Futurama: S03E07: The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

This episode has lots of visual gags, a full plot and great visual presence.  The reference to Fry being a “child of destiny” serves to foreshadow the plotline of 3-19 Roswell That Ends Well.  It never ceases to amaze me the new things I catch after viewing these episodes dozens of times.

The episode opens with the camera panning across an impressive rendering of a nebula to a pink planet named Tweenis 12. The planet explodes and a swarm of flying brains head toward the Milky Way, one day’s brain flight from Earth.

Blissfully unaware of the cosmic goings on, Leela and the rest of the staff are attending a big pet show. Leela has been training Nibbler and is ready to show him off to the world. At the mention of a $500 first prize plus a year’s supply of dog food, Bender and Zoidberg team up and enter Zoidberg as a hard shelled whooping terrier. During the sheep herding competition, we are introduced to the hypno-toad, who doesn’t seem to have any problem getting the sheep to perform or the judges to award him top scores. Nibbler, on the other hand, simply eats all of the sheep instead of herding them. The individual judging doesn’t go any better for Nibbler, as he ignores Leela’s commands and runs off to attack a pig-shaped balloon and cause a minor riot. Zoidberg performs all his tasks admirably, at the constant demand of Bender, but comes in second to the hypno-toad. All glory to the hypno-toad! The judges award Nibbler a special prize for being dumbest pet in show.

Embarrassed and disappointed, Leela, back at the office, wonders if Nibbler really is that dumb. The Prof comes in at that point and tells them that he has canceled their latest mission, because the planet they were to go to has been destroyed. Yep, you guessed it, it was Tweenis 12. Hermes notes that many planets in that area have been destroyed. When he pulls up the information on a holographic projector, Earth is obviously in the next position on the straight line of destruction.

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Nibbler becomes agitated at that news, jumps out of the window and runs away into the night. Leela chases after him, searching back alleys while brandishing a ham. She turns a corner and runs into some floating brains. She runs into another alley in time to see Nibbler pulling a space ship out of a garbage bin and preparing to leave. Nibbler returns to rescue Leela when she calls to him, cornered by the brains. He stuffs her into his tiny ship and heads off into the cosmos as a strange aura begins to surround the Earth.

At the office, Fry is discovering that something is not as it should be. The Professor has his head in the middle of his executive stress balls, Zoidberg is even more simple than usual and Bender can’t remember that he’s a robot. A quick glance at the news shows that the news monster can’t read anymore and the reports all seem to involve an upswing in stupidity all around the world.

As they travel, Nibbler telepathically explains that the flying brains Leela clashed with earlier are making the Earth stupider. He plans on taking her to his home planet with him to confer with others of his kind. once there, the other Nibblonians tell her that the consciousness of others irritates the flying brains, or brain spawn. They travel the galaxy making people idiots so they can destroy their planets. An evil giant brain controls them that absorbs all the knowledge of the affected planet before its destruction. The only hope for Earth’s survival is Philip J Fry.

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They go on to say that all humans, robots and certain trees emit a delta brainwave. That’s the wave the brain spawn dampen with their powers. Fry, a “child of destiny,” doesn’t have a delta brainwave. Therefore, he is the only one who can confront and subdue the giant brain. The Nibblonians have been the natural enemy to the brain spawn since the beginnings of time, and will take care of the rest when Fry takes on the big brain. They send Leela back to Earth with a note pinned to her chest for Fry, since she will become stupid quickly after entering the brain spawn’s sphere of influence

Back on Earth, Fry has his hands full keeping Hermes from drowning in the chemical shower and telling the people of Earth to stop being so stupid. Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer himself, it’s taken him this long to figure out that everyone is suddenly stupid. Fry has gathered the staff together to keep them safe and try to reeducate them in his own bumbling way when Leela arrives in Nibbler’s ship. She manages to hand him the note before the drooling commences, but he blows his nose on it and tosses it into the fireplace. She desperately tries to explain the situation with her diminishing intelligence, but has to settle for turning him around to witness a brain hovering at the window. She manages to tell him he must fight the biggest brain of all. Fry figures that a giant brain is a giant nerd, and a giant nerd could only be one place. To the library!

Sure enough, there’s a giant brain scanning the stacks. The great brain doesn’t understand why his kind’s stupefaction beam does not affect Fry. Fry threatens to kick the brain’s butt, but has to think up a new plan when the brain points out it has no butt to kick. The thinking causes pain to the giant brain, so Fry thinks as many things as he can, looking to the surrounding books for inspiration. The brain decides to escape by pulling them into a book and leaving them trapped. They first land in Moby Dick and quickly follow the brain into Tom Sawyer, then jump into Pride and Prejudice. Throwing the white fence paint from Tom Sawyer onto the brain finally convinces Captain Ahab and Queequeg to attack the great “gray thinky whale.”

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The brain tries to flee again and Leela and Fry follow the brain out of the book. Fry swings from the chandelier to electrocute the brain, but misses and is crushed to death under a bookcase. The great brain is laughing in triumph as the scene pulls out and we see that Fry has trapped the great brain in a book he is writing. He writes that the brain should leave Earth forever for no reason, and the brain complies word for word, even with Fry’s plot holes and spelling errors.

The brain spawn fall out and the Nibblonians eat them and go back to their planet. Nibbler, in a final voice-over, describes how everyone regains their former intellect, but no one remembers what happened except Fry. He goes on the say that he and his people will stay ever-vigilant for signs of the brain spawn’s return as Leela gets him ready for a diapie change.

99.991 out of 10.

Futurama reviews are © 2006 Chrystal Litchford.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

Futurama names, characters and everything else associated with the seriesare the property of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Images courtesy of The Leela Zone

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