“Cape Feare” was a uniquely goofy, cartoonish episode, which was a fitting choice considering how dire the stakes were. The silliness helped us forget that, if Bob did get his way, he would’ve butchered Bart like a slasher in a horror film. If Bart was indeed stabbed to death on that boat while the rest of the family were trapped, tied up in the other room, this would’ve been a horrifying, traumatic situation that would’ve stuck with them for the rest of their lives.
And that’s exactly what happens in this middle Treehouse sketch. It starts off with Sideshow Bob doing his famous one-man performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore,” but this time he realizes that Bart’s trying to distract him, and gets back on track. So begins the brutal sequence where Lisa’s forced to watch her brother’s gory murder right in front of her, Sideshow Bob laughing as he does it.
This isn’t the first time Sideshow Bob’s been successful — just check out “Treehouse of Horror XXVI” — but it is the first time we watch him kill Bart with Bart’s sister in the room. It makes for a moment that’s funny just for how surprising it is, but also dark enough to still give you that momentary sinking in your stomach, which all good horror stories are wont to do. The segment keeps up the horror even when it flashes forward to adult Lisa, who’s now trying to catch a serial killer who keeps murdering his victims in increasingly deranged, nightmarish ways. I once believed the most disturbing Treehouse segment was the season 6 one where the Springfield Elementary staff started eating all the children, but “Ei8ht” gives it a run for its money.