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Recap / The Simpsons S 5 E 11 Homer The Vigilante

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Episode - 1F09
First Aired - 1/6/1994
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While the Simpsons sleep, their house is invaded by the Springfield Cat Burglar, who leaves a calling card in exchange for such valuables as Marge's pearls (even though Marge has a large ball of replacement pearl necklaces in a drawer), Bart's stamp collectionnote  and portable TV, and Lisa's saxophone. It's up to Homer and his newly-formed vigilante group to catch their man — if only they'd stop bullying everyone in town.


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This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Public Confession: While Homer might have thought he was being clever and using Confusing Multiple Negatives, it's really this trope.
    Kent Brockman: Well, what do you say to the accusation that your group has been causing more crimes than it's been preventing?
    Homer: Oh Kent, I'd be lying if I said my men weren't committing crimes.
    Kent Brockman: Mmm, touche.
  • Affably Evil: Molloy. If it weren't for his stealing and, at the end, tricking everyone into going on a wild goose chase so he can escape prison, he'd just be affable (and even then, he left a politely worded letter to explain the purpose of the wild goose chase). If anything, Springfield's attempts to deal with the cat burglaries cause more damage than he does.
    Molloy: I stole all of your stuff, but your town stole my heart. (All of the citizens of Springfield go "aww" at that and say that they should let him go).
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  • Bait-and-Switch: When Abe appears with fruit all over him, the family thinks he's been pelted like Homer. Turns out he just fell on a cart while taking some fruit to throw.
  • Batman Gambit: Molloy convinces everyone to leave him unguarded so he can escape by sending them on a wild goose chase.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Molloy got away with being a thief for many years because he lives in the one spot in Springfield where nobody will care to look: in the Springfield Retirement Castle, because he's an old man.
  • Big "NO!": Homer's reaction to Jimbo Jones quitting the posse to go to law school after he feels Homer let him down.
  • Call-Back: In Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk, Patty comments that Homer probably spent his stock money on magic beans instead of anything smart. This episode reveals that when Homer was supposed to buy insurance for the family, he did indeed get magic beans instead.
  • Calling Card: The cat burglar leaves his business card at his crimes, saying that he's been in "business" since the 70's.
  • Cat Scare: Played with. Grampa fears the cat burglar has come into his room and panics...only to see it's his fellow retiree, Molloy, coming to ask him for some medicinal ointment. Later, it's revealed Molloy is the catburglar, meaning Grampa wasn't wrong.
  • Code Name: Homer briefly suggests these for his group, him being "Cue-Ball", Skinner as "8-ball", Barney as "12-Ball" and Moe as "Cue-Ball".
    Moe: You're an idiot.
  • Cool Old Guy: The thief turns out to be a polite old man named Molloy, who gives up everything he stole once he realizes he's been caught.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Molloy left a briefcase with a signed confession buried on the edge of town, which he uses as a distraction should he ever be imprisoned.
  • Delicious Distraction: Molloy gives the Simpsons' dog food and it ignores his robbery. It works easily well on a sleepwalking Homer.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In response to Molloy's cat burglar spree, the Kwik-E-Mart closes down and Apu shoots anybody that gets close to it with a sniper rifle.
    Apu (after scaring someone off): Thank you for coming! See You in Hell! (shoots another person)
    • If Herman's story is factual, the United States Government felt that it was a perfectly good idea to make plans for dropping nuclear bombs on beatnik gatherings during the Fifties.
    • Some random peddling saxophonist on the street gets surrounded by an angry militia, who question where did he got the saxophone (because Lisa's was stolen). The saxophonist's answer that he bought it in Sears only enrages the militia more and they start to chase him with full intent to beat the crap out of him.
    • People placing automated laser cannons in their homes as an anti-theft deterrent.
  • Drunk with Power: It takes the neighbourhood watch all of a few minutes to start abusing their power.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: At the end, after everyone forgives Molloy, Chief Wiggum reminds them that he broke the law and the appropriate punishment is him going to prison.
