Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Four, “Fry And Leela’s Big Fling”

Written by: Eric Rogers
Directed by: Edmund Fong
DN’s Ranking: Bad / Nonessential / ESSENTIAL

“Finally, just the two of us.”
“Yeah, I knew it was on one of these albums.”

So first I want to get this out of the way: the episode climaxes (sorry) with Fry and Leela getting sexually humiliated, and I find that incredibly funny. I think the episode does the sufficient groundwork to make the ending funny – the fact that it was only alien monkeys that watched them do it goes a long way to assuage any discomfort I might have, much the same way that Bender being a robot makes it easier to tolerate his stealin’ and takin’ things (and even make it endearing). It also helps that the actual people (and also Zoidberg) involved are shocked and horrified, trying to rescue the pair right up until they become too annoying to want to help. Basically, this would in fact be quite unfortunate if every single aspect of the circumstances was entirely different.

Anyway, I also love this as a definitive Fry/Leela couple episode. I wouldn’t say it has the swooning romance of a Wong Kar-Wai film, but there’s definitely a sweet intimacy here – we see Fry at his most romantic at the start of the episode, clearly laying out why someone would be attracted to him at all. I also enjoy the low-stakes conflict; much of this episode is several smaller ideas hooked together into a coherent whole, and Leela’s much-talked-about ex-boyfriend Shawn is an incredibly vivid creation for his limited screentime – not just the vague loser implied by Leela’s stories, but a weirdly frugal one with a rather odd internal life.

“There’s nothing to be jealous of! I’ve been sitting here paying my bills online.”

It’s weird to me, actually, that the Fry/Leela courtship was so flawed and yet their actual relationship is this deeply-felt, comfortable experience. Like once they got set in a routine, they became vivid and easy-going – one would almost think that two people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company are more compelling than one of them repeatedly whining at the other. It feels like it slots pretty well into the overall atmosphere of Futurama too; like a positive flip on the one-sided hatred/friendship between Zoidberg and Hermes. In a lot of ways, this is a show about comfortable repetition in an otherwise nonsensical world (“Do you ever worry about the future?” / “Well yeah, but you’re always in it.”).

Title Card: Watch it or die trying
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“I’ll just use my… opposable thumbs.”

The reappearance of Gunter is pretty great – I actually love having him as the monkey equivalent of Spock, where he’s both loyal and cooly superior to his human allies. “Blue Ass Group” is the hardest I’ve ever laughed at any Groening-verse background gag, and the planet of the primates is full of great little details like that. There’s also the great little ‘no Zoidberg’ sign in the advertisement.

“You know who I hate most? That monkey we haven’t seen in years, Gunter.”

Leela has a copy of the Turangalîla-Symphonie in her apartment, for whatever reason. The menu outside Elzar’s contains a reference to the movie THEM! (and naturally, Fry and Leela are eating small medium-sized ants). The Blue Ass Group is a reference to the Blue Man Group. 

Iconic Moments: “You owe me like a dollar!” / “You’ll have to kill me for it!” | “After they said I had an obnoxious ego?! Me?! The Magnificent Bender?!”
Biggest Laugh

Next Week: “The Inhuman Torch”.