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Recap / The Simpsons S 8 E 21 The Old Man And The Lisa

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"I call it the "Burns Omni-Net.' It sweeps the sea clean."
Episode - 4F17
First Aired - 4/20/1997
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While Lisa implements a recycling program, Mr. Burns discovers that he's lost his fortune (and was never told this beforehand because his accountants are sycophants/afraid of Mr. Burns' wrath) and now must live like a common man. With Lisa's help, Mr. Burns devises a plan to regain his fortune.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Dedicated Worker: Smithers continues doting over Burns even after he is fired and replaced by Lenny.
  • Alcohol Hic: Homer lets one out after going through quite a few cans of beer in an attempt to help Lisa out recycling.
  • All for Nothing: Despite all the recycling the Junior Achievers' Club did, they only made a check for 75 cents (which wouldn't even cover the gas for the drive to the store for the bundling twine) and had to cancel their field trip to Albany (with Principal Skinner even saying they wouldn't do any more recycling). Even worse, when Lisa pointed out that they had collected enough paper to save a whole tree, a few seconds later, an angry Skinner accidentally knocked a tree down while leaving the recycling center.
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  • As Himself: Bret Hart.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: This line, from Skinner:
    Skinner: What a load of garbage... I'm ecstatic!
  • Beyond the Impossible: After Lisa turned down Burns' offer, Homer experienced four simultaneous heart attacks (and a fifth one after Lisa tells Homer that 10% of $120,000,000 isn't $12,000...note )
  • Broke Episode
  • Call-Back:
    • When Lisa and Mr. Burns were arguing about recycling and it went to how wealthy Burns was, Lisa produced a copy of the biography Burns wrote ("Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?") from the season two episode "Blood Feud", where Homer forces Bart to donate blood to save Mr. Burns' life under the impression that they will be given money.
    • Also Burns knows it was Maggie who shot him but still doesn't know Homer's name.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Homer:
    Kent Brockman: Remember millionaire C. Montgomery Burns? The man who blocked out our sun, ran over a local boy, and stole Christmas from 1981 to 1985? Well, guess who's flat broke, and picking up trash for a living?
    Homer: Please be Flanders, please be Flanders...
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    • Also, when Lisa showed herself disgusted at knowing what the slurry named after her was made of, Mr. Burns thought a spoonful of it would have made her better. Sure, he didn't understand why Lisa didn't like the idea but he should have noticed she didn't.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Mr. Burns ends up at the Springfield Retirement Center around the same time that Lisa shows up looking for things to recycle.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: When Homer ends up in the hospital after Lisa turned down Burns' offer, he bemoans the loss of what he thinks is $12,000. Lisa then began to reluctantly clarify to him how much she actually gave upnote ; cut to the hallway with an alarm going off about a 'Code Blue'note .
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good / Hero with an F in Good: Mr. Burns has genuinely found a desire to do good, but he doesn't realize how wrong it is that Lil' Lisa's slurry is made from live sea creatures.
    Lisa: You're still evil, and when you try to be good, you're even more evil!
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Mr. Burns becomes a nervous wreck when trying to choose ketchup or catsup. As Burns is looking at the grocery list, you'll see that Smithers wrote "catsup", after all.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Lisa teaches Burns to recycle. And boy, does he...
  • Grand Finale: In the DVD commentary, the writers and producers joked that they could have ended the series with this episode, since the ending implied that Homer died of a massive heart attack.
  • Honest Advisor: Burns recruits Lisa since an honest voice can help him more than the yes-men who bankrupted him.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lisa refuses to accept the check from Mr. Burns on the grounds that it was gained though immoral means, even though she could have easily donated her share note  to charity or anything else that would have helped make up for how it was obtained.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: The grocery store workers are surprised by Burns struggling to choose between ketchup and catsup, thinking he's shocked from being bankrupted.
  • Invisible Subtle Difference: When Marge tries to recycle, she gets it wrong:
    Lisa: Mom, Mom! You're mixing polyethylene with polyurethane.
    Homer: (aghast) Marge!
  • Musical Gag: The That Girl sequence ends with the Simpson doorbell ringing the last two notes of the melody.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lisa upon realizing what Lil's Lisa's slurry is made of.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • "You inspired it all... Lil’ Lisa."
    • "Um, Dad, 10% of $120,000,000 isn't $12,000. It's-" "CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE!"
  • Noodle Incident: It's implied that Lenny, who was Mr. Burns' replacement at the plant, was every bit as ruthless as his predecessor, if not more so. When Smithers visits the Simpson house with Burns, he is surprised to see Homer at home:
    Smithers: Simpson! What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at work?
    Homer: I made a mistake and Lenny sent me home to think about what I'd done, but I can't remember what I did, so I'm watching TV.
    Smithers: Well, Lenny's reign of terror is over. Mr. Burns bought back the plant this morning.
  • Riches to Rags: Mr. Burns, thanks to listening to spineless yes-men. Lisa helped him to become wealthy again.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Lisa and her environmental causes. Gets so bad that when Burns is there praising her and puzzled over being called evil because of the slurry she can't see that she had a chance to explain to him exactly what is wrong and just runs off and later piously tears a check for twelve million dollars because it's her cut for Burns' slurry company without caring that she could have done anything good with the money and not accepting it means Burns has twelve million more to do evil with (and, oh yeah, she nearly kills her dad).
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Lisa refuses to accept her share of the profits from Mr. Burns' sale of the Lil' Lisa's slurry factory. She gives her father multiple heart attacks as a result (with the writers' commentary even joking that the moment when she apparently kills him' would have made a good point for the series ending).
  • Should Have Thought of That Before X: When Mr. Burns learns about recycling from Lisa:
    Mr. Burns: Oh, so Mother Nature needs a favor. Well, maybe she should have thought of that when she was besetting us with droughts and floods and poison monkeys.
  • Shout-Out: The sequence when Mr. Burns tries to ask Lisa to help him spoofs the Title Sequence of That Girl.
    • The scene where a confused Mr. Burns goes to a grocery store is inspired by an apocryphal account of George H. W. Bush being amazed at a grocery scanner.
    • The recycling center is called "Uriah's Heap", named after the character Uriah Heep from David Copperfield. The hippie who owns the center is modeled after Dennis Hopper's photographer character from Apocalypse Now.
    • The scene where Lisa runs down the streets of Springfield, trying to stop everyone from using Lil' Lisa's slurry spoofs Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Soylent Green.
  • So Proud of You: Marge thinks that Lisa did the right thing by turning down Burns' offer. Homer, not so much.
  • Spoof Aesop
    Homer: Well, Lisa, I hope you learned your lesson. "Never help anyone".
  • Straw Nihilist: Bart, on recycling:
    Bart: Ah, recycling is useless, Lise. Once the sun burns out, this planet is doomed. You're just making sure we spend our last days using inferior products.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: At first, it seems Mr. Burns has become a Benevolent Boss. However, we soon see the full extent of his recycling program...
  • Undying Loyalty: Smithers continues caring for Burns even upon his bankruptcy. He even lets him live in his house.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Mr. Burns goes grocery shopping. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Yes-Man: Mr Burns' poor investments go unnoticed because of this, with all his advisers too spineless to disagree with him. He even calls them this trope and chews them out. They still agree with him. The situation even provides the trope's page quote.
  • Your Answer to Everything: Smithers says he didn't warn Mr. Burns about the Great Depression because he still wasn't born back then. Mr. Burns says it's Smithers' excuse for everything.


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