THE SIMPSONS ARCHIVE
MISCELLANEOUS

Lose Your Job and Your Mind Will Follow

Fanscript

By Derek Dexheimer

Fourth Draft, Unrepresented. December 31, 1999.


Open on field of twinkling stars, PULLING BACK to show they are seen by BURNS and SMITHERS through a window of the Burns estate.

BURNS

(sighing)

Oh, Smithers, imagine drifting among the stars--and smothering them in eternal darkness, selling rare glimpses to the poor mortals below.

After the shock has passed, Smithers hands Burns his nightcap.

SMITHERS

Sir, wouldn't that upset every stargazer on the planet?

BURNS

Posh! With Carl Sagan safely out of the way, not even astronomy's iron fist can stop me.

SMITHERS

(considering)

I suppose it might help reduce the teen pregnancy rate.

BURNS

Oh, don't fool yourself. Those wily teens will sate their desires any way they can. (BEAT) Surely there's money to be made in that.

Burns puts his drink down, rubbing his hands despotically together.

BURNS

But enough chit-chat. Caffiene and sleep depravation brought General Motors back from the brink, and it's just the prescription for doddering old Springfield Nuclear.

SMITHERS

(alarmed, spits his own coffee)

Back from the brink!

BURNS

Yes. Which is why I need you to write a speech for me. I can't think up a new word for layoff.

SMITHERS

You mean downsize?

BURNS

Perfect! And those Orwellian overtones--pure genius!

SMITHERS

It's all so sudden! Sir, tell me: is it really, really bad?

BURNS

(flippantly)

Oh, it's pretty bad.

SMITHERS

A correctable bad, or just (BEAT) the end?

BURNS

Well, Smithers, the world's a-changin', and tyrants can't rake in the dough like they used to. I'll tell you straight, old friend. I need you to give me not just the words, but the strength to look at those people and tell them--

CUT TO ECU of Burns' most venal expression, and quickly PULL OUT to show him standing on a catwalk above the assembled plant workers, Smithers at his side.

BURNS

You're fired!

A mass gasp rises from the plant workers, all their jaws dropping in unison.

BURNS

(gentler, shaking speech pages at them)

I know it's tough, but sugar-coating it only cheats you of good, honest fear. You can handle the truth!

WORKER

(unseen from crowd)

But what about our illusions?

BURNS

Your illusions be damned! The free market has spoken, and you're out! Right, Smithers?

SMITHERS

(to crowd)

The plant just isn't profitable. We haven't had an investor in years, and we can't afford the new environmental upgrades.

BURNS

(scowling)

Those environemtnalists with their clean air and clean water! Why, there's hardly anything dirty left! Who's working to protect our precious natural filth?

LENNY

I'm confused. I thought we were clean and efficient.

HOMER

We've been living a lie!

BURNS

Yes, but no worse a lie than Santa Claus or national health insurance. The plant just can't compete in the new deregulated market, and so I've decided to pull the plug.

The crowd rumbles.

CARL

But what about us?

LENNY

Yeah! We put years of our lives into this plant!

HOMER

First dibs on the TV in the break room!

BURNS

Yes, that's the spirit! It's that kind of thinking that made this country great!

SMITHERS

Careful, sir! It could be a form of symbolic protest.

BURNS

(waving Smithers away)

It hardly matters. A ruckus would distract us all from trying to find work with years of experience no one will want. All except Smithers here, who will continue to act as my advisor, proxy and scapegoat.

SMITHERS

You're too kind, sir.

LENNY

That's a sweet deal for Smthers, but what about us!

BURNS

Quiet! I tolerate deacdes of numbing incompetence, and when the gravy train stops you can't even wipe your mouths before whining. My poor plant is closing--all my hard, despotic work to end up as scrap, or housing for immigrants. Enough of you hoi polloi! Get out! And don't go stealing any of my boxes.

CUT TO interior of Homer's garage, dark and shadowy with the door down. Homer, Lenny, Carl and numerous other plant workers stand abject and dowcast in the gloom.

HOMER

All my pressing the same buttons over and over again: gone. All my best wasted years are behind me.

LENNY

Yeah, but you've still got your family.

CARL

And you've always got beer money for Moe--

The other workers grumble in agreement.

HOMER

Hey, you're not commiserating. I want commiserating!

The interior door opens and Marge enters. She is taken aback by all the people moping there.

MARGE

Good lord, Homer, who are all these people? You haven't started another multi-level marketing scheme, have you?

WORKER

It's worse! Burns closed the plant and we all lost our jobs! Nice to meet you, Mrs. Simpson.

MARGE

(shrieking)

What?!

