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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E11 "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson"

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"Here you go: free Pretzel Wagon pretzels for everyone. One bite, and you'll be hooked."

Original air date: 1/19/1997 (produced in 1996)

Production code: 4F08

Marge falls out with the Springfield Investorettes over their risky practices, and she invests in a fledging pretzel franchise out of spite. However, she struggles to stay in business, and Homer resorts to desperate measures to help her.

  • Accidental Hero: Of all things, the Investorettes hiring the Yakuza ends up saving the Simpson family in the end, as their sudden intrusion causes the Mafia to shift priorities from them to the Yakuza. Had they not interfered, it's likely Fat Tony would have killed Homer and Marge.
  • Affably Evil: Fat Tony, and that one Yakuza guy who bursts through the window, apologizes for the broken window and runs outside to continue the mob war.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Disco Stu's platform shoes with live (well, initially) goldfish in them? Real. As you might've guessed, the goldfish typically didn't live through one trip to the disco.
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  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Fat Tony proves why he's in charge of the Mafia, effortlessly punching out two Yakuza goons. When a third lands a hit, he just growls "Come here, you little squirt."
  • Badass Boast: Agnes Skinner telling that the Springfield Yakuza "can kill you five times before you hit the ground".
  • Bait-and-Switch: When it seemed Homer was asking for divine help, he was actually asking a favor from the Mafia.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Homer attempts to get out of his deal with Fat Tony's crew by shaming him for asking for payment for a favor and bidding him good day. It almost works until Tony realizes what Homer just did.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Maude Flanders. She's a huge bitch when she's not around her family, and an outright villain around Marge.
  • Black Comedy: Homer goes to Frank Ormand's house, only to discover that his funeral is currently being held there.
    Homer: Oh. I guess I should speak to the executor of his estate.
    Widow: (Pointing to the left) He's right over there.
    (Camera pans out to show his corpse in an open casket.)
    Widow: They were in the same car.
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  • Blatant Lies: Principal Skinner claiming he injured his hands in a boating accident (it's fairly obvious he's been beaten by the Mafia to buy pretzels off Marge)
  • Bowdlerize: The gorier descriptions of the Yakuza and the end fight on the lawn have been edited on the UK's Channel 4.
  • Bus Crash: Within the same episode he's introduced, no less! Frank Ormand initially shows up to kickstart Marge's pretzel business, only to vanish from the plot immediately afterwards. When Homer tries to get his help later on, it turns out he (and the executor of his estate) abruptly died in a car crash off-screen.
  • Captain Obvious: "I'm not wild about these high-risk ventures. They sound a little risky."
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Marge leaves the Investorettes:
    Helen: You'll get your pancakes in the mail.
    Marge: And then they gave me back my $500 investment and kicked me out of the club.
    Homer: Wait, wait, wait. Back up a bit now. When are the pancakes coming in the mail?
    • There's also Marge's reaction to the classic "Hang In There" poster featuring a cat hanging on a clothesline, noting the year the poster was made and stating that the cat must be dead by now.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: Backfires big time on Marge, because she didn't think to place an "only worth one free pretzel per customer" label on the coupons she printed out for her business, Cletus manages to swindle her out of three hundred pretzels to feed his (absurdly large) family (even if she did think of placing that label, Cletus would have still gotten thirty or so free pretzels from her).
  • Conflict Killer: The third act is the build-up to the confrontation between the Simpson family and the Springfield Mafia... which abruptly ends when the Investorettes barge in and announce that they made a deal with the Yakuza to get even for the Fleet-A-Pita truck's explosion, unleashing them at the Mafia.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Homer initially seeks out the help of Frank Ormand, the man behind Marge's pretzel franchise, only to learn that he recently died. Homer decides to talk with the executor of Ormand's estate, only to learn that he just died too. "They were in the same car."
  • Couch Gag: The couch is a giant Whack-A-Mole game with the Simpsons as the moles.
  • Deal with the Devil: Fat Tony does Homer the favor of helping Marge's business succeed, but only in return for getting all of the money.
    Homer: You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return? Oh, Fat Tony! I will say good day to you, sir!
    Fat Tony: Okay. I will go. (leaves, then realizes what has happened) Hey, wait a minute!
  • Destination Defenestration: Inverted. During the Mob War that ensues on the Simpsons' front lawn, one member of the Yakuza gets thrown through a window into the house.
  • Despair Speech: When Marge gets depressed that nobody's buying her pretzels near the end of act two.
    Marge: I was wrong to have a dream, as usual. I mean, if you're nothing special, why kid yourself?
    Lisa: (concerned) Oh, mom, no!
    Marge: Listen to your mother, kids: aim low. Aim so low, no one will care if you succeed. Dinner's in the oven. If you want some butter, it's under my face.
