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Recap / The Simpsons S 8 E 12 Mountain Of Madness

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Episode - 4F10
First Aired - 2/2/1997
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After an extremely disappointing display of teamwork during a fire drill, Mr. Burns forces his workers to participate in a cabin race at a mountain retreat, where the last one to find the cabin will be fired.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Homer rushes back into his station's room after running off when the fire alarm activates and gets indecisive about the various pictures of his family he has on his desk... before picking up one of him and an award he got on a food eating competition and running off.
    • When a Ranger asks about Ranger McFadden, a drunk shows up and says he's "just happy to see so many nice people". The drunk turns out not to be Ranger McFadden, who appears from behind the drunk.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lenny. Not only Carl is disappointed with having him as partner, but he also ends up being the last to enter the cabin and gets fired. And at the end, he falls to the abyss when attempting to chew Burns out.
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  • Cabin Fever: After they get stuck in a snowed-in cabin, Homer and Mr. Burns lose their grip on reality in a matter of hours.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Smithers privately calls out Burns after being forced to hike the mountain alone.
    Smithers: Sir, this can't be right. You assured me this drawing was rigged so we'd be teammates.
    Burns: Yes, well, frankly, you've been a bit of a pill lately.
    Smithers: Why do we always fight on vacation?
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer boasts to winning after he gets out of the plant first and blocks the door. Burns is naturally not pleased to see Homer being so dumb as to block the door in a fire drill and tells him he "won" more than he bargained for, to which Homer just cheers.
  • Cutting Corners: Marge tries to cheer the kids up when they learn they're not allowed to join Homer on the race to the mountain cabin by reminding them that there's all sorts of fun things to do at national parks. Unfortunately...
    Park ranger: I'm afraid that's no longer true, ma'am. Budget cutbacks have forced us to eliminate anything the least bit entertaining.
    (Awkward, disappointed pause)
    Park ranger: Well, uh, see ya.
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  • Death Glare: As shown in the page's image, Homer and Burns deliver murderous glares at each other after their Cabin Fever sets in. They also do this in the end scene.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Discussed.
    Burns: If you can take advantage of a situation in some way, it's your duty as an American to do it. Why should the race always be to the swift or the jumble to the quick-witted? Should they be allowed to win merely because of the gifts God gave them? Well, I say cheating is the gift man gives himself!
    Homer: Mr. Burns, I insist that we cheat.
    Burns: Excellent.
  • Enforced Plug:
    McFadden: Wow, look at all these avalanches. You think they could've buried the cabin?
    Ranger: Well, I'll tell you one thing. They didn't come here for the Mountain Music Festival... March 14-18.
  • Epic Fail: The power plant's fire drill, which kicks off the plot. No one gets it in at least fifteen minutes. The first one out is Homer, who then blocks the exit.
    Homer: I think I won, Mr. Burns!
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Spoofed. During the dinner scene when Homer was telling the family what the company retreat was all about, Bart makes several comments slamming the good parts of human nature, such as teamwork, sharing, helping others, and tolerance.
  • Expo Speak Gag: Mr Burns does it just before entering the cabin with Homer.
    Burns: And this doorknob, properly turned, will allow us access to the cabin.
  • Gas Cylinder Rocket: A propane tank attached to a cabin gets its end knocked off and propels the structure downhill:
    Homer: [praying] Dear Lord, protect this rocket house and all those who dwell within the rocket house.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Invoked Trope. Burns makes the employees race to the cabin as a teamwork exercise, with the threat of firing the last team to arrive. The crisis that follows prevents Burns from finding out that the last guy to arrive to the rally point was Smithers.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: The first avalanche is caused by Homer & Mr. Burns clinking two glasses together in a toast. The second is caused by their boisterous "Huzzah!" after digging themselves out of the first. Then,
    Homer: I think when we yelled we caused another avalanche. *AVALANCHE*
    Burns: whispering We should... be... careful... not... to speak...unless... it's... absolutely... pos-i-tively... necessary. *AVALANCHE*
    Homer: Shh. *AVALANCHE* You're... causing... more... avalanches. *AVALANCHE* I *AVALANCHE* think *AVALANCHE* they've *AVALANCHE* stopped. Beat *AVALANCHE*
    Burns: Let's go. (yet another avalanche occurs as they crawl out from under the table they're hiding under)
  • A House Divided: Homer and Burns start the crisis being pretty amiable to each other. By the end scene, they are quite willing to kill each other.
