr. Burns threatens to ruin Homer's life after Marge destroys his campaign single-handedly. Granted as with most obligations he has towards Homer, it doesn't seem to go anywhere.
  • Money Slap: Mr. Burns tries to bribe the government inspector by leaving him in the room with several bundles of cash. When he and Smithers return after a brief time and realize that he didn't bother touching any of it, the former calls him stupid and eventually begins to desperately throw it at him in addition to shoving some of the money into his pockets and calling him a "poor schmoe".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The scene where Mr. Burns spits out the piece of fish meat is done entirely in slow motion, and the accompanying camera crew follows its every motion while it's in the air.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Homer gave Mr. Burns the idea to run for governor. Mostly because Mr. Burns was making him nervous by glaring at him for making a comment that he can afford to.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Zig-zagged. Homer's more of a Punch-Clock Villain, as he's only going along with Burns because the latter is his boss, but he still unintentionally gives Marge the idea to sabotage Burns' campaign through her cooking when he says that's how she can express herself.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mr. Burns looks so pitiable when he's crying that Homer tries to comfort him. This ultimately kicks off the plot.
  • No Party Given: The political parties to which Mr. Burns and Mary Bailey belong are never mentioned. However, given Burns's platform of low taxes and lax business oversight, as well as his prominent position in the Springfield Republican Party in future episodes, it is very heavily implied that Burns is running as a Republican, and Mary Bailey is a Democrat.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Burns, to the point that when one of the campaign managers produced a fluff picture of him smiling and looking heroic, he had to ask why his teeth were showing.
  • Plot Hole: How Marge actually got hold of Blinky to cook it is never explained, especially since it seemed to be in Burns's possession to begin with. Future episodes do show there's more than one Blinky, however.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Homer knows that Mr. Burns does not deserve to win the election, but he still votes for him because Mr. Burns is his boss and would likely fire him out of spite if Homer voted for Mary Bailey.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Mr. Burns interrupts a government inspector's tirade to notice that "some careless person" left a huge pile of money on his coffee table, and quickly exits with Smithers, hoping that the money will somehow disappear in their absence. He comes back a moment later to see the annoyed inspector hasn't touched it.
    Burns: Oh, look, Smithers, the money and the very stupid man are still here!
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many of the scenes (and parts of the plot) in this episode are taken from Citizen Kane.
    • Governor Mary Bailey is named after Donna Reed's character in It's a Wonderful Life.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Without uttering a word against Burns or his policies, Marge perfectly makes her point by serving him the three-eyed fish as a meal.
    Marge: Lisa, you're learning many lessons tonight, and one of them is to always give your mother the benefit of the doubt.
  • Spanner in the Works: Marge single-handily torpedoes Mr. Burns' campaign with one serving.
  • Status Quo Is God: Twofold.
    • Mr. Burns forgets all about the Simpsons by the time of his next appearance, even though Smithers remembers the incident.
    • Since Mr. Burns lost the election, the safety regulations he violated are still in effect, thus he'd have to pay the $56 million clean-up fee to keep the plant from shutting down. He doesn't, and the plant remains hazardous and poorly run, yet it isn't shut down.
  • Threat Backfire: After all is said and done, Burns swears that he will destroy all of Homer's hopes and dreams in revenge for losing the election. After he leaves, Marge gives Homer reassurance by pointing out that Homer's "hopes and dreams" are so small and petty that Burns can't destroy them at all.
  • Vague Age: Grampa. After watching Burns's campaign video, he says to Jasper that he would represent "young blood," although subsequent episodes would imply that they were either the same age or that Burns was older.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Burns is caught on camera saying the viewers of his political ad will be eating out the palm of his hand, and they still fall for his obviously politically motivated plea to accept Blinky as a natural product of evolution.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The original impetus for Burns to run for governor is that current state law will require him to shut down the power plant if he doesn't spend $56 million getting it up to code. Once his campaign kicks off, however, it's never mentioned again. It makes a bit more sense in light of Burns' net worth as revealed in later episodes—he probably has the money to spend, he'd just rather not.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The plot centers around a gubernatorial race for a state that is never mentioned. This episode could arguably be the Trope Namer since it's the first one where the lack of a state name is kind of an issue. Apparently, the state's motto is "Not just another state."

 
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Burns's Meltdown

Burns is none too happy when the Simpson family costs him the governor's race.

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