Mr. Burns is, at heart, an evil billionaire who has no idea that his own views on what is right and wrong are not shared by, oh, anybody. Completely lacking in empathy, Burns will contemplate cutting a check for $100 to cover, well, not much after hitting a child with a car, and even then he doesn’t seem to recognize anything resembling a decent human emotion.
But you know what? Lack of decent morals are hardly unique to Burns when it comes to the people of Springfield. If there’s a difference, its that Burns rarely if ever learns a lesson about being a better person. He also rarely has to.
The fact the title of the episode (“Bart Gets Hit by a Car” for those who don’t read article titles) is shown is rare. That it happens about ten seconds before Bart is hit by a car makes the joke really work. Bart’s out-of-body experience, where the late Phil Hartman advises holding onto the handrail and not spitting off the side on the giant escalator to heaven, shows Bart an afterlife in the bowels of Hell. But, the Devil quickly assures Bart he’s early, that he wasn’t due until the next time the Yankees win the pennant, and that won’t be for another hundred years or so.
Oh, wait…the Yankees have since won multiple World Series…RIP Bart.
Bart could avoid Hell if he wanted to, but he’s told he wouldn’t like it, so he happily decides to go along with where his soul will end up. And the Devil seems like a cheerful kind of demon, even if he is running something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
And then we get to Lionel Hutz.
Look, we expect Homer to fall for this sort of thing. Homer never met a shortcut to easy street he didn’t like. And as voiced by Hartman, he sure is charismatic and makes a good case. Heck, Hutz seems almost competent at what he does, complete with Dr. Nick Riviera to offer medical diagnoses on demand. The only thing that keeps Homer from winning an illegally promised huge cash settlement is Marge’s conscience, and the simple fact that even if you can’t say something nice about a person then you shouldn’t say anything at all is not a valid court room tactic to avoid trouble.
Oh, hey, there’s the Blue Haired Lawyer. Watson used to say he looked like that guy, which is better than looking like Joan’s rapist husband on Mad Men.
There’s a lot of greed and dishonesty on display here. Burns is the obvious one. Smithers goes along with whatever Burns wants, even if he does have enough sense to point out that some of Burns’ plans won’t really help his case. Homer wants the big cash settlement. Hutz wants half. Dr. Nick will say anything for a lawyer if paid from the looks of things. Bart seems to enjoy what he does here, even if it will send him back to Hell.
But Homer can learn. He didn’t really care about the money. He cared about the bond with Marge and whether he could trust her. Of course he will. Homer’s a good man deep down.
But Bart? He would totally lie to the United States.