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Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 17 Lisa The Simpson

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After failing to immediately figure out a picture puzzle, forgetting her locker combination, and turning in a piss-poor school project, Lisa fears she's losing her brainpower, and things get worse when Grampa Simpson tells Lisa that she may have the Simpson Gene, which has already made Homer, Bart, and Grampa himself dumber with age. Meanwhile, Jasper Beardley uses the Kwik-E-Mart freezers to cryogenically preserve himself, and Apu deals with the situation the only way he knows how — by making a profit off it.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Lisa will never get dumber with age due to being a female, but Bart is doomed to that fate. He just shrugs it off. Episodes set in the future just seem to show how much a deadbeat person Bart turns out to be. Though the "Simpson gene" thing was later retconned.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase/Meaningful Echo: "Woo-hoo! ...I mean, 'splendid'."
  • Critical Research Failure: In-universe. After giving an oversimplification of what DNA is, Troy McClure freezes up when asked what DNA actually stands for.
  • Double Standard: Literally encoded in the genetics of the Simpson family (or so Grandpa says, and thus convinces Lisa of): family males are doomed to become Epic Fail deadbeat imbeciles and women are all fated to be incredibly awesome brainiacs.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: All of the episode's drama is Lisa's belief that she's doomed to suffer this, and may already be starting to.
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  • For Want of a Nail: If not for Lisa angsting over being unable to figure out a simple puzzle there wouldn't have been any conversation about the Simpson Gene.
  • Future Loser: Lisa fears she will become one from eating a candy bar: it causes her to have an Imagine Spot where she ends up having a bunch of children, married to Ralph, becoming well over 300 pounds, and speaking with a Southern accent.note 
  • Harmless Freezing: Jasper is frozen solid by the Kwik-E-Mart's freezer, and when he thaws out, he's completely unharmed, with absolutely no problems with hypothermia, frostbite, or shock.
  • Horny Vikings: Jasper is fitted with a typical Viking helmet and shield when repurposed as "Frostillicus."
  • Human Popsicle: Jasper tries this in the freezer, becoming "Frostillicus" in the process. He technically does defrost in the future, but it's only a couple of days or so rather than several years when robot wives are "cheap and efficient".
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  • It Runs in the Family: The Simpson Gene is explained to be an hereditary gene that gradually turns a Simpson member into a dumb moron as they age. Lisa finds out through the female side of the family that the gene only affects the males, proven by how the females all have successful careers in medicine and being realtors for growing companies.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • Jasper defrosts and leaves the freezer, spoiling Apu's chance to sell him to the Rich Texan (or at least his head). Following this is a gag where the Kwik-E-Mart is remade into a strip joint called the Nud-E-Mart, complete with Apu and Sanjay naked behind a podium and a bike post outside the entrance.
    • Kent Brockman's news report about towel snappings features a bare, yellow butt.
  • Noodle Incident: What happened between Grampa and Louie the barber? Obviously an argument of some sort, but over what?
    Grampa: The George Raft look is dead! I want an Audie Murphy!
    Marge: If you would just apologize to Louie, you could get your hair cut the way you want!
    Grampa: No apology! Not until he admits he's a jerk!
  • Oh, Crap!: Lisa when she realizes she forgot all about the agriculture project, which is due in for that day.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What was in the unlabelled can? Otto suggests it's something nobody was supposed to know.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During her speech to encourage people to use their minds, Lisa describes the works To Kill a Mockingbird, Harriet the Spy, and Yertle the Turtle as great literature.
    • Homer, Bart, and Lisa watch a show featuring a montage of buildings exploding and imploding. One of the buildings is a Gothic manor with a gate reading "The House of Usher."
    • The eraser pig made with springs and pushpins is a reference to a similar prop in Matt Groening's Life in Hell comics.
    • Lisa's imagination spot where she becomes obese and uneducated spoofs What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
  • Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle: The brain teaser that sets off the episode is comparable to one as Lisa tries to figure out what the last symbol in a series of six would be. She even notes that the symbols don't appear to be anything like Egyptian hieroglyphics or any characters of the like. At the end, she finds that the symbols are made of the numbers 1-6 fused together with a mirrored image of each number.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Lisa gets able to make a heartfelt entreaty about the importance of valuing intelligence by claiming she wants to speak about her (feigned) opposition to Proposition 305, giving discount bus fares to war widows. Later that evening when she's being broadcast...
    Lisa: I'm supposed to talk to you about Proposition 305...
    Homer: Mooching war widows!

Alternative Title(s): The Simpsons S 9 E 17 Lisa The Simpsons


Example of: