Futurama, "Mobius Dick": space-whale of a space-tale

Quick Take: Futurama, “Mobius Dick”
“Something he saw on that mission traumatized him so severely, he grew hair! Just so it could turn white!” - Professor Farnsworth, about Dr. Zoidberg

 Great Scott! It's Zoidberg!Review: Futurama, “Mobius Dick”
(S0621) It’s been fifty years since the grand opening of the Planet Express, and Professor Farnsworth is reminiscing about his original crew as though they were interesting. Back before the station’s Widow Walk was installed, in a time when Zoidberg had friends, the first Planet Express crew was commissioned to deliver a cookie bouquet to a distant planet -- but they were never heard from again. Not even Zoidberg, who returned in the escape pod with a full head of white hair, could remember what happened to his comrades.

In memory of his lost crew, Farnsworth has a statue created for the fiftieth anniversary of their disappearance, sending the whole Planet Express to pick it up. After sorting out some spelling and grammar issues with the aliens on Xenotaph 3, the delivery has been put behind schedule. Obsessed with completing her mission, however, Leela decides to take a shortcut through the very stretch of cosmos where the first Planet Express disappeared – the Bermuda Tetrahedron. They soon come upon a spaceship graveyard, where they spot the original Planet Express ship lost fifty years ago (any many others for sci-fi geeks with sharp eyes and/or a pause button), its table still fully set with McDonalds. Oh right, and there was a giant killer space whale. That’s no ordinary space whale, though – it’s four dimensional!

So begins a space parody of Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick. At first obsessed with completing her delivery, Leela takes on the role of Captain Ahab as she becomes consumed by the prospect of killing the whale – or die trying. Mobius Dick chomps off the ship’s engine and steals the statue, leading Leela and her crew to refashion their ship for whale-hunting. Leela navigates further into the Bermuda Tetrahedron, leading her ship through wormholes, the fourth dimension, and even fields of giant diamonds after latching on to the space mammal. They even pass the wreckage of Oceanic 815 – hooray for Lost references!

After losing most of Bender to a giant diamond, the rest of the crew overpowers Leela before she can marry Fry and Zoidberg against their will (one of them, at least), forcing her to cut the line and turn around for Bender. Not long after he’s rescued, however, Mobius Dick returns, devouring everybody but Zoidberg, who once again returns to Earth in an escape pod, with no recollection of what great monstrosity caused him to grow hair just so it could turn white. Just as Farnsworth and the newly-groomed Zoidberg are breaking the news that the new Planet Express crew disappeared just like the old one, Zoidberg’s hair returns. Oh yeah, and a giant killer space whale. Again.

The whale appears out of a wormhole before crashing into the memorial service being held at the Planet Express. Leela, both Planet Express crews, a NASA team, and – is that Dr Who? – emerge from the whale’s mouth. Leela’s skin has melded to the insides of the space mammal, apparently in control of the four-dimensional monster. While she was in the belly of the beast, Leela not only witnessed the mobius colon which preserved the trapped teams by recycling space and time (yes, it certainly does stand up to scrutiny, Scruffy), but she discovers the secret of the whale, and by extension, her own obsession. Leela learns from the first Planet Express captain, Lando Tucker, that the space fish, I mean mammal, is driven by the obsession of spaceship captains. After draining Lando of his obsession, the whale is after Leela, who’s plagued by the mother of all obsessions – she’s obsessed with an obsession inside another obsession: an Inception-obsession!

Leela is driven, first and foremost, to complete her deliveries. When the whale becomes an obstacle in that mission, Leela redirects her motivation toward killing the whale. After a bizarre existential trip through the fourth-dimension, "peering beyond the eyes of the behemoth and into the cackling hell within us all," and becoming one with the whale, Leela is able to extend her will-power to overcome the whale’s, allowing her to return everyone safely to Earth, leaving Fonz-berg to work his crustacean charm while everyone else closes in around the inter-dimensional mammal with torches and pitchforks.

By Mark D Curran

About the author

Mark is a freelance writer, student of English and Philosophy, and still has too much time on his hands. If you have any of your own, check out the blog and follow him on Twitter!


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1 Comment
On: Friday, August 5, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

I wonder if kids today have heard of Moby Dick? Maybe it's along the lines about "story involving whale," perhaps ?


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