The Secret War of Lisa Simpson
| "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson"
| Episode Information
"The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" is the twenty-fifth and final episode of season 8 of The Simpsons and the one-hundred and seventy-eighth episode overall. It originally aired on May 18, 1997. The episode was written by Richard Appel and directed by Mike B. Anderson. It guest stars Willem Dafoe as The Commandant.
- "After Bart destroys the windows in town with several megaphones, he is sent to military school. Lisa decides she wants to go and is determined to stick it out as the only girl at boot camp."
The Springfield Elementary School fourth grade class goes to the Springfield Police Station for a class field trip, but finds that the station is locked. Chief Wiggum then pulls up in a police car, still getting ready for work. Wiggum then shows the class around the station, including the Museum of Crime. Meanwhile, at school, Miss Hoover's class are watching videos instead of doing anything productive. When Lisa goes to complain about this to Principal Skinner, her complaints are dismissed.
At the police station, the class is shown around the communications room. As they move onto the next room, Bart notices a wall with nothing but megaphones hanging on it. Bart then lines up all the megaphones and says "testing" into them, which creates a shockwave that spreads through Springfield. Bart is taken home by Chief Wiggum, who then suggests military school as an option to deal with Bart's bad behavior. Homer and Marge like this idea and decide to take him to Rommelwood Military School.
As the family is shown around the military school, Lisa decides that she wants to attend too. She asks The Commandant if she could attend, and he agrees to let her be the first female cadet the school has. Marge tells Lisa that she can quit anytime she wants, but doesn't let Bart have the same option. Due to Lisa being female, the cadets are kicked out of their dorm and moved to L company's dorm so that a girls' dorm can be made. This annoys the other cadets who decide they will haze Bart and Lisa to get them to quit.
Bart and Lisa are made to do pushups in the mud, clean the school's statue with toothbrushes, and are strapped to the propellers of a plane. After going through the hazing, Bart is accepted as one of the cadets, whilst Lisa is still left as an outcast. Lisa also struggles with some of the more physical lessons at the school. When Lisa starts to get sick of everything, she calls home, but Homer doesn't answer the phone. She then calls Grampa just to talk to him. After calling Grampa, Lisa checks the mail and finds that she got a tape from Marge. She tries to get Bart to listen to it with her, but Bart stays with the other cadets instead. Lisa listens to the tape alone as she falls asleep.
The next day, Bart apologizes to Lisa for shutting her out and tells her that he'll help her in secret to train for The Eliminator, the final challenge before graduation. Bart and Lisa train at night in secret so Bart doesn't let the other cadets know he's helping her. Eventually, the day of The Eliminator comes along and every cadet makes it until it's Lisa's turn. Lisa starts to struggle and loses her grip on the rope, which excites the other cadets as they want to see her fall. Bart then decides to cheer Lisa on and encourage her to do it. With Bart cheering for her, Lisa manages to make it across the rope. The cadets then vow to make the rest of the school year hell for Bart and Lisa, but realize that graduation is in three hours. After graduation, Lisa is given a medal by The Commandant and Homer and Marge pick up Bart and Lisa to take them to Disneyland. However, they take the kids to the dentist instead.
The idea of Bart and Lisa going to military school had been around since 1991, but the episode wasn't made as they didn't think the idea worked at the time. The plot about Lisa joining the military school was partly based on the fact that real-world military schools were being made to accept female students at the time the episode was written. This was reflected in The Commandant's speech before he accepted Lisa as a student.
A short of Lisa blinking had to be added the Friday before the episode aired because there was an error with the scene which they only noticed that close to airing. The shot was animated, painted and shot all within the day and was edited into the final episode by that night. The cadet Franklin had more lines in the episode. However, the producers cut most of his scenes as they thought they were too weird and creepy.
The waxwork of a hippie eating a baby in a sandwich was a reference to an urban legend that the producers had heard where a person supposedly got stoned and ate a baby in a sandwich. Cadet Anderson's design was based on and he was named after director Mike B. Anderson.
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club praises the episode's "simplicity and fundamental sweetness". He also calls the ending of the episode where Bart cheers for Lisa "a sweet, satisfying conclusion". However, he also says that the relation arc between Bart and Lisa "doesn't hold much in the way of surprises".
- Weinstein, Jeff (2006). Commentary for "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season.
- Anderson, Mike B. (2006). Commentary for "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season.
- Smith, Yeardley (2006). Commentary for "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season.
- The A.V. Club - "The Simpsons (Classic): "The Secret War Of Lisa Simpson""
- IMDb - "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson"