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Recap / The Simpsons S9 E9 "Realty Bites"

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Original air date: 12/7/1997

Production code: 5F06

Feeling bored with life (once again), Marge takes a job in real estate but is uncomfortable having to bend the truth to make sales, especially when she wants to sell a murder house to the Flanders. Meanwhile, Homer buys Snake's car at a police auction and Snake breaks out of jail to get it back.


  • 13 Is Unlucky: The residential ID of the Murder House is "1313".
  • A Bloody Mess: When Marge goes in the Murder House, she sees the Flanders lying on the floor covered with what seems to be blood. It's revealed that it was just red paint, and the Flanders are actually alive.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Inverted with the main gate of drug kingpin "Johnny D.", which was stated to be "bulletproof, bombproof, and battering ram resistant". The only reason the police got through and arrested Johnny was because he forgot to lock the gate.
  • Acme Products: Snake uses Acme Piano Wire when attempting to decapitate Homer.
  • The Alleged House: Marge doesn't do well because Hutz employer expects her to lie through her teeth to trick people into buying terrible homes. And then she actually manages to sell a house to the Flanders family, which plays with this: it is a perfectly fine home in terms of structure, and it definitely is the family's dream home...the problem is that multiple people were murdered there. The Flanders family is still perfectly okay with it once they find out, but everybody else in the cast (especially Marge) feels nervous at the very concept and she can't stop feeling like she swindled them for not bringing the fact up sooner.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Kirk's arm is sliced off by Snake's wire while complaining that his sandwich wasn't sliced.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Hutz lists off the collateral damage of the chaos Homer and Snake brought upon (the Murder House demolished, a patrol car destroyed, etc), but what really makes him mad is that Marge gave the check for the house's payment back to Ned.
  • Asshole Victim: A non-fatal example, when Homer, Snake, and Chief Wiggum crash into the murder house; Homer and Wiggum get out of it unscathed thanks to them landing on a large pile of bubble wrap that happened to be inside the house. Snake however is badly injured and in pain from the crash.
  • Auction: Homer buys Snake's custom car in a seized property auction.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Marge goes to the Murder House to check on the Flanders, she sees them lying on the floor covered in what appears to be blood, which leads to Marge screaming in horror. Then, the Flanders all wake up telling Marge that they were just taking a nap after they were painting a room with red paint.
    • Kirk drives down the road toward's Snake's wire trap, waving his sandwich in the air above his head while angrily yelling that he wanted it sliced. The wire neatly slices his arm off instead.
  • Big "NO!": A variation. When Snake sees his car, Li'l Bandit, is next up for auction, he exclaims, "Oh, no!"
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Implied with Cookie Kwan, who's number one on the west side and wants to keep it that way. She cheerfully greets Marge, then warns her to stay away from the west side, and then suspiciously asks Nick and Gil if they are talking about the west side, when in fact it was Nick talking about how long he thought Marge would last at Red Blazer Realty.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Kirk gets one of his arms cut in half on-screen and nothing truly gory happens — the epilogue even shows he was able to get it reattached at the hospital with no major complications.
  • Bluff the Impostor:
    Moe Szyslak: Geez, this hot rod is souped up six ways from Sunday! Never had you figured for a gearhead, Homer.
    Homer: Oh yeah, I'm a real expert.
    Moe: What is that, a six barrel Holley carb?
    Homer: You betcha!
    Moe: Edelbrock intakes?
    Homer: Nothing but.
    Moe: Myohoff lifters?
    Homer: Oh, yeah.
    Moe: I made that last one up.
    Homer: I see.
  • Brick Joke: Kirk's arm is sliced off by Snake's piano wire. When he's later seen in the unemployment line at the end of the episode, he has a cast on that same arm.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Marge can't bring herself to lie to people and ends up getting fired.
  • Cardboard Prison: Snake simply walks out through the jail's unlocked door, ignoring the "no escaping, please" sign posted nearby. Fellow inmate Kearney is not pleased.
    Snake: Screw the honour system. My car needs me!
    Kearney: Hey, you're ruining it for the rest of us!
  • Car Meets House: The "Lil' Bandit" and Wiggum's patrol car both ram the murder house, wrecking it.
  • Character Catchphrase: Nick Callahan, one of the realtors, has one: "Boo-yah!" He says this twice, first when he manages to sell the Whitman place (which Gil had been trying to sell for 21 years), and again when he learns Marge sold the Murder House.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer's reaction to Snake jumping in his car to steal it back.
    Snake: Give me my car, fatty!
    Homer: Hey, this is my car! And I'm not fat, it's glandular!
    Snake: Right!
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The people in the unemployment line besides Kirk and Marge are minor characters who were put out of work:
  • Continuity Nod: Marge mistakes Ned Flanders' screaming over purple drapes for screams of murder, similarly to Bart thinking Ned's screams were coming from Maude being murdered in "Bart of Darkness".
  • Cool Car: Snake's car, "Lil' Bandit", a '68 Pontiac Firebird, which he's very protective of. And then it turns out that Homer purchased it.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits, and a live action hand spins the screenshot around, smearing the shot's paint.
  • Cowboy Cop: Parodied at the denouement, wherein Marge gets the standard "loose cannon" speech from Hutz just before she's fired.
  • Da Chief: Parodied with Hutz giving Marge a standard "loose cannon" rant at the denouement (sure, there was plenty of destruction, but keep in mind that they are real estate agents).
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Lionel Hutz sits Marge down to teach her the jargon:
    Hutz: There's (ominous) the truth (shakes head in disapproval), and there's (smiling) "The Truth!" Lemme show you. (opens a brochure)
    Marge: It's awfully small.
    Hutz: I'd say it's awfully ... cozy.
    Marge: That's dilapidated.
    Hutz: Rustic.
    Marge: That house is on fire!
    Hutz: Motivated seller!
  • Dead Foot Lead Foot: A variant. Homer's shoe is knocked off and lands on the gas pedal, causing it to keep going with no driver.
  • Doves Mean Peace: When Marge is constantly worried that the Flanders are going to get murdered, she imagines the Dove on Ned's check urging her to tell them the truth.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    Marge: I'm not getting back in this car until you drive like a sane person!
    Homer: [speeds off] Okaybyeloveya!
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Parodied when Marge thanks Bart and Lisa for passing her real estate exam. When Homer complains that he didn't get any credit, Bart says that he didn't do anything.
    Homer: What about me? You didn't thank me.
    Bart: You didn't do anything.
    Homer: I like being thanked.
  • End of an Age: This episode features Phil Hartman's last appearance as Lionel Hutz before his death in 1998, and introduces two new characters, Gil and Cookie Kwan, who would fill the same sort of roles Hutz did on the show.
  • Exact Words: Marge says at the end that it would have been nice to bring home at least one paycheck. Homer reassures her that she will, as he drives up to the unemployment office. He didn't say she had to still be employed to bring a paycheck home.
  • Foreshadowing: Nick's comment of "I give her a week." Hutz later tells Marge that if she fails to sell a house in her first week at Red Blazer Realty, she'll be fired.
  • George Jetson Job Security:
    Lionel Hutz: Cubicles are for closers, Marge. Anyone who doesn't sell a house their first week gets fired. I probably should've mentioned that earlier.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Implied to be what led to the "Jealous Jockey Murders."
  • Honor Before Reason: Marge giving back the check because she sold the Flanders family the Murder House, as well as being completely unable to lie about the problems her homes have to clients that come to look (almost to the point she pleads them to not buy the houses).
  • Horrible Housing: Played for Laughs when Marge starts work as a realtor and tries to sell some truly desperate properties. One house's front wall falls off mid-showing, exposing Lenny eating cereal in an empty, dingy room.
    Lenny: ...Please don't tell anyone how I live.
  • House-Hunting Montage: Marge repeatedly fails to sell houses due to her being too honest about the houses' lack of quality. Her boss warns her that she will be fired unless she sells a house soon, yet she still cannot manage to lie to the Flanders family. When they see the final house, which unbeknownst to them was the location of a mass homicide, Marge finally manages to lie and they agree to buy it.
  • Humiliation Conga: Snake loses his car at a police auction to Homer Simpson, who mishandles it much to Snake's irritation. His first attempt to kill Homer is a flop, and the second one results in Homer getting some good hits in on the criminal when he underestimates Homer's ability to fight back. Then because of his attempt on Homer's life, Li'l Bandit crashes into the Murder House, gets totaled, and Snake himself is left bruised, broken, and humiliated before he's presumably taken back to jail.