  • Easily Forgiven: After Molloy is caught, he talks the citizens into forgiving him. The trope is subverted when, despite this, Chief Wiggum arrests him and he has to escape.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Thanks to a house's laser system, Jasper regains his eyesight but loses it seconds after. He even mentions the trope when he accepts the loss.
  • Evil Old Folks: Molloy, kind of.
  • Expy: Molloy was modeled on Raffles, particularly the David Niven version.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: The cat burglar calls in to "Eye on Springfield" to taunt Homer about his next robbery. It might have worked better if Homer had realised who he was talking to.
    Molloy: Hello, Homer, my arch-nemesis.
    Homer: (cheerfully) Y'ello.
    Molloy: (nonplussed) Uh, you do realise who this is?
    Homer: (confused) ...Marge?
  • Fast Tunnelling: At the end of the episode, all of the townspeople dig a hole looking for buried treasure, but find an empty trunk. Not at all discouraged by this, they continue digging well into the night until they find themselves at the bottom of a very deep pit.
    Otto: How do we get out?
    Homer: We'll dig our way out!
    Chief Wiggum: No, no, dig up, stupid!
  • For the Evulz: This appears to be the only reason Molloy takes to catburglary.
  • Gentleman Thief: After being caught at the end of the episode, he graciously returns the items he has stolen.
  • Graceful Loser: Molloy calmly returns everything he'd stolen after being caught.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The most prolific cat burglar in Springfield hides in the Springfield Retirement Castle, completely Beneath Suspicion by the regular folks. Even Grampa Simpson didn't think that there was something odd about his room being full of loot until Molloy took the gigantic cubic zirconium.
  • Homage: The final few minutes of the episode are an homage to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
    • In fact, when they reach the "Big T," you can see the "Big W" in the background.
    • Also caricatures of IAMMMMW actors such as Phil Silvers, Milton Berle, and Buddy Hackett start appearing in the crowd during this sequence.
    • The scene of Bart tricking Phil Silvers into driving into the river is a direct homage to the movie.
    • The Simpsons didn't have insurance because Homer spent the money on Magic Beans.
  • Incompetent Guard Animal: A cat burglar very easily keeps Santa's Little Helper at bay by offering it a sausage. Amusingly straight, afterwards, he uses the same trick to distract a sleepwalking Homer.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong:
    • Homer doesn't even make it halfway through his attempted speech that, as grown men, the militia can be careful with firearms before every single one that they are carrying goes off because they kept their fingers on the triggers... and Bart grabbed one of them without anybody noticing, until it went off the same way.
    • After people decide the Springfield Cat Burglar is not so bad after all and want him released from jail.
    Chief Wiggum: Oh, sorry folks. Gee, I really hate to spoil this little love-in, but Mr. Molloy broke the law. And when you break the law, you gotta go to jail.
    Mayor Quimby: Uh, that reminds me, er, here's your monthly kickback.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Homer's vigilante squad check their guns inside Homer's house. Marge comments that she doesn't like the idea of them using guns, and Homer tries to give her a reassuring talk that they are responsible adults who know how to handle firearms — only to be interrupted by an accidental discharge from Moe. Homer tries to resume his talk, but is interrupted by more accidental discharges from the Sea Captain, Principal Skinner, Moe again, and Bart.
  • Karma Houdini: Zig-zagged: The whole town was just going to let Molloy go, but in a moment of rare smarts, Wiggum arrests him anyway. Molloy managed to escape custody afterwards thanks to the fact everybody left to look for his "treasure".
  • Moving Buildings: One of Professor Frink's anti-theft security measures that he demonstrates to the news is a pair of robotic legs that pop out from beneath the home and make it run away (although the model malfunctions and the home comes crashing down before it goes off in flames, model inhabitants and all). On a latter scene, as Bart walks down a street with houses full of high-tech defensive equipment, one of the homes deploys the same legs and tries to run off before crashing down and setting itself on fire in the same way.
    Prof. Frink: [As the 'family' of to-scale dummies falls out of the house, also on fire] Well, obviously the real people won't, won't burn... quite so quickly.
  • Never My Fault: Homer hates the magic beans for him not having the money to pay for the insurance.
