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Recap / Futurama S 4 E 12 The Sting

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A mission to collect honey from deadly space bees apparently leads to Fry's sting-induced death. Leela is wracked with remorse, until Fry visits her in her dreams, and Leela's sense of reality becomes warped.


Tropes present:

  • All Just a Dream: Most of the episode, including Fry's death, is a dream Leela has while in a bee-venom coma.
  • Adult Fear: The thought of someone you love dying, and knowing it's your fault. Leela thinks that she got Fry killed, and Fry knows that it's his fault Leela is in a coma.
  • Arc Words: Fry's "Just wake up, Leela" turns out to be him consoling Leela in the hospital while she's in a coma.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Bees communicate through movement and odor; it's doubtful Bender could replicate the latter.
  • Asleep for Days: Leela's fever coma lasted for two weeks.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At first, it seems intuitive that Fry, who was impaled through the stomach, would die and Leela, who only got scratched, would survive. After The Reveal, we find out that Fry was actually easily patched up by the 31st century's advanced medical technology, whereas Leela got a huge dose of poison from the tip of the stinger that sent her into a coma.
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  • Bee Afraid: The bees are nightmarish creatures. The poison in their stingers kills people by digesting them alive from the inside
  • Blatant Lies: After listening to the black box recording of the old crew's horrible, horrible deaths, Leela turns it off and claims she couldn't make out the recording because there was too much static.
  • Break the Haughty: Leela's pride results in Fry apparently getting killed by Space Bee, and her having to deal with the grief.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Leela wakes up from her dreams this way, which sends a sleeping Nibbler flying.
  • Comfort Food: When Leela feels sad about Fry's death, she ends up taking spoonfuls of the honey.
  • Continuity Nod
    • The plot of the Professor's previous crew bring killed by space bees references a gag from the first episode "Space Pilot 3000", where he gave Fry, Leela and Bender their career chips from his old crew from a folder marked "Contents of space wasp's stomach".
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    • Fry falls in the jelly, and panics because he can't swim in jelly. "Fry and the Slurm Factory" had already shown Fry can't swim.
    • Several of Fry's past girlfriends show up at his funeral, including Kug from "Amazon Women in the Mood", Michelle from "The Cryonic Woman", Morgan Proctor from "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back", the 21st century girl from "Love's Labour's Lost in Space", Petunia from "Put Your Head on My Shoulders", and even the radiator he said he made out with in "The Lesser of Two Evils". Gunther from "Mars University", the Neptunian elves from "A Tale of Two Santas", Chester A. Arthur's head from "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid", and Seymour's fossilized body from "Jurassic Bark" also appear.
    • At Fry's funeral, the aforementioned Kug remarks that Fry "did good snu-snu", to which every other ex just goes "eh". Fry's implied lacklustre performance in bed was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it remark from Amy back in "Time Keeps On Slippin'".
    • Some of the objects in Leela's memory box of Fry include a fridge magnet from "The Series Has Landed", Fry's first mustache from "The Cryonic Woman", the flower Fry gave her in "The Why of Fry", and a spoon from when Fry was emperor of Trisol in "My Three Suns".
  • Cuteness Proximity: Leela to the baby queen bee, which is how the team's problems start.
  • Dream Tells You to Wake Up: Fry died to save Leela from a giant killing bee from space. Leela constantly blames herself, and keeps dreaming with Fry, who always ends the dream suddenly telling her to wake up. In the end, she does wake up... from a coma, and the nested Dream Within a Dream. Fry was fine, next to her bed, and repeating all the time "you have to wake up".
  • Doomed Predecessor: The Planet Express crew is sent to retrieve honey from an extremely dangerous space bee hive, a mission that claimed the lives of the Professor's previous crew. The crew goes on Leela's insistence, as she wants to prove them to be a better crew than the previous ones. While in the hive, they find the wreck of the previous Planet Express ship, and within it a recording of its captains' last words... which consists of a nearly verbatim repeat of Leela's previous claim before being cut off by loud buzzing and terrified screaming.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Leela imagines to have dreams within her fever dream.
  • Driven to Suicide: Of sorts. Leela downs three spoonfuls of queen jelly, knowing the 3rd will make her never wake up. Subverted when we learn she was in a coma, and the jelly wasn't here.
  • Epic Fail: The team did plan ahead by bringing jetpacks to escape with, but Fry put his on upside-down.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: Subverted with Fry's jacket. When Leela sees it in daylight, it's her own jacket.
  • Fever Dream Episode: Caused by Leela being stung by deadly space bees.
  • Good News, Bad News: The professor knows just how dangerous the misison to collect space honey is, and doesn't even use his "Good news, everyone!" Catchphrase, which puts into perspective just how dangerous it really is.
