Roswell that Ends Well
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"Roswell that Ends Well", originally titled "All's Well in Roswell", is the fifty-first episode of Futurama, the nineteenth of the third production season and the first of the fourth broadcast season. It aired 9 December 2001 on FOX. Travelling back to 1947 to Roswell, New Mexico, the Planet Express crew causes the famed Roswell incident, and Dr. Zoidberg is captured by the U.S. military. Meanwhile, Fry manages to kill Enos Fry, the man he thought to be his grandfather, but inadvertently becomes his own grandfather.
Act I: "Hey, what smells like blue?"
21 September 3002: The crew of the Planet Express Ship is attending a unique event, accompanied by Professor Farnsworth and Dr. Zoidberg: a supernova right up close. For this momentous occasion, Fry makes some popcorn in the ship's microwave oven, but unfortunately, he uses a portion of corn wrapped in metal foil. This causes a microwave malfunction, which generates a field of blue radiation which collides with the red radiation emitted by the exploding star. Both fields react violently with each other and hurl the PE ship through a time tunnel which carries it to Earth.
Without the help of GPS and with a failing drive, the PE ship crash-lands in the desert. Bender refuses to buckle up and is ejected through one of the cockpit windows; upon landing his body is smashed to pieces across the desert, temporarily reducing him to his head. Zoidberg is left to pick up Bender's body, but just as he is finished, he is abducted with the parts by the soldiers of a nearby air force base. It turns out that the crew has travelled back to 9 July 1947 and has landed near Roswell, New Mexico. Bender's body is mistaken for an UFO, and Zoidberg is mistaken for an evil alien – almost correct.
Act II: "A Buffet! Oh, if only I had my wallet with me."
Return to the future is only possible as long as the hole in the time-space continuum punched by the supernova remains open, which leaves exactly 24 hours. The crew has several tasks to complete: acquire a new microwave and rescue Zoidberg and Bender's body, all without upsetting history. Things become more complicated as Fry mentions that his grandfather Enos Fry is stationed at Roswell, which presents the danger of time paradoxes as he is the only one who can infiltrate the military base without arousing suspicion, as he is the right age to be a soldier, male and two-eyed.
Meanwhile, the bases officers are interrogating Zoidberg and doing tests on him, to little effect, and they inform the President. Fry, carrying Bender's head, sneaks onto the air base (disguised in an army uniform with the help of All Purpose Spray), and soon runs into his grandfather. Fry is desperate to remove him from any dangers that might threaten his life, but inadvertently pushes him into a pile of rusty bayonet heads, then drags him out of the base – and right into an active minefield. They eventually make it into the town and enter a local diner, where Fry also meets his grandmother, Mildred, his grandfather's fiancée. However, it seems that Enos is more interested in young men, much to Fry's horror.
Meanwhile, Leela and the Professor, both in heavy disguise, are attempting to buy a microwave oven, which does not exist in 1947. The sleazy salesman tries to unload a huge gas oven on them, offending Leela with his antiquated female role stereotypes. Fry, in his attempt to bring his grandfather to safety, drives him to a remote house and tells him to stay there, then leaves. Shortly afterwards, the house is vaporized by the blast of a nuclear weapon test nearby, as is Enos.
Bender's head taunts Fry: "And you are out of here!"
Act III: "Are you coming on to me?"
Meanwhile, Leela and the Professor order lunch at the diner. Leela spots a radar dish in the air base, which would suffice as a substitute for a microwave as it emits the same radiation; but the Professor vetoes her proposal to steal it, insisting that they must not interfere with history. On that note, Fry arrives with the grim news that he has killed his grandfather, and everyone is puzzled why he (or, given their kinship, the Professor as well) did not vanish.
Mildred receives the news of Enos' death and breaks down in tears. Fry attempts to comfort her, and agrees to walk her back to her house. She invites him in and they share a drink. It soon becomes obvious that Mildred is attracted to Fry. Disturbed by the thought of incest, Fry tries to talk her down, but Mildred is having none of it and rips open her shirt. Fry is shocked by this turn of events, and even more so the fact that he exists – he therefore reasons that Mildred can't be his real grandmother, and that his father must have actually been born to different parents, thereby making it okay to sleep with Mildred.
