The crew deals with a murderous shapeshifting alien.
The crew are all at odds. Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) are fighting over Bender using his toothbrush to polish his ass, Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and Zoidbert (West) are fighting over lunch theft, and Amy (Lauren Tom) and Leela (Katey Sagal) fight over using each other’s sporting equipment. All of them secretly hide cameras, which reveal that, while most of the accusations were unfounded, the things that they were doing were actually worse than originally assumed. Because of all the fighting, the Professor (West) hires consultant Dan McMasters (David Herman) to host a teambuilding retreat. However, when McMasters tries to make a point about trust by picking up a hitchhiker, the hitchhiker is revealed to be a shapeshifter who eats him and begins stalking the crew after disabling multiple ship systems. While the Professor hides in the panic room, Fry and Bender work together to restart the engines, Amy and Leela get a steering wheel for the auxiliary control room, and Hermes and Zoidberg restore the airflow. The six find the monster again, but escape to the panic room.
With the ship running again, Farnsworth reveals that the entire monster scenario was actually a trust exercise. The teams celebrate, only for the monster to reveal that he was pretending to be Farnsworth and eat Hermes, Scruffy the janitor, and the Professor. The monster proceeds to slowly hunt down and eat all of the members of the crew until only Fry and Bender are left. The two then come clean about their actions towards each other, at which point Dan McMasters comes out and tells them that THIS was the real trust exercise and that the monster was really his partner. The two, believing him to be the monster, disintegrate him. It turns out that he was telling the truth and that the rest of the crew is fine. At the end of the episode, Fry and Bender are told that the police will offer one of them $2,000,000 and total immunity if they rat on the other. Fry and Bender both glance at the phone.
This was an interesting episode, because I definitely never expected this show to do a comedic parody of The Thing. As The Thing (the John Carpenter one) is one of my favorite horror movies, possibly even my favorite, I was impressed at how much they capitalized on the paranoia of a shapeshifting monster, much like the movie, but they actually kicked it up a notch by not having the monster actually duplicate a cast member until the third act. When he first appears, he’s just a hobo, but that doesn’t indicate that he can copy memories or mannerisms. It’s only when the crew feels safe that the creature reveals that it can become any of them. It makes for a very fast-paced third act, with several characters being eaten only moments apart. It’s a great tribute to a great film, and the reveal that Fry and Bender’s paranoia grows to the point that they murder an innocent person (much like MacReady does in the original film) is somehow hilarious.
The other thing that I think the episode does well is explore the physics of the Planet Express ship. Since the ship routinely had insane rooms or functions added for gags throughout the series, this episode just takes that to the point of even more absurdity by having the ship have a giant network of air vents and even a basement. It makes this episode kind of a send-off to the Planet Express ship “Bessie,” and that really works with this being the final season.
Overall, a pretty solid episode, but not the best of the show.
I love the timing on the scene in which they try to arm up to confront the monster. Bender says they can’t give everyone guns because one of them could be the creature: “Fry. Leela. Amy. Zoidberg… Zoidberg.” At this point, you see two Zoidbergs, one of which says “one of us must be the bad creature.” The other goes “is it me maybe?” only to be eaten. Zoidberg can only sadly say “aw” as he’s devoured. It’s just a completely ridiculous interaction, but it works.
See you next week, meatbags.
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