"#1 Rated Show in Universe 3"
Not to sound like a broken record, however, it is important to stress that there are a very few new episodes of Futurama remaining. Only two. Two! And that's not just this season, it's (maybe) forever. To be honest, Season 7B has been a bit of a struggle and even had dedicated fans (like me) questioning whether it was time for the Emmy winning animated series to stop but with it still delivering emotionally satisfying shows like last week's "Game of Tones" or clever parodies like this week's "Murder on the Planet Express," perhaps I questioned too soon? Especially since I've been privy to two-thirds of the series finale, thanks to Comic-Con, and it also doesn't disappoint. Let's not get ahead of ourselves (since there's too little time left to not savor every animated second) and instead talk about the very funny and impeccably structured parody of The Thing and Alien. That's right, despite the title, the third last episode of Futurama had little to do with Agatha Christie's novel. I guess there was mystery afoot during the team-building trip gone wrong.
"Oh my. Adrift in deep space with a vicious alien killer aboard. Anyone of us could be next. Fry, Bender, Jackie Jr., Leela-"
Well, gone right then wrong. It will all make sense. While previous episodes this season have used unrelated (even throw-away) opening sequences in order to segue into the main stroyline, "Murder on the Planet Express" is all about trust right from the very first frames. And really, what better film than The Thing to spoof when you're talking about trust. The installment opens in Fry and Bender's apartment with the roommates feuding about whether the later has been using the former's toothbrush to shine his ass. And even though it's as clear as said shiny metal ass that Bender has been using the brush on his butt he's able to bluff his way out of it. This sends the suspicious Fry to 'For Your Eyes Mainly' to see the series resident conspiracy nut about getting a surveillance camera. Turns out the roommates aren't the only employees at Planet Express experiences some co-worker trust issues with Hermes and Zoidberg fighting over some absent lunches as well as Leela and Amy at each other's throats over misused sporting equipment. If only there was a way that they could prove that all the mistrust in the company was warranted?
"Don't panic, we'll be okay... Addendum."
Oh, right. Fry was smart enough (whoa) to secure some video evidence but it doesn't exactly show the betrayal he was expecting. What's a kidney amongst friends? Well, lunch. It seems that Fry wasn't the only one surveilling his co-workers with Leela's cam catching Scruffy ruining the sporting goods while Hermes' tape shows a gross switcheroo. The seeds of distrust have been planted and then some. The Professor isn't pleased with his staff's recent turn away from togetherness and decides to send everyone to corporate team building with Dan McMasters. And a hitchhiker! Yep. To prove how trusting he is, McMaster's decides to bring aboard a total stranger and then use him to run a few exercises. It was some catch. The hitchhiker is actually a shapeshifting alien! And it's in alien proof air vents! Right? Dammit Scruffy! Oh well, there's always the (could have come in handy before) panic room that can keep the crew safe for several weeks provided the oxygen keeps pumping. And cue the power outage. So much for that. To get everything back online it's going to take teamwork! This alien is dangerous but really bringing the crew together.
"Wait a second. I know what's going on here. I'm the monster!"
Remember the three separate pairs of employees who were feuding? Well, guess who's put together to get the three separate jobs done? And while Hermberg head into the vents, Lamy go for the wheel and Frender walk on the ship, the Professor and Scruffy play Candyland. Everyone has a job to do. All the stories played out nicely but Fry and Bender working together was by far the most enjoyable thread. I loved how Fry ended up wearing Bender as a pseudo-spacesuit, what a great visual. Meanwhile, just when it looks like the crew has pulled off a dangerous mission, it turns out there was no monster after-all. It was all the training exercise and it worked! Or was it? And did it? Well, yeah. In the end. But first there's a whole other Thing inspired sequence with crew members being copied and/or killed left and right. Bad news everybody! All of the murders got a big laughs out of me, especially Zoidberg on Zoidberg and Leela's demise when Fry realizes that's he's actually the shapeshifter. Finally, it's just the roommates left and they once again learn to trust in each other because Bender admits he did wipe his butt with Fry's toothbrush. It's a nice moment. Nicer than the ensuing homicide. Pizza Party!
"In the event there are two killers, police are offering an unusual deal: total immunity for the one who turns in the other plus a double reward of two million dollars."
Futurama returns with Episode 25, "Stench and Stenchibility," next Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. And Emilia Clarke is guest starring. That's Khalessi to you. Here she is recording...