Futurama Fridays – S4E12 “The Sting”

Fry’s dead and Leela’s guilty. Time for some crazy trippy dreams.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) are told they’re not good enough to collect Space Bee honey for the Professor (West). Leela insists they are and drags the other two on a mission, even though it killed the last Planet Express crew. The crew reaches the space bee hive and paint Bender like a bee so he can communicate via dancing. They eventually find the previous Planet Express crew, a load of honeycomb, and a flow of royal jelly. Leela collects a baby queen bee and some royal jelly as the crew tries to collect the honey. Bender accidentally insults the queen of the hive and the crew is chased back to the ship. On route to Earth, the baby queen tries to kill Leela, so Fry jumps in front of her, sacrificing himself by being impaled with the stinger. He dies.

File:Old Planet Express Ship.png
This is how at least one previous crew died, so only losing Fry is still a net win.

Fry’s coffin is ejected into space after a sad funeral. Leela, blaming herself, eats some space honey to ease the pain, knocking her out. She dreams of a still-alive Fry telling her that he left her a surprise in his locker. She goes to work to find it and discovers that Fry did indeed leave her a one-eyed stress-relieving doll as a gift. Leela says this proves Fry is alive, but a brain-scan by the Professor says that she’s just blocking out memories due to grief. She has another dream of him being alive and awakes to his jacket on her, only for it to turn out to be her jacket when she shows it at work. They inform her that she might be having issues because she’s eating spoonfuls of Space Honey, which, if overused, can lead to permanent sleep. Leela tries to use it again that night and knocks over the jar, reconstituting Fry from the jelly. She celebrates Fry being alive, until Fry tells her to wake up, revealing it’s a dream. 

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I’m just curious why only 2 Neptunians showed up.

Leela starts hallucinating regularly and envisioning all of the crew telling her that she killed Fry. She decides to take enough honey to dream forever, only for Fry’s voice to reach her and tell her that sleeping forever isn’t an option. She’s stronger than that and she should fight against it. She starts to be surrounded by bees attacking her only for Fry’s voice to tell her that he loved her. She cries, only to wake up in the hospital next to Fry. It turns out that the stinger DID go through Fry… into Leela, who got all the poison. Fry had to get a new spleen, but after that he never left her side, begging her to wake up for two weeks. The voices she heard were him watching out for her. They hug.

File:The Sting.jpg
My ship is about to come in.

END SUMMARY

This episode was a lot darker on rewatch than I remember. Leela’s not only in a coma, but while in the coma she is seemingly about to make an active choice to put herself to sleep forever, which I can only assume means never waking up again in real life. Even worse, she’s doing it because she thinks that she’s killed Fry and is desperate to see him again. Despite the fact that Fry and Leela’s on-again-off-again relationship is not currently on, we see in this episode that Leela truly is starting to have feelings for Fry that are just as strong as his feelings for hers. More remarkably, it happens without Fry having the brain worms from the last time she was smitten with him. Having the entire episode inside of her head gives us a clearer picture of this character right before the show was going to need to wrap up this plotline. Still, having her so grief-stricken that she’s essentially going insane and about to kill herself is freaking dark.

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This is literally her suicide weapon next to a picture of her love. Super dark.

What’s more impressive in some ways is that the ending to this episode doesn’t feel like a cop-out to me. I mean, this is an episode where the twist is that it was all a dream, an episode where they fake having a main character die, and an episode where somehow you can dream within dreams and yet I didn’t hate it the way that I usually hate all of those cliches. I think it’s that this episode was pretty early in hinting to the audience that it wasn’t real and that it used the dream setting perfectly as a way of trying to show everyone how devastating grief can be. Leela blames herself for Fry’s death so completely that all of the walls in her apartment are chanting that she killed him. This is only made worse by the fact that Fry actually sacrificed himself for her. I also appreciate that in reality, Fry still did try to sacrifice himself for her, even if he ended up only losing a spleen. It shows again how much he cares for Leela.

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Great way to visualize guilt.

Overall, I like this episode a lot. I really enjoy the spontaneous musical number and the final hug between Fry and Leela. 

FAVORITE JOKE

There’s a shot of all of the women Fry has slept with from the show. During the shot, Kug (Tress MacNeille), the Amazonian that banged Fry in “Amazon Women in the Mood” says “Him do good Snu-Snu” only for all of his other exes to say “eh….” Remember, Kug had never had sex before and it seems unlikely that she’s had it since, so her perspective might not be great. The other women we see present are Petunia (MacNeille) the hooker “Put Your Head on My Shoulders,” Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn) the bureaucrat “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back,” Michelle (Sarah Silverman) his frozen ex “The Cryonic Woman,” and the other 21st Century girl he hooked up with from “Love’s Labours Lost in Space.” However, next to them is a radiator… a reference to Fry saying he hooked up with a radiator woman from the radiator planet at the Miss Universe contest in “The Lesser of Two Evils.” Since this is in Leela’s mind, that means that Leela must, on some level, believe that Fry DID in fact hook-up with a radiator alien. I love that this is the man she eventually ends up with.

