It turns out that creationism might have a point, just not the one you think.
Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) discovers that anti-evolution advocates are protesting Cubert’s (Kath Soucie) school. The Professor gets into a fight with the protestors and their head advocate Dr. Banjo (David Herman), a talking orangutan. Banjo makes a claim that if evolution is real, there wouldn’t be a “missing link,” despite the fact that the professor maps out dozens of evolutionary ancestors to modern man. In order to find the “last” missing Link, the Professor and the crew go to Africa and dig, finally finding a new hominid skull. He submits the new “Homo farnsworth” to the museum, only find out that Dr. Banjo is the museum’s curator and that he has used the new hominid to set up a display that “disproves” evolution. The Professor decides that he doesn’t want to live on Earth anymore, so they take him to an asteroid so he can live out the rest of his days in solitude. He uses nanobots to work on detoxifying a pond, but the microscopic robots start evolving into “trilobots” and eat the Planet Express Ship.
The crew hide in a nearby cave, but discover that they have no edible food (because they got pineapple on their pizza). They have some dehydrated food, so they run out of the cave to get to the pond, only to find that the trilobots have gone and that there is a metallic jungle which is populated by robotic dinosaurs. Fry (West) is carried off by a robot pterodactyl and the rest are attacked by a roboT-Rex, only to be saved by a massive solar flare that wipes out all of the dinosaurs without hurting the crew or smaller, mammalian robots. The Professor builds a new spaceship out of dino-parts, but they have to wait a day for the solar battery to charge. The next morning, they find that Leela and Amy (Katey Sagal and Lauren Tom) get kidnapped by robot cavemen. Farnsworth makes a slingshot to fight them, but it takes him 12 hours, so they have to wait for the next day to rescue the girls.
Once they awaken, they find that Amy and Leela have already escaped and that the cavemen have evolved into sentient androids. They meet a scientist robot named Dr. Widnar (Tress MacNeille) who is astounded that organic life has evolved. They go to a robot museum, only for the Professor to reveal that he created the first nanobots that evolved into the androids only days ago. He also inadvertently shows her a picture that is almost identical to the one that Dr. Banjo generated using the Homo Farnsworth, leading Dr. Widnar to say that she doesn’t want to live on her planet anymore. The Professor is put on trial for crimes against science, but is acquitted when, after a day of deliberation, the robots evolve beyond the physical plane and stop caring about him. Farnsworth later admits to Banjo that it’s possible some higher being seeded life on Earth. There’s also a B-Plot of Zoidberg (West) trying to parent Cubert, but it’s better to ignore it.
This is one of the number of Futurama episodes which were written with a specific agenda in mind, and this episode is sadly still topical. While this story mostly serves as a rejection of the Kansas State Board of Education’s push to teach “intelligent design” and the subsequent “teach the controversy” and “critical analysis of Evolution” movements, it also deals with the anti-intellectualism movement in the US as a whole. As I write this in 2020, we are currently dealing with a number of protests against a science-backed stay-at-home order to deal with the Coronavirus and an almost insane number of people posting proposed “cures” for the disease, including ingesting or inhaling bleach or similar disinfectants. It’s safe to say that anti-science attitudes are still prevalent.
However, ultimately this episode does remind us that the theory of Evolution is not necessarily incompatible with the idea of a higher power, because evolution only tells us how life can become more complex over time and why certain species and mutations have survived. It doesn’t tell us where life came from in the first place (although there are a number of theories on that which do not require the existence of a creator). It also reminds us that anti-intellectualism will always use any further scientific proof to support itself, even if it has to be massively illogical to do it, as best evidenced by Dr. Banjo’s line:
“Things don’t exist simply because you believe in them. Thus sayeth the Almighty Creature in the Sky!”
Overall, really a solid episode and one that will probably always be relatable.
I’m sure most of you are going to think it’s Farnsworth’s extremely mimetic line “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” and I was tempted to say that’s it, because that line is so perfect and so relatable that it really does deserve the proliferation that it has gotten. However, having watched this episode repeatedly, the best line for me and the one that absolutely drives me to laugh and cry at the same time is the woman who is leading the anti-evolution protest.
Her lines are so perfectly representative of the anti-intellectual mindset that I basically hear it anytime I listen to certain television and radio personalities.
See you next week, meatbags.
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