HOMER

Honey, I was going to give it to you gently, but now you know. But Burns did say the terror makes it real.

MARGE

Homer, did you have anything to do with this?

HOMER

I didn't do it! I swear! For once I'm there on time, and then Burns fires everybody and lays it on with this super-complex, mad-genius reason why!

LENNY

It's the economy, stupid!

HOMER

Yeah, that. Then we all wandered the city like zombies for a couplea hours and ended up here.

CARL

It was just shock. We'll be fine. (ONE EYE SPASMS)

MARGE

(livid)

Homer, maybe it's just me, or the fact that civilization could still end from Y2K, but I don't want to hear it. Get out there and don't come home until you can provide for your family. (QUICKLY) Some legitimate way!

HOMER

Legitimate! Legitimate! Gotta rub it in, don't you, Marge?

CUT TO FAT TONY in the crowd.

FAT TONY

It works for some people.

----------------------------------BREAK---------------------------------

CUT TO Homer driving through town with Lenny and Carl.

HOMER

Okay, we'd better pound the pavement for a good lie that'll satisfy the wife. I don't plan to spend any more time sleeping on the couch than I have to.

LENNY

Wow. Talk about a one-track mind.

CARL

You know, Homer, we could actually look for jobs.

HOMER

Oh, yeah? Think like a boss and see how far you get.

PUSH IN on Lenny, then PAN to the side to show a thought balloon. Lenny's shows him apporaching a MAN behind a desk, handing back his resume.

MAN

Sorry. All my incompetent drudges comes from college.

PUSH IN, PAN over on Carl. The WOMAN he hands his resume to takes one looks at him, then screams into her line--

WOMAN

--you're really overqualified. Try Wal-Mart.

PULL OUT to show Lenny and Carl staring pie-eyed, as though they have seen their own graves.

HOMER

See? We need to fail to find a job, so we can deny our uselessness. So, what can three middle-aged guys from deadweight jobs do in this new economy?

CARL

We could get jobs in industry, except that it all moved to Mexico.

LENNY

We could get jobs driving trucks from Mexico back here!

HOMER

Oh! But that takes weeks of training!

CARL

Umm...aluminum cans!

LENNY

Organs! Everybody needs organs!

HOMER

Oh! It's all so complicated! At least we could depend on Mr. Burns being mean.

CUT TO Burns' office, with him standing in front of his massive windows, looking out at Springfield Nuclear as a man lowers the company flag of an atom and his scowling visage. He turns as Smithers enters holding an empty mothball box.

SMITHERS

Looks like we'll need quite a few more to square everything away, sir.

BURNS

How depressing. My influence gone, my minions reduced to offering fries with that, and my plant doomed. It's enough to make a man cry.

SMITHERS

But your life is a towering accomplishment. All those lights you kept burning in empty rooms, all the uranium you liberated from dank mines. Why, someday this plant could be the biggest roadside attraction in the state.

BURNS

I just never thought a worker's fate would befall me. (HOLDS UP COUPON) I should have taken that golden parachute seminar while the coupon was still good.

SMITHERS

I believe France is broke, sir. Perhaps they'd let you rule a former colony.

BURNS

(perking up)

Do I have any of those I could sell?

SMITHERS

Not anymore, sir.

BURNS

Blast that United Nations! Is nothing sacred?

CUT TO Homer's car driving through green mountains along a winding road, toward camera. CUT TO car interior. Lenny flips through the classifieds and Carl through the Yellow Pages as Homer drives.

LENNY

Here's one for exotic dancers. That sounds--exotic.

CARL

Hey, what about a power plant? You know, the old fashioned kind that makes more electricity than it uses.

LENNY

That's crazy! No power plant can do that!

CARL

They do it by burning stuff.

HOMER

Nah, that's too good to be true. (SIGHS) Maybe Moe will let me sleep on the pool table.

LENNY

(holding paper to reveal large ad)

Hey, there's an employment fair downtown! Says all former plant workers encouraged to apply!

CUT TO Springfield City Hall, showing a large banner draped over the dome reading "All-City Emergency Employment Help - Welcome Laid-Off Plant Workers" as Homer's car pulls into a long line of cars. They wait at a smaller sign reading "Drive-Thru". CUT TO interior shot of Homer's car, looking out driver's window as they drive past city officers with jobs. Car first stops at CHIEF WIGGUM.

WIGGUM

(holding clipboard)

Okay, we've got a possible future opening for auxiliary reserve temporary officer, part-time. Now, any of you have experience with frisking, intimidation, ah, (FLIPS PAGES) driving a big car like you own the place? Oh, and if you know any good places to eat we don't, that'd really help.

