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Recap / The Simpsons S9 E9 "Realty Bites"

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Episode - 5F06
First Aired - 12/7/1997

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.

This episode features Phil Hartman's last appearance as Lionel Hutz before his death in 1998.


  • 13 Is Unlucky: The residential ID of the Murder House is "1313".
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: One of the items for sale at the police auction is the main gate of drug kingpin "Johnny D.". Chief Wiggum lists off what the gate will resist. Principal Skinner asks what happened to Johnny D.
    Chief Wiggum: He forgot to lock them.
  • The Alleged House: This exchange lampshades a few of the common metaphorical truths of real estate listings:
    Lionel Hutz: There's "the truth" (shakes head) and "the truth." (smiles wide) Let me show you. (shows pictures of homes for sale)
    Marge: It's awfully small.
    Lionel Hutz: I'd say it's awfully "cozy."
    Marge: That's dilapidated.
    Lionel Hutz: "Rustic."
    Marge: That house is on fire!
    Lionel Hutz: "Motivated seller."
    • The house that the Flanders' are interested in plays with this: it's a perfect house, structurally speaking, but it's a murder house. They are perfectly OK with it, but everybody else is in some way nervous about the whole idea and Marge actually feels like she swindled them for not pointing it out sooner.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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: The Springfield Penitentiary is apparently run on the honor system, an unlocked door with a "No escaping please" sign is the only thing keeping the prisoners in.
  • Car Meets House: The "Lil' Bandit" and Wiggum's patrol car both ram the murder house, wrecking it.
  • Catch Phrase: 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:
    • Larry Burns, Mr. Burns' son from "Burns Baby Burns".
    • Lurleen Lumpkin from "Colonel Homer," who looks just as worn-out and drug-addled as she did in "Marge vs. The Monorail".
    • George H.W. Bush from "Two Bad Neighbors"
    • The redheaded hippie writer (modeled after Simpsons writer George Meyer) from "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" who was fired for objecting to adding Poochie the dog in a vain attempt at revitalizing The Itchy and Scratchy Show.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    Marge: I'm not getting back in this car until you drive like a sane person!
    Homer: [speeds off] Okaybyeloveya!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: Kirk getting his arm sliced off. All he utters is a sad, "Ow!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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), 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.
  • Shout Out:
    • Gil makes his first appearance in this episode, and is patterned after Jack Lemmon's character 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!"
    • Snake uses Acme Piano Wire when attempting to decapitate Homer.
    • 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"
  • 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.
  • Sole Survivor: Presumably Mrs. Astor from the Jealous Jockey Murders.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: Lionel Hutz is as principled a real estate agent as a lawyer. He expects the same from Marge, and the others as Red Blazer Realty don't seem much better.
  • That Poor Car: Snake is upset when he hears Homer shifting gears poorly and using regular gasoline instead of premium.
  • Traintop Battle: The climax has Homer and Snake brawling on top of a moving Lil' Bandit.
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.


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