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Recap / Futurama S 1 E 4 "Love's Labors Lost in Space"

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A mission to rescue the animals from a planet on the edge of destruction hits a snag when the Planet Express crew butts heads with Zapp Brannigan, celebrated captain for the Democratic Order Of Planets. Zapp turns out to be a total idiot and Jerkass, but has an eye for the female form—in this case, Leela's. Now Leela must decide whether or not she wants to take one for the team...


  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Parodied with Directive B10.8:1 A.K.A. "Brannigan's Law"; the law itself is pretty straight but Brannigan doesn't actually understand it himself, and ends up breaking it at one point. As Leela points out, the law is inconsistently applied. In this case, it prevents people from interfering by evacuating the local life-forms from a planet which is doomed because people already came and interfered by mining out its entire core.
  • "Begone" Bribe: Fry takes a date back to the apartment with him, and gives Bender some money to go see a saucy puppet show. Bender's more than happy to do so.
  • Big Book of War: The Trope Namer appears in this episode, dropped by Zapp himself.
  • Brick Joke: Bender suggests seeing a saucy puppet shows, then Fry gets a dates and asks Bender to see one alone to clear the apartment.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Leela was an admirer of Zapp before actually meeting him.
  • Captain's Log: Spoofed with both Zapp and Leela.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Despite the episode centering on Leela's love life, Fry makes no advances on her at any point in the episode.
    • Zapp isn’t quite the incompetent boob that he would prove to be in later episodes, instead being depicted as an over-sexed General Ripper who enjoys enforcing arbitrary rules.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Fry and Bender try to escape their cell by going through a steam vent.
    Fry: No good, it's full of steam!
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Zoidberg's teeth, visible in several scenes in the first half of the episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The episode is one long ECM for Zapp Brannigan, but especially his story of how he defeated an army of rampaging Killbots:
    It was simply a matter of outsmarting them. [...] You see, Killbots have a pre-set kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shut down.
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  • Food Pills: Parodied. Leela and a date go to a restaurant, and seem to have nothing but small tablets on their plates. Leela compliments the place for its "generous portions". Her date responds "If you liked the meal, just wait 'til you try these after dinner mints."
  • Foreshadowing: Nibbler is not on the otherwise exhaustive checklist of animals from Vergon 6, a hint that he is not actually native to that world and that there is more to him than meets the eye... stalk.
  • Gaydar: Bender claims the device he brings out from his chest-cavity-of-holding is one such, and uses it on prospective dates for Leela. Amazingly, they're all apparently gay, including the super-intelligent ball of light (Bender thinks he comes from a dimension that's big on musical theatre).
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: "Brannigan's Law is like Brannigan's love: hard and fast."
  • I've Heard of That — What Is It?:
    Leela: That's Zapp Brannigan's ship.
    Fry: The Zapp Brannigan?
    Leela: Uh-huh.
    Fry: Who's the Zapp Brannigan?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Zapp, summed up by Leela thusly:
    Leela: You know, Zapp, once I thought you were a big, pompous buffoon. Then I realized that inside you were just a pitiful child. But now I realize that outside that child is a big, pompous buffoon!
    Zapp: And which one rocked your world?
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Leela names Nibbler after seeing him nibbling on a rock.
  • Magic Countdown: Parodied. Leela tells the team they have to hurry, because the planet they're on will implode "in approximately two hours ago."
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Leela being too picky with her dates is a plot point early in the episode. In the Cold Open she is dating a man who seems perfect, until he turns out to have a lizard tongue. On the other hand, most men can't get past her one big eye.
    Leela: I could have liked Zapp Brannigan if he wasn't a pompous nitwit who threw me in prison.
    Bender: You really are too picky!
  • Mundane Utility: Dark matter is revealed to be Nibblonian dung.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Zapp Brannigan is equal parts James T. Kirk and the actor who portrayed him, William Shatner: he has Kirk's occupation and womanizing, but also Shatner's notorious egotism. His voice, meanwhile, is based on that of Phil Hartman, for whom the role was written before his murder in 1998 (Phillip J. Fry was named in Hartman's honor).
  • Noodle Incident: The time cyborgs enslaved humanity in the twenty-first century.
  • Pity Sex: Zapp gets Leela into bed with him by breaking down in tears over how lonely and pathetic he is when she initially completely rejects him.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The music that plays at the beginning of the night club sequence is the same music from the first episode when Fry walks the streets of New New York for the first time.
  • Screaming at Squick: Leela, when she realizes she had pity sex with Zapp Brannigan.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The mission to save the animals comes to naught when Nibbler eats all of them once they're in the ship's hold. Though some of the animals survived after the planet blew up.
  • Zeerust: Parodied with the Raygun Gothic-styled dance club where the gang goes, which is considered retro in the 31st Century. Clubgoers there wear Space Clothes with rings on them because they're "not cool" anymore.


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