While on a walk, Fry (Billy West) offers Leela (Katey Sagal) his hand in an act of chivalry, but she ends up getting attacked by a tentacle monster because of it and Fry’s pants get wet. When he puts them out to dry, they get caught by a weather balloon launched by the Professor (West). Fry catches up to his pants, only for a badger to take them down a hole. In the hole, Fry finds walls covered in strange symbols. Leela falls into a deeper hole, with Fry offering his hand, only for her to fall again, injuring her leg. The crew follows her, discovering a giant buried pyramid and a stone calendar with writing on it. Amy (Lauren Tom), able to read the words, determines them to be Ancient Martian and that they’re predicting the world ending in 3012.
Farnsworth explains that his recent weather studies confirm the world is ending. The event starts by disabling all electronics on Earth with a solar flare, including the ships required to escape. Amy reveals that the pyramid they found is actually a buried spaceship made of stone. Without electronics, it can still fly with 30,000 people in it. Zapp Brannigan (West) immediately commandeers it. Nixon (West) orders a machine to choose the people who get to fly. Everyone is selected for the ship, except for Leela. Fry secretly sacrifices his ticket so that she can go.
On Mars, the survivors start to build a new city, but Singing Wind (West), leader of the Native Martian, arrives to tell them that Amy mistranslated the prophecy. Earth’s not getting destroyed, Mars is. That’s why the Native Martians sold the planet. As the final solar flare hits Mars, instead of Earth, it launches Mars mere feet past Earth. Everyone jumps off the planet back onto Earth, except Leela, whose leg is injured. Fry extends his hand to her, only for her arm to rip off, then his. Luckily, she gets saved anyway and appreciates that Fry was willing to sacrifice himself for her.
I remember in 2012 when everyone was trying to create an apocalypse episode, but you would think that Futurama taking place 1000 years later would have allowed them to avoid it. Instead, they went all in with this fairly nonsensical and mostly forgettable episode. I will admit that the recurring joke about Fry’s gestures always ending poorly was used well, but the ultimate revelation that the entire plot was based around Amy completely misunderstanding the calendar was weak. I also wasn’t a fan of the joke about Fry’s “lucky pants,” although the punchline of Fry getting a ticket based on them was a little fun. The title of the episode, “A Farewell to Arms,” was actually pretty clever, both because it foreshadows Fry and Leela losing their limbs and also because Arms is an anagram for Mars.
Overall, though, I just don’t care about this episode.
The Great Reveal-o. I love the concept. In the episode, when Fry gives Leela his ticket, they ask how he did it. Fry says “A magician never reveals his secrets. Except the great Reveal-o.” Zoidberg then insults the magician. Later, when the new Martian city is unveiled, we see a magician produce celebratory doves, only for him to explain that the doves weren’t magic, only crammed into the netting sewn into his sleeves. I absolutely love the idea of a magician who immediately explains the trick. It completely undermines the entire point of seeing the show and I wish he was real.
Let’s destroy gender stereotypes by embracing gender stereotypes! Wait…
Planet Express faces foreclosure due to mismanagement. The crew brainstorms ways to save it and Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests they do commercial airfare using the ship. This is shot down in favor of a nude calendar, which features Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and LaBarbara Conrad (Dawnn Lewis). Unfortunately, with only three women the project fails, so they finally try the airline idea (without giving Leela credit). Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and Fry (Billy West) are made pilots while the girls are made stewardesses, despite the fact that only Leela can fly a ship. The flight goes awry and they crash on a barren rocky planet. The passengers and crew total 16, eight men and eight women, and they immediately become divided over who should lead.
The fight is interrupted by a rock alien (David Herman) who asks to speak with the leader, then becomes fascinated by the concept of gender. It decides to pose a series of tests to decide which gender is better, but ultimately decides to test their ability to reach shelter as the planet becomes uninhabitable. Both groups fail miserably at reaching the cave, but each realize that they can use Bender and the fembot refrigerator to avoid dying. Hermes and LaBarbara try to steal parts from each other, but end up having angry sex. When they awaken, the planet is burning, so both groups are about to die until they’re saved by the rock monster. Because of their failure, he lost a bet to another alien, so he uses his powers to make everyone gender neuter.
While at first the crew and passengers work better without their sexual characteristics, eventually they miss screwing, so they demand their genitals back. The alien obliges, but ends up reversing everyone’s genders. Zapp Brannigan (West) then kills it. When they get home, both sides try to adjust to their new bodies, and the former men now pose for the remaining pages of the calendar. The calendar does well and the company is saved. A meteor crashes into the building and another alien, the Borax Kid (Maurice LaMarche) arrives to fix their bodies. Everyone is put right… except Scruffy, the Janitor.
This episode is interesting in that it plays up sexism a lot in its characters in order to deconstruct sexism. The problem is that A) the jokes aren’t super funny and B) they had already done this back in “Amazon Women in the Mood.” For example, jokes about the inferiority of women countered by the fact that Leela and Amy are among the most competent characters in the show. What’s crazy is that they could probably have done a better job by playing up the gender swap subplot of the episode, but it ends up being a very short part of the episode. Even worse, most of the stuff in the gender swapped act is not particularly funny, like LaBarbara saying she needs to get up 5 times a night to play Xbox. However, I do admit that Hermes screaming “your manwich” when his wife makes love to him is pretty funny.
The one part of this episode that does tend to stand out is the Rock Monster’s ridiculous competition between the two parties. It’s completely random, starting out with who can drink the most sulfur, then going into a number of very pointed questions like “which is larger, and Italian size 4 or an American Apparel medium” or “name any twelve of the Desperate Housewives,” followed by the hilariously vague “how was your day.” They’re still sexist, but at least these are so farcical they’re funny.
