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- "Cucumbers come and cucumbers go, but pickles go on forever."
- —Ms. Frizzle
"The Magic School Bus in a Pickle" is the seventh episode of season 2 in the original series, and the 20th overall. In production order, it is the sixth episode of season 2, and the 19th overall.
As the class returns from vacation, Wanda jokingly tells Phoebe that she hates vacations "because they always end." They hear Keesha scream and it's shown she is horrified to find that her prize winning cucumber has been changed in to a pickle. When Ralphie walks into the classroom, Keesha begins to accuse him of stealing it (much to Ralphie's digust) until Ms. Frizzle, who is eating a pickle, walks in. When Keesha enters a storage full of pickles, she begins to suspect the teacher. Ms. Frizzle admits that the cucumber is "gone, but not missing", telling Keesha that the pickle used to be a cucumber. Keesha, however, doesn't buy it. So she attempts to eat it, only to get squelched by Arnold, who states that there would be no evidence that Keesha's cucumber has changed to a pickle if she were to eat it. When Keesha begins to interrogate the teacher, Arnold stops her and tells Ms. Frizzle to remain silence and dismiss the class. This gives Ms. Frizzle an idea to go on trial with the rest of the class.
The class holds up a court in the classroom, with Keesha and Ms. Frizzle as the defendants and Liz as the judge. Keesha starts off by showing everyone the difference between a pickle and a cucumber. Arnold acts as the teacher's defense attorney, shocked that Keesha would even suggest she did it. Ms. Frizzle admits she had something to do with the missing cucumber, but it was the "Mike Robe Gang". She also adds that they are invisible because they are too small to be seen with the naked eye. She gets Arnold to suggest a field trip, and they learn first hand about microbes, which is what changed the cucumber in to a pickle. As the class hop onto The Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle transforms it into a mini blimp and flies into the classroom.
In the classroom, The Magic School Blimp lands onto the teacher's desk and the class walk out to find their lost material inside the "Lost and Found" box. They come across a flower with multiplying yeast called Ascomycota (commonly known as ascomycetes), which is found everywhere. Carlos jokingly states that "I rather find it on your seat than my seat". Arnold then comes to a conclusion that if anyone could see it when they're tiny, they're a member of the Mike Robes Gang. Keesha, however, is still not convinced. So the class and Ms. Frizzle hop onto the mini-blimp-transformed bus and head to the vegetable garden in Keesha's deference. But Keesha changes her mind and decides that The Magic School Blimp should land onto Liz instead.
So Ms. Frizzle complies and lands the bus on Liz's nose, where they view a number of microbes on her scaly skin. Liz, oblivious to The Magic School Blimp's appearance, thinks it is just a pest and flicks it off, sending them in the hamster's water bowl. They view strange things in the water, the fat, juicy ones being amoeba and the ones with the appearances of hot dogs are paramecium, more members of the Mike Robe Gang. Despite this, Keesha is still adamant of not believing Ms. Frizzle's explanation of the cucumber changing into a pickle since the water the hamster was drinking didn't change like the cucumber. So Arnold suggest that the class should go to his rotten 3rd prize tomato.
On the tomato, Arnold unintentionally gives Ms. Frizzle an idea to shrink even smaller and the class dress into their anti-fungus suits offered to them by Ms. Frizzle. The class exit the bus and watch the fungus fall apart. they start sprouting roots as they land onto the tomato juice. Even though they see more members of the Mike Robe Gang, Keesha is still unconvinced about the cucumber changing into a pickle, much to Arnold's annoyance. Suspenseful music plays and arises, when the tomato juice erupts and bubbles like a volcano. Ralphie on the other hand, slips on the tomato juice calls out his catchphrase "Is it just me or are we having a Tomato?..." and everyone calling out "quake!" and the class, the bus and the fungi microbes spills along with it inside a jar of lactic acid fermented water or in Ms. Frizzle case "pickle juice".
They end up in the jar with the pickle and find a number of microbes inside. They find that the fungus are being destroyed by the pickle bacteria on the cucumber. Outside of the jar and creating more disgusting humor when Liz gives the rotten tomato a taste and spits it out in disgust, causing another cucumber to fall into the jar. The class finally learn that the pickle bacteria is what kept the cucumber from rotting like the tomato, thus they get rid of the fungi. They also learn that the pickle bacteria are part of the Mike Robe Gang as well, prompting them to realize that Ms. Frizzle was talking about microbes. Keesha finally learns that the pickle in her jar is really her cucumber transformed into a pickle thanks to the pickle bacteria. Then, Carlos jokingly states The Magic School Blimp "is in a real pickle" since it was pickled.
Back inside the classroom, Ms. Frizzle is declared innocent and Keesha thanks Ms. Frizzle for putting her cucumber in the jar to keep it from rotting like Wanda's carrot and Arnold's tomato. Tim also provides a drawing of the cucumber, turning it into a prize pickle. Ms. Frizzle concludes that, "Cucumbers come and cucumbers go, but pickles go on forever" (which she derived from her great uncle). The case is dismissed and the class laughs as Liz's gavel falls apart.
- Ms. Frizzle's prisoner number is a reference to Jean Valjean, a character from Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.
- It is revealed that Tim draws a picture of the scene featuring Ms. Frizzle, Dorothy Ann and Keesha during the trial when Ms. Frizzle talks about the "Mike Robe Gang".
- Arnold recalled the events in "Wet All Over" when he said, "I hope we're not back on the water cycle".
- It is revealed that Arnold despises pickle juice.
- The title of the episode is likely based on the idiom that means "in a difficult situation".
- Going by production order, this is the 6th episode of Season 2, and the fourth to be switched in streaming order.
- Tim's saying of "quake" during the eruption of the tomato uses the same phrase as in the 1st episode of Season 2 when the class and the Friz heard a rumbling sound of an earthquake underwear while they were searching for DA's books.
- Also, Tomato-quake is a pun of "earthquake".
- Also, the class saying "HELP!!" uses the same audio as the episodes such as Ready, Set, Dough and Kicks Up a Storm of Season 1.
- This is the second episode that shows bacteria, the first is Inside Ralphie.
- However, the bacteria in this episode, unlike the former, is harmless to humans and helps preserve food.
- Despite this being a Season 2 episode, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers aren't credited for their financial contributions on the original PBS broadcast version.
- Just like 11 episodes ago, there are some scenes that have are cooler scheme.
- This episode's only VHS release in Region 1 was the three-episode compilation, "Greatest Adventures". However, the episode has been released to DVD and to streaming services.
- When Liz is eating pepperoni in the Producer Says segment, she turns slightly red with each bite.
- In the spilling of the "Tomato-quake" or tomato juice, Tim, Phoebe, DA, and Wanda are missing.