HOMER

I like to eat.

WIGGUM

(tearing off paper)

Great! Fill this out. You're applicant six-fifteen, so good luck.

The car continues with the same shot, coming to rest at PRINICPAL SKINNER. Skinner rolls his eyes contemptuously and waves them on. Car rolls forward and comes to rest at SEA CAPTAIN.

SEA CAPTAIN

Ar, mateys. We've had some budget cuts, so I only need swabbies. Ar, they go fast, down to Davey Jones. Blast you, white whale, I'll spear thee yet! Say, any of ye old plant fellows know about nuclear harpoons?

LENNY

Yaknow, that pool table sounds mighty nice.

CUT TO LISA sitting on the Simpson couch watching TV. CUT TO screen to show the Fox logo.

FOX ANNOUNCER

(voice shifting from bright to dark)

Next on Fox--America's Funniest Giggling Bimbos!

CUT TO a sequence of bikini-clad models tantalizing the camera.

LISA

Such tripe. (RAISES REMOTE, EYES GLAZE OVER, REMOTE DROPS) But must be socialized....

BART enters, whistling and cheery.

BART

Hey, Lis. Piling on the brain rot?

LISA

(stonily)

No. I'm afraid not even the antics of Fox can lessen the blow of Dad losing his job.

BART

(stunned)

Dad got fired?!

LISA

The plant closed. Mom said everyone was laid off. Even Mr. Burns fired himself in a secret ceremony.

BART

(elated)

Woo-hoo! Unchained from the man! It's Interstate rest stops and sleeping on cardboard!

LISA

At least Dad didn't lose his job for doing something stupid.

BART

Yeah, like that time he--(LAUGHS)--and then the time he (LAUGHS HARDER)--oh, and that time he--(LAUGHS IN A FIT).

LISA

Bart, Mom's been in the kitchen all afternoon, just staring into space. (VOICE WAVERING) I think I'm scared, Bart.

CUT TO Lisa and Bart walking into the kitchen doorway, looking worriedly up at Marge staring at the wall. Her hair is frazzled and there are bags under her eyes.

LISA

Mom?

Marge looks at them, sighs, then motions for them to come to her. She leaves the table and kneels down to hug them.

MARGE

Oh, sweeties, don't worry. (EYES DARTING) Is there anybody still in our garage?

LISA

Mom, is everything really okay? I've read a lot of Dickens and I know how bad things can get.

MARGE

Well, we'll have to cut back on laundry, food, and possibly affection. But no matter what happens, we'll always have each other.

BART

At least Mr. Burns'll get what's coming to him.

CUT TO Burns and FLANDERS in the Flanders' yard. Burns is only marginally strident while Flanders looks on with his usual oblivious cheer.

FLANDERS

Well sir, I can't say I need any shouting done, or any money counted.

BURNS

I have other talents! Skullduggery? I can also raise my fists at a mocking God and demand He treat me as an equal.

FLANDERS

Hmm. Wellsir, I do need these leaves raked. I'll give you ten dollars, front and back.

Flanders gives Burns a rake, and Burns holds it some distance from himself, awkwardly.

BURNS

I'm more the brains of an operation. Perhaps you've a child that can do the work, while I provide intimidation?

FLANDERS

Well, sure! (CALLING) Rod, I've got some service work!

ROD appears and takes the rake from Burns and begins scraping leaves.

ROD

Oh, boy! I love to serve!

BURNS

Yes, that gets the blood flowing! Faster, you dullard! Missed one! Rake like you mean it!

CUT TO the Simpsons looking through their kitchen window at the scene. They are all clearly worried, and all grumble a la Marge.

---------------------------- BREAK ----------------------------

OPEN on shot of CLETUS' mouth, open wide with unhealthy teeth.

CLETUS

(yelling)

SOOOOOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEE! (PULL OUT TO SHOW HOMER, LENNY, CARL) There, now y'all try.

Homer stands apprehensively, Lenny is dumbfounded, and Carl begins an attempt.

CARL

I don't think my mouth opens that wide.

CLETUS

(with disgust)

If y'all gonna be my dirt farmin' hands, y'all gotta know how to call dirt. It ain't gonna just lie there and let you grab it. Y'all disgust me.

Cletus storms off, leaving the three plant workers in an abandoned field. CUT back to them driving.

LENNY

Boy, Homer, you were right. This failing to succeed is hard work!

HOMER

Too true. Now we know we are beneath even dirt.

CARL

Don't worry, Homer. Something'll turn up. (LOOKING UP, POINTING OUT THE WINDSHIELD) Look out!