Overall, the episode is okay, but it really just retreads something that the show already did better.
Well, my favorite joke is definitely Hermes shouting “Your Manwich!” when LaBarbara takes him in a manly fashion, but I already used that one. So, instead, I think I’ll say it’s the nude calendar. First, many of the images are references to famous pin-ups, ranging from Fry as Barbarella to Farnsworth as Farrah Fawcett. Naturally, all of these are slightly unnerving because of the subjects, which makes for a fun parody if you know the source material. Second, the episode states that they need eleven million dollars in order to stay afloat and they have a single day of sales in which to generate it. They pull it off, somehow. Since a Google search tells me that most 12-image nude calendars are under 20 dollars and the world of Futurama has a similar rate of exchange to ours, that means that they had to sell over half a million calendars in a day. Leela thanks the fans for being such huge perverts. This is a swipe at the Futurama fandom, which another Google search tells me is, indeed, full of people who are dedicated to making a lot of porn of the characters.
It’s time to hunt the deadliest game: Space Whale. Why do people think it’s Man?
Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) is celebrating the anniversary of the loss of his first crew, aside from Zoidberg (West), who doesn’t remember what happened to them. He orders the current crew to pick up their memorial statue. Due to Leela (Katey Sagal) noticing a grammatical error, the job takes longer than expected and requires the crew to fly back via the Bermuda Tetrahedron, the very same place that the first crew was lost. They find the wreckage of the first Planet Express ship and inspect it, only to find out that a giant space whale ate it. The crew is attacked by the whale, which eats one of their engines and then the statue they were delivering. Leela resolves to kill the whale. She orders the crew to use “Solar Sails” to propel the ship and starts trying to hunt down the whale using 19th Century techniques. Amy (Lauren Tom) becomes the harpooner and Bender (John DiMaggio) mans the crow’s nest.
During a “spaceberg” storm, Bender gets injured trying to catch one of the “bergs,” which turn out to be giant diamonds. Leela refuses to save him, leading the crew to mutiny against her increasing insanity. While they try to perform a rescue, the whale returns and swallows Fry, Bender, Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy. Leela attempts to kill the whale with a cheese knife, but gets swallowed. Zoidberg escapes back to Earth. Inside the whale, Leela meets the former captain, Lando Tucker (David Herman), and is told that the whale feeds on obsession, the kind that is found within spaceship captains. Having mostly drained Lando, it will now eat Leela. However, after Leela gets absorbed into the whale, she pilots it back to Earth, having overpowered it with her obsession. The crowd kills the whale and all of the whale’s victims reunite with their loved ones.
This episode should be terrible, since it’s just a space parody of Moby Dick, a book that is famously difficult to adapt to film. However, they actually put enough effort into keeping it humorous that it ended up working out, and even played with the themes of revenge and obsession in an interesting way. Rather than having her obsession consume her at the end of the story, Leela’s obsession with doing her job is actually what saves the day. She then admits that her revenge against the whale was what made it a monster… only to change her mind and have people kill it out of revenge. Having Leela go crazy like this is actually pretty solidly within her character, so unlike many other parody episodes, this worked out organically.
I love the concept of the 4-D space whale. It exists outside of our concept of reality, seemingly moving through time and space at will, but only emerging into 3-D space in order to hunt and, apparently, breathe in vacuum. While that may seem like an insane concept, if the whale were to exist outside of time, then normal cause and effect would not apply to its biology. Rather than filling its lungs with air, it always has air in its lungs and has to find a way to exhale while static in time. “Inhaling vacuum” might somehow also explain how it can accelerate through space.
Overall, I like this episode pretty well. It’s a fun diversion that has no real impact on anything else in the series.
It’s a countdown:
3) I love that Inez Wong says “My days of joy and luck are over, guess I gotta quit that club.” This is a reference to the Joy Luck Club, a book whose movie adaptation featured Inez Wong’s actress Lauren Tom. Just a fun line.
2) The Tom Baker version of the Doctor from Doctor Who emerges from the space whale. Given that the Doctor is also a time-traveler via the TARDIS, it makes sense that the whale might be the only thing that can attack the TARDIS in flight. Later, Doctor Who actually had an episode with a space whale, so that’s a fun bonus.
1) The title of the episode, Mobius Dick. It combines Moby Dick with the mobius strip, a non-orientable surface. It’s such a funny term that it was my nickname in Mu Alpha Theta mathletics in high school. I have so many regrets.
Bender gets stuck in witness protection and Zoidberg gets some respect.
The Planet Express crew makes a delivery of a set of clamps to the estate of the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) of the Robot Mafia, which are, naturally, for Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). The delivery is also the day of the Donbot’s daughter’s wedding, leading Bender (John DiMaggio) to gatecrash. During the celebrations, Bender meets the Donbot’s other daughter Bella (Tress MacNeille), and starts making out with her in the stables. While there, Bender witnesses the Robot Mafia beating up Calculon (LaMarche) for owing them money. Bender ends up telling the police about it, leading them to tell Bender that he has to testify in open court. While they try to hide Bender’s identity, the machine malfunctions and the Donbot realizes who is testifying against him. While the jury is about to convict the Donbot, Calculon arrives and, under mob threats, says that he attacked himself. Bender is put into witness protection.