File:Women Fry slept with.png

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 65: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

NEXT – Episode 67: Bend Her

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Futurama Fridays – S2 E11 “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”

This is the rare episode that for me has only gotten better over time because the more I deal with bureaucrats, the more I realize this satire is dead-on. It’s time for an episode focused on the Rastafarian Accountant, Hermes Conrad.

SUMMARY

Hermes Conrad (Phil Lamarr) is up for a promotion as a bureaucrat. However, the evening before his inspection, Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) host a poker night with Leela’s coworkers from the pilot and Zoidberg (West). During the game, Bender cheats and gets caught, resulting in the others beating him up in Hermes’ office, wrecking it. When the inspector, Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn), shows up, Hermes threatens suicide, but his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille in this episode, normally Dawnn Lewis) talks him out of it. He is subsequently fired and despondent. Zoidberg recommends Hermes and LaBarbara go to a Spa planet called Spa 5, which turns out to actually be a forced labor camp. Morgan takes over as Planet Express bureaucrat.

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Sweet pavement dive of Babylon 5!

Morgan begins to inspect Planet Express, criticizing for inane things such as not putting a zipper on a jacket alphabetically at the bottom, before she finds Fry’s locker, which is the most disgusting thing she has ever seen. As a lifelong neat-freak, Morgan finds Fry’s slovenly ways arousing and starts a secret affair with him. Morgan antagonizes most of the staff until Bender catches the two in bed together. He threatens blackmail, but Morgan downloads his brain onto a floppy disk and sends it to the Central Bureaucracy.

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He made cottage cheese in his hat.

Fry, Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and the Professor (West) fly to the Central Bureaucracy to get Bender’s brain back. They discover that the disk is in the massive “in” pile, something that never gets sorted. However, Hermes appears, having optimized the force labor camp so much they only needed a single worker, and requests a massive file-sort, for which he is given four minutes. He proceeds to sort the entire pile while singing “The Bureaucrat Song” and manages to get Morgan fired by pointing out a minor clerical error she had made years ago. Hermes is rehired and reinstated as a bureaucrat.

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This is also the image for the national debt. #alwaystopical

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of the series. If you’re going to introduce someone to the series, this might be one of the most appropriate episodes to show them. The parody of the Central Bureaucracy is one of the most on-point in the show’s history and it elevated Hermes from mostly background character to one of the most entertainingly wacky members of the Planet Express staff. Yes, it’s clearly inspired by the movie Brazil, but it makes the organization here much less threatening and more comical than in that movie.

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If you’ve ever dealt with licensing, this is hilarious to you.

The concept of an organization dedicated to perpetuating bureaucracy that literally thrives on tedium and mistreating the masses is just too damned funny to put into words. The Central Bureaucracy is what everyone expects is at the heart of every bureaucratic organization: A giant mess perpetuated by people who just want to avoid accountability and strictly enforce rules by their word rather than intent. Having worked for the government for a decent percentage of my adult life, I can say that this is mostly wrong… except when it is completely right. In any organization of sufficient complexity, there emerge a certain percentage of people that somehow serve almost no real discernible purpose within the productive flow. Often, they become managers, much like Hermes’ position within the company.

S2EB - 5Dilbert
Scott Adams is a self-centered jackass, but he nailed this one.

Now, Hermes does, apparently, actually know how to increase efficiency, given that he points out all of the flaws in the set-up of the forced labor camp. At the same time, we see that any bureaucrat who does things more efficiently than prescribed is punished, so this episode suggests that there IS merit in having supervisors who point out wasted energy, but that the system which creates them is also the system than hinders them.

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Though, the efficiency improvement screws the workers and benefits literal slave-drivers.

This is one of the first episodes which has slight dependence on continuity, since Leela invites the workers from the pilot to the poker game. It doesn’t make much of a difference in the episode or anything, but it’s still more continuity than most of the series.

Morgan’s lust for Fry being based on all of the things that normally would make him repellant to women is a pretty great exaggeration of opposites attract. Fry goes with it for the stated reason that he was “desperate,” which is refreshingly frank.

The best part of the episode, though, is the “Bureaucracy Song.” It’s catchy, it’s clever, it includes the line “pooh-pooh’d my electric frankfurter,” and it comes from an odd stance in that it takes the position that bureaucrats actually love their jobs, something that most humor tends to oppose.

Bureaucrat Song from user4803634 on Vimeo.

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Tie. First, the Beholder from Dungeons and Dragons being at the Central Bureaucracy. It’s just sleeping, then it awakens with flashing lights viciously coming out of its many eyes… only for it to ask the crew not to tell its supervisor that it was sleeping. It’s such a great gag that even the Beholder, one of the mightiest monsters in fiction, capable of destroying small armies on its own, is reduced to begging people to let it nap in peace within the Bureaucracy.

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Also, he’s only level 11.

Second, one of the most quoted lines in the series is from this episode: “You are technically correct – the best kind of correct.” This is the most concise statement of the nature of bureaucrats within the episode and one of the most absurd ideas the episode conveys: that it’s better to be within the letter than the spirit, particularly when the letter subverts the spirit.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

NEXT – Episode 25: The Deep South

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.