Homer slams the brakes and the car screeches to rest inches from Mr. Burns. The old scion is rough around the edges, his shirt tattered and his eyes wild. He approaches them.

BURNS

At last, someone who knows the brake is on the left!

HOMER

Yeah, these kids today. How's it hangin', Mister Burns?

BURNS

(narrowing eyes)

Not good. Smithers was elected president of French Polynesia, and the United Way got my leaf-raking money. Now I'm alone, with only my venom for company.

CARL

You could come with us. We'll finally be equals, rejected together!

BURNS

(considering)

Hmm. To walk a mile in the damp shoes of those I once viewed as insects. A little Biblical, but I'll take it!

Burns gets in the back seat with Lenny. Lenny is uncomfortable, having just realized this would happen. Homer resumes driving.

BURNS

All right, men: what's the plan?

CARL

We were just expressing how hopeless the situation was.

BURNS

What?! That kind of thinking will sink you in this new economy. You must be vicious, determined, snakelike. Take what you want! You're number one! Who's with me? (ALL CHEER) Homer, to town!

CUT TO the jobless four sitting in a tiny government cube, across from a dour AGENT lost among stacks of papers. Her cube is one among countless others at the government-drab Springfield Employment Office, now clogged with former workers from Springfield Nuclear. She is gruff, sour, and smokes while she works.

AGENT

So, you tried the gut plant? They always need people in bowel processing.

CARL

They laughed at me!

LENNY

They said I was too dainty.

HOMER

They said I resembled the job too much.

BURNS

(incredulous)

Gut plant? You government lackey--give us a real job or I'll give you a dressing-down straight from Jimmy Carter's reign of terror!

AGENT

Look, (LOOKS AT FORMS) applicants 1040 through 1044, I can only refer you to possible jobs. I don't have any real (MAKES QUOTES MOTION) ones.

HOMER

Lady, you gotta help me. I have needs!

CARL

Yeah. Help me help myself!

Lenny shrugs. All look at Burns, sitting glum and petulant.

BURNS

Oh, you can never sate me.

AGENT

(after a stunned beat)

Since you'll only accept jobs that pay money, I've only got one thing. They always needs people and they'll hire anybody.

CUT TO a shot of the front of the Quik-E-Mart, the camera behind Burns, Lenny, Carl and Homer as they stare at it.

HOMER

D'oh!

----------------------------- BREAK ---------------------------

OPEN ON Quik-E-Mart interior, which is jammed with former Springfield Nuclear workers. APU is waving his arms and shouting from his counter, trying to control everyone. Behind him is a clearly visible television playing a financial news channel, which can be heard but which is not intelligible.

APU

Okay, everybody, listen up! I know you think Quik-E-Mart is so desperate they will allow any warm body to stand behind this counter and take a bullet for the squishee machine. While you are mostly correct, there are simply too many of you.

The assembled moan and look downcast, at which point the financial channel switches to a story on Retrodyne Defense Dynamics. CUT TO a shot of the NEWSREADER, who can now be clearly heard.

NEWSREADER

--and this just in from our insider mole! Blue-chip Retrodyne is taking its sagging Quik-E-Mart stores online! How that's gonna make a convenience store more convenient? The market loves it, so who cares! Retrodyne says: hire, hire, hire!

APU

(turning from TV)

Okay, you heard the man!

Everyone cheers. CUT TO TRACKING SHOT of Apu handing out name badges and uniforms to everyone, pausing at Lenny, Carl, Burns and Homer.

APU

Lenny and Carl, your lack of experience puts you first in line for our management program. Tomorrow you leave to run all stores above the Arctic Circle. (GIVES THEM UNIFORMS AND BADGES)

LENNY

Wow. We're management material!

APU

Mister Burns, you're perfect for straightening out operations in the former Soviet Union. (GIVES HIM UNIFORM AND BADGE)

BURNS

(schemingly)

Excellent. I'll work my way up to world domination.

APU

(shamefully)

And Homer Simpson. Retrodyne Defense Dynamics has a strict policy against rehiring. But since you left--oh, what terrible people! I'll take you back any day. (GIVES HOMER BADGE AND UNIFORM)

Everyone cheers, music FLOURISHES. CUT TO Homer returning home elated and victorious.

HOMER

Marge, kids, look! I'm in the service sector!

BART

(disappointed)

Oh, man, Dad got a job.

LISA

(under her breath)

Not much of one.

MARGE

Homer, I'm so glad you found something to tide us over.

HOMER

(taken aback)

Tide us over? The first time, the sleep depravation didn't let me see it, but now I know this is the best thing ever!