Planet Express starts looking for Bender’s replacement, leading the Donbot to send Clamps to take the position, hoping to track down Bender. Fry (Billy West) quickly tries to bond with Clamps, who goes by Francis, despite Clamps’ constant anger towards Fry. However, Zoidberg (West) becomes angry at Clamps, because people seem to prefer the clamps to Zoidberg’s pincers. Eventually, the crew makes a delivery to the moon, where they find Bender, now living under the identity of Billy West (HA! I get it). It turns out that Billy’s memory contains no traces of being Bender, only of his life as a farmer married to the Crushinator. Despite that, Clamps still tries to kill Billy, only to be stopped by Zoidberg, who cuts off Clamps’ clamps. However, Bella, angry that Bender is cheating on her with the Crushinator, arrives and kills him. The crew goes to mourn Bender at the pizza place next to Planet Express, only to find that Bender is working there. It turns out Billy West was just an innocent robot. Since the mob thinks he’s dead, Bender comes back to work.
So, I really don’t think highly of this episode. It’s premised on Bender testifying against the Donbot, something that seems out of character, particularly after the police refuse to give Bender more money. Bender is a career criminal and a coward, so it strains even the rather loose character continuity of this show to have him do this. The out of character moment is even weirder because the show points out that Bender is a criminal in the episode as a gag. Also, the idea that there are identical bending units has already been done multiple times, including twice with Flexo, which makes it weird that the crew is insisting that Billy is Bender. You’d think they could check his unit number or something. I realize these are weird nitpicks, but when you have to really stretch character traits to make the plot work, maybe just write another plot.
I will say that I love Zoidberg’s role in this episode. After having been the brunt of so much ire from the other characters in the show, it’s kind of nice to see Zoidberg being the hero. It also helps that Zoidberg’s concern in this episode is actually kind of understandable. Zoidberg is a terrible doctor, and everyone constantly points it out, so it makes sense that he’d cherish the thing that he is still appreciated for. It’s also fun to see him stand up for himself so fiercely, including his angry swearing.
Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst either (since that was last week). A big problem is that the episode also isn’t super funny.
The funniest thing in this episode is probably the trial, particularly the scene in which the initial judge appears. He begins to state that he will not suffer any form of intimidation, only to be assassinated in the middle of the statement. He is immediately replaced by a mob-friendly judge who is otherwise identical. The timing and delivery of everything about this switch is pretty much perfect, including the judge deferring to the Donbot about whether he should recuse himself.
Futurama actually generates a mathematical theorem for a single plot device.
Bender (John DiMaggio) finds out that Emperor Nikolai of Robo-Hungary (David Herman) is visiting New York and plans a scheme to rob him involving all of the Planet Express crew. They aren’t interested, but he finds out that Amy (Lauren Tom) and the Professor (Billy West) have built a mind-swapping machine and uses it to put his mind in Amy’s body to do the first part of the heist. The Professor puts his mind in Bender’s body so that he can live out his dream of extreme sports and Amy puts her mind in the Professor’s body so that she can eat without ruining her figure. Leela (Katey Sagal) then switches with Amy so that she can get discount tickets at the movies in the Professor’s body, which leads to Fry (West) finding her unattractive and her accusing him of being shallow.
Bender, in Amy’s body, gets captured by Nikolai, who reveals he wants to be normal. So, after dragging in Zoidberg (West), Fry, and Scruffy’s robot washbucket (Tress MacNeille), Nikolai and Zoidberg (in the Washbucket and Fry) try to be roommates, Fry goes to date Leela as Zoidberg, and Bender becomes Nikolai. Meanwhile, the Professor, in Bender’s body, joins a circus as a stuntman and Amy (in Leela) switches with Hermes (Phil LaMarr) so that she doesn’t wreck Leela’s body with her overeating. Fry and Leela, as Zoidberg and Farnsworth, have a contest to disgust the other… until they end up making out. Bender then gets attacked by Nikolai’s cousin Count Basil (Maurice LaMarche) who is trying to steal the throne.
Zoidberg and Nikolai blow up Fry and Bender’s apartment, the Washbucket (in Amy) tries to seduce Scruffy (Herman) but is rebuffed, and the Professor uses a cannon to save Bender at the United Nations. After everyone agrees to switch back, the Professor realizes that, due to the machine not allowing people who swapped to swap back directly, he needs help from the Globetrotters to solve the problem using math. They end up solving it and realize that no matter how mixed up the swaps are, they can always get back to normal by adding two more people. Everyone gets back to normal… and Bender realizes that he forgot the crown he stole in Nikolai’s body.
This is the only episode of television, to my knowledge, which had a theorem written and published solely for the purpose of resolving the plot and I admire the show immensely for that. The “Futurama Theorem” was developed by writer Ken Keeler, math PhD and massive nerd, and it proves, conclusively, that no matter how many mind switches occur using the mind-switcher in this episode, all parties can be put back in their original bodies using two additional blank people. Essentially, you use the two spare bodies as placeholders for minds while you just change each of the bodies down the line. Keeler also illustrated that, to resolve the situation in the show using the method, you’d only need 13 swaps to get everyone back. Of course, as nerds watch this show, numerous proofs of more efficient paths to solutions have arisen and the Infosphere seems to indicate the minimum number is 9.
In terms of humor, this episode does a good job of intertwining all of the plots in a humorous fashion which works perfectly for the theme. I like the Professor’s discussion with Big Bertha in which he offers to put her into a new body which isn’t broken, but she refuses because every scratch on her body is a memory. It’s not exactly a message of “be happy with what you have,” but more saying “don’t forego who you were.”
Overall, I think this is a solid episode.
