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|Season 6 episode|
Broadcast season 8 episode
|Written by||Dan Vebber|
|Directed by||Dwayne Carey-Hill|
|Title caption||FEATURING SPARKY, THE INVISIBLE ELF|
|First air date||4 August, 2011|
|Title reference||Moby-Dick and Möbius strips|
"Möbius Dick" is the one hundred and third episode of Futurama, the fifteenth of the sixth production season and the eighth of the eighth broadcast season. It aired on 4 August, 2011, on Comedy Central. Leela becomes obsessed with hunting down a mysterious four-dimensional space whale.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Reception
- 4 Additional Info
- 5 References
Act I: "I remember it like it was interesting."
Farnsworth is mourning the loss, exactly 50 years ago, of his first Planet Express crew. To commemorate the anniversary, Farnsworth sends the current crew to pick up a memorial and fly it back to Earth. When they arrive at the planet where the monument is being made, Leela notices a spelling error and orders the monument to be remade – meaning they will not arrive in time for the memorial, unless they fly through the Burmuda Tetraheadron, which is thought to have killed all ships that have traveled into it before. There, among other wrecks, they find the first Planet Express ship. While the crew inspect the wreck, a giant killer space whale emerges from the fourth dimension to chomp on it.
Act II: "Oh, and there was also a giant killer space whale."
Once back on their ship the Planet Express crew is once again attacked by the killer space whale which eats one of their engines. Leela states that her only mission is to deliver the monument to Earth. The whale eats the monument and Leela says they now must avenge the loss of that monument and kill the whale, which she refers to as Mobius Dick.
Leela orders that the solar sails be raised, and the ship is generally transformed into the style of a 19th century whaler, complete with a barrel of grog, swabbing the decks, and navigation with old-style charts and compasses. Bender watches for the whale from a crow's nest.
When the whale reappears, Leela asks who knows how to handle a harpoon and Amy replies. She harpoons the whale and it doesn't die but pulls the crew into the fourth dimension were they all see into time in a different way. They emerge into a field of "spacebergs"; upon learning they are diamonds, Bender goes to the crow's nest to try to gather some, but is hit by one, breaking his head off and knocking the rest of him away from the ship. Leela refuses to rescue him, provoking the others to mutiny. They cut the harpoon rope and save Bender. The whale returns and bites off the nose of the ship, containing Fry, Bender, Hermes and Amy. Leela, who is now clearly insane (and has fortunately put on a space helmet), attacks the whale with a cheese knife and is also swallowed. Zoidberg, once again, escapes to Earth in a pod.
Act III: "Enough of your mad obsession with Bender, Fry! We've got to murder that whale or die trying."
Except for Leela, the crew are swept into the whale's looping intestines. Leela meets Landow Tucker, captain of the first Planet Express crew; he explains that the whale feeds on the obsession of ship captains, and having mostly consumed him it needs to absorb a new food source, Leela.
Back on Earth, the crews' families – Leela's and Amy's parents, Landow's and Hermes's wives and sons – gather for the memorial ceremony. The whale appears in the sky and crashes into the Planet Express hangar, and Leela walks out of its mouth, explaining that her obsession enabled her to steer the whale through space and time. The whale then disgorges the monument and the crews, all of whom (except Landow) have been frozen in time by the whale's looping hyperspatial digestive system.
After the loved ones greet each other, everyone agrees to kill the whale. Candy, of the first crew, invites Zoidberg to resume an interrupted flirtation; in reply he combs his new hair in a duck-tail and imitates Fonzie.
During June 2011, Countdown to Futurama released three items of promotional material for the episode: concept art of the Planet Express ship with sails on 1 June, part of the storyboard showing Zoidberg crash in the ship's escape pod on 2 June, and a video clip of the Planet Express crew hunting the whale down on 18 June.
In the original U.S. broadcast on 4 August, 2011, "Möbius Dick" scored a 0.8 among adults aged 18-49 and 1.459 million viewers, with total viewers down about 34,000 viewers from the previous week. 