  • Heroic BSoD: Leela goes into a deep one when her efforts to appear brave and her ignorance of the dangers of the hive ended with Fry's death, especially since he died protecting her, which eventually leads her to insanity.
  • Hope Spot: At one point, Fry is resurrected with an It Runs on Nonsensoleum explanation typical of the show at its goofiest, and everyone prepares to resume normalcy. Then Leela wakes up again.
  • Hug and Comment: The ending, where Leela discovers she was in a coma for two weeks and Fry sat by her bed the whole time.
    Leela: [hugs Fry] You could really use a shower.
    Fry: You, too.
  • Idiot Ball: Bender declares he's sick of shaking his booty at the bees, calling them fat jerks. This'd be dumb enough, but for whatever reason he also decides to shake his booty while doing so, meaning the bees catch his insult.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction:
    Leela: What's the mission?
    Farnsworth: Collecting honey. Ordinary honey.
    Leela: That doesn't sound so dangerous.
    Farnsworth: This is no ordinary honey!
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Fry gets hit with the brunt end of this trope thanks to a space bee but manages to survive. It's even stated that 31st century medicine has an easier time fixing raw physical trauma like this than the massive dose of poison Leela got from the tip.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Leela gets attacked by the baby bee from behind after proclaiming "I can smell danger a mile away."
  • Insult Backfire: The Professor tells Fry and Bender they're not good enough to go to the Space Bee hive. While this does provoke Leela, Fry and Bender are totally okay with it.
    Fry: Yaaay!
    Bender: Not good enough!
  • I Resemble That Remark!: "I am not under stress, damn it!"
  • It's All My Fault: Leela has huge amount of guilt that Fry died blocking a sting meant for her.
    Leela: He died because of me!
    Farnsworth: No, no, no, no, no... (Loudly, to Bender) I'm lying to make her feel better!
    • Then the irony is that Fry was feeling the same way in the real world, trying to get Leela to wake up because he accidentally landed her in a coma.
  • Laughing Mad: Leela does it when she tastes the space honey for the first time before falling asleep.
  • Made Myself Sad: Trope Namer. When Leela proclaims Fry still exists, Farnsworth taunts back that Fry still exists — as a frozen corpse floating in space. He then invokes the trope verbatim.
  • Made of Explodium: One of the bees crashes into the side of the hive and explodes.
  • The Mad Hatter: Leela, by the end of her apparent descent into madness.
    Leela: Okay, I'm insane! But I'm still sane enough to know it.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Played with. When Fry and Leela get stung, Leela's injury seems to be superficial: in her words, "a boo-boo, tops". As such, nobody in the room acts like it's a big deal, including her. Then it turns out that sting injected her with enough venom to put her in a coma for two weeks, nearly killing her outright. Fry's reaction to his own injury is played straight, since it amounts to a large gaping hole in his chest that even though 31st-century technology can very easily treat, he still needs a bandage over it.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Terry does this gesture when Fry's coffin is sent into space.
  • Mind Screw: We invite you to look at the spoiler tags to see why this trope is in effect.
  • The Monolith: Fry's coffin serves as this, and Leela experiences the "stargate" effect when she opens it.
  • Mushroom Samba: The "Bee Happy" number.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Leela triggers the whole mission despite the warnings not to when neither Fry or Bender want to go. Leela later takes the baby queen bee with them. In short, the entire conflict of the episode can be blamed on her.
    • Fry's Heroic Sacrifice itself. After getting between Leela and the bee, he appears to have taken the brunt of the sting intended for her, being fully skewered by the stinger so that Leela, standing behind him, only gets pricked by the tip...which turns out to be the worse injury by far, since the tip contained all of the stinger's venom. Had Fry not intervened, she would likely have taken the same damage he did and made a quick recovery; as it is, the venom puts her in a coma from which it's predicted that she will never wake up.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Discussed at the most inopportune time, Fry's eulogy.
    Preacher: Fry's death took only fifteen seconds, but the pain was so intense it felt like fifteen lifetimes! And, it goes without saying, caused him to empty his bowels.
  • Noodle Incident: Bender says he isn't allowed to sing because of a court order. How this came about is not explained (but since this is a dream, it might not count).
  • Off with His Head!: Leela almost gets decapitated by the Professor.
  • Quip to Black: After Leela comes out of her coma and finds Fry stayed by her side the whole time, they hug, and as the credits start to roll, they both comment on each other's need of a shower.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: After Bender inadvertently says "I'm sick of shaking my booty for these fat jerks" in bee language and enrages the space bees, he tries to calm them down by saying they weren't all fat, "just 'Fatso' there". 'Fatso' happens to be the queen bee.