In a rarity, I think the best joke in this episode is actually the Title Caption, which reads “What happens in Cygnus X-1, stays in Cygnus X-1.” The structure of the sentence is based on “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” which was itself based on the old musician and professional athlete motto of “what happens on the road/tour, stays on the road/tour.” The gag is that Cygnus X-1 was one of the first sources of X-rays from the Cygnus Constellation, which led to a bet between Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Physicist Kip Thorne over whether or not it was caused by a star becoming a black hole. Ultimately, Hawking lost the bet after it became extremely likely that Cygnus X-1 does contain a black hole. In other words, whatever happens in Cygnus X-1 likely happens inside of the event horizon of a black hole and will not be able to escape (although black holes do emit radiation sometimes).
It turns out that creationism might have a point, just not the one you think.
Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) discovers that anti-evolution advocates are protesting Cubert’s (Kath Soucie) school. The Professor gets into a fight with the protestors and their head advocate Dr. Banjo (David Herman), a talking orangutan. Banjo makes a claim that if evolution is real, there wouldn’t be a “missing link,” despite the fact that the professor maps out dozens of evolutionary ancestors to modern man. In order to find the “last” missing Link, the Professor and the crew go to Africa and dig, finally finding a new hominid skull. He submits the new “Homo farnsworth” to the museum, only find out that Dr. Banjo is the museum’s curator and that he has used the new hominid to set up a display that “disproves” evolution. The Professor decides that he doesn’t want to live on Earth anymore, so they take him to an asteroid so he can live out the rest of his days in solitude. He uses nanobots to work on detoxifying a pond, but the microscopic robots start evolving into “trilobots” and eat the Planet Express Ship.
The crew hide in a nearby cave, but discover that they have no edible food (because they got pineapple on their pizza). They have some dehydrated food, so they run out of the cave to get to the pond, only to find that the trilobots have gone and that there is a metallic jungle which is populated by robotic dinosaurs. Fry (West) is carried off by a robot pterodactyl and the rest are attacked by a roboT-Rex, only to be saved by a massive solar flare that wipes out all of the dinosaurs without hurting the crew or smaller, mammalian robots. The Professor builds a new spaceship out of dino-parts, but they have to wait a day for the solar battery to charge. The next morning, they find that Leela and Amy (Katey Sagal and Lauren Tom) get kidnapped by robot cavemen. Farnsworth makes a slingshot to fight them, but it takes him 12 hours, so they have to wait for the next day to rescue the girls.
Once they awaken, they find that Amy and Leela have already escaped and that the cavemen have evolved into sentient androids. They meet a scientist robot named Dr. Widnar (Tress MacNeille) who is astounded that organic life has evolved. They go to a robot museum, only for the Professor to reveal that he created the first nanobots that evolved into the androids only days ago. He also inadvertently shows her a picture that is almost identical to the one that Dr. Banjo generated using the Homo Farnsworth, leading Dr. Widnar to say that she doesn’t want to live on her planet anymore. The Professor is put on trial for crimes against science, but is acquitted when, after a day of deliberation, the robots evolve beyond the physical plane and stop caring about him. Farnsworth later admits to Banjo that it’s possible some higher being seeded life on Earth. There’s also a B-Plot of Zoidberg (West) trying to parent Cubert, but it’s better to ignore it.
This is one of the number of Futurama episodes which were written with a specific agenda in mind, and this episode is sadly still topical. While this story mostly serves as a rejection of the Kansas State Board of Education’s push to teach “intelligent design” and the subsequent “teach the controversy” and “critical analysis of Evolution” movements, it also deals with the anti-intellectualism movement in the US as a whole. As I write this in 2020, we are currently dealing with a number of protests against a science-backed stay-at-home order to deal with the Coronavirus and an almost insane number of people posting proposed “cures” for the disease, including ingesting or inhaling bleach or similar disinfectants. It’s safe to say that anti-science attitudes are still prevalent.
However, ultimately this episode does remind us that the theory of Evolution is not necessarily incompatible with the idea of a higher power, because evolution only tells us how life can become more complex over time and why certain species and mutations have survived. It doesn’t tell us where life came from in the first place (although there are a number of theories on that which do not require the existence of a creator). It also reminds us that anti-intellectualism will always use any further scientific proof to support itself, even if it has to be massively illogical to do it, as best evidenced by Dr. Banjo’s line:
“Things don’t exist simply because you believe in them. Thus sayeth the Almighty Creature in the Sky!”
Overall, really a solid episode and one that will probably always be relatable.
I’m sure most of you are going to think it’s Farnsworth’s extremely mimetic line “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” and I was tempted to say that’s it, because that line is so perfect and so relatable that it really does deserve the proliferation that it has gotten. However, having watched this episode repeatedly, the best line for me and the one that absolutely drives me to laugh and cry at the same time is the woman who is leading the anti-evolution protest.
Her lines are so perfectly representative of the anti-intellectual mindset that I basically hear it anytime I listen to certain television and radio personalities.
Fry, Bender, and Professor Farnsworth unexpectedly get blown into the even farther future with no way to return.
Fry (Billy West) keeps showing up late to work and dates with Leela (Katey Sagal), resulting in both the Professor (West) and Leela getting frustrated with his behavior. Fry promises to make up for being late to Leela’s birthday lunch by taking her to a fancy dinner, despite it being the same night as Hedonism Bot’s (Maurice LaMarche) bachelor party. On the way to his date with Leela, Fry is grabbed by the Professor and, along with Bender (John DiMaggio), forced to test the Professor’s one-way time machine. He tries to record a birthday message for Leela as the Professor moves them one minute into the future, but the Professor trips and sends them to the year 10,000 AD, where the world has clearly been destroyed. Fry drops the message card.
