And here we are, the beginning of Season Seven, and the solution to the question that we were all waiting for with bated breath. The answer to “Who Shot Mr. Burns!”
Things start right off with Bart’s great chalkboard gag of “I will not complain about the solution when I hear it,” possibly calling ahead how ridiculous the solution actually is. And when the episode itself actually starts, we see that since the last episode Mr. Smithers has fallen on some rough times. He’s a drunken wreck drinking the classy Vagrant’s Choice bourbon. But as he’s taking stock of how far his life has fallen, he hears his shower on and goes to the bathroom to find Mr. Burns bathing, before telling him that they’re actually undercover detectives in a racecar circuit, and they’re actually on a TV show from the 70’s called Speedway Squad! But that’s just a dream, and Smithers wakes up for real and sees that Burns is still shot, and he’s still a mess.
We’re then caught back up on the events of the last episode by having Kent Brockman give a news report about the case, that starts with the amazing line “Dozens of people are gunned down each day in Springfield, but until now none of them was important.” We then hear that Mr. Burns survived his shooting, and was brought to a nice hospital after a crappy one that declared him dead. We also see that there were only two witnesses, Santa’s Little Helper and Maggie, who aren’t really being that helpful. So with no real suspects, pretty much everyone in town could have done it, including the entire Simpson family, as Lisa points out. This makes everyone in the family super awkward, since any of them could legitimately be the shooter at this point.
But while the Simpsons are acting awkward, Mr. Smithers is walking around town, trying to remember the night Burns was shot. And much to his surprise he finds a recently fired pistol in his coat pocket and remembers vaguely that he shot an old man, and realizes that he must have been the shooter, which causes him to fall to his feet and weep in a gutter. This leads to one of my favorite Simpsons visual gags, when a guy in a muffler costume comes up to the weeping Smithers, and just sticks a flier in his pocket before walking away. We take a brief break from Smithers to see Homer and some local hot-heads go to Burns’ sun-blocking machine and tear it down, which causes it to fall and crush Shelbyville. But once that’s done we see Smithers go to a Catholic church where he goes to the confessional to admit that he shot Mr. Burns. But it turns out that it was all an elaborate sting, and Chief Wiggum was in the booth, and he arrests Smithers.
Smithers is brought down to the station, where he’s interrogated and talks about how Mr. Burns had become a bit of a supervillain, which irritates the wonderful Dr. Colossus, who is in a jail cell listening. But when Smithers is brought before some reporters he makes a joke about Madonna, which Krusty and Sideshow Mel recognize when they watch the news together. It’s a joke Krusty stole from an episode of a show called Pardon My Zinger, which Mel remembers Smithers referencing at the town hall meeting. Mel then realizes that if Smithers heard that joke he must have watched the episode, which was airing at the time Burns was shot, clearing him. So Krusty and Mel head down to the station and we get the wonderful scene of :
Sideshow Mel: I am Melvin van Horne. And this is my associate, Herschel Krustofsky.
Krusty: Hey hey.
Sideshow Mel: Officers: you have arrested an innocent man.
Wiggum: Really? Ah, geez. [releases Dr. Colossus from his jail cell] All right, Colossus. You’re free to go, but stay away from Death Mountain.
Dr. Colossus: [disappointed as he leaves] All my stuff is there.
So Smithers I cleared, but he still shot some old man, so they begin piecing things together and Smithers remembers he actually shot Jasper. And after a quick visit to the Retirement Castle, they see that Jasper is fine, and the bullet just hit hit wooden leg, so everything’s okay. The police then announce that Smithers is fine, and the hunt continues. I really love that Chief Wiggum is learning about how to investigate a murder from Agatha Christie novels. And while Wiggum is searching for new suspects, Lisa shows up with a collage she made of the most logical people: Moe, Barney, Groundskeeper Willie, and Principal Skinner. Wiggum listens to all of this, but decides to investigate Tito Puente first, since he’s a celebrity. But Puente didn’t do it, and just wrote a slanderous mambo about him.