    Marge: Ooh, stop blaming the beans!
  • News Travels Fast: Played for laughs. Right after Bart reveals he had a stamp collection, Nelson somehow catches wind of it and calls the household to join the rest of the Simpson family in laughing at him for it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Not only Homer's militia doesn't make any good, but Homer himself unwittingly contributes to the robbery of the much-valued diamond.
  • Noodle Incident: The story Homer tells at the dinner table: "So I says, 'Look, buddy, your car was upside-down when we got there. And, as for your grandma, she shouldn't have mouthed off like that!"
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Homer first forms the militia, Marge is concerned about having guns in the house. Homer assures her that they know what they're doing, but he's repeatedly interrupted by the group's guns accidentally going off. And one of the members holding a rifle that went off accidentally is Bart.
    • When Lisa accuses the militia of just bullying random people and not doing anything to actually help in terms of fighting crime, Homer pulls out the list of objectives he has set for the militia. One of them is world domination.
    • When Homer was accused of sleeping on duty, he replied that instead of asleep, he was drunk.
  • Only Sane Man: The Phil Silvers expy is the only one to realise that Molloy outwitted the entire town with a wild goose chase.
  • Produce Pelting: After the diamond is stolen, Homer is greeted by everyone in town throwing fruit at him.
  • Reality Ensues: The town forgives Molloy at the end after he returns their possessions, but Chief Wiggum has a Dumbass Has a Point moment and arrests Molloy anyway because he still committed burglary.
  • Riding the Bomb: When Herman shows Homer an A-bomb that was designed to kill beatniks, Homer not only imagines himself doing just that in a direct Dr. Strangelove parody, but also straddles the bomb in reality. Herman then directs Homer's attention to a sign posted nearby: "DO NOT RIDE THE BOMB".
  • Rule of Funny: The only conceivable reason anyone could mistake Homer or Barney for MC Hammer.
  • Rule of Three: "Since the police can't seem to get off their duffaroonies to do something about this burglareeno, I think it's time we start our own neighborhood watch...aroonie!"
  • Serious Business: "Lisa, never EVER stop in the middle of a hoedown!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Homer and Skinner nod back and forth to each other, the theme to Dragnet plays.
    • Homer imagining how the government plans to nuke Hippies to kingdom come would have gone copies the climactic bombing run of Dr. Strangelove, Riding the Bomb included.
    • After Molloy talks about his treasure, the third act becomes a full-blown Homage to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
  • Special Guest: Sam Neill as Molloy.
  • Spinning Newspaper: Used to show the cat burglar's crime spree... until the burglar takes it too.
  • Take Over the World: Homer's group wants to do this, though Homer denies as much.
    Lisa: "World domination"?
    Homer: That's a typo. (thinking) Mental note: the girl knows too much.
  • Take That!: Homer and his group chasing down a street musician after he tells him he got his saxophone from Sears.
  • This is No Time to Panic: Subverted. Kent Brockman's initial report on the Springfield Cat Burglar — which suggests that mass murders may happen next, and that the burglar may be a Wolf Man — ends with him asking a professor if it's time for the town to panic over the matter. The professor says it is!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Chief Wiggum has a handkerchief the cat burglar left behind during a robbery and is about to let a police dog smell it when he decides to use it to wipe some sweat from his face. Unsurprisingly, the dog attacks Wiggum.
    • The people of Springfield continue digging for the non-existent treasure because Homer can't make out Molloy's signature on the note explaining the wild goose chase he'd sent the town on. Several hours later, after digging themselves into a very deep pit, they decide to get out of the pit by continuing to dig.
    Wiggum: No no, dig up, stupid!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Otto is seen in the bar joining Homer’s vigilante group, but after that scene, he never appears with them.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Lisa asks this to Homer, with little success:
    Lisa: Dad, don't you see you're abusing your power like all vigilantes? I mean, if you're the police, who will police the police?
    Homer: I dunno... Coast Guard?
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Played for Laughs. While the cat burglaries are worthy of above-the-flap placement, the secondary story — "Man Marries Woman in Wedding Ceremony" — is less so.


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