The Professor points out that his time machine can’t go backwards, but they could just go forward in time until someone else invents a time machine that can. They jump forward in time, repeatedly encountering insane civilizations, but can’t find anyone who built a backwards time machine. They reach the year Five Million where the superintelligent population believes they can, but they’re destroyed by the Dumblocks. The year Ten Million has the machines enslaving mankind, to Bender’s delight, and the year Fifty Million has the world populated almost entirely by beautiful women who have a time machine. After the women offer to sleep with Fry and Professor, Bender activates the machine out of spite. This leads to a fight while the machine is active, sending the trio to the year One Billion, where all life has ceased on Earth and possibly the universe.
Meanwhile, Leela believes that Fry stood her up to go to Hedonismbot’s party, which resulted in a massive explosion. It’s believed that Fry, Bender, and the Professor are dead. Twenty years later, the company has become successful and Leela dates Cubert (Kath Soucie), but twenty years after that they’re divorced. In 3050, Leela is hit by the birthday message that Fry was recording when the machine went off, revealing that he hadn’t been responsible for missing the date. Leela realizes that she spent 40 years being mad at him for something that wasn’t his fault, so she goes to the cavern where they were going to have dinner and shoots a message into the ceiling. After a billion years of dripping, Fry sees the message in the cave, telling him that Leela missed him and that she loved their time together.
Fry, the Professor, and Bender get into the time machine and decide to just watch the universe end, but to their surprise, after the Big Crunch comes a second Big Bang. The crew watch the formation of the universe, the Earth, the Moon, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the formation of humanity (stopping to kill Hitler). As they are about to reach the time they left, Farnsworth trips AGAIN, and they end up going to 10,000 AD again. So, they ride the time machine through the universe dying and being reborn yet again, this time ending at the right time… but finding out that this universe is 10 feet lower than the last one, resulting in the machine crushing this universe’s versions of the trio. Fry runs to meet Leela and Bender buries the bodies of the duplicates.
This is an interesting episode of Futurama, particularly when you realize that the show has already done multiple “classic” time travel stories, including the movie Bender’s Big Score. In this story, the crew can only go forward in time (but not space… relative to the movement of the Earth), which gives us a hilarious snapshot of all of the various futures to the tune of the song “In the Year 2525,” including a future where the world is frozen and people ride seals, a future based on the game Joust featuring Ostrich Knights, a future where a giant shrimp lures people with a hillbilly merman, and a future where the world is now enslaved by giraffes who eat all the leaves. I like the idea that humanity just perpetually destroys itself and rebuilds, because it is simultaneously depressing as hell that we never stop wrecking Earth and uplifting that we never stop going forward. I also believe that the reason life in the Universe is stopped at year One Billion is because life has evolved beyond the traditional universe at that point, because otherwise it’s weird that life is apparently gone everywhere.
The concept of the cyclical universe is particularly interesting, because that had been proposed as a model for the universe for much of the last century. Under the original “Big Bang” model, gravity is going to perpetually oppose the expansive motion of all of the particles in the universe, because every particle in the universe is gravitationally attracted to all of the other particles, albeit to an extremely small degree. Eventually, gravity would halt the expansion, cause a retraction, and the universe would collapse back in on itself… which would put us back at the singularity that led to the Big Bang. Sadly, this has probably stopped being as viable of a model following the Nobel Prize-winning revelation that the universe’s expansion is actually still accelerating… which came to be accepted about a year after this episode aired. The concept that time itself is cyclical still gets debated by the fandom, though. Either way, it’s a fun idea for the episode.
Aside from the premise, I have to say that the writing on Leela in this episode, while brief, is amazingly well-done. When she breaks down at the revelation that everything she’s done for the last four decades has been based on a mistake, it’s incredibly powerful, as is the revelation of her love message to Fry. It’s up there on my list of best Futurama moments.
Overall, just a solid episode.
There are a number of great tributes to time-travel films and novels in this episode, ranging from jumping one minute to the future like the original test of the DeLorean in Back to the Future to a future where humanity is split between the primitive and intelligent, as in the original The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. However, the best one, for me, is from a movie that doesn’t usually get grouped as a time-travel film series: The Planet of the Apes. When Fry emerges in the future, he mimics Charlton Heston’s famous scene at the end of the film when he sees the broken statue of liberty… followed by a number of duplicate statues, saying:
No! They did it! They blew it up! And then the apes blew up their society too. How could this happen? And then the birds took over and ruined their society. And then the cows. And then… … I don’t know, is that a slug, maybe? Noooo!
I find this especially funny because cows are extinct in the year 3000, so I have no idea how they took over the future.
The Planet Express crew manages to get back on the air.
After entering the wormhole at the end of the last movie, the crew emerges in the “Panama Wormhole,” Earth’s main shipping channel. Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) is still chasing the Planet Express ship. The ships both crash causing a massive explosion that nobody seems to survive except for the Professor (West) who was in a safety sphere and Fry (West), who appears unharmed aside from electrical burns. The rest of the crew are revealed to be just heads on skeletons. The Professor shoves everyone in a rebirthing machine in order to bring them back to life. Everyone seems okay except for Leela (Katey Sagal), who is in a coma. Bender (John DiMaggio) discovers that he has a failing power supply, so the Professor replaces it with a doomsday device. Because the doomsday device output is so large, Bender has to keep partying to burn off the excess or he will die.
Fry, sad because of Leela’s coma, builds a robot version of her. By uploading all of the information about Leela on the Planet Express surveillance, the robot version gains Leela’s memories and personality. Due to not knowing she is a robot, she is horrified when she finds out about the real Leela. After she gets past the existential crisis, she and Fry start to resume the typical Fry/Leela relationship. After the last-ditch effort to wake Leela fails, the crew takes her to be eaten by the wild Cyclophage, a monster that only eats Cyclopes. At the funeral, Bender’s partying is so obnoxious that it wakes Leela up. The Cyclophage attacks, so everyone flees on the ship, with the monster, unseen, holding on to the bottom.
Back on Earth, Fry and the two Leelas try to reconcile their issues, but a fight ensues. Amy (Lauren Tom) gives Fry a gun to shoot one of them, for some reason, but Fry shoots himself by accident. He is revealed to also be a robot. It turns out that the real Fry had sacrificed himself to protect Leela from the initial crash, allowing her to live through it. The Professor tried to revive him, but failed, so Leela built a robot of Fry to replace him. However, the robot Fry overloaded, shocking her into a skeleton and wiping its memory. At that time, the original Fry revives as well. The two robots leave together and Fry and Leela try to work things out. However, Bender gets angered by all the romance, so he tries to stop partying and overload. One of his eyes falls out just as the Cyclophage comes back. It eats Bender, then explodes, leaving Bender somehow unharmed and back to normal. Everyone parties to celebrate.
Following the four films, Futurama was revived by Comedy Central, something that is mentioned in the opening to this episode. Given how often the show took shots at the Fox network’s management, it’s interesting that they never seemed to have the same animosity towards Comedy Central. Maybe it’s because the rules about content are so much looser on cable, but it may also be that Matt Groening and David X. Cohen really didn’t appreciate Fox cancelling their show twice (they changed their mind once) only for it to prove itself as a huge draw on Adult Swim. It probably also ticked them off that Fox didn’t want to revive the show like they revived Family Guy and appreciated that Comedy Central could recognize the fact that Futurama had power in syndication. Whatever they were feeling, the show acknowledges the change, then acknowledges the ending of Into the Wild Green Yonder, then moves on. It’s refreshing that they could so naturally restart the normal formula without just completely ignoring everything that had come before.
The episode manages to combine the show rebooting with the characters literally rebooting and being reborn. I appreciate that they never pretend that there’s going to be a major overhaul of anything in the series despite the fact that the majority of the characters are dead at the beginning of the episode. It’s basically assured from the moment that we find that out that they are all going to come back, and the show uses that to surprise us with the reveal of the Robot Fry. It’s a very Futurama twist.
Overall, I thought this episode was a solid return to form and it gave me hope that the show would produce some more of the quality episodes that it had previously. While I don’t think they ever quite matched “Godfellas,” many of these episodes were excellent.
My favorite joke has to be Studio 1²2¹3³. A lot of the staff on Futurama love math jokes, as do I, and this is a simple but fun one. 1^2 * 2^1 * 3^3 = 1*2*27 = 54. In other words, they’re at Studio 54, the famous nightclub, explaining why Bender is dressed in John Travolta’s outfit from Saturday Night Fever. The deeper layer to this joke is that Studio 54 was originally a TV studio which ran from 1943 to 1975. After CBS sold it, it was reborn as Studio 54, a nightclub that was the hottest thing in New York for a few years until the people that ran it, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, got arrested for tax fraud, which heralded its demise. However, it was eventually reborn (Oh, now I get it!) in 1998 as a theatre on Broadway.
Fry finds out that he’s the chosen one yet again as Leela tries to save the environment.
This is my favorite of the four Futurama films. It’s got a ton of fun subplots, a lot of memorable jokes, and some creative visuals. The thing that holds it back the most is that it is essentially repeating the same plot idea of Fry being the Chosen One from “The Why of Fry.” Just like in that episode, Fry’s secret ability is his imperviousness to mind-reading, which likely derives from his being his own grandfather. The main thing this film does right is that it somehow builds up the connection between Fry and Leela throughout the story without having a lot of specifically romantic moments. Instead, it focuses on each of them doing the right thing to their own sense of morality and shows us that ultimately they both want to help each other, they both trust each other, and they’re both good people even if they aren’t always the smartest. Ken Keeler wrote the original finale in which Fry and Leela are implied to finally realize their feelings, but it was still nice to see them explicitly admit their love in this one.
The main thing I loved about this film was that all of the subplots and threads got adequate coverage and they all ended up playing in with each other, something that the show had sometimes struggled with. It just was well-done all around.
Here are the top 3.
Bender winning the poker tournament
Bender somehow wins the poker game by having a coaster dealt to him which contains the “King of Beers” logo on it. It’s even lampshaded by the commentators that it somehow counts, despite all logic. I just find it ridiculous that Bender’s luck apparently extends to bending the rules of poker.
2. The Striped Biologist Taunter
One of the extinct species contained within the Encyclopod is a species called the Striped Biologist Taunter. First, the name indicates there are multiple species of Biologist Taunters. Second, the species’s call is apparently “What are you gonna do, shoot us?” Third, they naturally evolved bullseyes, and that’s hilarious to me.
3. The Moon Landing
When Fry reads Richard Nixon’s thoughts, it’s revealed that the US faked the moon landing, but they did so on Venus. Given just how hard it is to land an object on Venus compared to the moon, it’s amazing to think of trying to fake a moon landing there. It just brings up so many more questions than it answers.
