Burns, of course, passes the workers tests to become part of the gang. They escape the hounds, share pickled “I want to say horse” eggs at Moe’s, and do karaoke, with Burns’ alter-ego putting in a surprising rendition of “The Spaniard who Blighted my Life.” The surprising thing being that the little-known 1930s novelty song is on the karaoke computer. As is his standard response, Homer and the guys at the plant take to Fred Kranepool famously, and almost immediately. As he’s done so many times in the past, Homer brings Fred completely into his life, you can see him in the smile on his face. And once again, Homer forsakes his family for the strangely charismatic stranger. Even when there’s a slow-roasted turkey breakfast waiting at home. Marge once again tries to explain a concept of cool which is decidedly uncool. Although Lisa agrees, with everything but this.
Underneath his cruel and narcissistic exterior, Burns just wants to be loved. Beneath that, he has a desire to be feared. But even further down, he only wants more of what he has, which is why he always reverts to his true being. Burns is the perennial lord of industry, and no matter how many amenities he may bring to the employee lounge, lounging is for quitters. And “quitters” is Burns’ and Smithers’ code word for workers who gave their lives for the company. Yes, they had a lot of alleged fun, the pair admit in a particularly effective office bit.
There is a certain sweetness and comfort in Smithers turning to Homer to set things right in the world of nuclear power. It affords Homer a kind of dignity which the other malcontents and Lennys don’t get. This of course is taken away by Burns moments later when he offers monkey-man Homer a banana. We get a glimpse into the depth of Homer’s soul when he asks why he’s always being compared to a gorilla. It leads to the best bit of the episode, the history of the worker, epically told by Homer.
The transformation from “Take your Kids to Work Day” into “Put Your Kids to Work Day” is a funny and frightening transition: the descending horse ride to the pits, the maintenance mines, the deflating bouncy castle, and especially the Disneyfied song, “you work for me or you get the lash. You won’t get dental health or cash,” we hear, and realizes it is a small world, after all. Another highlight so short you might miss is after Millhouse overhears Bart, who is sitting right next to him, say he’s been trying to get rid of the dud friend for days, but doesn’t know how to tell him. Millhouse calls his mom, who is enjoying the time away from her kid while getting an even tan, to tell her the sleepover ended two nights ago and she kicks her cell phone into a pool. You can see all the hope drain from Millhouse’s face on the cell phone as it sinks into the shallow deep.