Futurama Knows What You Did Next Xmas!

It's Xmas in August on the latest Futurama episode!

Xmas is upon us, everyone! Hang your stockings, prepare the dumpster nog, and engage the nuclear fallout shelter-level shields in anticipation of the upcoming violent night. Feeling a little lost? There’s a holiday special to explain that to you. Allow Kwanzaa Bot (Coolio) and Hanukkah Zombie (Mark Hamill) to regale you with the truth that there’s a holiday for everyone (even though we all know Xmas is the only one anyone cares to hear about). The TLDR of it all is that Santa is a gift-delivery robot with a broken naughty/nice meter who’s out for blood.

Adding to the usual anxiety of death by rapid-fire gift is Bender’s mysterious Xmas card with the ominous message: “I know what you did next Xmas”. Zoidberg seems worried for his metal coworker but Bender (John DiMaggio who also voices Robot Santa) is unphased, and soon after Amy teaches her children the terrible truth that Santa is real, the Professor posits that he can fix the murderous mechanical fat man. How? By way of a time machine of course! Isn’t it tricky to mess with time? Yes – looking at you, Fry who became his own grandfather – which leads the Professor to take the trip alone.

Upon his return and assured of his success, the Professor gleefully gives everyone the week before Xmas off. Hermes has his family, Kif joins Amy at her parent’s house, and even Fry gets double booked by the Professor and Leela (committed to disappointing both parties), but left behind are Bender and Zoidberg. The lobster’s species is doomed to die if it reproduces so his lack of a family is not necessarily his fault, while the robot is…well, a robot. Despite a few episodes to the contrary, Bender was built not born, and therefore has no family to speak of. Still, he is loathe to lower himself to the desperate level of calling Zoidberg a friend, at least until the clever crustacean introduces him to dumpster nog.

The alcohol does its job of making strange bedfellows and poor decisions resulting in Bender and Zoidberg hatching the brilliant idea of kidnapping Santa in an effort to ruin the holiday for their friends. It does not go well. Santa winds up dead and while the boys deal with their seasonal faux pas we get to see how the rest of the gang is spending their time off. Spoiler: They’re all making some version of Turducken. At last, Fry notices that Bender and Zoidberg are missing from the festivities, Leela doesn’t seem concerned but she should be because the bungling pair has settled on eating the evidence of their crime.

Some Xmas miracles kick in to save the day. The gang shows up at Planet Express, busting in the door to include Zoidberg and Bender in the joy of the season. Then just as a confession is about to be made, Santa appears to do his usual killing. Turns out the Professor is the reason Santa is evil. Messing with time, am I right? Luckily, the Bender and Zoidberg of last week arrive via time machine and kidnap Santa! Bender scolds Zoidberg for going to the wrong Xmas, but all in all, it’s a happy accident. Their eventual admission to the crime of killing Santa is even met with praise, but that still leaves the mystery of who’s been leaving the creepy messages.

In a true Xmas twist…it was Santa! His disembodied head explains that he’s blackmailing Bender over his friendship with Zoidberg. Ice cold move, un-Jolly St. Dick, which ends with Bender low-key robbing Amy to pay off Santa. There’s also a bonus song (a take on the 12 days of Christmas) care of Kwanzaa Bot, complete with a dedication to Coolio.

As overall episodes go this wasn’t my favorite, but given we still have fourteen more to go, I’m gonna say it’s not the worst. The Kwanzaa Bot song was certainly a highlight, and though the plot was meh, the sight gags in this episode were its saving grace. The gingerbread-style shields complete with gumdrop defenses are a great touch. The stocking for Nibbler’s worms got me – I love a show that respects continuity. The holiday special designed to educate children about all the season holidays being eclipsed by Xmas is on the nose. The time cat, I didn’t quite understand (a quick internet search suggests it might be based on a book from the ’60s?), but as an old man who can’t drive the joke still works which is the beauty of having jokes with layers. Even the many party items created from Santa’s hastily disassembled corpse added a certain amusing quirk to the ultimately awkward celebration.

By far the best visual jokes were reserved for the running turducken gag. Each group constructed the traditional marathon feast in their own horrendously unique ways. Hermes does it alphabetically (unless one of the birds is too expensive), the Professor 3-D prints his, Leela’s family has the luxury of actual turduckens that are eager for death, and finally, Kif’s species changes things up a little with a turdolphin (a turtle inside of a fermented dolphin), it is gross. There’s also a throw-away joke I enjoyed where Bender asks Zoidberg if he would like a “white Christmas” or “dark Christmas” when settling on carving up the deceased Santa.

Still, as mentioned, the plot could have been better. The Professor is the reason Santa is evil seemed forced, as did Bender and Zoidberg being left out of their friends’ Xmas excursions (Zoidberg I could believe, but Bender is notorious for just imposing his company on others), and of course, Santa’s blackmailing Bender over his friendship with Zoidberg was largely stupid. I’ll be honest, as much as it may be a beloved trope in this show, the whole “everybody hates Zoidberg” gag is feeling old to me. This show has proven itself capable of evolving in many ways. Look at Fry and Leela – they are out of the “will-they or won’t-they” bubble and into full-on girlfriend/boyfriend storylines. Kif and Amy have children that are not simply being ignored or written out. It would be nice to see the Professor, Hermes, and Zoidberg get their chances to grow. I can certainly see Hermes with potential as his storylines have mostly revolved around his son’s new attitude change (which suffers a bit of arrested development when we see Dwight bored and playing video games after his bonding experience in the Wild West episode). From a historical standpoint, Zoidberg has shown himself capable of bonding with multiple members of the Planet Express crew including, Fry, the Professor, and Hermes. I think he’s due a decent storyline so here’s hoping he gets one.

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A holiday special centered around murder, mayhem, and turduckens, oh my! When Bender and Zoidberg are left out of their friends' holiday plans they concoct a crazy scheme that results in accidental murder and guilt. With hilarious visual gags, this episode rides those highs through a meh plot and unsatisfying ending. Though, props to the Kwanzaa Bot ending song!Futurama Knows What You Did Next Xmas!