Out in space, a green wave brings life to a barren system with a violet dwarf star. On Mars, Leo Wong (Billy West) destroys a massive oasis and a habitat of the Martian Muck Leeches while trying to build “New Mars Vegas.” Leela (Katey Sagal) saves one of the leeches, which continually sucks blood from her. At an environmental protest, Frida Waterfall (Phil Hendrie), of the Waterfall family, ends up embedding her necklace in Fry’s (West) head accidentally after Leo tries to blow up the protestors. Leo gives Fry an entry chip to a poker tournament to keep him from suing. Leela supports the protestor, but Leo says he hired Professor Farnsworth (West) to do an environmental survey… which Leo is paying him to botch. Fry begins to hear people’s thoughts due to the necklace in his skull. He starts to go crazy until he meets a homeless man named Hutch (Hendrie) who gives Fry a tinfoil hat and reveals that he, too, can read minds. However, he is shocked to find that he can’t read Fry’s mind.
Back in New Mars Vegas, Bender (John DiMaggio) and the Robot Mafia are at the same theater and Bender hooks up with the Donbot’s (Maurice LaMarche) wife, Fanny (Tress MacNeille). Bender enters into the same poker tournament as Fry. Fry uses his mind-reading to cheat while Bender relies on luck from him being made up of 40% horseshoes, having the Donbot’s lucky foot as provided by Fanny, and stepping on a leprechaun. Bender and Fry make it to the final table and Fry gets four aces, but Bender somehow gets five kings, winning the tournament. However, this alerts the Donbot to Bender’s affair with Fanny, so the Robot Mafia drive the pair into the desert and shoot them. This is revealed to be a warning in Robot terms.
Leo, Leela, and Amy (Lauren Tom) are playing miniature golf. Leela complains about Leo’s sexism and mistreatment of the environment. Leo reveals that he’s building a giant miniature golf course with colossal holes. Leo plans to destroy a chunk of the galaxy to build it, including the violet dwarf system. Despite it having life on it, Farnsworth writes an environmental survey allowing Leo to destroy it. The environmental feminist protestors, or Feministas, go to protest at Leo’s club along with Leela, but end up accidentally killing the headless body of Agnew. Leela and the Feministas are declared outlaws and subsequently dedicate themselves to sabotaging Leo Wong. They use the muck leech as a mascot.
Fry gets abducted and introduced to the Legion of Mad Fellows, led by the Number 9 Man (David Herman). The Number 9 Man explains that the green wave is Chi, the thing that started all life in the universe. Chi previously had waned, but the presence of it in the violet dwarf system means that a new age is coming and Fry is the one who is supposed to guide it. Fry takes a job for Leo in order to spy on him. The Feministas keep gaining support, to the point that Leo asks Zapp Brannigan (West) to track them down. Bender agrees to help him for money. Farnsworth, Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Zoidberg (West) get hijacked by the Feministas. Frida is killed by a mysterious “dark one.”
Fry is abducted again and informed that there was once an evolutionary arms race between the Dark Ones, who seek to destroy life, and the “Encyclopods,” the preservers of all life. After Chi subsided, the Encyclopods died out, but the violet dwarf star is actually an Encyclopod egg that they can hatch. However, a Dark One is going to try and destroy it. Since the Dark One’s thoughts are unreadable, but they can read minds, Fry is the only one who might be able to stop it. Fry gets a call from Leela and they arrange to meet, but Bender has leaked the location to Zapp. Zapp chases after the Feministas, who manage to narrowly escape thanks to Amy’s mini-golf expertise… until they’re caught anyway. The Feministas are convicted and put in prison.
With the Feministas gone, Fry seeks the Mad Fellows to help stop Leo. They give him the “Omega Device,” the only thing that can stop the Dark One if activated within a few feet of it. Fry and Hutch come up with a plan to find the Dark One at Leo’s ceremony to destroy the Violet Dwarf Star. Bender breaks the Feministas out of prison because it makes him public enemy number one again. They are helped by the Professor, Hermes, and Zoidberg who have joined their side. At Leo’s demolition, Fry searches for a person with unreadable thoughts and finds no one, except himself. Based on that, Fry concludes that HE is the Dark One, so he activates the Omega Device to kill himself. It does nothing to him, but kills the Martian Muck Leech, who is revealed to be the Dark One. As he dies he kills Hutch, revealed to be Frida’s lost brother, as Hutch pulls out Frida’s necklace and removes Fry’s powers. The Violet Dwarf hatches and the Encyclopod emerges. Zapp resumes his pursuit of the Feministas, but they escape in the Planet Express ship. Fry and Leela admit they love each other just as the ship goes into the wormhole, creating the opening for Futurama.
Futurama meets D&D years before Rick and Morty would try to do the same.
This is my least favorite of the four films based solely on the fact that I don’t think they spent enough time on the fantasy world to justify it as a subplot. It’s like one-third of the film and the time crunch requires them to blow through a lot of Lord of the Rings jokes a bit too quickly. Don’t tell me they couldn’t think of other fantasy gags, they barely even dipped into making any actual Dungeons and Dragons references.
It doesn’t help that the rest of the plot seems largely to be filler. Leela’s shock collar was apparently just an excuse to get her to say swears that could be censored by the collar. Igner being Farnsworth’s son seems pretty logical within the series, it’s just odd that it wasn’t revealed until now, when the character is in his 30s and has repeatedly interacted with Farnsworth. Mom having captured the Nibblonians, including Nibbler, seems to be random, given that the Nibblonians have an unknown home planet, physics-defying abilities, and superior technology. I do appreciate the commentary on business monopolization, but it still feels like they never quite focused on anything long enough to make it feel important.
Still, it’s got some good moments and it actually set up a number of things that would play out during the new series of Futurama.
There’s a few good ones:
“Care for a slice of Scroto?”
“That’s his name, right?”
“‘Tis also that, sir.”
2. Roberto’s Madness.
“The king went insane and declared war on the scallops. Tied his army to a boulder and pushed them into the sea. They never returned. Scallops must’ve got them.”