  • Pet the Dog: Kug of Amazonia tearfully exclaiming Fry "Do good Snu-Snu" while every other woman Fry slept with (including the radiator) go "Ehhh." Considering it's Leela's dream, their low opinion of Fry's sexual stamina is most likely an indicator of Leela's dislike of them.
  • Please Wake Up: A variant; the reason why Fry was telling Leela to wake up was that she was in a coma and dying from the venom. He even starts sobbing towards the end of her dream. Fortunately, she does wake up in the hospital, and they hug each other in relief.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Notwithstanding its actual unreality, this episode is a look at what might happen if the main characters in Futurama really were as vulnerable as they should be, considering their frequent Too Dumb to Live behavior and the fact that all of Farnsworth's prior crews bit the dust. Just to add insult to injury, a standard It Runs on Nonsensoleum solution appears and promptly turns out to be another of Leela's dreams.
    • Fry has had an Unbroken Vigil for weeks watching Leela, who was in a coma. When she wakes up, they hug each other in relief that the other alive. It turns out neither of them has bathed, for obvious reasons, and smell bad.
  • Reverse Psychology: The Professor has an M.O. of goading his crews into going to the Space Bees hive by stating they're not as good as his old crew.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Some of Dream!Fry's lines only make sense when you realize that Leela's in a coma. For example:
    Fry: [as nothing but a floating mouth] I don't know if you can hear me, Leela, so I'm just going to keep making noises to make sure you know I'm here! [proceeds to make a LOT of loud, unintelligible gibberish]
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Fry is still alive, and he really is communicating with Leela. That's because Leela has been dreaming ever since she got stung, and Fry, who has been talking to her the entire time, easily survived the sting while Leela went into a coma.
  • Sanity Slippage: Seems as if Leela is going through one.
    Leela: I'll find Fry's coffin, get his corpse and keep it under my mattress to remind me that he's really dead. That'll prove I'm not insane!
  • Series Continuity Error: Way back in the pilot, the Professor had removed his old crew's career chips from a folder labelled Space Wasps stomach contents. Handwaved on the commentary, where they claim the Space Bees did kill the old crew, and were then killed by Space Wasps. Then again, the Professor is senile, so he probably mistook Space Bees for Space Wasps.
  • Shout-Out
    • Scruffy playing "I'm Walking on Sunshine" on the bagpipes while Fry's coffin is shot into space parodies Spock's funeral from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It also references a previous episode, Jurassic Bark.
    • At the beginning of Leela's second dream, Fry initially appears with just his mouth and hair visible, similar to the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
    • Zoidberg's potion of the musical number parodies the 1968 Elvis Presley comeback special.
    • Leela's experience opening Fry's coffin parodies the stargate scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • "Sweet three-toed sloth of the ice planet Hoth!"
    • The entire plot of invading a dangerous alien hive to take royal jelly and take a Queen home brings to mind the various Aliens novels where Weyland-Yutani or a competitor tries the same thing with the Xenomorphs. It never works there either.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: After (barely) escaping the hive of angry bees with their lives, Leela badmouths the old crew who perished on the same mission by stating that "the only things they did better than [them] were suck and die!"
  • Starfish Language: The bees communicate by dancing, though in practice it looks more like they just communicate by buzzing.
  • Taking the Bullet: Fry jumps in front of the space bee before it stings Leela. The stinger barely scrapes Leela, while it completely pierces through Fry's body, killing him. In actuality though, the stinger didn't kill Fry, but completely went through him, causing all the poison to end up in Leela and put her in a coma directly afterwards.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Bender does this with the baby queen after it stings Fry and Leela (where it gets splattered by a space truck), even though without its sting it was rendered harmless.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Fry sat by Leela's bedside for her entire two-week coma.
  • Venus Is Wet: Venus is depicted as a lush, tropical swamp with red water and purple and blue plants during Leela's dream.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Part of the dialogue in the conversation with Hermes about the honeycombs are the lyrics to the 1980s jingle for Honeycomb cereal.
  • You Are Fat: One of the funniest dialogues in the episode would be Bender saying this about the bees.
    Bender: I'm sick of shaking my booty for these fat jerks!
    [bees advance on Bender while giving him a Death Glare]
    Bender: [understandably panicked] I didn't mean you're all fat, just Fatso there! [points to the Queen]
    Bee: [Buzzing with subtitles] He insulted our fat queen!
    Queen Bee: [Buzzing with subtitles] You try keeping your figure after 10,000 kids!
  • You Must Be Cold: Fry covers Leela with his jacket in her dream when they ride across the snowy landscape. The jacket then becomes a Fantasy Keepsake after Leela wakes up.

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