Episode Title: "The Six Million Dollar Mon"
Writer: Ken Keeler
Director: Peter Avanzino
One of the joys of "Futurama" is that the supporting members of the Planet Express crew are funny and engaging enough to headline their own stories. In this week's installment, the spotlight turns to Hermes Conrad, who is voiced by the great Phil LaMarr. Things start out fairly conventionally as Hermes begins his dreaded employee reviews with an eye for finally terminating his hated colleague, Dr. Zoidberg (Billy West). Hermes has often shown his annoyance with Zoidberg, but I don't recall his dislike rising to this level in the past. But it was critical to this story, so let's go with it.
Even with the sometimes inept antics of Fry (West) and Bender (John DiMaggio), it's not an easy choice for Hermes. Scruffy the janitor also challenges Hermes to fire him if he dares while amusingly reading a magazine of Amoeba porn. It also has to be said that Hermes is unfailingly honest in his employee appraisals. Thus, when it comes time to cut the dead weight from the company, Hermes fires himself before he is immediately replaced by a machine. Only Zoidberg is sad to see his "friend" leave.
While on a walk with his wife, LaBarbara (Dawnn Lewis), Hermes is accosted by a psychotic robot named Roberto who demands that they hand over their skin. Even though Roberto is quickly subdued and dismantled by the cops, the incident sends Hermes on a self-destructive path of upgrading himself with robot parts. Oh sure, who hasn't wanted a harpoon that comes out of their chest? But Hermes goes on to replace his arms, eyes and nearly every part of his body until he is almost entirely a machine.
The newly useful Hermes quickly regains his position at Planet Express, but his decreasing humanity alienates his wife and son. In the midst of this, Zoidberg states his belief that the constant insults from Hermes are actually a form of affection. And Zoidberg just can't let his friend slip away. When eating Hermes' spice drenched body proves ineffective, Zoidberg takes Hermes' body and turns him into a ventriloquist's dummy with an oddly hilarious act based on the insults that Hermes would normally say to him. Who knew that Zoidberg was a better comedian than a doctor?
Another great moment came when the Professor (West) cackled with glee at the prospect of replacing Hermes' human brain with a robot's brain… which in this case comes from the recently deceased Roberto. However, even the Professor has too much affection for Hermes and his family to go through with it. But not Zoidberg! In the comedic highlight of the episode, Zoidberg not only agrees to perform the operation, he sings a duet with "Little Hermes" based upon the Monster Mash song. I also loved the way that Amy (Lauren Tom) pointed out that Zoidberg was impossibly singing in harmony with himself in the duet.
However, Zoidberg's compliance with Hermes' wishes were simply a ruse to reunite his brain with his human body, making Hermes whole again for his family. Meanwhile, Roberto gains control over Hermes' cyborg body and he eventually melts after eating a slice of Hermes' skin. Reluctantly (and at LaBarbara's insistence), Hermes thanks Zoidberg. But Zoidberg is crushed when Hermes openly states that they have never been friends. That may have been the one really human moment in the episode and the pain on Zoidberg's face was obvious. Earlier in the episode, Zoidberg noted that the cyborg Hermes no longer cared enough to even insult him properly. Because that was the entire basis of their relationship, Zoidberg became worried for him.
It's a little sad that when faced with the truth, Zoidberg clings to the lie he's told himself about their friendship. But at least Zoidberg gets the last laugh when he uses Hermes as his dummy for a final time. The ending could have packed a bigger punch, but Zoidberg's reaction did elevate the episode's resonance.
This was definitely one of the most consistently funny episodes of the current season. It may not have been a home run, but I'll take a solid double from "Futurama" any day of the week.