Episode Title: "Fun on a Bun"
Writer: Dan Vebber
Director: Stephen Sandoval
There's a moment in "Fun on a Bun" when Leela (Katey Sagal) breaks up with Fry (Billy West) for the umpteenth time… and Fry excitedly mentions that he hadn't realized they were dating before sinking into a depression about the latest downward spiral in their relationship. That's kind of how it goes for "Futurama." Some weeks, the writers play up the Fry and Leela angle and other weeks, it's barely there even as a joke.
"Fun on a Bun" actually gave us one of the more epic Fry and Leela kisses and a great look at what they mean to each other. This isn't the first time that Leela's had to bury Fry on this show. In fact, I think it might be the third or fourth time if we're counting the alternate Fry named Lars.
It all started at Oktoberfest; which in the future is simply an elegant and dignified gathering to celebrate fine German foods and beers… as opposed to an excuse to get drunk and have fun. Modern day humans won't even swallow their beers, leading Fry to drink from their spittoons in order to get buzzed. After a few minutes of Fry humiliating his friends with boorish behavior and the chicken dance, Leela dumps him again.
Before long, Fry is feared dead when he accompanies Bender (John DiMaggio) on an ill-advised attempt to dig up a mammoth to make gourmet hot dogs… and Fry falls into the meat grinder. To make matters worse, Leela believes that she accidentally ate her beloved Fry when his hair and clothing show up in her hot dog. Unable to take the guilt, Leela has her memories of Fry suppressed, leaving her with no conscious reminder of what she lost. Honestly, I was surprised that it took this long for "Futurama" to do a riff on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And the name of the store was classic: "Annie’s Forgettery."
Leela's ordeal felt like a good reminder that she really does love Fry, even for his least desirable traits. Nor can the Planet Express crew hide their sorrow over losing Fry when Leela comes back refreshed after getting her mind wiped. The crew even goes to some very amusing lengths to avoid words that have "fry" in them to prevent Leela from reliving her pain.
But of course Fry isn't really dead. Instead, he manages to escape certain death in the meat grinder only to end up naked and encased in ice before he is found by a group of living Neanderthals who accept him as one of their own. Stricken with amnesia and a protruding forehead, Fry feels a kinship with the Neanderthals because he too vaguely remembers being sad with people refusing to mate with him, just as humanity rejected the Neanderthals thousands of years ago.
Neanderthal Fry turns out to be leadership material, as he takes a makeshift Neanderthal army and marches them out of the ice to conquer Oktoberfest and humanity. The battle between humans and Neanderthals featured a lot of fun bits like Zapp Brannigan's mauling at the claws of a saber-toothed tiger, Hermes' drawn out encounter with a giant sloth and Bender's successful attempts to get first prize in the hot dog competition by making sure his higher ranking competitors met their ends during the battle.
However, it all comes down to a fight between Leela and Neanderthal Fry in which they recognize each other's hair as a color that made them both sad and happy. That led to the previously mentioned epic kiss between them that was almost too good for this episode. A moment like that would have been unforgettable in one of the series' more emotional outings. But it still manages a "Wow" in this one and it brings both Fry and Leela back to their natural states. Even the Neanderthals take the kiss as a sign that humans are no longer adverse to interbreeding with them. And suddenly, all was right in Germany. To signify their rekindled status as a couple, Fry invites Leela to do the chicken dance by herself… and she does!
While "Fun on a Bun" wasn't quite as funny as last week's "The Six Million Dollar Mon," the heart of this episode was definitely in the right place. Everything between Fry and Leela was effective, especially their separation and eventual reunion. It's hard to ask for more than that.