While this is happening, President Truman himself arrives at Roswell to handle the UFO case and the interrogation of Zoidberg. The scientists have arranged Bender's parts in the shape of a flying saucer. The President orders a vivisection of Zoidberg, which costs him a number of his internal organs, including one of his four hearts which seems to be a permanent loss.
The following morning, Leela, the Professor and Bender track Fry down and are appalled at what they see. Fry insists that Mildred isn't really his grandmother, but upon seeing that Mildred has apparently aged several decades overnight as a result of their encounter, he realizes that she really is his grandmother... and the Professor points out that logically, Fry is his own grandfather. This revelation drives Fry almost crazy, and he runs around the room screaming in horror.
After Leela manages to finally calm Fry down (mostly by smacking him around) the Professor decides that they have no alternative: they must abandon secrecy and pursue their goals by means of force, as time is running out. History will have to take care of itself as Fry seemingly already messed it up big-time. The PE ship attacks Roswell Air Base, where the crew liberate Zoidberg and Bender's body and steal the radar dish. As the ship leaves the atmosphere, Bender's head falls out of the cargo hatch, and there is no time to retrieve it as the supernova hole is almost closed; the PE ship narrowly gets through it and returns to the future.
Fry is left mourning the fact that Bender is trapped 1,000 years in the past, until he realises that Bender's head should still be where it fell. Bender survived a millennium without alcohol. Fry, Leela and the Professor again travel to the remains of Roswell Air Base and search for Bender's head, eventually locating it and reuniting it with his still saucer-shaped body.
- By some time travel interpretations, it is genetically impossible for Fry to be his own grandfather (Fry contributes 50% of his father's genetic material, 50% of which then becomes Fry's own genetic code. This would lead to feedback loop in which, over 'repetitions' of the timeline, Fry and his father become very close to 100% related, instead of 50%). However, by the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, it is genetically possible, as illustrated by this highly simplified diagram of Fry family genetics:
-FRY- Mildred Enos In this model, there are (Ay) (ab) (AB) only two genes represented, | |_________|_ _ _ _ _¦ each with three different | | genotypes: the first gene | Yancy, Sr. Mrs. Fry can be any one of (A, a, x) | (Ab) (xy) and the second can be any | |_____________| one of (B, b, y). Each child | | in this tree has inherited | -FRY- the paternal genotype for | (Ay) the first gene and maternal |__________| genotype for the second gene.
- When they break in to rescue Zoidberg it's 8 minutes past 2.
- The first photo taken by the Conspiracy Nut looks a lot like the famous 1997 Arizona UFOs which were described as hovering in a V-shaped path.
- The photo of the Planet Express Ship turned into the iconic 'Surgeon's Photograph' (1934).
- Mildred has the Ten Commandments on her wall. In the 'Directors Commentary', episode director, Rich Moore, stats that the reason for this is that about seven of them are broken in this episode alone.
- In 1947, Rock music didn't exist so instead of the Hard Rock Cafe it is the "Hard Croon Cafe".
- The Flag of the United States has 48 stars, as used between 1912 (when Arizona and New Mexico became States) and 1959 (when Alaska and Hawaii became States, bringing the total to 50).
- In a previous episode we discover that Bender is only 4 years old. Due to his head (but not his body) spending over 1,000 years buried underground, following this episode his head's age is 1,055 years older than his body.
- This is the first episode of Futurama to feature Time Travel, a subject the show's creators did not want to broach too early/often due to the confusing direction that such stories can lead in.
- This episode won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) in 2002.
- This episode is one of four featured in the Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, reflecting its popularity with both fans and the creators of Futurama.
- It says in the episode that if Fry's grandfather dies, he no longer exists. The same goes for Professor Farnsworth, though no one mentions it.