BART

The good life's overrated. I want open skies, warm ditches, bugs in my food.

HOMER

(holding out employee newsletter)

Marge, look at these stock returns! And online shopping will put us in the real money!

LISA

Dad, all those online fortunes are just on paper. Nobody has any money in the bank.

HOMER

Virtual money is better! With bottomless credit and lots of advertising, you can rule from the wires sewn into your brain.

LISA

But it's a chimera. It could all be gone tomorrow.

BEAT while everyone stares at Lisa as though she has spoken in tongues. Then they all laugh. PAN up to jetliner cruising above, PUSHING in on Mr. Burns seen through one of the plane's windows.

BURNS

Yes, laugh. Once Russia is back on its feet, I'll show everyone how to really run a planet!

PULL OUT to reveal Burns sits wedged between Russian MOBSTER heavies.

BURNS

(weakly)

Me and my Russian friends, of course.

MOBSTER 1

(in Russian, with English subtitle)

He thinks he will see his homeland again!

MOBSTER 2

We shall make him dance like a bear!

They laugh meancingly. PAN DOWN from plane to white Arctic wastes, a lone Quik-E-Mart standing amidst the tundra. Lenny, dressed in Arctic survival gear, emerges from the bright store with a sign on a stake, planting it in the snow next to Carl. The sign reads "Pickled Eggs - 2 for 99".

LENNY

That'll get 'em!

CARL

Wow. I love making management decisions!

LENNY

They're even the right ones. Look!

Lenny points out to a dark shape rushing up to them, which becomes an Inuit on a dogsled. The dogs are rough and vaguely demonic; the SLEDMAN has an ominous, rough-and-tumble look. The dogs growl and snarl after the sled stops, and the Sledman sidles up to Lenny and Carl, folds his arms and stands steadfast.

SLEDMAN

Does your store carry (BEAT) bones?

CARL

Nope.

LENNY

But you can get them from our online store!

Lenny hands the Sledman a brochure, which he examines suspiciously.

SLEDMAN

Quik-E-Mart-dot-com? The snow demons will not be pleased.

The Sledman narrows his eyes and them leaps on his sled, tearing away in a gale of snow. Lenny and Carl inertly smile after.

LENNY

Don't forget--free shipping!

-------------------------------------- BREAK ------------------------------------

OPEN ON the sun rising on a sleeping Springfield, causing hundreds of alarm clocks to go off. CUT TO Simpson kitchen, where the family has gathered in usual disorder for breakfast. Homer rushes in, arms akimbo and semi-dressed; though his uniform is on, he hops on one foot to get his shoes tied.

HOMER

Marge! Dissolve eggs in coffee, pour coffee on bread, tape bread to chest! Breakfast patch from now on!

MARGE

(calmly setting a breakfast plate for him)

Calm down and have a decent breakfast.

HOMER

But Fortune beckons! Time, money--is there ever enough?

Homer wolfs down the food and blasts from the table, one shoe on and eyes wild. Everyone else remains sedately seated, listening to the car scream away.

MARGE

At least he's getting out of bed.

BART

Yeah, but it's so shallow. Where's the devil-may-care dad I didn't look up to?

LISA

Don't worry, Bart. The world has limits, and history teaches that all good things come to an end.

BART

Woo-hoo! Cardboard City, be patient!

Marge grumbles. CUT TO Homer screeching up to the Quik-E-Mart, leaping from the car and flying through the doors just as the clock strikes eight.

HOMER

Wait, Dame Fortune, wait! Shower me with riches!

Apu, harried and beside himself, looks out over the counter with bloodshot eyes.

APU

Homer, at last! I thought this blackest night would never end.

HOMER

Are we rich? Are we rich? Are we rich?

APU

Yes, but you must wait for it to trickle down.

HOMER

Trickle down? But this is Quik-E-Mart! I want instant gratification!

APU

Yes, yes. But first there is a dark price to pay.

Apu puts his hand on Homer's shoulder. CUT TO Homer and Apu walking toward the rear of the Quik-E-Mart, where they stop before a giant metal door. CUT TO a robotic display scanning their retinas, then CUT back to the door opening for them. They pass through and descend a dark stairway to a claustrophobic space, the walls lined with computer displays and chattering printers.

HOMER

Wow, you've really fixed up this basement.

APU

Homer, this is now the international operations center. Here you will oversee all aspects of the online revenue machine.

PAN from Apu and Homer to screens full of blinking orders (BUBBLEGUM TOFU - URGENT, among others) to a conveyor on which robot arms drop packages of convenience store fare, which roll to other robot arms which box and seal the products, which roll on to fall into a giant hopper labelled EXTREMELY URGENT.