Wiggum then has to investigate everyone else, and we see him talk to Lisa’s suspects. Principal Skinner turns out to have an alibi, because he was going to attack Burns but accidentally put on ladies makeup in the bathroom instead of war-paint, which could be verified by Superintendent Chalmers. Willie is brought in and after flashing them like Basic Instinct he shows that he has crippling arthritis and can’t fire a gun. And Moe gets a polygraph test that shows he didn’t do it, while also showing the police that he’s going to go ogle ladies in the Sears catalogue that night. So with no other suspect, Wiggum decides to stay up all night and think, but ends up drinking warm cream and falls right asleep. He then has a crazy Twin Peaks dream where Lisa shows up and talks backwards about cards and burning, before finally just telling him to check Burns’ suit for clues.
So Wiggum wakes and up and he and Eddie go check Burns’ suit for clues, coming across an eyelash. They do a DNA test and find that it’s from a member of the Simpson family. And just around the same time, Mr. Burns finally wakes up from his coma and loudly yells “Homer Simpson,” which gives the police their suspect. They storm the Simpson house and find the pistol that shot Mr. Burns in Homer’s car, with his fingerprints on it. So Homer is arrested. But as they’re bringing him to jail Wiggum stops at Krusty Burger to get some food. But when Wiggum tries to reach the food, he tips the paddywagon over, causing it to crash and free Homer, who goes running off.
And before we check in on where Homer went or what Lisa’s investigation is up to, we see my favorite scene of this episode, when Mr. Burns is checked in on by Dr. Nick:
Dr. Nick: Hi Everybody!
Mr. Burns: Ho…mer…Simp…son!
Dr. Nick: Okay… That was a little strange… Umm… Tell me, how are you feeling today?
Mr. Burns: Homer… Simpson, Homer… D’oh… Simpson.
Dr. Nick: Hmm… That seems to be all you can say. When you were in that coma, did you feel your brain getting damaged?
So great. Anyway, Lisa begins investigating the death to see if she can clear Homer, but that’s made difficult when Smithers announces a reward for Homer, dead or alive, which gets the whole town excited. And wouldn’t you know it, Homer is in the hospital, getting ready to intimidate Mr. Burns into stop telling people he shot him. Lisa goes to check the scene of the crime, and hears that Homer has been spotted at the hospital, and races off to save her dad. And the angry mob shows up to find Homer shaking and yelling at Mr. Burns. And it’s at that point that Mr. Burns’ weird mental problem is fixed, and he can speak again, and his first words are asking Smithers who Homer is. This pisses Homer off and he threatens to shoot Burns, before Burns explains what actually happened. After the meeting he walked around the city hall, wallowing in his own crapulence, before coming across Maggie alone in the car while Marge was looking for the rest of her family. Burns saw Maggie had a sucker, and tried to steal candy from the baby, but in the struggle his pistol fell out of his holster, and landed in Maggie’s hands, going off. The gun then fell below the seat, where Homer’s fingerprints got on it. So it was Maggie who did it! And since this isn’t Texas, Wiggum doesn’t arrest the baby, and everything goes back to normal.
This episode is so fun. I’ve talked before about how I love the Sideshow Bob episodes so much, mainly because they’re structured like mysteries, and this episode is the same. I love seeing so many different police shows and movies parodied to show Chief Wiggum’s inept investigation into Burn’s attempted murder while we try to figure out who could have done it. Every citizen was a believable suspect, so it was actually a good mystery. And then it’s Maggie, which is just super random and goofy. A buddy of mine claims he had that idea back when things were airing, but his dad wouldn’t let him enter into the contest that happened. It’s a silly ending and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s probably the funniest way things could have gone. It’s just a great episode guys.
Take Away: Always suspect babies of murder.
“Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)” was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein and directed by Wes Archer, 1995.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons