In an underwhelming episode this week, Futurama focuses on the plight of Ramblin’ Rodriguez, the future’s newest folk singer. They can’t all be hits, I guess.
More exciting than the episode this week is the beer I ended up reviewing. Great Lakes Brewing Co. is based in Cleveland, Ohio with a mission to supply interesting and high-quality beers to the Great Lakes regions. The Edmund Fitzgerald porter is one of their most well known (I highly recommend doing some research on the lost-at-lake Edmund Fitzgerald ship or reading/seeing its inspired play, Ten November). The Edmund Fitzgerald is a fantastic porter. It pours a dark ruby color and has scents immediately of coffee. More detailed notes include vanilla and a little bit of toffee in the foam. What’s remarkable about this porter is the contrast of the prickly (almost sharp) carbonation and the syrupy feel it leaves on the tongue. Neither texture is compromised. The palate shifts from coffee to chocolate early on, leaving chocolate the lingering taste. All around an amazing porter, even for those who don’t like dark beers.
The episode starts off with a visit to a variable security prison to drop off a carbonite-frozen criminal mastermind. More important to Bender though, is finding Silicon Red, the alien who (just now) made Bender realize his lifelong dream of becoming a folk artist. Unable to steal Silicon Red’s guitar for himself, Bender takes a picture of it and goes to an aptly named “Technology” place to 3D-print his own folk-artisty guitar.
As Leela points out, “Bender, you’re not a folk singer just because you have a guitar.” Not true. Bender researched every folk song ever and thinks he’s come up with a formula for the perfect folk lyrics. “But robot, you can’t just make up folk songs like you can a medical diploma — they have to come from the heart!” Zoidberg points out. If you’re curious about his formula, here:
- 36% of all folk singers worked on a railroad and were named “Big” something
- 75% of these Big people have bad-hearted women who have done them wrong
- Usually these women cheated on Big-something with a smooth-talking rambler
- In the end, somebody kills somebody, blah blah blah
- There’s more, but Bender doesn’t care
Bender uses a show played by Silicon Red to score himself an audience, and to no one’s surprise, Bender is terrible. His lyrics are vague and not from the heart. Probably the funniest and most ironic joke of the entire episode is the fact that Fry would make the perfect subject of a folk song with all the abandoning that Bender has done of him. Fry spends the whole episode reminding us of this: “Man, all this corn cob pipe smoke is irritating my stab wounds.”
To try to get a more sincere feel to his songs, Bender leaves Earth to live on the wrong side of the tracks and work on the trans-universal railroad and get some experiences worth singing about. There, Bender meets Big Caboose, who’s got the perfect appearance for the blighted victim of a smooth-talking rambler stealing his woman, but has none of the appropriate experiences. Once again, Bender doesn’t care.
Bender makes up a ridiculous life story for Big Caboose: Big Caboose falls for a bad-hearted lady whose eyes stray toward a tall, dark, shiny rambler who looks suspiciously like Ramblin’ Rodriguez. “The irony is palpable,” Fry points out yet again while making a delivery to the railroad where he gets blown up by some dynamite. Poor Fry. Somehow, what Bender writes about ends up becoming true though, and he has an affair with a mean-hearted lady robot that Big Caboose brought home.
In a surprising twist, it seems that Bender’s hard drive is still connected to the 3D printer from earlier in the episode. Every thought that passes through Bender’s mind is created by the printer with the words and intentions that Bender outlined in the song. Now there’s two of everybody and they all want to kill Bender! To test out the theory, Bender imagines that a giant land octopus is trying to kill Fry, and voila! Yet again, Fry gets all the bad luck ever.
Because of his determination to come up with a folksy song, Bender doesn’t imagine the easy way out of being killed by Big Caboose. He runs out of time though, and gets killed. His funeral is funded by Apple, Inc. though! Then, who should interrupt the mourning but Bender! In the long-con of folk songs, he faked Ramblin’ Rodriguez’ existence the whole time to make for the perfect story. Not bad Bender, not bad. So what better move to make from there than to sell out and become a rapper with Silicon Red? Well done indeed.
Recap: Although this episode was a little dull in my opinion (I prefer Fry/Leela-focused episodes, myself), we still got to see Bender making an ass out of himself and getting into trouble with, well, everybody. The final season has been hit-or-miss so far for me, but Futurama has had a good run, so I’m okay with that.