  • I Am Big Boned:
    Snake: Give me my car, fatty!
    Homer: What? This is my car! And I'm not fat, it's glandular!
  • I Call It "Vera": Snake's car, which he calls Li'l Bandit.
  • Imagine Spot: Marge imagines the dove on Ned's check telling her she has to tell the Flanders' the truth about the Murder House. The dove lets the branch fall from its beak, says, "You've got to tell them the truth, Marge. The truth!", then the branch flies back into its beak.
  • Lawful Stupid: Marge feels she can't lie to people about the houses they buy, even tries to talk some people out of moving house altogether, and even though the Flanders' tell Marge they'll be happy in the Murder House, she tells them she won't feel right with herself until she returns their deposit. Lisa, however, commends Marge for not compromising her integrity.
  • The Lost Lenore: Homer asks Skinner if he wants to drag race, only for Skinner to sadly remark that his high school sweetheart, Debbie Sue, was killed in a drag-racing accident. Homer tries to reassure him by saying, "It'll be fun." It turns out to be the worst thing he could say, as that's what Debbie Sue said before said accident.
  • Low Clearance: Homer has bought Snake's convertible car during a police auction. Snake escapes from jail to get his "baby" back, and at one point strings wire across the road to cut Homer's head off as he drives by. Homer happens to serendipitously duck as he goes by the wire, but Kirk Van Hauten isn't so lucky: as he complains that his sandwich wasn't sliced by holding it in the air, the wire slices his arm off.
  • Machine Empathy: At one point Homer drives the Lil' Bandit by Springfield Penitentiary, and Snake says that the car is "in pain" from the way Homer guns the engine. He also takes a whiff of the exhaust fumes as Homer drives away and is able to determine that Homer is using regular gasoline instead of premium.
    Snake: Hey, that smells like regular. She needs premium, dude! PREMIUM! DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE!!!
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Snake attempts to get his car Li'l Bandit back from Homer by setting up a line of piano wire to decapitate him. Homer ducks in time and the next car shown passing is Kirk Van Houten angrily complaining that his deli sandwich wasn't cut while waving his arm out. The wire takes his arm off from the elbow. Kirk's response is an "Ow" in a disappointed tone.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Marge, the Flanders', Homer and Snake all have one when Snake's car is about to crash into the Murder House. They get a second one when Wiggum's police cruiser is about to crash into the house as well, after which the house collapses.
  • Mean Boss: Hutz definitely qualifies given the fact he enforces George Jetson Job Security in his company and then gives Marge a jacket saying "Fired" right after making it look like he was okay with the whole mess of the climax.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Red Blazer Realty has blazers with custom badges for anything... including people who have been fired.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: Marge felt she cheated the Flanders family by selling them a house were people were murdered, but this makes them like the house even more.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Lionel Hutz turns out to work in real estate, so this episode’s plot can commence.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The whole Flanders family, strangely enough. When they find out their new house was the site of a large number of infamous murders, they're downright excited about living in a piece of Springfield history.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The "Jealous Jockey Murders" that happened in the house Marge sells to the Flanders. We're not told the details as to what happened or how it was instigated, other than the intended victim Mrs. Astor survived by hiding in the butler's pantry and there was a "torso heap" in front of the fireplace in the living room. Whatever else happened got the home dubbed "The Murder House."
    • The brief shot of Kirk in the unemployment line with his arm in a sling will come off as this if you watch a censored version which cuts the scene of Kirk getting his arm cut off after Homer dodges the piano wire.
  • Pet the Dog: Borderline example with Lionel Hutz, oddly enough, as while he’s the Mean Boss of a cutthroat real estate firm where lying is an accepted tactic and realtors who don’t sell are treated harshly, he is still worlds more ethical, restrained, and put-together than in previous appearances.
  • Police Are Useless: Three more strikes for the Springfield Police: they spent God-only-knows-how-long trying to break open a drug dealer's gate (apparently one time trying to shoot it) before trying to see if it was unlocked (it was, which is just as stupid)—and then it's sold to another drug dealer for "one kilo", the local jail runs strictly on the honor system, and Wiggum's involvement at the climax happens just because Snake and Homer disturbed him from his nap.
