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I don't know whether I'm right or not. I assume it means a reaction to shocking news.

The most well known of those is the infamous “The Principal and the Pauper”, perhaps better known as the Armin Tamzarian episode, or just the one with two Principal Skinners. In a twist that’s more than a little reminiscent of the kind of shocking revelations that are often used to prop up dying shows, the real Seymour Skinner returns from being a prisoner of war to find that one of his men had come back from Vietnam and assumed his identity. That man, the upright public servant known to the audience since Season 1, is revealed to be “an imposter” named Armin Tamzarian. Much gasping and exposition ensue.

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"Much gasping and exposition ensue"

This is what happens when popular TV shows don't follow popular fan theories or expectations - think about the ending of Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, and Game of Thrones!

Let's look at the meaning of the following words.

Ensue: to happen after something else, especially as a result of it (Cambridge).

Gasp: to take a short, quick breath through the mouth, especially because of surprise, pain, or shock (Cambridge).

Exposition (Collins):

  1. a setting forth of facts, ideas, etc.; detailed explanation.
  2. writing or speaking that sets forth or explains.
  3. that part of a play, etc. which reveals what has happened before, who the characters are, etc.

The major revelation that one of Seymour Skinner's men (Armin Tamzarian, a man viewers knew as an upright public servant since S1) had assumed his identity for so long, left the viewers shocked, breathless, and upset. Viewers were riled up.

After the episode aired, viewers began to talk to each other about what had happened, how they were frustrated with the twist/plot, and what it meant going forward (=exposition). You can say that there was a heightened sense of discomfort among viewers after that particular episode. Some were frustrated and angry - enough to merit this line in the article: "...this episode is so widely reviled."


The whole thing can also be applied to the Simpsons universe inside the show - to the characters. In the episode, when the real Seymour Skinner reveals himself in front of the audience, the other characters are shocked/surprised (his mother faints). The impostor gasps, and he is terrified. Allow me to quote user Gary Botnovcan (comments):

"A character we've never seen before [the real Seymour Skinner] says 'You're not Seymour Skinner', and other characters in the room (including the [impostor] we've known as Skinner until now) collectively gasp [and are in shock] . . .
The exposition begins when the new character [the real Seymour Skinner] explains the news by telling us a bit of his own history."

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    There may have been gasping among audience members, but what's relevant here is what happens within the show itself: A character we've never seen before says "You're not Seymour Skinner", and other characters in the room (including the one we've known as Skinner until now) collectively gasp. – Gary Botnovcan Oct 25 '19 at 3:49
  • @GaryBotnovcan Interesting. So you are saying that the bold sentence also applies to the characters in the show - as in how they reacted. I agree. This reminds me of Jean-Claude van Damme's 1991 movie Double Impact. – AIQ Oct 25 '19 at 4:06
  • In either case, OP was at least half right. The gasping and murmuring we hear is a reaction to the shocking news. The exposition begins when the new character explains the news by telling us a bit of his own history. – Gary Botnovcan Oct 25 '19 at 4:27
  • @GaryBotnovcan Would you mind if I include your points in my answer with proper credit? – AIQ Oct 25 '19 at 4:31
  • Please feel free. – Gary Botnovcan Oct 25 '19 at 4:32

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