Lisa the Skeptic
I will not tease Fatty
couch gag: Three men are sitting on the couch, wearing towels and putting water on a fire to create a steam room. The family come in (also wearing towels) and are turned away.
Director: Neil Affleck
Stephen Jay Gould as himself
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz
Synopsis: When a new mega-mall is being built in Springfield, Lisa protests that the site has been home to fossils. She stages a dig and finds what appears to be an angel skeleton, giving the townspeople a boost of religious belief.
Discussion: Ya know, I never really liked this episode until fairly recently. I thought the ending was stupid but now I can see just how genius it is. In fact, the whole episode is really well crafted in three distinct acts.
In the first act, Lisa finds the angel skeleton on the site of the mega-mall. The show has a habit of taking a scene and twisting it so that it is almost completely irrelevant to the rest of the episode. It doesn’t happen here: the construction of the mega-mall is crucial to the storyline and the eventual solution.
In the second act, Homer is profiting from the angel. The angel is draped with Christmas lights and Homer is singing a theme song whilst collecting 50 cents from the townspeople who want to see the angel. Lisa maintains her stance that it is not an angel and takes a sample to Professor Gould for tests.
The third act sees the angel move to a hill with the message, “The end comes at sundown”. At sunset, the residents gather around the angel in preparation for The End.
The angel is revealed to be a giant marketing ploy for the grand opening of the mega-mall.
It’s a good episode with a strong storyline that we haven’t really been seeing so far in this season. Although attempting to reconcile science and religion, it leaves it open-ended as it should (it will be revisited in a season 19 episode though). As long as you don’t get too absorbed into the religious bits, it’s an ep worth enjoying.