APU

(placing both hands on Homer's shoulders)

Homer, ten hours in this hellhole have made me all but blind. But with your years in the nuclear plant, you can stare at screens and push buttons until Vishnu comes.

HOMER

(genuinely awed)

You're giving the most important job to me?

Apu is already back at the stairs, his eyes wild and his hands on the rails.

APU

Yes, so don't screw it up. Olly olly oxen free!

Apu skeedaddles up the stairs and the unseen giant door clangs closed with utter finality. Homer stands with his mouth open staring at all the screens, lights, and whirling arms.

HOMER

Wow. The most important job was never nuclear safety, but giving people what they want! People so lazy they can't even get to the store!

Homer, having raised his arms in praise, lowers them. The machines hum with their smooth work, and he looks around slightly confused.

HOMER

Okay, now to whip this thing into shape.

Homer looks around, then sees a thick tome entitled CYBERCASHCOW 1.0 - AUTOMATIC INTERNET SALES MACHINE. He takes this and slides it under the leg of the chair that has the wheel missing, then sits down in front of the massive bank of computer consoles.

HOMER

Now to work the problem.

PAN from Homer's point of view, showing the displays free of errors, none of the error lights lit, the robots working smoothly, and everything in order. His eyes come to rest on a giant switch with positions AUTO and MANUAL, currently on AUTO. His hand reaches out and he dithers over touching it. He looks to one side and sees a jar full of Superballs. With a squeal of delight he reaches for these, but then sees a box of donuts. He begins to go for this and then sees, set into the white steel of the opposite wall, a glass-fronted cabinet containing a six-pack of Duff. A sign above the door reads FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY.

CUT TO Homer walking nonchalantly over to the glass, looking from side to side, then opening the door and taking out the beer. Instantly sirens blare and the lights turn red. Robots which had been tirelessly packing look up, their red eyes flashing as they leave the line and move toward Homer. He cowers and jibbers as they roll toward him. Just as they seem to descend on him CUT TO the empty cabinet, in which the robots place a fresh six-pack, clean the glass, and close the door. The lights and sirens go out and the robots go back to their work, leaving Homer to stand grimacing on one foot. He relaxes, stares at the beer in his hand, and lets out a whoop.

HOMER

Now that's a service industry!

CUT TO the Arctic Quik-E-Mart, with a long line of Inuits and Arctic explorers waiting to get inside. CUT TO Lenny and Carl behind the counter, serving the front of the line.

BRITISH EXPLORER

(to Lenny at his register)

I'd like a ton of tea and biscuits drop-shipped to magnetic north, if you'd be so kind.

INUIT MAN

(to Carl)

I'm looking for something with all the calories of blubber, but without that blubber aftertaste.

CARL

(consulting Web catalog)

Well, we've got beef fat product, and chicken-flavored beef fat product.

INUIT MAN

I'll take one ton of beef. Put it on my Visa.

CUT TO Burns in a giant office far larger and more lavish than any he has enjoyed so far. Crystal chandeliers dominate the ceiling, and jewels and gold glisten from the red velvet walls. Burns sits behind an immense desk as a surprisingly sober BORIS YELTSIN goes to stand before it.

YELTSIN

Comrade, many thanks! Russia once again has trains! And they run on time!

BURNS

And once I convert Russia's power plants from vodka to nuclear, they may even arrive before they leave. Oh, Einstein--if only you'd used your powers for evil instead of good. Imagine where we'd be!

CUT TO the Simpson home, late at night. Marge stares wide-eyed at the TV, then starts at a thump. She turns to scream in terror at Homer standing in the hallway, his eyes white and lit from beneath, his brain squirming in his skull. Marge stops screaming and Homer twitches.

HOMER

(with eerie calm)

Hello, honey. I am home.

MARGE

Homer? My goodness, what's happened? You haven't been home for two days.

Homer relaxes into someone deeply overworked, with dark bags under his eyes and a palpable fatigue. His voice is rough, from too much shouting or too much coffee.

HOMER

Marge, you gotta see it through, press any key, startup error, thank you for playing.

Homer falls over backwards. CUT TO black. The black opens and closes as Homer blinks up from the floor at Marge and the kids. Early morning light accentuates their concern.

MARGE

Sorry, Homer. You were just too heavy to get into bed.

HOMER

(mumbling, becoming coherent)

Uhh, is this the dee-luxe apartment in the sky?

BART

Cool! He's got brain damage!

CUT TO tableau shot of the family around Homer as he sits up.

HOMER

Oh, this is our old crap house. We're supposed to be living high on our Internet fortune by now.