  • Police Code for Everything: The Springfield Police Department has a code for people waking a police officer from his nap — Code 318.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Homer indulges in this while fighting Snake for L'il Bandit.
  • Razor Floss: Snake uses some piano wire as this to try and decapitate Homer. Homer happens to duck at just the right time, and it gets Kirk's arm instead.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Referenced by Hutz when he shows Marge some crappy homes they have on sale as a show of how much he wants her to lie. Marge points out a house that for some reason was on fire when the picture was taken and Hutz only says "motivated seller!" in response.
  • Sex Sells: Marge's real estate billboard. Parodied with The Lumber King billboard, where Homer is mesmerized by the fat, moving butt of the company mascot.
    Homer: Gee, that picture makes your butt look big!
    Marge: I thought so, too! But they said it sells.
    Bart: Works for the Lumber King.
    (Cuts to Lumber King billboard, with the mechanical "butt" moving back and forth)
    Homer: Lumber...we need lumber...
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: The whole estate office are clearly fine with lying through their teeth to make a sale, especially her boss, Lionel Hutz. The drama of the episode revolves around the fact that she is way too honest for her own good, and then lied through omission to Ned Flanders that the dream home she sold his family is a murder house and she will not feel comfortable having Ned's money because of the lie, even after Ned makes clear he doesn't mind (heck, he actually likes) living in a murder house.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gil makes his first appearance in this episode, and is patterned after Shelley Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross. The "cubicles are for closers" line is also a parody of the line, "Coffee is for closers".
    • Todd Flanders says "Red room, red room, over there!"
    • The newspaper on the murders mentions "Mrs. Astor safe", a reference to the issue of The New York Times reporting on the RMS Titanic, which specifically mentioned survivor Madeline Astor.
    • The Murder House is based on the Bates' house in Psycho.
  • Skewed Priorities: Chief Wiggum's reason for pursuing Snake and Homer? They caused a 318- "Waking a police officer"
  • Sole Survivor: Presumably Mrs. Astor from the Jealous Jockey Murders. Marge mentions the woman was lucky to survive.
  • Taking the Heat: The Murder House is ultimately destroyed by Homer, Snake and Chief Wiggum, who rammed their cars into it during a Hot Pursuit. That was grounds for a liability for Destruction of Property on them (especially Snake, who started the chase when attempting to steal the car from Homer). Instead, Marge takes the blame and reimburses Flanders, still feeling guilty over having sold the house in the first place.
  • Traintop Battle: The climax has Homer and Snake brawling on top of a moving Lil' Bandit.
  • Trashy True Crime: The Flanders family's usual attitude is put in jarring contrast with their enthusiasm over the grisly details of the Jealous Jockey murders. They couldn't be happier to find out they happened in the home they moved into.
    Ned: This must be where he dropped the dagger. And this is the butler's pantry where Mrs. Astor concealed herself. And right here's where they found the torso heap, in front of our very own fireplace.
    Maude: Oh, just think, Neddy. We're part of Springfield history.
    (Rod mimes stabbing Todd)
    Rod: Look, daddy, I'm the Jealous Jockey!
    Todd: I'm a torso!
  • Vocal Dissonance: When Flanders is excited about the house he's touring, he screams like a woman, which is a reference to "Bart of Darkness".
    Ned: Purple drapes! All my life, I've wanted purple drapes! (high-pitched scream)
  • Watch the Paint Job: Snake is upset when he hears Homer shifting gears poorly and using regular gasoline instead of premium.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: When Johnny D's gates are sold at the police auction, Snake laughs at him. He has the last laugh when the next item turns out to be Snake's car.
  • Wrong Line of Work: Marge is considerably more honest than most of the staff at the realty agency, and struggles to make a sale because she does things like point out flaws in the properties or tell some of the customers that she likes the house they're already living in.
  • You Did the Right Thing: Bart tries to console Marge after she's fired by telling her she did this. Eventually (his words).
  • Your Door Was Open: The Springfield Police auction off the gate to druglord Johnny D's mansion.
    Chief Wiggum: These prestigious, wrought iron security gates are bulletproof, bombproof and battering ram-resistant. Now...
    Principal Skinner: Then what happened to Johnny D?
    Chief Wiggum: He forgot to lock them.