- The episode was for some time thought to be the broadcast season's second episode, but the announcement that "Benderama" would air on 23 June in its place proved otherwise.
- This episode is among the Futurama media featuring its title within the story.
- Maurice LaMarche does not voice any characters and, for the first time, was left out of the end credits.
- This is the first episode where Dr. John A. Zoidberg is addressed informally as "Johnny", which is due to the respect for and liking of him that Professor Farnsworth had at the time.
- Only Hermes' speech is actually reversed while in the fourth dimension. Amy's statement can be interpreted as a series of letters ("G I C C G I") and her "reversed" audio is just her saying the letters in reverse order ("I G C C I G"), with the last three letters spoken backwards ("ees I eej"). Fry's speech is just a palindrome which should sound roughly the same in reverse (it doesn't), but his reversed speech is just the same audio clip.
- When Bender is told that the spacebergs are giant diamonds, his pupils momentarily become diamond (lozenge) shaped.
- Leela's psychic powers are the usage of mind control, telepathy and telekinesis.
- The title and the overall plot are a parody of the Herman Melville-penned novel Moby-Dick, which was previously referenced in "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" and less critically in "Bendin' in the Wind" with the "Mobil Dick" whale oil. The title is a pun, combining Moby Dick and the Möbius strip.
- Captain Lando Tucker's name could refer to Lando Calrissian from Star Wars and Commander Charles Tucker III from Star Trek: Enterprise.
- The Bermuda tetrahedron is a reference to the real-life Bermuda Triangle, a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Its appearance is an allusion to the Route of Ages, an interdimensional portal from the show Andromeda, which was a tesseract (4D cube).
- The members of Professor Farnsworth's first crew are all blatant equivalents to his current crew. Lando Tucker was not only the crew's captain, but also has the same initials as Turanga Leela ignoring mutant naming conventions. Lifter is a robot whose name is its primary function. Candy, while she is female, is a type of comfort food, just as French Fries are.
- On the planet Xenotaph 3, one of the sculptures is of an open pod from Alien, and another appears to refer to the movie 300.
- The name of star system Xenotaph is a combination of "xenos" (Greek for "alien" or "stranger") and "cenotaph" (Greek for "empty tomb", a tomb or grave-like monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere). Actually, you can translate Xenotaph as "alien's tomb".
- The path Leela charts around the Bermuda Tetrahedon looks similar to the Greek letter omega (Ω), which has many uses in science and mathematics.
- Henson Tickle Me Elmo's fire parodies St. Elmo's fire, an electrical weather phenomenon, and the Tickle Me Elmo doll based on the Sesame Street character. As a space phenomena, Tickle Me Elmo's fire is a separate concept from St. Elmo's fire.
- When Leela calls the crew "you space dogs", she is referring both to the expression "you dog", and to the Soviet space dogs of the 1950s and 1960s. It could also be the space version of the sailing expression "You sea dogs!"
- When the crew spots the original Planet Express ship, Amy speculates that it may have been "flavor blasted". This is a reference to Pepperidge Farm, which has a line of "Flavor Blasted" Goldfish Snack Crackers.
- When the current crew explores the old ship, multiple allusions are made to the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked".
- The state of the old Planet Express ship, completely deserted but with food still set at a table, is a reference to the real-life "ghost ship" the Mary Celeste.
- When the space whale exhales, its steam is in the form of a fractal generated by an iterated function system.
- When the ship enters the 4th dimension, they see visual effects similar to those used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Emerging from the 4th dimension, Bender says, "That was the greatest uncountably infinite bunch of guys I ever met." This refers to set theory, describing any set whose elements cannot be enumerated like the integers which are countably infinite.
- Fry describes their predicament as "like that Bible guy who got swallowed by a whale... Pinocchio!". This refers to both the Biblical figure Jonah, who was swallowed by a beast sometimes described as a whale (Hebrew dag gadol, great fish), and the Disney version of Pinocchio, in which the title character is swallowed by the whale Monstro.
- The idea of solar sails is a real concept.