MARGE

Homer, I really think you need some rest.

HOMER

(deliriously invigorated)

Rest is for losers! A clamoring planet needs me!

Homer struggles to his feet, his fingers cracking plaster as he uses the wall to pull himself upright. The house weaves and swims before his eyes, but he is determined to stand upright.

HOMER

This world will bow down before me before I'm through! (SEES TIME, SCREAMS) I'm late, gotta go, bye.

He shoots off with such panicked speed that Marge's hair swishes in his wake. CUT TO scenes of Homer running through Springfield to the Quik-E-Mart, where a group of shoppers and former plant employees now employed there mill around. They see Homer approaching and crowd him, cheering and making demands. Homer struggles to push through them and enter the store.

WORKER-CLERK 1

Way to go, Homer!

WORKER-CLERK 2

You're making this country great again!

MRS. LOVEJOY

Where's my spray cheese? Your website said it'd be here yesterday!

MRS. FLANDERS

I want my sugar-free sugar-flavored soda!

HOMER

That's yesterday, losers! Today brings new worlds to conquer with on-line convenience!

Homer pushes into the store amid cheers from the clerks and catcalls from the unsated customers. A few spoiled squishees splatter against the store windows. Apu stands behind the counter, terrified.

APU

Homer, thank God! Get down into the bowels of the earth and tame the snarling monster we have made!

Homer stands up to his full height and charges to the back of the store, barrels past Apu and the blast door, down into the blinking cacophony of Quik-E-Mart Web Commerce Central. At the stair bottom, he spreads his arms above his head and bellows out

HOMER

I command you, satisfy us all!

Homer holds his stance while the machinery makes its usual noises. After a beat Homer relaxes and sees that everything is functioning normally.

HOMER

Oh. Well, same old same old.

He sits in his chair and puts his feet up on the console and his hands behind his head. Reaching for a copy of Springfield Babe, he sees a nondescript prompt flashing on a screen. It reads: YOUR PLANETARY COMMERCE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE RESTARTED. RESTART SYSTEM NOW? Buttons offered are YES, NO, and CANCEL.

HOMER

(reading)

Your planetary commerce system needs to be restarted. I never make decisions I don't have to. Cancel it is.

As Homer's finger descends in slow-motion to press the key, begin a sequence in keeping with the famous Kennedy/Johnson "mushroom cloud" campaign ad. As a voice counts down "TEN, NINE, EIGHT....", CUT AND PUSH IN on scenes of disgruntled customers outside the Springfield Quik-E-Mart, the Arctic Quik-E-Mart, people sitting in front of their computers ordering junk from the Quik-E-Mart site, and Ned Flanders withdrawing a large sum from an ATM conspicuously labelled as being Year 2000 Compliant--each intercut with Homer's finger slowly decending, and then pressing the key. The instant the key is pressed, power stops, and every screen goes dark. CUT TO the previous scenes with all the screens dark, their users staring in blank silence. CUT TO Homer.

HOMER

Uh oh.

CUT TO Ned Flanders screaming in apoplexy, then other shots of people the world over screaming at their black computer screens, traffic lights dark and cars caroming into each other, rioting at the Arctic Circle Quik-E-Mart, then cities and whole continents in flames to the dysfunctional clatter of "Planet of the Apes". PULL BACK to reveal the final, planetwide shot of chaos is viewed on a large screen, partly obscured by a dark FIGURE.

FIGURE

(sighing)

At last, we reap the whirlwind. (TO LEFT) Begin the operation!

CUT TO a pleasant country hillside, with militant music (not yet identifiable as "Ride of the Valkryies"). The hilltop opens on a hinge and a cloud of black helicopters billows out and flies off. CUT TO scenes the world over, of suburban neighborhoods, abandoned shopping malls, and wild areas suddenly tilting backwards and disgorging secret piles of black helicopters, tanks, and cars. CUT TO Mister Burns in his office, flames and mobs outside his window, before him an angry line of military men, KGB types, dissidents, and Russian circus animals. Yeltsin is there, furious and booming.

YELTSIN

Your plan has wrecked our country! We're down to ten bottles of vodka a week for this?

BURNS

I've nothing to do with this. With everything computer controlled, some halfwit pushing the wrong button somewhere brought the whole thing down.

MILITARY MAN

You insult us with the truth? Get him!

The assembled advance on Burns, growling and gnashing teeth. Burns scowls at them, unfazed, as they begin to climb over the desk. Suddenly the giant window behind Burns shatters. Black-suited men on black ropes swoop in, grab Burns, and leap out again. A group of black helicopters flies off out of sight as Yeltsin runs to the window, fist raised and shouting.

