Bender finds love in the most surprising place: The other side of a picket line.
Bender (John DiMaggio) is bending in his sleep, due to his lack of having an outlet to bend in his job. He even bends the Professor (Billy West), resulting in the blood pooling in the Professor’s brain and inducing a euphoria. While trying to find a way to get around the urge, Bender finds that there is a mob-backed worker’s strike outside a bending plant. Bender thinks the strike means he can’t work, but then finds out that the “scabs” who work despite the strike get huge pay increases, so he becomes a scab while claiming to be pro-union. Inside, he finds Flexo (DiMaggio), his near-identical twin, as well as a “beautiful” female bending unit named Angle-ine (the late Jan Hooks).
Bender and Angle-ine flirt and eventually start dating. He decides to take everyone at Planet Express to a celebratory dinner in honor of him being in love. While at Elzar’s, however, Fry (West) spots Angle-ine and Flexo at another table. Bender becomes enraged and confronts the pair, but finds that the two are divorced and having dinner as friends. Bender doesn’t take this well and decides to go through a convoluted plan of impersonating Flexo and try to seduce Angle-ine to prove that she’s cheating on him. Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests just talking to her, but Fry rejects that as not manly enough.
On the date, Angle-ine refuses Bender’s advances (as Flexo), but does a number of things that are distinctly un-Flexo-like that end up seducing Angle-ine. During the course of the date, Bender repeatedly uses a large amount of money he got from scabbing to tip well, something that angers the Robot Mafia who are trying to stop the scabs. Eventually, they decide to kill Flexo. After Angle-ine finally gives in and kisses Bender, but his beard comes off and she realizes the scam. Bender vows to kill Flexo to ensure Angle-ine’s love, something that even the episode points out is nonsense.
At the Bending plant, Bender attacks Flexo, but the Robot Mafia drop an unbendable girder on Flexo. Seeing him in mortal danger makes Angle-ine realize that she loves Flexo, so Bender, to make her happy, bends the unbendable girder. She and Flexo then apparently have sex right there on the factory floor, leading Bender to quit and return to Planet Express.
I think it speaks well of Season 3 that I actually think this is one of the least funny and least entertaining episodes. It’s not that it’s bad, really, but it definitely is pretty weak by comparison.
A lot of that comes from the fact that they have to give Bender several questionable character moments in order to move the story along. While Bender is a drama queen, often by his own admission, he still goes way too far into maudlin drama when he sees Angle-ine and Flexo and then the elaborate fake date plan is actually called out as being pointlessly complicated and contrived. It gets even dumber when Angle-ine points out that maybe the reason why it worked was because she was in love with Bender even if he was pretending to be Flexo, to which Bender responds: “Oh, how I wish I could believe or understand that!” He then immediately decides to kill Flexo, something that makes sense only in the terrible kind of Lifetime movie they’re clearly parodying here.
The subplot involving the Robot Mafia, while very funny, is also sadly small, and there’s basically nothing else in the episode. I do love the fact that the word “Intragnizent,” which has since been used on other shows like Parks and Recreation to show a character is not smart enough to know the word intransigent, originates from Joey Mousepad (DiMaggio) in this episode. I also like that the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) says they are the duly-elected mobsters of the union, indicating that somehow the union holds internal elections to decide which group of criminals backs them.
Overall, this episode is only okay for me. I mean, it’s still fun to watch, but this season is mostly filled with really quality episodes, so this one seems lesser by comparison. Although, it did get John DiMaggio an Annie Award for playing two roles, so… good for it.
When they first introduce Angle-ine, she’s pictured behind frosted glass. This is designed to mimic the style of early black-and-white (and maybe some color) films where the cameras were rubbed with vaseline or frosted lenses were used in order to make the females appear softer and with fewer flaws. Since the rest of the episode is filled with the kind of nonsensical “emotions change so we can move on to the next scene” storytelling that permeated 30s and 40s romance films, this actually is fairly consistent. If they’d gone further into trying to pay tribute to those films, I might even consider Bender’s behavior more appropriate, as Futurama does do some pretty good genre-shifting episodes.
Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.
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