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Last night was (once again) the final episode of Matt Groening and David X Cohen's Futurama and it couldn't have gone out with a better installment than "Meanwhile." Well, except maybe "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings," the original finale after Fox dropped the multi-Emmy award winning animated series after four hilarious and impeccably crafted seasons. Four post-cancellation straight to DVD films later (or 'Season 5' depending on how you slice it) and Futurama was given new life at Comedy Central but, as it turned out, only for four-half seasons more. The series second life was short but still sweet, and even if it not as consistently great as it was before cancellation number one, several of the (46) episodes could give the best from the first run a run for their money. To name a few, I think "Lethal Inspection" (S6, E6), "The Late Philip J. Fry" (S6, E7), "The Bots and the Bees" (S7, E1) and "Game of Tones" (S7, E23) will make a ton of 'best of the series' lists. And this one was pretty good too. And sad. No, I'm not crying. It's just been raining on my face.
"Hell no! This button is for scientific use only!"
"Meanwhile" was also the episode teased at this year's Comic-Con, so had the opportunity to hear the first act done as a table read (with the entire voice-cast) before Groening showed us the finished second. So I already knew we were in for something special, especially since the last thing I saw three months ago was Fry splatting on the pavement. That's quite the tease, how were they going to get out of this one? Well, before spoiling the almost Inception like third (and final) act, it's probably a good idea to start from the beginning. The episode opens with the Planet Express crew taking a trip (not making a delivery) to Luna Park to enjoy an afternoon and I loved the appearance of the La Voyage dans la Lune mascot, especially when he took the second bottle to the eye. While touring the park, Bender decides to take a ride on the Mecha-Hexadecapus and ends up spewing his gears all over the place. More specifically, they clog up the gears working the ride and it ends up rocketing Leela into space.
"The Vampire State Building?"
Fortunately, she was able to survive on the prizes Fry has won for her (as well as a Leela-balloon) and the time apart made Fry reevaluate his life and decide to ask her to marry him. It's only been 13 years. With everyone safe and Fry's priorities in order, the crew returns to work and the Professor introduces this week's sci-fi element that shapes the rest of the episode's structure. You see, the Professor has invented a time-button but it only allow those who use it (under the bubble) to go back ten seconds. Oh, and since it takes ten seconds to recharge, there's no infinite loops (or fixing mistakes if they're too far in the past). Of course, as a safe guard, the Professor has also built a time shelter, a little rock igloo looking thing that keeps all inside from being affected by the button. Meanwhile (see what I did there), Fry is still keen to wed Leela and, with the aid of the time button, he and Bender are able to score a sweet diamond ring. The button also allows Fry to redo the first proposal where the clam bam thank you mam didn't take off his bride to be's hand. But wait! Don't answer now! Meet on top of the most romantic building in New New York.
"I guess it's just us for all eternity."
Six thirty comes and goes while Fry waits atop the Vampire State Building and once it looks like Leela is definitely not coming, the former decides that life just isn't worth living without being married to the latter. Too bad it takes half the fall for Fry to realize all his tinkering with the button has made his watch fast and Leela is actually early, early enough to see him falling to his death. Good thing he's got the button to go back ten seconds! Oh, he's been falling for more time than that? Oops. Looks like he'll have to keep looping his fall until the Professor and crew notice something is amiss. Inside the shelter, they hurriedly make their way to meet Fry and get the time sorted out. Fry, however, has been falling for so long that he's naturally getting tired and right when the crew arrives to help, our hero finally misses the button causing the aforementioned splatting. And having not heard the 'shredding' lesson, Leela unknowingly also 'kills' the Professor when she quickly uses the button to make the splat whole.
”And then we can be marry me?”
Turns out, that’s the best thing Leela could have done since the Professor’s shift to a parallel time ultimately allows for the show to pick up where they left off if they were picked up again. Talk about having your cake and eating it too! Sorry, getting ahead of myself again. Leela and the rest of the crew still in the shelter come up with a way to save Fry’s life (Bender’s airbag) but the confluence of events, mostly Fry landing on the button, freezes the entire universe except for the couple safety located in the bubble. And it was only fitting that the (second) final episode of Futurama (once again) focus on the Fry and Leela love story with the Inception style third act was a really sweet way to allow the audience to see their love play out while also leaving the door open for it to all happen again. There was a point in the middle of Season 7B where the quality seemed to be slipping and I thought it might be the best time for the crew to stop making deliveries (especially when you consider that The Simpsons has outstayed it’s welcome so long that there are more bad seasons than good) but now, with four excellent episodes in a row, I’m not so sure.
"What do you say, want to go around again?"
Futurama will never be back. Never! Unless it is...