Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Eleven, “Murder On The Planet Express”

Written by: Lewis Morton
Directed by: Frank Marino
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Why are you dressed like Fry?”
“Coz I’m Fry.”

This is one of those ones where a jarring choice upon first watch becomes taken in stride on the second, at least for me. The funny thing about seeming to brutally-yet-casually kill the characters off is that it becomes immediately apparent that something else is going on here. “The Sting” pulled it off by both lingering on Leela’s feelings and then piling on an absolutely bizarre mystery with a great solution; “The Thief Of Baghead” pulled it off by clearly using it to set up that bender will save the day; “The Six Million Dollar Mon” pulled it off by using it as a jumping off point for a story. In this, the moment Scruffy gets eaten alive, it becomes flagrantly obvious what’s going to happen. This isn’t fatal to a comedy but it does make the third act a bit more predictable.

“And the next time I don’t bend it, it’ll be over your head!”

That said, there’s a lot to like here. Having Bender and Fry at each other’s throats is an interesting way to shake up an old dynamic, especially considering how Bender is eternally selfish and Fry is merely intermittently so, and the double-punchline of them first outright murdering a guy on a hunch and then ending up in a prisoner’s dilemma to get away with it is inherently hilarious. This is also a decent one for the dynamic of the crew as a whole; the first act has the dizzying plot complexity of something like “Three Hundred Big Boys”, where what actually happened and what we initially think happened are somehow equally as plausible, so that each step of the way we have our expectations tripped up but our understanding of the characters is unchanged. 

Title Card: #1 rated show in Universe 3
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“That took longer than I expected.”

Nine cameos for one scene, and there’s a predictable but hilarious moment of him somehow lifting two feet off the ground at once. I enjoy the genuinely fucked-up monster design; the shot of it licking its lips is weird and creepy every single time. 

“You fend off the creature with kicks and farts!”

The title is a reference to the book Murder On The Orient Express. The plot combines the films Alien and The Thing. The spy shop called For Your Eyes Mainly is a parody of For Your Eyes Only. We see an arcade cabinet for the titular game from Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Futurama staff director Rich Moore. Fry derisively compares Bender to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Stench & Stenchibility”. “There is no prize, Dorothy. Unless you count the satisfaction of winning.” / “It… will… be… mine!”