One of the challenges Futurama faces when centering an episode around Leela, as they did last night, is that Leela usually serves as the straight person on the show. The best Leela episodes or moments manage to warp her seriousness and competence just enough to make her as wacky as everyone else. I thought “Zapp Dingbat” largely accomplished this and, while it won't make any Best Futurama Episode lists, it was largely satisfying.
This week started in the sewer, as the whole gang goes to the Turanga household for Leela's parents' 40th anniversary. Things quickly go south when Morris and Munda have a fight that gets out of hand (ending in that very Futuramay smash cut from Leela saying “eveything will work out” to a judge declaring the divorce final). Munda goes to live with Leela and they take a trip to the Mos Def Cantina (a scene which, like the sewer party, gave Futurama a chance to have fun with some sci-fi weirdness). Eventually, they run into Zapp Brannigan, who is negotiating a treaty. Shockingly, Zapp makes a faux pas and war seems inevitably when Munda uses her alien translation skills to save the day. Zapp quickly falls in love with her and the two start dating, much to Leela's disgust.
Leela spends much of the episode following them and trying to prove that Zapp's intentions are less than pure but, surprisingly enough, Zapp actually does care about Munda and, after Leela's failed attempt to seduce him to prove her point, they decide to get married. Meanwhile, Morris, feeling down after the divorce, goes to relive his dreams of surfing the greatest sewer waves of the world (and stare down some leprachauns who, after having sewage thrown at them, turn into Lucky Charms).
Eventually, Leela realizes that she's just happy her mom can be happy, so she goes to the wedding. Everything seems like its going to be fine until Zapp and Munda have to go finalize the peace treaty with the Carcarons. It turns out that Zapp is tricking them into signing a declaration of war so that he can destroy them. Munda breaks up with him and tells the Carcarons, who proceed to start shooting at everyone on the ship. However, between Morris' surfing skills, Munda's translation, and Zapp finally saying the right thing, the day is saved.
I thought the ending was a tad predictable, but any episode that can give us this much Zapp Branigan is okay with me. It was a solid spotlight episode for Leela and her parents and, even if it sidelined all of the other characters a little more than I might have liked, it was still a pretty solid half hour.
Sumology: Sex with Zapp. Sex with Zapp. Sex with Zapp. Sex with Zapp. Grade: B-
“Let's look in a different direction”
“Who is it? Mouth mutant?”
“I don't want to put a rat in your face cage, or whatever you kids say these days”
“Kiff, I'm bored. Why don't you go out on the wing and pretend you're a gremlin”
Leela's mom has seen the commemorative painting
I can't be the only disappointed that we didn't get to see more of the comic stylings of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew