It’s time to focus on the important things in the future: The terrible, terrible children.
Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) decide to brew their own beer inside of Bender. The joke is that Bender looks and acts like he’s pregnant throughout the episode. It’s funny, but there’s really nothing else plot-wise.
Professor Farnsworth (West), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille) find out that their sons, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr), were suspended from boarding school for salting a bully (he was a blob). While bored at the office, the pair send the crew on a fake mission which takes a week, resulting in the Professor and Hermes telling the boys to get a job. They decide to start a competing delivery service, a paper route, called Awesome Express. The kids use a pedal-powered spaceship to deliver the paper and quickly become extremely successful, gaining over one-million customers on their route and Awesome Express starts to actually make more money than Planet Express.
The kids try to gain their fathers’ respect, but the Professor and Hermes, clearly insecure about the boys’ success, pretend they’re unimpressed. In response, Cubert and Dwight decide to completely crush Planet Express, hiring Fry, Leela, and Bender for themselves. The men try to counter by working with what they have left, but it turns out that Cubert actually inherited the company when the Professor was declared dead after taking a nap in a ditch. They place Planet Express under Awesome Express and fire their fathers, who quickly become depressed over the situation.
Bender finally gives birth to an ale, and it is revealed that Dwight and Cubert have never actually been delivering the papers, since they broke the window of their bully and have been scared to go on the route since. They run crying to Hermes and the Professor, who deliver all of the papers and take the kids to the Blob household to apologize for the window. Mr. Blob (Maurice LaMarche) refuses to accept their apology, leading the two dads to attack him and get beaten to a pulp. Mr. Blob comes to apologize at the hospital and the fathers all share a bottle of Bendërbrāu, but his son proceeds to eat Dwight and Cubert.
This episode addresses having kids in both plotlines, but in very different ways. Fry, Leela, and Bender are dealing with the actual pregnancy and the positive expectations of parenting, while the Professor and Hermes deal with one of the scary realities that one day your kids are going to grow up and take your place. Hermes even says “We just wanted a few more years of being better than them.” In the end, we see all of the happy parents enjoying time with their kids, though in Bender’s case he’s drinking his offspring which is disturbing in retrospect. Still, I think it’s a clever way to play two plots on a similar theme.
Even though the idea of Bender being pregnant with beer seems like it would be a one-note joke, they do manage to address enough of the aspects of pregnancy in clever enough ways that the joke actually works, right up until Dwight says “this is a delivery company, not a delivery room.” When you do implied but indirect analogies the whole episode, doing an explicit comparison kind of falls flat. Other than that, though, I think the idea is actually well done.
Hermes’s and the Professor’s behavior is simultaneously ridiculous and relatable. When they first see their kids are trying to start a business, they treat it as if it’s just children playing a game. The minute they discover that it’s a competing delivery company, the two start to sabotage their kids, until they understand it’s a paper route, at which point they consider it a joke again. It goes back and forth like this, with the men underestimating the boys or denigrating their efforts until finally the boys overtake the men. The fact that at no point do they consider just talking openly and honestly with their sons about how they feel is either a shot at the fragility of masculinity, a hilarious commentary on the nature of pride, or both. In the end, though, their love for their children outweighs their insecurity, which hopefully is what actually happens in these situations.
Like I said, I think this is a solid episode for managing to thematically connect such disparate situations.
One of the hallmarks of humor is surprise. You need to deliver a punchline that’s simultaneously unexpected and also still reasonable, because just going pure surrealist will never have as much impact. This episode somehow has one of the best examples of a surprising punchline that should also have been completely expected.
When Cubert and Dwight first take over the company, Cubert and Leela have the following exchange:
Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They’ll make the ship go faster.
Leela: And what’s your scientific basis for thinking that?
Cubert: I’m 12.
Cubert, a literal genius, responds with a huge amount of self-awareness about choosing to believe something completely irrational. It simultaneously makes total sense and also none whatsoever. I love the hell out of this simple exchange.
Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.
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NEXT – Episode 45: Bendin’ In the Wind
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