Episode Twenty Five, Season Eight of The Simpson’s is entitled The Secret War of Lisa Simpson. It originally aired on May 18th, 1997. I viewed this episode Tuesday March 23rd on a widescreen plasma TV at my Grandmother’s house. The couch gag for this episode is also a repeat. The episode begins with Lisa in school, bored and unchallenged by the curriculum. Meanwhile Bart is on a field trip to the police station. When he hooks together a dozen megaphones form the storage closet and yells into them all the glass in Springfield shatters. Chief Wiggum takes Bart home and suggests that Marge and Homer send the boy to military school. They agree that it’s time to do something about his behavior.
When the family drops Bart off at the military academy Lisa sees how good the curriculum is and demands to be admitted as well. This idea doesn’t sit well with anyone but she gets her way. The students haze Bart but eventually accept him. The students are upset with Lisa because they were forced to all move into the same barracks to accommodate the first female cadet in history, who has a lonely barracks all to herself. Lisa’s hazing continues unabated and Bart begins to distance himself from her for the sake of his own popularity, if not survival.
At the end of the semester the cadets are informed that in order to pass they will have to successfully navigate “The Eliminator,” a long rope crawl suspended high above a patch of brambles and thorn bushes. Bart secretly helps Lisa train for the task at night but she just can’t get it. When the day finally comes Bart and all the others pass the test leaving Lisa to go last. At the half way point she seems about to plummet to failure but Bart cheers her on and she makes it across. The other cadets turn on Bart and tell the siblings that they’ll make their lives hell for the rest of the semester to which one of the cadets says “That reminds me, graduation is in three hours! We better go change!”
This final episode of the season plays on one of the favorite themes of the series: the marginalization of Lisa and/or Marge because they are women. They usually come out on top because they are smarter than the other characters around them (especially Lisa). This theme remains successful throughout the show because even though Lisa can be opinionated and pushy (the answer to a question no one asked) she is irrepressible and has no real malice toward anyone. As the most down to earth and least cartoonish member of the family one might think that she isn’t funny. This could not be farther from the truth. Lisa is the straight man of the family and as such is absolutely integral to the chemistry of the show.
This was an excellent episode to close the season with because even though it lacks significant presence by Marge or Homer it explores one of the most important relationships of the show: that between Lisa and Bart.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #25: The Secret War of Lisa Simpson
Rating: 5 out of 5