- This is the second time that Bender was separated from his body for almost the whole episode, the first one being "A Head in the Polls" (2ACV03)
- Sci Fi Weekly gave the episode an "A" grade and noted that it was "a half hour of pure entertainment".
- Although the episode was well received by critics, it continued to do poorly in its time slot. The original airing was in 83rd place for the week with a 3.1 rating/5 share.
- Enos never got time to clean the toilet bowl. But still the sergeant's eating out of it! Then again, considering the sergeant apparently didn't know about Enos's death, he may have just assumed that Enos had done it anyway.
- Zoidberg apparently has no teeth since the devilled egg is lying completely intact in his stomach, though he is drawn with teeth in earlier episodes.
- He's shown earlier in the episode to be a very messy eater. Perhaps he simply doesn't chew.
- During their rescue of Bender and Zoidberg from the military base, the Planet Express ship fires a missile which clearly has the episode title painted on the side. This is one of the few episodes to mention the title during the episode, others being "Hell Is Other Robots" (1ACV09) "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television" (4ACV06)
- This episode is named #6 on IGN's list of the Top 25 Futurama Episodes.
- This episode was named #9 on TV.com's list of Top 10 Futurama Episodes.
- The windows of the hangar in the fight sequence between the planes and the PE ship has "DAMNED" written in the windows with different shades of glass.
- The events of this episode introduce us to time paradoxes.
- President Harry S. Truman mentions Franklin D. Roosevelt when the Planet Express crew attacks Roswell Army Air Field.
Fry: 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.
Bender: That's no flying saucer, that's my ass!
Leela: OK, here's the plan. Zoidberg - pick up the pieces. Everyone else - take five.
Professor Farnsworth: Your grandfather?! Stay away from him, you dim-witted monkey! You mustn't interfere with the past! Don't do anything that affects anything, unless it turns out you were supposed to do it, in which case for the love of God, don't not do it!
Fry: Got it.
Professor Farnsworth: If, for example, you were to kill your grandfather, you would cease to exist.
Fry: But existing is basically all I do!
General: What's your purpose?
Zoidberg: Alright, officer, I'll move it along.
Military Official: What the general means is, why did you come to Earth?
Zoidberg: Not a day goes by I don't ask myself the same question.
President Truman: Whistlin' Dixie! I want this sent to Area 51 for study!
General: But Sir, that's where we are building the fake moon landing site!
President Truman: Then we'll have to really land on the moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
President Truman: If you come in peace, surrender or be destroyed. If you're here to make war, we surrender.
Professor Farnsworth: Start the ship, Leela! Let's just steal the dish and get back to our own time.
Fry: But won't that change history?
Professor Farnsworth: Oooh, a lesson in not changing history from "Mr. I'm-my-own-grandpa". Let's get the hell out of here already! Screw history!
Mildred: In times like these I just need someone to hold me! [grabs Fry's arm] Mmmm you like holding me don't you?
[Fry starts shaking violently.]
Fry: Hey, you know what always cheers you up, baking me a nice tray of sugar cookies!
Mildred: How about these cookies, sugar? [She rips her shirt off revealing her bra.]
Base Officer: Stomach contents: deviled egg.
Zoidberg: Deviled egg? [Eats deviled egg.]
Base Officer: The same deviled egg.
General: This experiment will determine what, if anything, the alien eats.
[Zoidberg is released into a room with a large table of food in front of him.]
Zoidberg: A buffet! Oh, if only I'd brought my wallet!
General: It's free.
[A scream of delight echoes as Zoidberg hurls himself at the buffet. Food splatters the window, followed by Zoidberg, who starts eating the food off the window.]
Leela: Oh, I'm sorry. now I'll aks you again; where can we find a mi-cro-wave?
Salesman: Sir, your wife's hysterical, so I'll address this to you. This oven is lightning fast. it takes only five hours to cook a roast.
Farnsworth: Ooh, that's good news! You know, you really don't cook enough roasts, Leela. [Leela turns the gas hob on, setting fire to Farnsworth's tie. He turns to the salesman.] Women!
