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"I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"
The Simpsons episode
Dwight holds up the bank.
Episode no. 404
Prod. code JABF19
Orig. airdate October 14, 2007
Show runner(s) Al Jean
Written by Dana Gould
Directed by Bob Anderson
Chalkboard "I am not an FDIC-insured bank"[1]
Couch gag The family sits on the couch, then the scene expands and shows Maggie playing with a doll house. She picks up Homer and replaces him as her pacifier.[1]
Guest star(s) Steve Buscemi
Ted Nugent
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

"I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"[1] is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' nineteenth season, and first aired on October 14, 2007. For the second time in the series, Marge helps a prison assailant.[2] Marge meets Dwight (Steve Buscemi), a man who attempts to rob the bank the two are in. Marge promises that she would visit him in prison, should he turn himself in, but too frightened to go into the prison, she breaks her promise.[1] It was written by Dana Gould and directed by Bob Anderson.[1] Steve Buscemi makes his second guest appearance on the show, (originally appearing as himself in "Brake My Wife, Please")[3] though this time he voiced a character, Dwight. Ted Nugent has a voice cameo. Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes a surprise guest return as Snake's girlfriend Gloria, who originally appeared in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love".[1] During its first airing, the episode originally garnered 8.8 million viewers, higher than the previous episode.[4]



Lisa is named "Student of the Millennium", so Marge stresses that Homer has to attend her ceremony due to past absences at most of the kids' events. Homer then wakes up early and takes Maggie to the school auditorium. Meanwhile, Marge gets impatient waiting in line at the bank, so she strikes up a conversation with an apparently charming man named Dwight. While talking, Dwight tells Marge to hold on. He pulls out a gun and tells everyone to get down on the floor. Gil Gunderson then arrives, prepared for his new job as a security guard, however he is repeatedly shot by Dwight's accomplice.

Homer is smugly waiting for Marge at the ceremony. Marge privately calls Homer, informing him she's a hostage at a bank robbery. Dwight notices Marge on the phone. Dwight makes a compromise; he will promise to turn himself in as long as Marge promises to visit him in prison, to which she reluctantly agrees. A nervous Marge returns home. Homer attempts to convince Marge not to visit Dwight in the prison, but Marge wishes to honor her promise and visit him. However, while going to the prison, she makes continuous stops to avoid going to the prison, and misses visiting hours. At the prison, Dwight expectantly waits for Marge. While watching Snake Jailbird chatting with his girlfriend, Gloria, Dwight becomes depressed and then angry, and Marge's guilt begins to get to her while watching a frightening movie about a prisoner who was to be electrocuted. At the same moment, Dwight is breaking out of Springfield Penitentiary. He finds Marge's address in a newspaper, and sets out to find her.

At home, while watching TV, Kent Brockman makes a news report on Dwight's escape from prison. Dwight begins stalking Marge in various places, and successfully catches up to Marge and keeps her as his hostage. Dwight takes her to the same amusement park where he was abandoned by his mother, with the intention to have Marge help him repay the time he had lost, and promises to let her go afterwards, to which Marge, out of sympathy, agrees. He and Marge then ride the Viking ship ride together. Chief Wiggum arrives attempting to save Marge, but he is caught in the ride. Dwight jams the ride's gears by throwing in his own body to save Wiggum. He survives, fortunately, and returns to prison after being hospitalized and making a full recovery. Back at the prison, Marge finally visits Dwight, who gives her a flattened dandelion encased in a bar of soap he had carved for her with a message on the back intending to recruit her in helping him attempt another prison break. Marge does not agree to the escape attempt and Dwight, although saddened, says she can keep the token.

Cultural references

The title of this episode is take-off of the 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.[5] Dwight's buggy eyes is a reference to his guest voice actor's Steve Buscemi's eyes.[5] Homer reveals he works on a Superman novel.[2] Agnes and the guys laughing, why Agnes quotes that Dwight and his partner are "Johnny and Clyde", a take on Bonnie and Clyde.[2] Chief Wiggum watches The Negotiator on a portable DVD player to learn how to deal with a hostage situation.[2] The Itchy & Scratchy episode "The Un-Natural" parodies the baseball steroids scandal, and the title references the book and movie The Natural.[2] Dwight escapes from jail like Andy Dufresne did in The Shawshank Redemption. After the escape it looks like Dwight steps on the camera, which is a reference to Robert De Niro who steps to the camera after his release from jail in the movie Cape Fear. Dr. Hibbert and Krusty, who meet up at the end, reference the earlier hostage scene, off-hand implying The Nine.[2] "Dilbert's Flying Cubicle" (with the theme music from the Dilbert Animated Series), "Tilt N' Spew", "Mr. Frog's Mild Ride", "FedEx Presents: The Bathroom" and "It's a Long Line" are seen at the amusement park, references to famous and well known rides, comics, companies, and chains. Dwight's partner in the robbery is based on John Cazale and his character in the movie Dog Day Afternoon which also involved a hostage situation.[2] when marge visited Dwight in prison Homer was among three Aryan Brotherhood and called them the three amigos.


The episode had 8.8 million viewers.[4] Robert Canning of IGN enjoyed Buscemi's appearance, and he particularly enjoyed the scene where the fun house mirror ballooned Buscemi's eyes to a "hilarious extreme"; he also felt Buscemi's voice was the first guest voice of the season to have been used to its fullest potential. Despite the humour of the episode, he also stated the ending of the episode did indeed falter a bit at the end, and felt it couldn't deliver as many laughs as everything that came before it. This episode was also one of two episodes he enjoyed this season, the other being "Midnight Towboy".[6]


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