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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E22: "In Marge We Trust"

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Concerned with the lack of interest the family shows at the church, Marge volunteers there and becomes "The Listen Lady," dispensing with excellent advice- as opposed to Lovejoy, who begins to feel like a dejected failure. Meanwhile Homer, Lisa, and Bart discover a Japanese box with Homer's face on it, and try to find out why.


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  • A Day in the Limelight: For Reverend Lovejoy, exploring his lack of enthusiasm with the church.
  • Animesque: The Mr. Sparkle logo, which looks like Homer with huge Pie Eyes.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: As Lovejoy bemoans Marge usurping his place as Springfield's moral advisor, he asks "What have I done to lose them?", sparking a vision in which St. Eleutherius from the Church's stain-glassed window asks "What have you done to keep them?".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The calls by Ned Flanders which ultimately drove Lovejoy into apathy.
    Ned: Well, I, I think I may be coveting my own wife.

    Ned: I'm meek but, I could probably stand to be meeker.

    Ned: I, I ... I think I may have swallowed a toothpick!
  • Badass Preacher: Lovejoy, saving Ned from a bunch of angry baboons.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The episode opens and closes with Reverend Lovejoy delivering a sermon. Bored during the first sermon, and passionate during the last sermon.
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    • Reverend Lovejoy lost his passion from helping Flanders, and he rediscovers it while helping Flanders.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The image of Homer was actually the result of a merger between two companies, even merging their previous logos; a big-eyed fish, and a light bulb.
    Lisa: Hey! It was all a coincidence!
    Bart: Yeah, there's your answer, fishbulb.
  • Dada Ad: The Mr. Sparkle commercial starts out fairly normal, with the mascot coming to life and doing a housewife's dishes, then it cuts to scenes like Mr. Sparkle turning some underwater go-go dancers into sumo wrestlers, and a news reporter interviewing a two-headed cow.
  • Freudian Excuse: Lovejoy's disinterest was the result of Ned constantly badgering him about every last (largely imagined) misdemeanor in his life, eroding his passion for preaching.
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  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Lovejoy likes playing with his train set in his spare time, as we see during Ned's montage of calls and later during his Heroic BSoD.
  • Heroic BSoD: Lovejoy, when his flock begins going to Marge for help, and realizes he hasn't done anything to inspire people.
  • House Amnesia: After Homer watches the Mr. Sparkle promo video:
    Homer: Well, it was a good ride while it lasted. Come on, kids, let's go home.
    Bart: We are home.
    Homer: That was fast.
  • Karma Houdini: Jimbo, Kearney and Dolph, as usual, face no repercussions for harassing Ned and simply leave when they lose sight of him, not to mention their abuse forced him to hide in a zoo enclosure inhabited by ferocious baboons.
  • Lack of Empathy: Ned's overbearing neurosis on every single thing he does made him incapable of recognizing how draining he was on Lovejoy's enthusiasm to the point he destroyed the man's ability to care.
  • Motif Merger: In-universe example: Merging the smiling fish logo of Matsamura Fishworks with the lightbulb logo of Tamaribuchi Heavy Manufacturing Concern, the two companies involved in the production of Mr. Sparkle dishwashing detergent, results in a grinning yellow head that just happens to resemble Homer's.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Marge tells Ned to stand up for his business to a bunch of hoodlums, causing him to be chased into a baboon exhibit at the zoo.
  • Oh, Crap!: Marge, when Maude tells her that Ned didn't come home the night before.
    • Ned, when he realises he's in the baboon exhibit and one appears right in front of him.
  • Overly Long Gag: Homer dialing to Japan.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: During his vision, Reverend Lovejoy gets asked what he's done to help Springfield's parishioners.
    St. Lucian: Tell us, good Reverend, what great deeds have you done to inspire the hearts of men?
    Lovejoy: Well, I had the vestibule recarpeted.
    St. Donickus: I've appeared in over eight thousand visions, and that's the lamest reply I've ever heard.
    Lovejoy: Oh, now please, I-I thought saints were supposed to be friendly.
    St. Donickus: You ... you're just lucky God isn't here.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Lovejoy after being worn down by Ned.
    Lovejoy: Finally, I just stopped caring. Luckly, by then it was The '80s, so no one noticed.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ned has absolutely no clue that his neurotic badgering over the years completely destroyed Lovejoy's enthusiasm for being a reverend.
  • What Were They Selling Again?: The Mr. Sparkle ads. Even with subtitles, they make no sense whatsoever. Justified in that it's a Japanese commercial and Japanese commercials really are that weird. The Japanese dub turns this trope Up to Eleven, and also overlapping with Self-Deprecation.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Reverend Lovejoy in the 70s, until he met Ned Flanders.
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