YELTSIN

(in Russian, subtitled)

Idiots! I told you tomorrow!

CUT TO a montage of the black helicopters and black men move over the planet, accompanied by "Valkryies". They throw secret switches from AUTO to RESET the world over, restoring traffic lights, drawbridges, air traffic control towers, and at last Ned's ATM. Ned, still screaming, is silenced by a quick blast of unidentified spray, which causes him to stand quietly.

FLANDERS

Huh. Calm as a psalm. Oughta get some of that for the secular humanists.

CUT TO Homer in the commerce control bunker, surrounded by blank screens and lit only in emergency light.

HOMER

How long can it take to not restart planetary commerce?

With that, normal lights come on, the displays return, the robots perk up and begin boxing convenience products. The screens tick along like nothing happened. Then a tremendous ruckus permeates down to Homer, and he ascends the stairs. CUT TO Homer emerging from the Quik-E-Mart, blinded by daylight and swirling dust. A shadow passes over and he looks up and screams. The sky is filled with black helicopters, and a line of black tanks advances on the parking lot.

MRS. FLANDERS

(shouting over helicopters)

It's the end of the world! Repent, repent!

APU

(shouting)

Shut up! Thank these black invaders for saving us!

BURNS

(from above)

Do no such thing!

CUT TO Burns in a helicopter doorway, being lowered on a winch to the parking lot. After he is lowered, his helicopter lands behind him.

BURNS

Fools! Your insatiable desires drained the world of power! Your otherwise admirable greed wrecked everything! But thanks to you, electricity is once again expensive enough that I can afford to reopen the nuclear plant!

Everyone stands in silence, uncomprehending. Then they gasp as GREENSPAN speaks.

GREENSPAN

(from above, in an ominous voice)

Springfield Nuclear is indeed back online, running ten times more efficiently than before.

CUT TO the black figure emerging from the landed helicopter, ominous MUSIC accompanying him. Camera follows from behind at same angle as when he first appeared in front of the planet-wide screen, then rotates around to illuminate the figure and reveal it as Alan Greenspan. The crowd gasps.

APU

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. Mister Money himself!

CUT TO Greenspan coming to rest next to Burns, the old man much smaller than the Fed Chairman.

BURNS

Yes, those black uniforms really do the trick.

GREENSPAN

Silence! You've failed me, Burns.

BURNS

(shocked, stammering)

N-no, not me! You don't understand!

GREENSPAN

(vengefully, in the manner of a triumphant general at the close of a 1950s B monster movie)

I understand perfectly. You, and you, and you (POINTING AT BURNS, HOMER, THEN THE CROWD AT LARGE) all lost your heads. Closing a solid investment like a nuclear power plant! Instant fortunes rolling in through your modems! Your unwarranted exuberance nearly destroyed the world.

The faces of the crowd fall as they are shamed by Greenspan.

HOMER

I admit I have a problem, and I need help.

BURNS

(waving him off)

Pshaw. We'll just be more careful next time. Thanks for the save, Greenie.

GREENSPAN

(infuriated)

There will be no next time unless I am appeased! All of you, back to work!

HOMER

(timidly)

So I've got my old job back?

GREENSPAN

Until you pay back the ten trillion dollars this operation cost me, you're married to it!

Homer whoops and tosses aside his Quik-E-Mart uniform, and the crowd is relieved that the natural order of Springfield is restored.

GREENSPAN

Work first, celebrate later! Now!

Everyone cowers, then scatters. Deserting Quik-E-Mart clerks bury Apu under their discarded uniforms and name tags.CUT TO Burns wringing his hands, back in his true form as Greenspan disapprovingly watches the diaspora.

BURNS

Yes, crack the whip and the mind shall follow.

GREENSPAN

Get to work, you!

BURNS

(slinking away)

Yes, master.

Burns backs out of frame, leaving Greenspan scowling against a backdrop of black helicopters. He begins to laugh, building to a demonic pitch, CUTTING AND PUSHING IN to music STINGS. On final STING, CUT TO Lenny and Carl looking out the windows of their Quik-E-Mart. The store is deserted, the front lot a wasteland of snow, drink cups and other junk dropped in haste.

CARL

Boy, everybody took off in a hurry.

LENNY

What was that guy screaming about the snow demons?

CARL

Ahh, there ain't so such thing.

A growling, snarling, otherworldly sound erupts. Lenny and Carl gawk at each other to the same CUT AND PUSH IN and STINGS.

CUT TO black.

CREDITS

© Derek Dexheimer 1999


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Last updated on February 13, 2000 by Jouni Paakkinen (jouni@snpp.com)