- " I've never been able to put into words how I feel about you. But somewhere among these trillions of hearts, those words must already exist. And I'm gonna find them."
- ―Fry to Leela
"Love and Rocket" is the 57th episode of Futurama, and the fourth episode of Season 4. It features the guest voices of Sigourney Weaver and Lucy Liu. Much of the material referenced in the episode is drawn from Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The love affair between Bender and the ship's personality is a comedic exploration of machine personhood, an issue raised in the film. The deactivation or killing of the ship's personality actually shares the same complex comedic touch as the film: Kubrick and Clarke had HAL 9000 reduced to pathetically singing "A Bicycle Built for Two" as it died.
Returning from a delivery, Bender is having an argument with the Planet Express Ship over art. When he proceeds to his room, the ship snaps off his head, teasing him, rather annoying Bender. Back at the Planet Express Building, Bender screws back his head on, complaining about the ship. Professor Farnsworth comes in with new uniforms, for Planet Express is planning on contracting Romanticorp, maker of all things romantic. During a tour, Professor Farnsworth uses a shock stick to keep Leela in line. Fry finds candy hearts with messages on them. He becomes determined to find the right words to woo Leela.
Thanks to the contract, the Professor is able to make repairs on the ship that the crew has been suing him about: he taped the cracks in the dark matter reactor, got a cage for the lion and new software for the ship to adjust its voice. Turning it to female, Bender becomes immediately attracted to her. They begin having fun with their circuits until the others find out. Though it is fraternizing with employees, Leela allows it. Soon, Bender grows tired of the ship and begins cheating on her. Unbeknownst to him, while he is taking out two fembots at Elzar's Fine Cuisine, he is spotted by the ship, who become immediately possessive and erratic
The next day, Bender and the Planet Express crew were at the zoo. Bender spots a cute fembot, but the ship gets suspicious, so Bender makes an excuse, which works making the Planet Express ship leave him alone, except it doesn't see Lucy Liu in his compartment.
The crew delivers a shipment of hearts to Omicron Persei 8. The Omicronians become confused with the concept of "wuv" and begin to attack. During the attack, Bender decide to break up with the ship, shattering her mind, bringing them to a complete stop, allowing missiles to impact them.
Luckily, they survive, but the ship's feelings can't be repaired. After getting advice from Leela, the ship irrationally flies near a quasar. With its power of ten billion black holes, it would compress her and Bender into a single quantum singularity. Bender tries pleading with her, pretending to say he loved her but she said if he really loved her, he'd merge his programming with hers. To prevent Fry and Leela from interfering, she shuts off the oxygen and gravity. The organics manage to put on oxygen tanks.
Hiding in a shower, the three come up with a plan to deactivate the ship before she kills them all. Luckily, she can't read lips. Bender had to distract her by merging programs, with the risk of losing his personality if the ship engulfs it, while the others deactivate her brain. Bender merges with the ship, going deep into her motherboard. Inside it, he's portrayed as just his head and the ship is smaller and had a face. He noticed a tube, meaning she is a lot older than she said she was. Bender then "runs" away from the ship.
Meanwhile, Leela slowly attempts to shut down the ship's brain while Fry continued to look for the perfect words. Fry notices Leela's oxygen tank is almost empty but she refuses to listen. So he attaches his tank to hers and falls unconscious. Leela is able to take the ship offline and stop it from plunging into the quasar. But she soon realizes Fry's sacrifice and performed mouth-to-mouth on him. When he awakens, Fry coughs out a candy heart which reads 'U LEAVE ME BREATHLESS'. They find Bender, shaken from his chase, but a bit of the ship's personality has gotten into him. Leela lazily dumps the scattered hearts into the quasar, but, as narrated by Zoidberg: "As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wondrous thing happened, why not. They vaporized into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets, including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one planet was exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays but not be destroyed by them: Earth. So all over the world couples stood together in joy. And me, Zoidberg. And no one could have been happier unless it would have also been Valentine's Day. What? It was? Hooray!".
Injury and Death
- The Planet Express ship "accidentally" decapitates Bender with an automatic door.
- Farnsworth "corrects" Leela with a cattle prod.
- Romanticorp grows live cuddly bears and then slaughters them for use as teddy bears.
- Farnsworth incapacitates a fleeing cuddly bear with a cattle prod.
- Bender slaps Fry in the face when he catches Fry washing the underside of the Planet Express ship, which is having an affair with Bender.
- Planet Express ship is smacked in the face by an asteroid.
- Planet Express ship is hit by many Omicronian missiles and looks rather banged-up, but Leela says that there is no permanent damage.
- Planet Express ship knocks Leela across the room with a firehose.
- Bender, Fry, and Leela are thrown against the ceiling when the gravity is turned off.
- Fry appears to have asphyxiated after giving his oxygen supply to Leela, but she revives him.
- Zoidberg's narrative of the results of candies being poured into a black hole recounts the destruction of numerous inhabited worlds.
Fry and Leela
Farnsworth insinuates that Leela is a "bitter husk of a human being who long ago abandoned hope of finding love in this lifetime." She accepts his insinuation. This is despite the fact that throughout the series Leela is shown to be beautiful, intelligent and has men falling for her pretty often.
So far in the series, Fry has had the occasional fit of emotion toward Leela. Most of these fits have related to her beauty and/or loneliness, at times showing genuine feelings for her. There are no surprises this time around. His motivation throughout the episode is to find a way to express his "true" feelings for Leela, feelings that have suddenly and coincidentally appeared on Valentine's Day.
Fry latches onto the idea that he can find a perfect way to express his feelings by digging through the candy-hearts for the right message. He doesn't seem to notice Leela's advice, "I'm not attracted to a guy's message, Fry. I'm attracted to the guy." She makes her current feelings for Fry clear by adding under her breath, "Or not."
As if Leela's feelings for Fry weren't clear enough, there is reinforcement. Leela is somewhat scandalized at Bender's affair with the ship. But on reflection she concedes, "given the chance, I'd give in to urges far more shocking." So she would give in to shocking urges, but not give in to Fry's advances. Fry is clearly far down on her list.
Finding Fry unconscious, Leela seems touched, mostly by the fact that Fry was willing to sacrifice his life to save hers, but also in part by the aptness of the message inscribed on the candy that Fry coughs up when she resuscitates him: "U leave me breathless." The phenomenon created by dumping the candies into the black hole warms Leela up enough to hold hands with Fry briefly, until Zoidberg interrupts them.
- The Planet Express ship takes on a new, girly, flirty personality when Farnsworth adjusts its voice. Bender is instantly attracted to it, never mind that it was a male five seconds earlier.
- After a brief merging of software with the ship, Bender is left with some vestige of Planet Express ship's personality.
- James Gilbert. "Auteur with a Capital A," in Robert Kolker, ed. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, New Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2006), p. 37. ISBN978-0195174533.