  • I'll Kill You!:
    Mr. Burns: I'll kill you, you bloated museum of treachery!
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: Thanks to a funny misunderstanding.
    Smithers: How could you do this to me, Mr. Burns, after all I've done for you? If you were here right now, I'd kick you in your bony old behind!
    ("bony old behind!" echoes through the mountains, and Mr. Burns hears one of them)
    Mr. Burns: (cheerfully) Why thank you, Simpson, I have been watching my figure.
  • In Vino Veritas: Subverted, where a park ranger enters a cabin and finds it full of partying employees from the nuclear plant.
    Ranger: Hey, what is going on here? Who are you people? This is a lookout post. Where is Ranger McFadden?
    Drunk: I was just happy to see so many nice people!
    Ranger: Quiet, you drunk. Where is Ranger McFadden?
    (The camera then moves a step to the side, revealing a straight-laced ranger with glasses)
    Ranger McFadden: Right here, sir, behind the drunk.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Homer is far from being the only incompetent idiot at the plant. Notably, he's actually the first employee to realize a fire drill and the first one to evacuate the building.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: It's hard not to agree with Burns' disgust over his employees' inability to work together.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Homer and Mr. Burns are trapped in a log cabin buried underneath an avalanche of snow.
  • Magic Feather: Lenny and Carl reach the spot where the cabin should be, but it had been buried under an avalanche by then. Carl brings up the possibility that this trope could be in play, but Lenny dismisses it, saying, "They said there would be sandwiches."
  • Mood-Swinger: In the ending, Homer and Mr. Burns switch between laughing about their misadventure and glaring sinisterly at each other.
  • Never My Fault: Mr. Burns blames Homer for causing the last three avalanches, but one of them was caused by Mr. Burns himself.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The design of the forest ranger was based on Al Gore.
  • Pre-Violence Laughter: Played for laughs (and The End... Or Is It? drama): After everything that is said and done and Burns and Homer have tried to kill each other, they laugh it off alongside everybody else, but they keep pausing in their laughter to give each other a Death Glare.
  • Seen It All: When the Simpsons pull into the parking lot, they dangerously slide all over the lot and crash into the other cars, and they never once make a sound. They even seem perfectly okay with it.
  • Shaped Like Itself: When Marge and the ranger decide to use a chair lift to search for Bart and Lisa, the ranger remarks, "It'll give us an eagle-eye view of the area directly beneath the chair lift."
  • Shout-Out: The title is a reference to H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
  • Slouch of Villainy: How Homer and Mr. Burns got to the cabin first as they just sit and loaf while they wait for everyone else, and Burns has an odd take on it:
    Homer: Oh, these sure are comfortable chairs.
    Burns: Oh, yes, sitting. The great leveler. From the mightiest Pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?
  • Talking to Themself: Due to a captioning error, the following dialogue appears in subtitles right after the scene where Mr. Burns believes the snowmen he and Homer built are conspiring against them:
    Homer: Burns has lost his mind; it doesn't mean I will. I'm talking to myself. Normal people do that.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Smithers becomes rather testy when Burns forced him to find the cabin alone. He becomes more annoyed by Bart and Lisa slowing his progress significantly.
    Lisa: Mr. Smithers, Mr. Smithers! That moose is on fire!
    Smithers: Fine, good. I don't care anymore.
  • Trust-Building Blunder: Mr. Burns organizes a teamwork retreat in the mountains, where people worked in pairs racing towards a cabin. Mr. Burns randomly pairs himself with Homer and of course cheats by using a snowmobile. Later, when the cabin has been buried by an avalanche and nobody can find the actual finish point:
    Carl: Maybe the "Cabin" was just a symbol for the special place in our hearts that we use when we work together?
    Lenny: Eh... but he said there'd be sandwiches...
  • You and What Army?: As Homer and Mr. Burns are slowly going mad, each thinking the other is planning on killing him. Eventually, Burns snaps and threatens to kill Homer. Homer responds with this... and then imagines an army of snowmen wearing German pickelhaube helmets supporting Mr. Burns. His response? Scream and claim he has special powers, Political powers. Then Burns imagines the ghosts of deceased world leaders (Mao Zedong, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Tutankhamun and Mahatma Gandhi) backing Homer up.

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