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Recap / Futurama S 3 E 19 Roswell That Ends Well

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The Planet Express crew gathers to watch a star go supernova, which releases huge amounts of energy. At the same time, Fry places a metal popcorn dish in the microwave, covering the ship with microwave radiation. As a result, the ship is hurtled throughout space, eventually crashing somewhere on Earth. During the crash, Bender is flung from the ship and Zoidberg is ordered to pick up the pieces. At night, he is captured by soldiers and brought to Roswell, New Mexico, circa 1947.

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Realizing that they have traveled backward in time, Leela and the Professor attempt to find a microwave with no luck. Meanwhile Fry goes on the base to find Zoidberg and to visit his grandfather Enos, despite the Professor warning him about changing history. Due to his paranoia about Enos getting killed or neutered, Fry drives him out to the desert to stay safe. Unfortunately, he chooses a nuclear testing site and Enos dies.

The night of Enos' death, Fry comforts his fiancee Mildred, who comes on to him. Fry resists initially, but then accepts, thinking that she can't be his grandmother as his supposed grandfather just died. The next morning, the Professor tells Fry that he just became his own grandfather; Fry is understandably upset. The crew then decide to steal a microwave dish from the base and rescue Zoidberg without regard for consequences. They do so, though Bender's head falls into the desert, remaining buried for a thousand years until his friends find him in the future.

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This was the only Futurama episode from the original run to win an Emmy.


Tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Like in The Bird-Bot of Ice-Catraz, Amy and Hermes don't appear.
  • Alien Autopsy: Dr. Zoidberg, however, is still alive and conscious. This doesn't seem to bother him much, his main reactions to being vivisected being re-eating the deviled egg they take out of his stomach and making remarks like "take it, I've got four of them" when his heart is removed.
    Dr. Zoidberg: (one of the surgeons is sawing something) Don't touch that! I need that to speak! (the surgeon pauses, then saws even faster)
  • The Alleged Car: "I've never seen a supernova blow up, but if it's anything like my old Chevy Nova, it'll light up the night sky!"
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Enos questions why he has to go out with girls, and just before he dies, he's examining the male model on the pin-up calendar.
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    • Dr Zoidberg seems into it when he thinks Harry S Truman is coming onto him.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Planet Express Crew turns out to be the cause of the Roswell UFO Incident, thanks to time travel — Bender's body was mistakenly reassembled into a mini-UFO, while Zoidberg was the alien autopsy.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Fry when he discovers his supposed-grandpa may be gay, and thus not interested in hooking up with his grandmother.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: This episode is one of the best examples of Zoidberg's... unusual biology. During the autopsy scene, he shows no discomfort with being vivisected, even chatting casually with the researchers as they root around in his body cavity and keeping up a running commentary of his own dissection ("Removing the heart." "Take, I've got four of them!").
  • Body Paint: Fry uses a can of spray paint that actually creates an army uniform.
  • Brick Joke: We first see Enos Fry being ordered by his sergeant yelling that he wanted to toilet bowl so clean he could eat on it, because he literally intended to. Near the end when Leela stole the microwave antenna, she took the roof with it. And we see the sergeant eating his lunch on the latrine.
  • Butterfly of Doom: The Professor gives Fry the classic advice for people going back in time: "Don't do anything that will change history. Unless you're supposed to do it, in which case for the love of God don't not do it."
  • Catchphrase Interruptus: Bender's head falls off the ship screaming after he says, "1947 can kiss my shiny metal..."
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Discussed. When he realizes they might be stuck in the 20th Century, Prof. Farnsworth moans that they'll have to endure "the horrible music of The Big Bopper, and then the terrible tragedy of his death."
  • Distant Reaction Shot / Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The nuclear test going off and obliterating Enos. The scene then cuts to a diner where Professor Farnsworth and Leela are sitting down to eat as the mushroom cloud from the explosion appears in the window. Neither they nor the residents of the town seem to pay it much mind.
    • This is nearly a case of Aluminum Christmas Trees, although not in Roswell. Most of the US's above-ground nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site, less than 100 miles from Las Vegas. The tests were a tourist attraction in the 50s and early 60s.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss:
    Officer: General, in all my years of covering top secret discoveries with sheets, I've never dramatically revealed anything as shocking as this. DUN-DUN-DUUUNNNN!
  • Exploding Calendar: Done in reverse. As the Planet Express crew travel back in time, the ship's digital chronometer ticks backwards, eventually turning into a 1947 pinup calendar.
  • Fashions Never Change: In an attempt to fit in around 1947 New Mexico, Leela dons a poodle skirt and beehive hairdo, and Professor Farnsworth wears a zoot suit and fedora while swinging a pocketwatch on a chain. Leela also tries to fit in using Fry's 1990s slang, with similar success.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The Professor in a 1947 diner orders "a croque monsieur, the paella, two mutton pills and a stein of mead!"
  • Floating Clocks: Parodied when the ship literally fills up with clocks after falling through a time vortex.
  • Future Imperfect: Leela and the Professor's ignorance of the twentieth century is evident when they try to buy a microwave decades before they were commonly available (the "Radarange" having been introduced in 1946, but far from popular until the early 1970s), and Leela assumes people in 1947 speak like turn-of-the-21st-Century Fry.
  • Gaia's Lament: On arrival at twentieth century Earth, the Professor is baffled by the sudden ozone layer. ("That's never been there before!")
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: After Fry freaks out about being his own grandpa, Leela does this...by punching him in the stomach multiple times, giving the impression it's a Dope Slap.
  • Get Back to the Future: The Planet Express crew need a microwave oven in order to go back through the wormhole before it closes in, oh, say...EXACTLY 24 HOURS!
  • Historical-Domain Character: Harry Truman becomes a prominent figure in the narrative after the Army gets ahold of Bender's body and Dr. Zoidberg.
    Harry Truman: (interrogating a captured Zoidberg) If you come in peace, surrender or be destroyed! If you come to make war, we surrender!
  • Historical In-Joke: When Truman is shown Zoidberg and the remains of Bender recovered from Roswell:
    President Truman: Whistling Dixie! I want this taken to Area 51 for analysis.
    Soldier: But sir, that's where we're building the fake moon landing set.
    President Truman: Then we'll have to really land on the Moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
  • Inventional Wisdom: Fry buys Enos a pinup calendar that for no apparent reason alternates between female and male models. Lampshaded in the commentary, when they wonder who would buy such a calendar (and the obvious answer doesn't make sense given this was the 1940s).
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Zoidberg was disturbingly okay with being dissected alive, not even bothered by them removing one of his hearts (he had four them). The only time he drew the line was when the scientists were about to cut the organ that let him speaknote .
  • Misplaced Retribution: For some reason, when the Planet Express Ship took the roof of the latrine, the Sergeant blamed Enos.
    Sergeant: ENOS!
    Fry: (Distantly) He's dead!
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: Subverted. President Truman orders the military to take Zoidberg to Area 51, which is where they're building the fake moon landing set.
    President Truman: Then we'll have to really land on the Moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
  • My Own Grampa: Fry, after doing the nasty in the pasty with Mildred. It's the only reason he doesn't die after Enos is killed.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The wormhole formed from the combination of the supernova's radiation and the microwaves that randomly sends the Planet Express crew back in time.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Fry's attempts to protect Enos end up getting him killed by a nuclear explosion.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Enos is based on Gomer Pyle, and his commanding officer spoofs Sgt. Carter from the same show.
  • No Seatbelts: The crew of the Planet Express ship sits down and buckles their seatbelts in preparation for a crash landing, except for Bender, who smugly insists, "Those things cost more lives than they save." In accordance with the laws of Tempting Fate, Bender is the only one sent flying when the ship touches ground.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • It is quickly made apparent that Fry's incident with the microwave did something when the Planet Express ship is returning to Earth: there's no traffic, Earth now has an ozone layer, and there's no longer a global positioning signal, meaning the ship begins to crash.
    • Fry is understandably shocked when his attempt to save his grandfather's life results in him being blown up in a nuclear test:
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Radiation from a supernova combined with radiation from Fry putting aluminum in a microwave oven to create a wormhole that sends the Planet Express crew back in time.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Actually works as a plot point that caused the Planet Express ship to be sent back to 1947.
  • Plot-Sensitive Button: Lampshaded with Fry's All-Purpose Spray.
  • Polka-Dot Paint: The All-Purpose Spray paints an exact duplicate of an army uniform onto Fry's naked body.
  • Popcorn on the Cob: Inverted. After going back in time, the popcorn has turned back into an ear of corn.
  • Proportional Article Importance: When Leela shows the crew a newspaper with the Roswell crash as the main article, Bender instead focuses on the headline underneath. "Gym renovations on schedule? What a load!"
  • Romancing the Widow: A rare unintentional version where Fry doesn't realize what's going on until Mildred takes off her shirt. Not that that stops him afterwards, mind.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The Trope Namer, as you can tell.
  • Screaming at Squick: Fry, when Farnsworth tells him he just became his own grandfather.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Fry becomes his own grandfather, the Professor decides that history is already screwed and storms the air base to get the microwave.
    Professor: Let's just steal the damn dish and get back to our own time!
    Fry: But, but won't that change history?
    Professor: Oh, a lesson on not changing history from Mister 'I'm My Own Grandpa'. Let's just get the hell out of here already! Screw history!
  • The Slow Path: In a direct parody of the TNG episode (where Data's head is left behind after a similar time travel episode), Bender's head is dropped in the New Mexico desert in the 1940s, and has to be recovered a thousand years later. Not only does Bender not mind being buried in the dirt for a millennium, he actually complains upon being rescued that his peace and quiet are being disturbed.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Fry's would-have-been grandfather is a mild parody of this.
  • Stable Time Loop: As this is Futurama's first experience with time travel, they settle on this as their rule of time travel (Bender's body was the remains of the "spacecraft" found in Roswell, Zoidberg was the alien, and Fry becomes his own grandfather). "The Why of Fry", Bender's Big Score, and "Decision 3012" would go on to completely muck around with this ("The Late Phillip J. Fry" may also cause some rule-bending as well).
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: After getting the microwave needed to escape quietly is no longer viable, and Fry literally screws with the timeline without ill effect, the crew decides to simply break into the base guns blazing, rescue Zoidberg and take their microwave dish, timeline be damned.
  • Sweetheart Sipping: The diner in the 1940's has a sign reading "ONE TEEN TO A MALT."
  • Tastes Like Purple: "Hey, what smells like blue?"
  • Tempting Fate: When Leela proposes just straight up stealing the army's microwave radar dish, Farnsworth is quick to shoot it down:
    Farnsworth: No! That would alter history. Above all else, it is our sacred duty to preserve the past exactly as it was.
    Fry: (walks into frame carrying Bender's head) Well, I killed my grandfather.
    • Fry eventually manages to reach the conclusion that he did nothing wrong, since the waitress at the diner clearly can't be his Grandma. He only learns this is not the case after they have sex.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Fry and his supposed-to-be-Grandfather order a coffee and meal respectively from Fry's will-be-Grandma, but after panicking over the potential hazards inherent in the diner Fry and co. run out before ever receiving their order. Notable for showing the will-be-Grandma's upset reaction to this.
  • The Web Always Existed: Averted. The Planet Express ship crashes because the satellite network that it relies on around Earth to navigate doesn't exist yet.

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