Fry does Inception during Star Trek IV (The one with the whales).
An alien ship is approaching Earth repeatedly broadcasting four musical tones that shatter planets apart. No one is able to communicate with the ship, so it seems likely that the Earth itself will be blown to smithereens. The one hope is that Fry (Billy West) actually seems to recognize the tone. The Professor (West) determines that Fry heard it on December 31, 1999, the night he was frozen. They send Fry back into his head, Inception-style, allowing him to reenact and change the events of the last day he spent in the 20th Century. At the same time, the crew communicates with him via microphone. With only a few hours left to save Earth, Fry heads back to where he spent most of his last day, with his family. Fry runs into Seymour, his dog (the one that died), and realizes that he does miss some things about his old life. Rather than exploring to try and find the sound, Fry uses this opportunity to reconnect with his family, in particular his mother. Eventually, the crew joins Fry in the dream and try to convince him to continue the mission. He refuses, but, eventually, he no longer can stay in his house.
Fry continues the rest of the day with the crew in tow, but he doesn’t hear the sound. As Fry leans back at the very end of the day, he hears it as he falls into the cryogenic tube. It’s followed by two other tones in reply. Fry goes to a landing site and, when the ship plays the tones, Fry hits the last two notes. A small Nibblonian descends and greets Nibbler (Frank Welker). It turns out that on the night Fry was frozen, Nibbler and his companion got drunk and forgot where they parked their car. The tones were the parking fob. Fry, remembering where he heard the noise, leads them to the top of the Applied Cryogenics building. With Bender’s help, they jump the dead car and the Nibblonian flies home. Nibbler vows to repay Fry. That night, Fry dreams of the 2000 Rose Bowl with his mom. Realizing that he didn’t see the game, Nibbler reveals that they have put Fry in his mother’s dream, allowing him to talk with her one last time before waking.
This episode is one of the biggest Futurama tear-jerker endings, up there with “Luck of the Fryrish” or “Jurassic Bark.” It’s amazing that this show could so often figure out the exact way to build a fantastical episode around something goofy and then turn it into one moment of absolute brilliant sincerity. Maybe it’s that the world has gotten more cynical or maybe it’s that I have, but giving people a true emotional moment without undercutting it and just ending on that note seems like one of the bravest things you can do in a medium and Futurama did it well on many occasions. While writing this review, I teared up a little thinking about how great a gift it would be to go and speak one more time to a person who you lost.
The rest of this episode is pretty funny. I particularly love watching Fry mess around with the dream, including trying to go into a strip club and finding out nothing but a giant void is within because he didn’t ever see it. Later, this turns tragic when Fry tries to re-enter his home and finds that it is similarly a giant white void because he never saw it again. The other dream logic parts of the episode were similarly great, including the strangest cameo ever of having Seth McFarlane play the dream version of Seymour the dog for exactly one line. In an even weirder twist, the dog is acting like Brian from Family Guy, right down to holding up a martini glass while lounging on the couch.
Overall, this is top-tier Futurama as we continue ramping up to the series finale.
Okay, this is a weird one, but it’s actually the last scene in which Fry talks with his mother. I know this isn’t actually a joke, but the scene is apparently designed to be a “good version” of the end of the film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. The ending to that movie was so saccharine and painful that many people thought it turned what would have been a mediocre film into a crapfest. This episode manages to take that failure and play it straight in such a way that it was touching and amazing. Since that film was a collaboration between Spielberg and Kubrick, this means that the writers of Futurama just outdid two of the best directors in history (if only for a moment), and that’s hilarious to me.
See you next week, meatbags.
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