Futurama, Season Seven, Episode Twelve, “Over Close Wise”

Written by: Ken Keeler
Directed by: Raymie Muzquiz
DN’s Ranking: Bad / Nonessential / ESSENTIAL BUT EHHHHHH?

“You can’t even keep up with me! And I’m some sort of Stone Age throwback.”

My perception of this episode’s reputation is that it doesn’t quite live up to its ambitions and I’m afraid I have to agree with this vague half-remembered take. It’s stuffed full of ideas and ultimately reaches for the significance of something like “Godfellas”, but I think the execution isn’t quite clever or heartfelt enough to get there, but I do believe there is ultimately enough good here for it to be considered worthy and interesting. The least significant element is the satire of big corporations targeting kids as the face of specific crimes, and not only does it get the strongest conclusion, it even makes a convincing point: most of this kind of thing shouldn’t even be seen as a crime in the first place because it counteracts shady business practices in the first place – in this case, overclocking one’s equipment to counteract planned obsolescence.

The other two ideas are Fry and Leela’s relationship and Bender becoming an omnipotent God. Technically, the Bender side of things kind of steps on “Godfellas”, but I would actually be willing to roll with that because the real meat of the episode has to do with Rube Goldberg plotting – the notion that you actually could control what happens through being able to predict the outcome, which in fiction is presented as characters performing these elaborate strange actions that end up serving a purpose. If nothing else, that kind of thing is fun as hell to watch, and it’s not that far out from what some ordinary Futurama episodes do. The problem is that the episode promises this but only actually does it once – the actual solution is Bender just showing up and calling Double Jeopardy, which is kind of clever but not clever enough and the wrong kind anyway. The closest it comes to transcendence is Bender contemplating the universe, and the characters have done that shit all the time.

“Ding dong. I’m saying ‘ding dong’ coz you don’t have a doorbell.”

Meanwhile, Fry and Leela’s relationship has what is only obviously some closure in retrospect. Like, I’m not going to pretend that final scene of them isn’t sweet, but I feel like the writers should have more clearly said “oh yeah, Fry and Leela will be permanently on now”. I’ve defended the back-and-forth of Fry and Leela in the CC seasons because I like the naturalism and I do like that from now on, they are officially a couple. I do also like how we get there in this episode with Leela starting to feel she’s in a rut. The best scene in the episode is the one in which Leela actually confronts Fry over their relationship, because not only does it reveal Fry’s low levels of ambition in life, it actually (and bear with me here) makes that look like his attractive feature, and even (seriously bear with me here) the right person for Leela.

Of all things, I find myself thinking of the film Say Anything… Lloyd’s grand realisation is that he doesn’t really want to do any particular job when he grows up, he just wants to take care of Diane, and the implication is that he’ll take on whatever job he needs to in order to support her ambitions. Fry lays out much the same goal here; he doesn’t care where they go as long as they go together. This is not a situation where his ambitions will compete with hers. I suppose if there is any weak point here, it’s in not explaining exactly why Leela comes back to Planet Express. It’s a dead-end job that doesn’t suit her intellectual and productivity needs; I find it more likely that she would take Fry with her than stay.

“I really shouldn’t agree to things I don’t understand, but I’m slightly thirsty.”

Title Card: Soon to be a hit television show
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“One more inburst like that, and I’ll have this court removed from you.”

This was written to serve as a finale in case the show was not renewed, which may explain some of the vagueness. That said, I think they learned their lesson for the next ‘last episode ever’, and I do believe they will fully commit to Fry and Leela being permanently together now. The jokes about video games have finally, finally advanced to something resembling what they’ve looked like since 1998. This contains some Simpsons-esque gags about the size of their recurring cast; the jury is hilariously stacked, and using Randy to move the plot forward is inherently hilarious.

“It strikes me as an extra-risky strategy.”
“Did you just say ‘extra-crispy recipe’?”
“You know I didn’t.”

The X-Cube 360 is a parody of both the Xbox 360 and Gamecube. World Of War II 3 is a parody of Call Of Duty and its many title variations. The Game Over screen echoes the game over screen of Battlezone. The German commander resembles Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes and drops a reference to the band Kraftwerk. When Farnsworth and Cubert are in jail, there’s a Kilroy Was Here drawn on the wall. Nibbler ends up parodying Fiddler On The Roof. The hoverfish resemble the Sentinels from The Matrix. Mom drops a parody of the title of Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia. Judge Whitey drops a reference to a famous line from Babe. Bender hacking himself may be a reference to the Arthur Clarke novel The City And The Stars. 

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Reincarnation”. “You and I are enemies now!”