- When Amy, Fry and Bender get sucked into the space whale's infinity-shaped digestive tract they are facing Leela, but moments later when Leela bangs on the tract herself, they are inverted, facing away from her. This may be to demonstrate the non-orientability of the Möbius strip. When you trace around it, you come back to the same point but on the opposite side. Later Professor Farnsworth says that the whale has a Möbius colon.
- Captain Lando Tucker melded with whale's flesh might be a reference to the second and third films in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, where several crew members are shown united with the ship Flying Dutchman.
- Mourning her daughter Amy, Inez Wong remarks, "My days of joy and luck are over. Guess I gotta quit that club." This is a reference to Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club; Inez's voice actress Lauren Tom appeared in the film version.
- The Fourth Doctor from the British television science fiction series Doctor Who can be seen, amongst others, emerging from the body of the four-dimensional space whale.
- The sequence where the people exit the space whale's mouth is similar to the scene where the abductees leave the alien ship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as well as the way Leela exits while spreading her arms emulates the tall alien from that film. The Professor even says "they haven't aged", a line said by a scientist during that sequence.
- Earlier, when the crew discovered the whale's four-dimensional bowels, Amy said the line "Einstein was right", which was also spoken in the CEotTK scene.
- Leela calls Amy Sailor Moon at one point.
- When Leela attacks the space whale, she uses her Oxo Good Grips Cheese Knife, a reference to OXO brand kitchen utensils known for their ergonomics and silicone-rubber grips.
- At the end of the episode, when Candy asks "Johnny" if they will pick up where they left off, Zoidberg combs his hair back and says "Ay," the popular catchphrase and a mannersim of the Fonz, a character on the 1970s sitcom Happy Days.
- The way the whale feeds off of the obsessed characters is similar to the digestive process of the Sarlacc, from Star Wars. In the expanded universe, it's even shown that the Sarlacc melds with the minds of its victims, similar to how the whale does with Leela and Tucker.
Space ship graveyard
A number of spaceships, vehicles, and objects are identifiable in the Bermuda Tetrahedron.
- Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey
- A black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Oceanic Flight 815 from Lost
- The spaceship used on album covers for the rock group Electric Light Orchestra
- An Omicronian mothership or the Hubble Telescope as seen in "When Aliens Attack"
- The Satellite of Love from Mystery Science Theater 3000
- The spaceship from Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
- The Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space
- Stereotypical UFO
- Garmin GPS satellite
- TomTom GPS satellite
- First Planet Express ship
- An Apollo Command/Service Module labelled "Apollo 100"
- An Apollo Lunar Module
- The scarab beetle spaceship used on album covers for the band Journey
- The Skylab space station
- The guitar spaceship used on album covers for the band Boston
- Reimaginings of the Ur-Quan Masters ships, from the science-fiction video game Star Control II
- Fry stated that he knew Professor Farnsworth had other crews, but not that there was a first one. Fry was aware of the previous crew that died on duty since "Space Pilot 3000", as well as having met Captain Musky and seeing a previous ship's wreckage in the hive of Space Bees.
- Leela's obsession with killing the whale greatly contradicts the intense pro-animal stance she has in the rest of the series.
- Nevertheless, this hasn't hindered her actions against non-Human creatures in the past, like the Muck-leech or when they went fishing.
- Leela established her harpooning expertise in "The Deep South". Despite this she asks who can harpoon the whale and Amy volunteers.
- Then again, Leela was only capable of harpooning boots.
- When the Planet Express ship has sails, it looks similar to the model ship that Dean Vernon was working on during "Mars University".
- Leela's parents are shown on the surface without any trouble, confirming their freedom in "The Mutants Are Revolting".
- Dr. Zoidberg is shown to have been working at Planet Express since at least 2961, but it was established in "Insane in the Mainframe" that he began work in at Planet Express during 2992. This may be the new precedent.
- Zoidberg is drawn with teeth during the Professor's flashback.
- This may be a reference to Zoidberg having teeth in the early episodes. Perhaps he used to have them and lost them due to dental problems?
