Bender enhances his robotic intellect so much that he becomes nearly omniscient.
Cubert (Kath Soucie), Fry (Billy West), and Bender (John DiMaggio) are playing a WWII combat game online, but keep losing badly to Walt, Igner, and Larry (Maurice Lamarche and DiMaggio), Mom’s (Tress MacNeille) idiot sons. Cubert says Bender is the weak link, something that Bender acknowledges due to his hardware being out of date. Cubert overclocks Bender’s CPU to compensate and Bender quickly becomes much more intelligent. Mom, discovering that Cubert violated Bender’s user agreement, sends an army of robots to reclaim him and has Cubert and the Professor (West) arrested. Bender manages to overclock his own secondary processor, making him smart enough to avoid Mom’s attacks and continually increase his own intellect. He leaves Planet Express to find seclusion from Mom.
At the same time, Fry and Leela (Katey Segal) are discussing their relationship when she starts to express doubt about the future. Eventually, when the Professor and Cubert are put on trial, Leela leaves Planet Express to go find a new purpose. Fry tries to find a new friend in Randy (DiMaggio), but ends up trying to kill himself by going over Niagara Falls. He survives and finds a cave containing Bender, who is now a mostly non-corporeal existence. Bender has hacked himself so much that he is now using reality as a processor, giving him essential omniscience. He informs Fry that Cubert and the Professor are going to be convicted and declines to explain if Fry and Leela will end up together.
At the trial, the deliberations conclude, only for Bender to show up a few moments later. He is denied the opportunity to testify, but then mentions loudly that the Jury probably won’t convict Cubert. Mom makes the prosecutor drop the case against Cubert, but Bender then points out that Cubert and Farnsworth are the same person, legally, so dropping a case against one drops them both. He is then picked up by Mom’s robots and reset to his old intellect. Leela later comes back to see Fry and ask Bender about their future. It’s revealed that Bender wrote down how Fry and Leela will end up. The pair read it and, although the audience doesn’t see what it says, it indicates that the two will be happy.
This is the third of Futurama’s four finales along with “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” and “Meanwhile.” I’ve stated before that all of these are excellent episodes, but this one feels the least like an actual finale, possibly because it focuses the least on Fry and Leela, who really were the emotional core of the show. However, this episode is still excellent, even if the ending feels a little tacked on, as does the C plot of Leela questioning her and Fry’s relationship. Also, it’s weird that this isn’t the season finale, given that it was originally the series finale.
This episode does a good job of having the A and B plots both arise from the same incident, which is a useful narrative tool in sitcoms, particularly since they both sort of represent two different viewpoints on modern computing. Bender’s plotline involves overclocking his central processing unit, which is a term for attempting to increase a CPU’s clock rate, or how often a computer sends an electrical pulse to synchronize all its components. When this is increased it can theoretically make a component’s operating speed higher, but it risks causing overheating issues or power issues if not done properly. If it works, though, you can make parts exceed their factory settings. On the other side, though, most companies will either consider a part warranty void if the part is overclocked (which makes sense as it reduces the lifespan of the component), or, as in this episode, will require users to sign contracts stating they won’t overclock it. That policy, as is stated in this episode, is kind of crazy, because it means that a person who has a part in their computer cannot use it as they want without it potentially violating that agreement. Moreover, some software actually contains licensing agreements (remember, you don’t actually own your software, which is a discussion for another time) which ban the software from being run with overclocked parts. So, you can’t improve your own property. I appreciate that this episode addresses the issue in a funny way.
Overall, aside from the part where Fry and Leela just spontaneously have a weird talk about being on-again off-again, this is a pretty great episode.
I’m going to do two. First, the fact that Bender uses Niagara Falls as both a power source and a cooling source is a reference to an apocryphal prediction by a supposed “Professor of Electrical Engineering” from New York. If you take an electrical engineering class, you’ll probably hear some mention of a supposed professor from before the microchip was invented who predicted that supercomputers were impossible, because you’d need Niagara Falls to cool all of the Vacuum Tubes required. Nowhere on the internet have I even seen someone try to name this professor, which should tell you how real the quote is, but it still gets around.
Second, one of the books that Bender reads is Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This is a combination of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the classic Rand McNally Atlases. I love this one because, before this episode aired, I used the same joke at a trivia night I was hosting for a “Before and After” clue.
See you next week, meatbags.
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