  • Disco Dan: Disco Stu as usual, convinced that disco record sales would continue to trend despite peaking in the '70s, and wearing a pair of fish aquarium platform shoes (he admits he has no idea how to get the dead fish out of them).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Unwittingly done by Homer, who unleashes the Mob onto the food salesmen of Springfield (including blowing up the Investorettes' Fleet-A-Pita truck and making the Girl Scouts leave town at gunpoint) so Marge will be the only one selling (and also strong-arm a few people like Skinner into buying the pretzels). In response, the Investorettes unleash Yakuza assassins onto Marge (although if they had waited a little longer chances are Fat Tony would have done the deed for them).
  • Evil vs. Evil: The episode ends with a fight between the Springfield Mafia and the Yakuza.
  • Expy: Frank Ormand was based on Shelley Levene from Glengarry Glen Ross, who was also played by Jack Lemmon.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Fat Tony attempting to take Marge's car keys out of the ignition after running her off the road.
    Fat Tony: Is, uh, there a button or a release for these keys?
  • Foreshadowing: It's made obvious that Marge's investing in the pretzel business is going to suck when she eagerly asks Frank Ormand what her franchise territory is and Ormand, with some hesitation, makes an uplifting speech that Marge will be anywhere that people need snacks.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Fat Tony unleashes these onto the Yakuza at the climax and manages to deliver plenty of hurt.
  • Hope Spot: Marge manages to give away a pretzel to every single person that goes to a baseball game and she even mentions that the moment they get a taste of the pretzel, they will not stop asking for more. The very split second before everybody takes a bite, Mr. Burns wins a raffle giving away a 1997 Pontiac Astrowagon and every single person in the stadium tosses their pretzels at Burns in disgust.
  • Introdump: Parodied with Cletus having bought 300 pretzels to feed his children, and then proceeds to call them all out of the house by name... all twenty-six of them.
  • Japanese Politeness: A yakuza man is chucked through the family's kitchen window because of a Mob War on the lawn, and he bows politely and asks forgiveness before rushing out the door and rejoining the fight.
  • Jerkass Ball: Maude Flanders clutches this hard through most of the episode to the point where she's just as bad as the unpleasant and abusive Agnes Skinner and Helen Lovejoy while Edna and Luanne are a bit more downplayed than usual.
  • Killed Offscreen: Frank Ormand dies in a car crash off-screen at some point after giving Marge the idea to start a pretzel business.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The Fleet-A-Pita people make a show of the investors they just sold their franchise to: "Maude... Helen... Agnes... Luanne... Edna... Bart..."
  • Long List: Cletus calls all of his children outside: Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dillon, Dermott, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendall, Caitlan, Noah, Sasha, Morgan, Kira, Ian, Lauren, Q-Bert, and Phil.
  • Loophole Abuse: Marge gives out coupons valid for a free sample. She forgot to state that she would accept only one coupon per customer. At least this helped her to know the name of every one of Cletus' children.
  • Made of Iron: Fat Tony turns out to be this when his sole reaction to a Yakuza hitman kicking him in the face is to growl "come here!" and continue fighting.
  • Mister Big: A brief appearance in The Simpsons: Tapped Out lists the "little guy" Homer was expecting something amazing from as "Yakuza Boss".
  • Mob War: Between Fat Tony's group and the Yakuza on the Simpsons' front yard.
  • New Job Episode: This episode sees Marge attempting to carry a pretzel franchise.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Investorettes' feud with Marge would have been settled when the Springfield Mafia dealt with her, but they inadvertently saved her life when they sicced the Yakuza on them.
  • No Ending: The episode ends abruptly in the middle of the mob war. In the audio commentary, the writers outright admitted they were stumped for an ending.
  • Not-So-Innocent Whistle: Bart does it after he short-circuits Investo, the franchise fair's robot mascot, with his drink.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Averted when Marge notes that the cat in a tree that is the subject of her motivational poster ("Hang In There, Baby!") "must be long dead" because, even if it didn't fall, the poster was made decades ago.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome/Strolling Through the Chaos: The little guy in the Yakuza who is standing perfectly still as the fight rages around him. Homer wants to see him fight and knows it'll be good, but the second Marge gets him to come inside, we hear a barrage of screaming and punching. The episode ends with him coming crashing through the family's kitchen window; he apologizes to them before hurrying back outside.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Parodied when the mob blow up the Investorettes' falafel wagon. Helen is talking to Chief Wiggum who guides her through the process for throwing herself on the floor in front of the fireball.
    Helen Lovejoy: What are those men doing under my van?! [said men flee the van]
    Wiggum: Look, lady, if I was you, I would just leap into the air as I am preparing to do.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Cletus Spuckler introduces his 26 children to Marge and Homer.
  • Police Are Useless: The Springfield Police Department are on fine form, impounding the Investorettes' shipments of ingredients for ridiculously ludicrous reasons, nor intervening when the Mafia openly plant a bomb under the group's van.
  • Produce Pelting: Marge tries to sell her pretzels at a ballgame, but the sports fans end up hurling them at Mr. Burns and Whitey Ford.