- During Farnsworth's flashback, before the rocket takes off, a hand with five fingers and nails turns the knobs.
- When the whale is harpooned, the scar-like marking on its eye disappears and while the whale is pulling the ship.
- When the crew returns from the 4th Dimension, Bender actually falls to the back of the ship first. The order Bender-Amy-Fry-Hermes-Leela-and then Bender again. You can see his arm for a moment behind Amy's, and then it disappears and he falls again moments later.
- Bender's "arm" is actually the elbow pad on Amy's suit.
- To further this goof, when they get up Leela is actually on the top of the crew pile.
- When the whale bites a hole into the planet express ship, Leela should have been blown out into space due to a decompression explosion.
- Maybe not blown out, since it is not a small hole, the ship is basically torn in two. The air is pushed out over a large area, leading to a less violent explosion. Still, she doesn't appear to be affected at all, which looks wrong.
- Leela would also have been harmed by being in the vacuum in the ship, in space, and then in the whale's body without a spacesuit.
- When the crew is trying to get back to the more modern planet express ship, you will see them moving without the aid of the rope, because they were in space, the swimming action they were using would not work due to the vacuum of space there would be a net movement of zero, because as they pushed their hands to move forward, when they moved them back into their original position to repeat the step the would have simply moved backwards into their original position.
- The swimming action would not work, but it doesn't appear to work. They would continue moving by inertia at the initial speed they achieved by pushing against the old ship, exactly as they appear to be in the animation. It looks more like a joke, since the characters are doing something useless which is shown to be useless at it should be.
- Before entering the 4th dimension, Amy is wearing her ion suit, however she is seen wearing her pink track suit while in the 4th dimension and afterwards.
- Before the whale eats the front of the ship, Leela does not have yellow gloves on, however when she jumps out, she suddenly does. She is seen jumping from the ship without gloves to floating in space with them.
- When the whale eats the ship, Leela should have died from being in a vacuum without anything on other than a space helmet.
- Not necessarily, a human body should be able to withstand brief exposure to space. One atmosphere pressure difference and the amount of heat the body radiates in vacuum would not be lethal in the amount of time Leela was exposed. Contrary to popular belief, people do not instantly freeze in space nor do they implode due to the pressure difference.
- Professor Farnsworth complains that the grieving relatives will ask for a refund without the stone monument. The monument is actually made of ivory.
- This could be due to the Professors senility.
- Kif does not appear at the memorial despite being Amy's Fonfon ru.
- Kif may have been too far away from Earth in the Nimbus to get back in time on short notice. Keep in mind that the memorial service was a set date for the first crew and not changed even though the Professor added the current crew to the service. Leela had to go through the Bermuda tetrahedron, not around it, just to try to make it back on time due to the delay of the carvers remaking the monument. Additionally Leela says she had to fly the space whale through space and time in order to arrive at the service on time.
- Albert Einstein (mentioned in speech only)
- Debut: Amelia Earhart
- Dr. Amy Wong
- Bender Bending Rodríguez
- Debut: Candy
- Debut: Charlie
- Dwight Conrad
- Emperor Grog
- Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth
- Debut: Möbius Dick
- Debut: The Fourth Doctor
- Philip J. Fry
- Hermes Conrad
- Inez Wong
- LaBarbara Conrad
- Debut: Lando Tucker
- Debut: Lando Tucker, Jr.
- Turanga Leela
- Leo Wong
- Debut: Lifter
- Debut: Mrs. Tucker
- The paper-hatted salesman
- Debut: Sparky, the invisible elf
- Turanga Morris
- Turanga Munda
- Dr. John A. Zoidberg
- ^ Seidman, Robert (05 August 2011). "Thursday Cable Ratings: 'Jersey Shore' Dominates + 'Burn Notice,' 'Suits,' 'Project Runway,' 'Wilfred,' 'Futurama,' 'Louie' & More". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved on 06 August 2011.
- ^ reed (03 May 2011). "How many Benders is too many?". CGEF. Retrieved on 04 May 2011.