Fry finds his intellectual equals and Leela finds the sunshine of her spotless mind.
The Professor (Billy West) takes the crew to Oktoberfest in Germany. Fry is excited, but finds out that over the centuries Oktoberfest has become a high-society event which doesn’t allow for drunkenness or debauchery. Fry protests by getting drunk and doing the chicken dance. Leela (Katey Sagal) is so embarrassed that she breaks up with Fry (again). Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) sees a sausage-making contest and decides to enter, only to find out that everyone uses special ingredients for their meat. The two watch a video explaining that the valley they’re near, the Neander valley, used to contain mammoths. Bender and Fry use the ship to find a mammoth, but as Bender is grinding it up, Fry seemingly falls in and is turned into sausage. Bender doesn’t notice and ends up serving the sausage, leading Leela to eat a sausage dog which appears to contain Fry. Leela is so traumatized that she has her memories of Fry erased.
Fry actually survived the machine, after it took off his clothes and some hair, but fell into the mammoth hole and hit his head causing it to swell. Fry is rescued by neanderthals who live under the ice sheet. Seeing his swollen forehead, they believe Fry to be a fellow caveman and his wound causes memory loss so he quickly agrees with it. Fry leads the neanderthals to attack Oktoberfest in order to take back the surface world. During the attack, the neanderthals end up doing well despite their lack of technology, because Zapp Brannigan (West) is an idiot. Fry and Leela end up fighting but stop when they recognize each other. They kiss, ending the war, and the neanderthals join Oktoberfest and bring back some of the old ways.
I actually think this was a well-done episode. It manages to combine the traditional “head wound causes amnesia” plotline with the more futuristic “mind-wipe” plotlines that sci-fi has been bringing lately, most directly Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Much like in those tropes, some level of memory always exists and can be triggered by a strong enough emotion. The show drives the comparison home by having them simultaneously recover from their amnesia. It’s a very Futurama way to deconstruct sci-fi tropes back to their roots.
The other thing about this episode is that it is one of the more fun episodes of the last season. Each of the characters’ arcs are solidly comedic, particularly Bender and his quest to be the greatest sausage maker of all time. Bender does actually put forth more effort towards this goal than he usually does, but when he only gets third place (which he calls the greatest injustice that Germany has ever committed), he manages to ensure that his opponents are killed in the ensuing attack. Or at least that’s the story. Fry’s lines to the neanderthals are pretty solid, including his line “I do have vague memories of people refusing to breed with me” that he uses to confirm his neanderthal lineage. The idea of cavemen fighting with spacemen has often been floated, including a famous debate in the show Angel which literally named the “cavemen vs. astronauts” trope, but Futurama is one of the few shows where the key to the fight is that both sides are actually equally stupid.
Overall, solid episode of Futurama.
This is another three small joke episode.
1) When Hermes sees mammoths, he calls them “hairy elephantes,” which is both a fun description and also a joke on singer/songwriter Harry Belafonte.
2) Later, Hermes is attacked by a giant sloth that takes forever to actually maul him. So long, in fact, that the battle pretty much ends by the time it gets there. Having Hermes, a normally serious character, participate in this only makes it that much funnier.
3) Everything about this exchange:
Zapp Brannigan: Up here in the clouds, our technology makes us invincible, like the mighty “x” in tic-tac-toe. Look at those pathetic cavemen down there, loading their silly catapult with…what is that, Kif?
Kif: I believe it’s a saber-tooth cat, sir.
Yes, it’s a Cat-apult.
See you next week, meatbags.
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