  • Pun: When Marge first meets Frank Ormand:
    Marge: (tasting Frank's pretzel) Mmm! That's not bad!
    Frank: It's not only not bad, it's not bread. "Knot" bread. You get it?
  • Race Against the Clock: Fat Tony's ultimatum to Marge spoofs the standard warning.
    Fat Tony: You have 24 hours to give us our money. And to show you we're serious... you have 12 hours. See you at 6 a.m.
  • The Rival: The Investorettes vs. The Simpsons (especially Marge) and the Springfield Mafia
    • Rival Turned Evil: The Investorettes become this in the last act, when they hire the Yakuza to kill their rivals.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: Spoofed.
    Homer: (kneeling in a church) I've never reached out to you before but my wife is in her hour of need. Your help could make all the difference in the world.
    (Reveal Shot shows that he's actually talking to Fat Tony and the Mafia)
    Tony: Okay.
    Louie: See, boss? I told you that ads in the church bulletin would pay off.
  • Serious Business: The competition between two rival snack cart businesses results in a full-blown mob war on the Simpsons' front lawn.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Two of Cletus' children are Rumer and Scout, which are also the names of two of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughters.
    • The scene in which the Springfield Mafia destroy all of the competition to "Pretzel Wagon" is based on a scene from Goodfellas.
    • Frank Ormand's "You'll be there" speech mirrors that of Tom Joad from The Grapes of Wrath.
  • Start My Own: Marge takes Lisa's advice to join a franchise to beat her enemies at their own game.
  • Stupid Evil: When Fat Tony goes to Marge demanding money in exchange for the aid the Mafia had been giving her business, without her knowledge, he demands a hundred percent of the profits she is making. He doesn't consider that doing this could bleed Marge's business dry and eventually leave him with no money to extort.
  • Stylistic Suck: Frank Ormand's Pretzel Wagon orientation video, which opens with him setting up his camera, organizing his desk, and making a painfully forced Fourth Wall Greeting.
  • Tempting Fate: After Marge tells her family about no longer being one of the Investorettes, Homer tells her that she doesn't need to worry about that for as long as he can provide for them. Right after that, he hits one of his eyes with a hot dog he's trying to eat and it makes him unable to work.
  • Ticker Tape Parade: The family hold a fake parade (with Lisa as an astronaut) so they can drop leaflets for Marge's pretzel-selling business. Marge stages a tickertape parade to avoid littering laws when she throws flyers for her pretzel business off the buildings.
    Chief Wiggum: Welcome back, space girl. (sniffs)
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Investorettes, especially Helen Lovejoy. They hate Marge to the point of hiring the Yakuza to kill her, her family, and the Springfield Mafia after the latter destroys their business (which was Homer's fault). Then again, Helen could have died in that truck explosion and they don't know Marge isn't involved.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Bart and Lisa are woken up by the gang war on their lawn, when Lisa asks what's going on, Marge says "It's just a mob war. Go back to bed." in the same tone one would say as if it was raining.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Homer ultimately ends up starting a war between the Springfield Mafia and the Yakuza by going to Fat Tony for help, who then tried to kill Marge and Homer when they wouldn't hand over all the money they made selling pretzels, and who were (accidentally) saved by the Investorettes who hired the Yakuza to kill Homer and Marge after Fat Tony's men blew up their food truck.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Investorettes showcase how vile they are by hiring the Yakuza to kill Marge and her family in revenge for their Fleet-A-Pita truck being blown up by the Springfield Mafia (not knowing that Marge had nothing to do with it), just as Fat Tony and his crew are going to do something unpleasant to the Simpsons because Marge will not pay. The resulting Mob War saves the Simpsons' lives.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: The Investorettes weren't really doing anything wrong by kicking Marge out of their investment group (Marge herself admitted she didn't like "the whole idea of 'investing'"), and they were well within their rights to compete with her when they both started up mobile snack businesses. But they're such jerks about it that you're not sad at all when Marge's Mafia goons blow up their truck.
    • Keep in mind, Marge didn't know about Homer getting the Mafia involved at first, but didn't have much choice to go along with it to save both their necks when they wanted their cut. The Investorettes on the other hand, knowingly hired the Yakuza to compete, take down, and kill Marge. It should be noted that they don't know Marge isn't behind the Mafia goons and she would think they are just trying to beat her at her own game.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the beginning of the episode, Marge is kicked out of her friends' group and becomes their enemy, but in the next episode that features her with them, they are all friends once more. Do they even resolve their differences in the end or what? And who won against the Springfield Mafia and Yakuza?
  • Yakuza: The Investorettes unwittingly utilize them as a Conflict Killer when they unleash them onto the Simpsons just as Fat Tony was going to do whatever he was going to do because Marge wasn't going to give him the pretzel money.


Video Example(s):


The Yakuza

The Investorettes sic the Yakuza on the Simpsons just as Fat Tony was about to do them in, resulting in a Mob War being waged on the front lawn.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / Yakuza

Media sources: