Futurama, Season Three, Episode Twelve, “The Route Of All Evil”

Written by: Dan Vebber
Directed by: Brian Sheesley
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

Now here’s another episode I love for its lowkey competence! It’s worth comparing and contrasting to “Where The Buggalo Roam”, in that this too has a cliche emotional arc – boys try to impress their fathers, fathers find their pride threatened and overreact, fathers and sons come together and apologise – except that in this case the way it gets through that arc is inherently funny to me. I think it’s because it finds the perfect balance between sincerity and cynicism, with the former allowing the latter to tee off. This episode gets what the right thing to say in these scenes is – how a father should respond to his son’s efforts and how a father should tell his son he’s proud of him – and therefore it knows how to break them thoroughly (“If I could feel anything right now, it would be pride,” being perhaps the peak of this kind of tweaking). That kind of cynicism also underlies the story in other ways, like Hermes’s attitude towards his workers (“I’ve filed papers to have you all reclassified as slaves.”). The flipside is that it does deliver the emotional beats with enough sincerity to make me believe in the emotion – and, perhaps, enough originality. I love some of the story turns – my favourite is the final twist where Mr Blob comes to the men he’s injured literally hat-in-hand, but I also enjoy how the boys overwhelm themselves by taking on more than they can handle, panicking when it all goes wrong, and having to turn to their fathers to fix everything. In short, this episode gets me to take it exactly as seriously as it intends me to; I’m enjoying the free-wheeling rock-and-roll who-gives-a-crap-if-it-all-goes-wrong atmosphere, but I’m not completely apathetic to these people. It’s a hang-out vibe!

(“AHHH! I WAS WRONG! I CAN STILL FEEL PAIN!”)

This is especially true in the B plot, which might be my favourite B plot in all of Futurama, depending on how you count “Three Hundred Big Boys”. Having the main trio brew their own beer kills me on several levels. Firstly, I’m always a sucker for plots that intentionally set the lowest stakes imaginable; the only thing the characters really have to lose is time, and the only thing they really have to gain are a few dozen bottles of beer. It makes the whole exercise feel like an exercise in joy for nothing more than its own sake, and I respond really well to that, especially because this is absolutely something the characters would find joy in. Even better, I’ve gone on record as enjoying robot versions of human things, and this goes one further – not only is Bender going through the robot version of being pregnant, we’re seeing the beer version of being pregnant, and those ideas together really tickle my funny bone. “I hope it’s a lager, so I can take it to a ball game,” is the funniest line riffing on this concept, but I’m also amused by everything Bender says and does; once again, his absolute sincerity makes his absurdity even funnier. I think the thing that tickles me the most is his genuine fear and concern when he’s ‘giving birth’ (“I can’t hear anything!”).  

Title Card: Disclaimer: any resemblance to actual robots would be really cool
Cartoon Billboard: “Heep Hep Injuns”, 1950

Bumper Robinson guest stars as Dwight, making him one of the few male voice actors to play a child on the show. I love the little detail of Dwight and Cubert trading the video game between them over the course of the episode – one of those little true-to-life details the enriches the story. Billy West’s gleeful line readings on the prank phone call make the joke so much funnier. “Lies and slander!” is a line that has infected my language. “Accusing gentle Bender of a misdeed?!” is a typically Futurama perfect way of wording a line. I also get a huge kick out of the scene of the Professor blowing Cubert a kiss – also typically Futurama in how it uses science to make a banal bit of social interaction funnier. This is also the introduction of Scruffy into the narrative properly. Bendërbrāu is a beer the staff actually brewed in their office!

“I’m directing your attention to these forms which I’m presently engaged in handing to you.”

The title is an allusion to the biblical phrase “money is the root of all evil”. Fry, Leela, and Bender watch an episode of The Real World set on the sun. Hermes sings a parody of the Bob Marley song “Get Up, Stand Up”. The French guy who gets hit with a newspaper is a reference to The Little Prince. The giant space slug from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back makes an appearance. The various brands of beer are mixtures of science and beer references; Pabst Blue Robot is a reference to Pabst Blue Ribbon, Olde Fortran is a mixture of Old English 800 and the programming language Fortran, St Pauli Exclusion Principal Girl is a mixture of St Pauli Girl and the Pauli Exclusion Principle, Löbrau is a reference to Löwenbräu, and (and this is my favourite science reference the show ever did) Kleinz beer is a reference to the Klein bottle, a four-dimensional shape.

Iconic Moments:”I heard alcohol makes you stupid.” / “No I’m… doesn’t!” | “I guess if you want children beaten, you gotta do it yourself.” | “I’m on break.” | “You take one nap in a ditch at the park, and they start declaring you this and that!”
Biggest Laugh: Love the way Hermes says bot’ in this clip.


Next Week: “Bendin’ In The Wind”. “Thank you. That song doesn’t usually last three hours, but we got into a serious thing and then I forgot how it ended.”