3. George Takei destroying Scott Bakula’s ship and saying “way to kill the franchise.”
As someone who lived through the 90s, I remember when Star Trek came back with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager… then when it fell apart with Enterprise. Not that it was that bad, but it had some issues.
Sulu commands your respect!
Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (Phil LaMarr) and two other kids are playing Dungeons and Dragons because they’re nerds. Bender (John DiMaggio) walks in and doesn’t understand how it works, revealing he has no imagination. On a delivery, Bender complains to Fry (Billy West), who tells him to try imagining something. They get interrupted by the ship running out of fuel. Leela (Katey Sagal) pulls into a gas station run by Mom (Tress MacNeille) where dark matter prices have skyrocketed. While refueling, the ship is mocked by Sal (DiMaggio), a trucker who brags about being a demolition derby champ. Despite Farnsworth (West) cracking down on fuel waste, Leela steals the ship to go to the demolition derby. She ends up winning, though the ship is badly damaged. As punishment for her anger issues, Hermes (LaMarr) gives her a shock collar.
Bender goes to play D&D and eventually discovers he has an imagination, making a character named “Titanius Anglesmith, Fancy Man of Cornwood.” Unfortunately, activating his imagination makes Bender lose his grip on reality and start believing he actually is a knight. He goes on a rampage while Zoidberg (West) forces Leela to have dinner with her parents to work on her anger issues. They reveal that they believe Leela does have anger issues, even though she says it’s just that she hates Zoidberg. Bender attacks the restaurant, but Fry roleplays a wizard and disables him. Bender is sent to the HAL Institute from “Insane in the Mainframe.” He fails to respond to any treatment and is set to be lobotomized.
Mom goes on television to talk about the dark matter shortage, but after she goes off the air she immediately reveals that there is no shortage, she just has monopolized the supply and lied about it to drive up fuel prices. The Professor reveals that he had developed dark matter fuel for Mom through a botched experiment that produced a crystal that enabled dark matter combustion throughout the universe. He also reveals that there is a second crystal which, if it were to come in proximity of the original, would render all dark matter inert, but he lost it. It turns out that it’s the twenty-sided die used by the boys for D&D, though the Professor doesn’t know that. The Professor activates a device that makes the crystal emit a foul odor so he can find it, but this also alerts Mom to its presence. She sends Walt, Larry, and Igner (Maurice LaMarche, David Herman, and DiMaggio), her three Stooge-like sons to get the crystal. They’re immediately thwarted by Farnsworth, who finds the “anti-backwards crystal.”
With the anti-backwards crystal in their possession, the crew heads to Mom’s dark matter mine fortress to destroy the dark matter crystal so that Mom will lose her stranglehold on fuels. Mom sends Walt and Larry to stop them with an army of killbots, but doesn’t send Igner because of a dark secret that she tells the other two. Igner overhears it, as well. The crew uses a distraction to avoid the killbots and sneak in. They find that Mom has captured all of the Nibblonians (Frank Welker) and is force-feeding them to produce dark matter from their poop. Igner betrays his mom and leads the crew to the control room. Farnsworth almost gets the crystals close enough to touch, but he ends up screwing it up. The presence of the two crystals make all dark matter in the universe glow, including a huge amount inside of Bender, which combines with his imagination to transport himself and the cast to “Cornwood,” the fantasy land he imagined.
Leela is now Leegola the centaur, Fry is now Frydo the guy who has the “Die of Power,” and Bender is the knight Titanius Anglesmith. The “Die of Power” is the anti-backwards crystal which casts magic spells when rolled. They meet the great wizard Greyfar (Farnsworth) who tells them that Momon (Mom) forged the Dice of Power and it can only be destroyed by throwing it into the molten plastic that made it. They set out to destroy the die and meet Hermaphrodite (an intersex Hermes), another centaur. It’s revealed that centaurs are mighty archers, but also pacifists, to Leegola’s annoyance. The group, sans Hermaphrodite, heads to the Cave of Hopelessness where they meet Gynecaladriel (Amy as played by Lauren Tom), queen of the “Water Nymphos,” as well as a monstrous Zoidberg, who Leegola brutally murders, only to find out he wasn’t going to hurt them. She vows to be a pacifist and joins the other centaurs. Frydo defeats the Tunneling Horror using the Die of Power, but becomes a Gollum-like creature obsessed with the die. Momon’s armies arrive to attack them and the group tries to gather an army at the Wipe Castle.
Frydo goes crazy and tries to kill Titanius, but fails and runs off. The rest of the group gets to Wipe Castle, only to find that the king, Roberto (Herman), is insane and killed the entire army. Momon’s army attacks the castle and quickly gain the upper hand until Leegola and the centaurs show up and quickly win the fight. Leegola had beaten up Hermaphrodite rather than debate the merits of violence. As a reward for helping them win, Gynaecaladrial kisses Leegola. Frydo makes his way to the “Geysers of Gygax” where the die can be destroyed, and the group agrees to help him destroy the dice after they finish watching Gynaecaladrial and Leegola kiss. Frydo fights Momon but ends up losing after the rest of the gang becomes trapped on a bridge. Greyfarn discovers that he is the father of Momon’s youngest son, Ignus (Igner), but Momon obtains the die and ends the fantasy world.
Back in the real world, Farnsworth says that Bender’s imagination was boosted by the dark matter and created an alternate reality. Farnsworth asks to hug his son, Igner, but they reveal that they’d both swallowed the two crystals, and their hug puts the crystals in close enough proximity to render dark matter inert. The crew then leaves by having the freed Nibblonians pull the ship.