No, seriously, can we talk about this scene and how fucking awesome it is?
A lot of the humor from Smithers comes from the fact that it literally makes no sense for him to be so loyal to Mr. Burns. Not because he’s considerably younger or because he gets routinely treated like dirt or anything but because, when you get down to it, Smithers is actually a pretty decent person. He’s nice, he doesn’t hold a grudge, he’s pretty damn selfless, and his status as the president of the Malibu Stacy Fan Club basically means that he’s One of Us. So when we see him helping Mr. Burns break into someone’s home or cheerfully kidnap a musician at gun point, it’s pretty weird. True, some episodes show that there is a place where he’ll draw the line, but for the most part Smithers is the ultimate Yes Man who will go with whatever evil scheme Mr. Burns thinks up; no questions asked.
But in this episode, he gets mad, like, legitmately angry, at Mr. Burns, who has spent the whole episode pretending to be a superhero and just turned away Lisa Simpson on a whim when she geniunely asked him for help. Smithers calls Burns out for being a fraud and even gets so mad that he walks out on him without being told to scram, which is a pretty fucking big deal for Smithers.
Now this seems pretty odd at first. Out of all the truly terrible things that Burns has done without getting so much as a peep of protest out of Smithers, why does pretending to be a hero piss him off so much? Surely there wasn’t much harm in an old man feeling good about himself, even if he wasn’t actually saving anyone. Pretending to be a hero without actually helping anyone isn’t the worst thing Burns has ever done. Why did it bother Smithers so much?
And then you remember how his father died.
Dear old Smithers Sr., who spent his last moments in a nuclear reactor, sacrificing himself to prevent a meltdown. And it wasn’t something small like he just saved the plant or anything. They explicitly say that if the core had blown, it would have taken out the entire town. Smithers’s father gave his life to save the lives of thousands of people, including his son Jr. up there. And what was the reward for his heroism?
Fucking nothing. He got no reward, no recognition, not even a proper burial. The man was a real hero, who really saved a ton of people and asked for nothing in return, and he got shoved down a corpse hatch for his trouble.
So when Mr. Burns starts jumping around in a cape, not actually doing anything to help anyone, throws himself a big gala to pat himself on the back for his non-existent heroism, and then turns away someone who he could have actually helped, that was the last straw.
And suddenly, this very odd scene becomes absolutely brilliant.
I turned to Mab, bowed, and stepped closer to her as the music rose again. It was a waltz. While the stunned Sidhe looked on, I waltzed with Mab to a full orchestral version of Shinedown’s “45,” and the smaller bits of our enemies crunched beneath our feet. Oddly enough, no one joined us.
Following his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed run on Detective Comics, writer Scott Snyder (American Vampire) alongside artist Greg Capullo (Spawn) begins a new era of The Dark Knight as with the relaunch of Batman, as a part of DC Comics—The New 52!
After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to
realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances
suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery,
he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the
origins of the city he’s sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls,
once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the
crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and
falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?