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"Makes a Stink" is the ninth episode of Season 4 and the forty-eighth episode overall of the animated children's series The Magic School Bus. It originally aired on November 8th, 1997.
It's the first annual Smell Search at Walkerville Elementary, and smell expert Flora Whiff is looking for the perfect scent. Carlos thinks he's found it with a mothball. But when he brings it to school, it's accidentally stepped on by Janet after he drops it caused by Wanda.
So the class tries to search another smell, and Dorothy Ann suggests the class should use cinnamon, which she brought. Carlos, however, rebuffs this idea, stating that half the school already brought cinnamon. Just then, Ms. Frizzle offers them various of smells the class all brought inside bottles: Phoebe's mint, Ralphie's gym socks, Wanda's banana, Tim's rose, Dorothy Ann's cinnamon, Keesha's rotten eggs, and the smell from Pong the skunk in a cage. While the class takes a whiff of some of the bottles of smell, Dorothy Ann asks Ms. Frizzle how the smell of the cinnamon got inside the bottle without adding the sticks. So Ms. Frizzle offers the class Smell-a-visors to see the smell and the class puts hem on to see the smell of mint emerging from the bottle. On Ms. Frizzle's orders, they also put their Smell-a-visors to magnifier mode to take a closer look at the smell molecules. Dorothy Ann reminds the rest of the class about the molecules they learned before and how they work (from "Meets Molly Cule"). She uses her cinnamon sticks to take a closer look at the molecules and notices that they are shaped differently than those from the mint. When Tim realizes that when the mint and cinnamon scent mixed together, they make a different smell. Arnold then gives Carlos an idea to mix smells together to make a new smell using a smell mixer. Using a mint leaf, banana, cinnamon, and a gym sock, the class is satisfied with the mixture and decides to use it for the Smell Search.
When asked by Dorothy Ann how the molecules make the smell, Ms. Frizzle shrinks the class and herself to size, as well as the bus, and they catch Janet sneaking inside their classroom and sniffing their mixture. So the bus flies in front of Janet's face and enters her nose.
Inside, Carlos is able to smell the class' mixture and Ms. Frizzle tries to get the bus out, only to get stuck in snot, which Carlos jokingly states, "It's snot!", to which Arnold asks "It's not what?" and Carlos corrects him with "Not 'what', Arnold, 'snot!", prompting the entire class sans Arnold to groan "Carlos, yuck!". Dorothy Ann reads in her book that snot (also called mucus) is a slimy liquid made by the nose to trap dirt and germs to prevent them from entering the lungs. While Janet tampers with the smell bottles and sniffs a bottle of roses scent, the class notices it entering her nose and use their Smell-a-visors to see the smell molecules. Ms. Frizzle also explains that each one has its own landing pad inside the nose, which is called a smell receptor. Dorothy Ann reads in her book that a human has thousands of different smell receptors that give them thousands of different odors to choose from. When asked by Ralphie how the brain knows what the nose knows, Ms. Frizzle explains that a smell molecule travels inside the nose, lands on the smell receptor, which sends a message to the smell center of the brain. When Janet sniffs a bottle of scent from Ralphie's gym socks, the class takes a glimpse of the molecules and Carlos finally realizes that Janet is trying to sabotage their mixture. So he has Dorothy Ann and Wanda go out and help him wipe the snot off the bus (but not before being offered anti-slime suits by Ms. Frizzle) and Janet decides to add the skunk smell to the mixture. When she takes a whiff of it, it permeates inside her nose, and when she blows it, the class is blown out and onto one of the tissues she has blown her nose into right before she leaves the room.
While Flora is smelling the other students' bottle of smells at the Smell Search, the class is back to their normal size and they become distraught over the fact that Janet added skunk smell into their smell mixture. Dorothy Ann gets the idea to stop the skunk smell molecules from permeating Flora's nose to prevent her from catching a whiff of it since smell molecules take a while to travel inside the nose before they land onto the smell receptors. So while Janet and her class get a score of four and a half out of five at the Smell Search, Liz shrinks the bus (with Dorothy Ann, Wanda, Ralphie, and Tim inside) in size and flies it over the container with the mixture to prepare to eliminate the skunk smell molecules. As Flora finally takes a whiff of the mixture, the students inside the bus use the magnifier to see the skunk smell molecules and use the laser to zap them. When Flora is done, she gives Ms. Frizzle's class a score of a perfect five, much to Janet's surprise. They tell her what they learned about the smell and Ms. Frizzle states, "All's well that smells well".
- Flora Whiff is voiced by Bebe Neuwirth, known for her portrayal of Dr. Lilith Sternin on both Cheers and Frasier, Nora Shepherd in Jumanji, and Jumanji: The Next Level and Binky in Cyberchase.
- This is Janet's third appearance in Season 4, eighth overall.
- This is Janet's final appearance in the original series.
- Mr. Ruhle is seen sitting on a chair on the stage floor in the auditorium.
- This is the third time the class goes inside a nose. The first is in "Inside Ralphie", the second is in "Works Out", (Ms. Frizzle's nose) the fourth is "Carlos Gets the Sneezes" and the fifth is in "Ralphie Strikes a Nerve" (Jyoti's nose)
- This is the second time the class travels inside a member of the Perlstein family.
- Surprisingly, Janet doesn't sneeze like Ralphie and Carlos did.
- This is the second time Janet doesn't show a moment of redemption. The first is in "Works Out".
- Going by production order, this is the 10th episode of Season 4, and the 23th episode to be switched in streaming order. This episode was completed on September 30, 1997.
- Arnold is one of the callers. This is the second time a student appears in the Producer Says segment, the first being Phoebe in "All Dried Up". Arnold calls for the second time in "Frizzle of the Future". This trend occurs in later Rides Again-series episodes, as some students like Tim, Carlos, and even Jyoti call the Professor.
- Michael, a student who was in Ms. Frizzle's class in the original books, is in Janet's class in this episode. A similar cameo happened in "Goes on Air" with Carmen being in Ms. Rivers' class instead of Ms. Frizzle's.
- This is the first and only time Ms. Frizzle joins her students in a negative reaction to one of Carlos's puns, simply glaring at him disapprovingly while most of her students groan, "Carlos, yuck!".
- This is the last appearance of Carlos's house.
- When Ralphie says, "I can't believe Janet put skunk smell in here...but she did!" his voice changes to Arnold's.
- When Carlos says "Let's try it," Phoebe's Smell-a-visors are yellow instead of red.
- When Ms. Frizzle says, "Everyone say 'Stinky Feet'!", Wanda's Smell-a-visors are purple instead of bright yellow.
- When Ms. Frizzle says, "To the odor-torium!", Dorothy Ann's Smell-a-visors are blue instead of purple.
- Dorothy claims that the whole world is made up of molecules. In real life, only matter is made up of molecules—things like people, apples, paper, and water.
- The "smell molecules" the students refer to in this episode are actually called odorants.