Colonel: [Interrogating Zoidberg.] Why did you come to Earth?
Zoidberg: [exasperated] Not a day goes by I don't ask myself the same question.
Leela: The ship's fixed except for the cup-holder, and I should have that operational within ten hours.
Professor Farnsworth: You've got eight!
- "When Aliens Attack" (1ACV12)
- "Anthology of Interest I" (2ACV16)
- This episode explains why the universe was destroyed. Had Fry not been frozen, it would create a paradox and destroy the timeline.
- "Parasites Lost" (3ACV02)
- "A Taste of Freedom" (4ACV05)
- Zoidberg states that two of his three hearts (one having been removed) are having attacks.
- "The Why of Fry" (4ACV10)
- By becoming his own grandfather, Fry received a unique genetic abnormality which causes him to lack the Delta Brainwave.
- Bender's Big Score
- Fry says "What about the time we went back to Roswell?" The Professor does not remember this.
- Into the Wild Green Yonder
- The Number 9 Man tells Fry that he has an unreadable brainwave, perhaps referring to his lack of the Delta Brainwave.
- "The Late Philip J. Fry" (6ACV07)
- The Professor invents a forward time machine with the argument that it would prevent someone doing something disgusting, such as sleeping with ones own grandmother.
- This episode has many Star Trek references:
- On the table in the diner, there's a Starfleet emblem in the glossy table pattern
- Fry pushing Enos out of the way of an oncoming car is reference to The City on the Edge of Forever from Star Trek: The Original Series
- The episode shares much in common with the episode Little Green Men of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- The time hole looks almost exactly like the Bajoran Wormhole from Emissary (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
- The Deep Space Nine episode Trials and Tribble-ations where Dr Bashir thinks he may have been sent back to become his own grandfather.
- The fate of Bender's head is a parody of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Time's Arrow in which Data's head is detached in the 19th century and found in an archaeological dig in 2368.
- This episode also references Star Trek in general as Leela claims she will have the last of the ship fixed in ten hours Farnsworth in the classic fashion of Star Trek reduces that time by a couple of hours. In this case however the part of the ship that is broken is the cup holder.
- This episode has many references to The Simpsons:
- One of the stores in the episode is called Gil's Televisual Radios. Gil Gunderson is a character from The Simpsons who sells many different items.
- One of the clocks they fly past and that ends up inside the ship is the cat clock from the Simpsons' house.
- The way Enos' sergeant yells "Enos!" is like the way Gary Chalmers yells "Skinner!", which in turn is derived from the Sergeant's similar yell in Gomer Pyle..
- Zoidberg seems to have a tongue similar to the ovipositor of the facehugger alien from the Alien movies.
- This episode spoofs Independence Day when Zoidberg throws himself against the glass of the containment room, to the horror of the onlookers.
- The Professor's eyes reflecting the passing colours in the vortex is a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The drawing on the bomb is a reference to the crude cartoons and slogans scrawled on many American bombs during the Second World War, which also is referenced in Dr. Strangelove.
- In the final scene, Bender, having been left behind in the Roswell desert, is recovered by the crew over a thousand years later, unchanged and in the same place. When Fry and Leela appear, he tells them "I was enjoying it until you guys showed up". This might be inspired by a similar scene in Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, in which Marvin the Paranoid Android is stranded in the restaurant's parking lot for millions of years. Like Bender, he shows neither surprise nor enthusiasm at finally being rescued by his former crew-mates.
- Much of the plot of this episode references the Roswell UFO Incident with the Planet Express crew as the alien invaders, particularly Dr. Zoidberg, and Bender being mistaken for the alien spacecraft.
- Much of Enos' character is taken from The Andy Griffith Show’s (and later Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) Gomer Pyle, such as his accent and use of Pyle’s trademark “Gol-ly!”, and rumours that the show's star, Jim Nabors, was gay.
