Episode Title: "The Late Philip J. Fry"
Writer: Lewis Morton
Director: Peter Avanzino
Previously on "Futurama":
Upon discovering that he was built with a defect that effectively made him mortal, Bender (John DiMaggio) angrily sought out the bureaucrat known as "Inspector 5" who approved him on the production line with a reluctant Hermes (Phil LaMarr) in tow. After a few misadventures involving dangerous Killbots sent by Mom, the duo bonded after Bender eventually gave up on trying to seek revenge and began to appreciate the time that he had.
In flashback, we discovered that Hermes was actually "Inspector 5" all along and had been hiding the evidence from Bender all the way through their journey. When Bender first came off the production line, Hermes made the choice to let him live rather than see him be destroyed. Back in the future, he beamed with pride over his decision as he burned the last of the evidence.
Bender’s late night antics with a girlbot continuously deprive Fry (Billy West) of sleep, causing him to be late for work and for his lunch date with Leela (Katey Sagal) on her birthday. Determined to make it up to her, Fry skips a party with Hedonismbot in order to take her out to "Cavern On The Green," an upper class restaurant deep within a cave. Before he can leave to meet Leela, Fry is dragged by Bender and the Professor into trying out his new "one-way time machine" to go one minute into the future. Fry begins to record a video greeting card for Leela as the time machine powers up and then loses grasp of the card as the machine goes completely out of control.
Leela believes that she has been stood up again and storms back to the Planet Express building where she and the rest of the crew hear that nearly everyone at Heonismbot’s party was accidentally killed. Believing Fry, Bender and the Professor to be among the casualties, the crew grieves but Leela can’t let go of her anger towards Fry. Bender, the Professor and Fry reappear in the year 10,000; a devastated wasteland with little in the way of technology. Realizing that their only hope of returning home is finding someone who has mastered backwards time travel, the trio travel farther into the future — first to the year 105,105 where they encounter militant Eskimos, then to 252,525, 351,120 and finally to the year 1,000,000,000 1/2, where the human race is enslaved by Giraffes.
Back in 3030, Leela and the crew have grown older, but they have turned Planet Express into a thriving business. She takes an interest in the adult Cubert due to his resemblance to Fry. Twenty years later, Leela has married and divorced Cubert and is resigned to being alone for the rest of her life until she discovers Fry’s birthday card video and learns the truth about his disappearance. She goes back to "Cavern On The Green," which is now abandoned and leaves a message for Fry with a few well placed shots to the water sediments.
Meanwhile, Fry, the Professor and Bender end up in the year 1,000,000,000,000. All life is extinct and there is no longer any point in going forward. Despondent, Fry visits "Cavern On The Green" and discovers Leela’s message: "Dear Fry, Our time together was short, but it was the best time of my life." Seemingly at peace with himself, Fry urges the others to join him as he watches the end of the universe over a six pack of beer. Following the end of existence, the trio is shocked when a second big bang occurs, essentially recreating the universe exactly the way it was the first time. After overshooting the mark once, they make it back on the second attempt and accidentally murder their counterparts by landing their time machine on them.
Fry races to meet Leela on time and actually succeeds. He half-jokingly tells her that the Fry who was constantly late is dead. Later, they share a quiet romantic moment together on a bridge, while Bender buries the bodies of their counterparts beneath them.
This episode was everything that last week’s episode tried and failed to be: funny and emotional. Rather than try to manufacture a link that was never there before (like the one between Bender and Hermes), Morton wisely focuses on the relationship between Fry and Leela, which is at the heart of this show. After several episodes skirting around it, we finally got to see that Fry and Leela are actually dating — and because Fry is still Fry — he’s failing at it.
By taking Fry and Leela away from each other, it made their connection seem that much stronger when we see the effect that it has on the older Leela who desperately missed him and on Fry himself, who would rather die than never see her again. Leela’s last message to Fry was particularly effective, as was his acceptance of his fate once he knew that she still loved him. That was fantastically well-executed.
In terms of humor, this was also the funniest episode of this season. The future worlds were uniformly hilarious as was the accompanying parody off Zager & Evans’ song, "In The Year 2525." There was even time for a few "Terminator" jokes in a well animated post-machine apocalypse world and references to H.G. Well’s "Time Machine" as well. And I loved the blood thirsty giant shrimp and Giraffe dictator.
Even the continuity and references to the past episodes were well done. When the Professor says something about not going back in time to sleep with your grandma. Fry quips, "Yeah, I don’t want to do that again."
And there’s the most romantic line of the night, when Fry refuses to accept Leela’s permission to go to the Hedonismbot party: "No! I can throw up on a stripper anytime. Tonight, I wanna not throw up. On you."
This why we wanted "Futurama" back so badly. When it works, it’s unlike any other show.
And this was by far the best of the new season.
Crave Online Rating: 10 out of 10.