Futurama, Season Eight, Episode Two, “A Farewell To Arms”

Written by: Josh Weinstein
Directed by: Raymie Muzquiz
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Lot of weather we’re having.”

I always remember “A Farewell To Arms” as being a pretty funny episode that I had some goodwill towards, but watching it through the filter of these essays revealed both a surprising amount of ambition and a wobbliness in executing it. The way both Fry and Futurama have been preoccupied with big, showy, three-point romantic gestures has been well-documented at this point; this episode feels like the first real attempt to honestly grapple with it, which is an exciting moment of self-awareness. Indeed, the first joke of Fry trying to pull the chivalrous act of laying his coat on a puddle for his lady to walk over and botching it by laying his pants down is a pretty great way of establishing the theme in an undramatic way (it’s even a great moment of absurd Futurama plotting in that this directly leads to the larger plot. “I took off my pants and that’s how we found out the world was ending!”).

“Sorry. I was eatin’ a can of breakfast and lookin’ at porn.”

In practice, however, it doesn’t feel like the episode fully understands what exactly is objectionable about Fry’s behaviour and attitude because it conflates it with his stupidity. Now, I’m not saying I don’t sympathise with Fry’s ability to destroy everything he touches just because he touched it and I’m certainly not denying how funny it is (the climax had me howling), but ultimately the idea driving the episode is that Fry shouldn’t do showy romantic gestures because the universe will gruesomely punish him for it; the closest Fry comes to really learning how to ‘do’ a romantic gesture is self-sacrifice to protect her, which blows up in his face. Again, not saying that kind of thing isn’t hilarious, just that all the stuff we’ve said about it is far more interesting.

The other thing that always struck me about this episode is its use of the contemporary Mayan Calendar apocalypse scare. The CC years were generally willing to tackle more topical issues – mostly, I think we’d largely argue, to its deficit. I do believe that while this initially made me cringe (especially when I first watched it in 2011), this actually builds a pretty great plot out of it, especially because it veers sideways and uses its worldbuilding to accomplish that (even if it makes a slight but visible retcon to get us there).

Title Card: Ask your doctor if Futurama is right for you
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

The revealo of Revealo is a great joke. I continue to be wowed by the animation; the sequence of the Martian spaceship booting up is fantastic and imaginative, and the disaster sequences are gorgeous. Nine makes his glorious speaking return. I enjoy the return of the cloning vats from “Rebirth”

“It was worth waiting five hours for you to finish that sentence!”

The title is a reference to the Ernest Hemingway book of the same name. Much of the movie riffs on the plot to the movie 2012. The plot point of the solar flare ending a planet is similar to the film Kn0wing. Farnsworth drops a reference to the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee Jr. Bender reads a magazine called Space Mall, a parody of Sky Mall. Fry mentions Redbook and Leela mentions Tron: Legacy. Fry says Bender dropped pig’s blood on him at the Planet Express Prom, a reference to film and book Carrie.  

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Decision 3012”. “If you want my opinion, Nixon’s only chance of beating Travers is with filthy lies, dirty tricks and good old Quaker thuggery. And I’m just the guy for the job!”