This week kicks off with Hermes, one of the characters I hadn’t been formally introduced to in the last two episodes, conducting performance reviews for everyone else in the company. This was actually extremely helpful for me, since I had no idea what kind of workplace this was. I still don’t know for sure, but at least I know that Amy is the Professor’s research assistant, Leela captains the ship, and there’s a janitor named Scruffy.
After conducting the annual performance reviews, Hermes comes to the conclusion that the employee dragging the company down the most is himself, though everyone expected it to be Zoidberg. It’s not clear why everyone hates Zoidberg, but it seems to be a running joke.
Hermes is fired by the “central bureaucrat,” who spends his dialogue making unfunny double entendres while the rest of the gang stands nearby and laughs at each “joke.” He leaves them with a robot replacement for Hermes, and everyone applauds when he exits. This was one of my favorite jokes on the show so far. I love when funny shows that don’t have laugh tracks comment on the absurdity of those that do. My personal favorite example of this is the Scrubs episode “My Life in Four Cameras,” which dedicated a whole episode to reimagining the show as a traditional sitcom. But I digress.
At home, Hermes expresses his distress to his wife as the sauce from her curried goat dinner burns its way through the levels of bubble-enclosed homes all the way down to what looks like robot Hell. They take a walk to talk about the loss of his job, but they’re interrupted by a maniacal robot who wants their skin for a meal. Thankfully, he’s stopped by a pair of cops, one robot, one human, and sentenced to the electromagnetic chair.
Hermes, shaken by the experience, shows up to the locker room to talk to Bender. Fry, upset at being excluded, tries to eavesdrop on them despite Leela and Amy calling to him from the shower to suds them up with body wash.
It turns out Hermes came to talk to Bender about robotic body augmentation, and Bender takes him to his guy, Yuri, who specializes in that sort of shady surgery. It’s unclear whether it’s the body augmentation itself that’s illegal or if it’s just that Yuri is a cheap alternative, but either way, Yuri’s operating table is not a place I’d choose to find myself.
Hermes goes with a retractable harpoon that can be fired from his chest, modeled after the robot cop who prevented the mugging before. After proving that he’s now more valuable than his robotic replacement by fetching a box from the top shelf in the kitchen, Hermes rehires himself on the spot.
He goes back for more surgery, though, after feeling inadequate when he can’t get the Professor’s dentures out of the drain. Scruffy the janitor is no help, either—he’s too busy reading “Lady Chatterly’s Janitor” (which, as a literature nerd, I find particularly amusing).
Zoidberg, meanwhile, has been feeling neglected by Hermes; he’s under the impression that Hermes’ insults are friendly teasing rather than actually meant, and he interprets Hermes ignoring him as a sign that he’s losing his friendship. So Zoidberg does what anyone would do, and uses Hermes’ old human body parts to build a model of him in a sketchy dumpster hideout. I might be starting to understand why the others don’t want to hang around him.
Hermes’ new arm proves to have its advantages (like braiding his wife’s hair in two seconds flat) and its disadvantages (like breaking his glasses when he goes to remove them). In response to the latter, Hermes rushes out and gets instant Cylon eye replacement surgery, eliminating the need for glasses all together. I was wondering when I’d see a Battlestar Galactica reference pop up.
Once Hermes turns out the lights for some alone time with LaBarbara it becomes clear that his eyes are not the only Cylon-enhanced body part he has…. Understandably, that’s where LaBarbara draws the line, forbidding him from getting any more upgrades.
The very next shot is an amusing contrast to LaBarbara’s last words: Hermes, now looking an awful lot like a Transformer, is almost completely robotic. The only human part left is his brain. The rest of his human body has been pieced back together by Zoidberg, who’s using “Little Hermes” as a ventriloquist dummy in a comedy act. All “Little Hermes” does in the act is insult Zoidberg, just like Hermes used to before his upgrades. It’s actually kind of sad to see the extent to which Zoidberg craves friendship, even if he’s mostly imagining it in the first place.
After seeing his former self, Mega Hermes (his new name for himself, not mine) regrets hanging onto his human brain, and asks Yuri to upgrade that final piece for him. Yuri refuses, saying no one in their right mind would do such a thing. And…cut to the Professor laughing maniacally as lightning flashes in the background. I love all the visual contrast jokes in this episode.
The Professor, Bender, and Hermes are at the robot graveyard (side question—why do robots need a graveyard?) to dig up a brain for Hermes. They find a freshly dug plot and remove the brain circuit from the shattered remains of none other than Roberto, the robot who tried to mug Hermes and LaBarbara before. His epitaph reads “Beloved Killer and Maniac.”
Back at the lab, the gang is gathered to watch the Professor perform the brain surgery on Hermes. The coloring has turned faded and gray, and everything looks like an old-time Frankenstein movie; that is, until the Professor opens the blinds to reveal a bright and sunshiny day.
LaBarbara and Dwight, hers and Hermes’ son, show up just before the Professor can start. She threatens divorce if Hermes goes through with his complete upgrade to robot, and the Professor decides he can’t perform the surgery. Zoidberg offers to do it using Little Hermes as a precision surgical tool (after all, his lobster claws aren’t exactly designed to hold a delicate knife). He and Little Hermes sing a short song about robot brains to the tune of “The Monster Mash” while doing surgery. I wasn’t expecting a spontaneous musical number, and I have to say, it was a pleasant surprise.
Zoidberg’s intentions all along were not to fully upgrade Hermes, but rather, to return his brain to its rightful human body. Though he’s awkwardly stitched together, he’s the flesh and blood Hermes again. He apologizes to LaBarbara, but they’re not out of the woods yet. Roberto has inserted his brain circuit into Mega Hermes’ body, and peels a bit of skin off of Hermes’ arm. I know it’s a cartoon and all, but yuck. Eating Hermes’ curried goat-infused skin, however, causes Roberto to melt down, and he dies for the second time this episode.
Conveniently enough, though Roberto melted, the metal keys he was holding hostage stayed intact, so the gang is able to leave the operating room. Zoidberg, harmonizing with himself once again, shuffles out humming the “Monster Mash” tune, and the episode ends.
After watching and reviewing three episodes of Futurama, I can now say that I officially enjoy this show. The humor in this episode in particular really sold it for me; I love the little visual gags that are funny once you notice them (like Scruffy’s reading materials), and I thought the timing of the dialogue jokes was great too. Plus, it was a nice way to get a better introduction to a character I wasn’t familiar with yet. I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s episode.
Favorite Lines from “The Six Million Dollar Mon”
Scruffy, on his job description: “Boilers and toilets, toilets and boilers. Plus that one boiling toilet.”
Hermes: “When I fight machinery, machinery always wins!”
Bender: “Yuri, here runs the most sanitary surgical implant parlor in Filthytown.”
Amy: “Does anyone else find it freaky that Zoidberg is singing harmony with himself?”