- The episode bears many obvious similarities to the Back to the Future movies. It also strikingly resembles an early draft of the script to the first film, in which Marty McFly uses the blast of an atomic bomb to reactivate the time machine, and eventually reappears in the present in a refrigerator left out in the desert, similar to how Bender's head was left in the desert for over a thousand years.
- The dramatic jeep headlight effects when they find Zoidberg is similar to The X-Files. Also when Zoidberg is being interrogated, President Truman asks if he is here to create an alien-human hybrid. This is possibly a reference to the The X-Files, although it was the humans trying to create an alien-human hybrid.
- This episode makes strong use of the Grandfather Paradox which is often present when dealing with time travel to the past.
- The Soylent Products that the Professor asks for come from the movie Soylent Green.
- There are some similarities to the movie No Time for Sergeants in the character of Enos and his fate.
- In a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, "All you Zombies", the narrator, through time travel and sex change, is his own mother and father. Maybe Fry's zombie reference in connection with Enos' death is a spoof of this.
- There was a song called "I'm My Own Grandpa" produced in 1947 (coincidentally, the year of the Roswell incident), which was also mentioned in Heinlein's short story "—All You Zombies—".
- The missile has a drawing of Dr. Zoidberg done in the fashion of Kilroy.
- When Leela is slapping Fry, the buttons on her Wristlojackimator are on the wrong end.
- When Bender crashes into the ground, his head is missing the antenna and is deformed by the crash, but when Fry holds his head, it's back to its original shape with antenna.
- When they take the satellite, it was on the bathroom roof, but when we first see it, it's on a big brick building.
- Enos died in an atomic test explosion at Roswell in 1947. The United States did no atomic explosion testing in 1947, either in mainland America or south Pacific atolls. Tests were performed in 1946 and on atolls in 1948, but none in 1947, for whatever reason.
- The United States also never tested nuclear weapons near Roswell, New Mexico. Tests in the continental USA were performed at the Nevada Test Site, in a completely different state.
- Perhaps Fry drove Enos far away to "protect" him.
- Fry stares directly at a nuclear blast, which should permanently blind him.
- He looks at it after it has gone off. It is the light from the initial explosion that will blind you, looking at the mushroom is perfectly okay.
- The Statue of Liberty carries her trademark torch instead of a tube (1ACV01) or a ray gun (opening sequence).
- Presumably the arm was rebuilt after it was destroyed at the end of "When Aliens Attack".
- When Enos and Fry sit in the diner there are normal city-buildings across the street. When Leela and Farnsworth order a meal from Mildred there you can see Roswell Airbase.
- Perhaps the diner has windows on two sides.
- The fighters on the ground were P-51Ds but the airborne fighters chasing the ship were P-51As, which in real life had been largely phased out of the U.S military.
- Fry says that if watching a supernova explode is anything like his old Chevy Nova, then it would light up the night sky, even though it was established in "Space Pilot 3000" and "Jurassic Bark" that Fry had a bicycle (though the bike could have been his mode of transportation while working as a delivery boy for Panucci's Pizza) and doesn't know how to drive. Although Fry has in other episodes mentioned driving a car for example in "The Lesser of Two Evils" he is able to drive, albeit badly, a car at Past-O-Rama.
- Perhaps Fry had a car in the past (possibly the Chevy Nova), but it either got stolen, or (as stated), it blew up ("lit up the night sky").
- Bender's head was buried in the desert for 1000 years, but when Fry digs him up, Bender shows no ill effects from going without alcohol for that time, like he did in "I, Roommate" and "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz". Though he may have offlined, this is backed up when he states that during his retirement he wants to switch his "on" switch to "off" during the episode "Insane in the Mainframe" and back in this episode he says "I was enjoying it [being stuck in a hole] until you guys showed up." This suggests that Bender enjoys being offline and presumably Robots don't use up alcohol when they're off.
- At the beginning, Leela brings in a newspaper that shows Bender's butt, in which she appears in her clothes from the 31st century. Because of her one eye, it seems strange that she was able to get it without her disguise.
- Voice Actors
- DVD Commentary
- Bonus Animators Commentary