- "Choke on that, causality!"
- ―Hubert J. Farnsworth on time travel in general.
Roswell that Ends Well is the 51st episode of Futurama. This episode won the 2002 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour), winning the show its first Emmy.
The crew is sent back to the year 1947 when Fry puts metal in the ship's microwave while the rest of the crew is watching a supernova explosion. The resultant reaction causes the ship to vanish into a tunnеl, where they pick up a number of clocks before exiting out a portal. Confused, the crew decides to head back to Earth, only to find no space traffic. Worse, there is no receiving signal, so they crash land in Roswell, New Mexico, causing an unsecured Bender to be thrown through the forward viewport and fly to pieces. While everyone else, including Bender's head, heads back to the ship, Zoidberg is left picking up the pieces. However, at night he is found by the United States military. The next day, the crew realizes that the famous crashed UFO that brought Roswell, Area 51, and the related conspiracy theory into popular culture was in fact them. The Professor then explains that the microwave's radiation and the gravitons and graviolois from the supernova blasted them through time itself.
The U.S. military captures Dr. Zoidberg, who was gathering up pieces of Bender's body, and takes him and Bender's body to Roswell Airbase to conduct various experiments, including an Alien autopsy and 'UFO reconstruction'. President Harry S. Truman also arrives to interrogate Zoidberg on whether he comes in peace, is staging an invasion or creating a hybrid, but Zoidberg's people skills have him vivisected. "No one is to know about this except the senior officers, scientists and a single nutcase reporter no one will believe."
While the crew looks for another microwave, which can't be purchased at Sears in 1947 Roswell, Fry and Bender's head infiltrate the army base. Philip I then encounters his grandfather, Enos Fry, who is stationed at the base. As Professor Farnsworth had previously warned Philip I about causality and the fact that if his grandfather dies, then he will never exist, Philip I becomes obsessed with protecting Enos from any possible harm. However, his fear and paranoia result in him overreacting to minor threats and putting Enos in far more danger than he would have been otherwise. He is even more alarmed when Enos exhibits signs of latent homosexuality, making it look unlikely that he will actually father Philip I's father Yancy Sr. Inadvertently, Philip I brings about Enos's death, by leaving him in a "safe" house on a nuclear weapon test range.
Leela notices that there is a microwave dish at the Roswell Airbase and suggests that they steal it, but the Professor says that they can't screw up the past in any way. Philip I then turns up to inform everyone that he killed Enos. Leela points out that if Enos is dead, then why is he (or given their kinship, Hubert as well) still in existence, a question that Philip I can't figure out. He then consoles his would-be grandmother Mildred, who at the time was engaged to his grandfather. She asks him to walk her home. Once there Mildred mourns the death of Enos, however, she hugs Philip I and soon comes onto him making him nervous. He tries to talk her out of sex by asking her to bake him sugar cookies but Mildred rips open her dress and asks lustfully, "How about theses cookies sugar?!" (flashing her bra covered breasts to seduce him.) Though disgusted at the thought of incest, Philip I begins to deduce that since he is alive, the man who died in the nuclear blast could not have been his grandfather. This leads him to believe that Mildred could not be his grandmother. Before he can finish his thoughts, Mildred passionately kisses him and the two have sexual relations on the couch and later the bedroom. The next morning, Philip I and Mildred are asleep in bed and are discovered by his disgusted crewmates. With the prompting of Hubert, Philip I learns (to his horror) that Mildred is indeed his grandmother, due to the fact that she now looks and acts like an old lady. Philip I actually became his own grandfather and is now the father of his own father Yancy Fry, Sr., making him freak out (though this saves Philip I and Hubert and keeps them in existence).
Ultimately, Hubert gets fed up with causality and decides to steal the dish anyway. They attack the base with the ship, outclassing the 1940s tanks with their superior weapons. Fry and Leela rescue Dr. Zoidberg, with the latter beating up the men performing the vivisection and Fry throwing Zoidberg's organs at Truman. The Professor picks up Bender's body (incorrectly reassembled into a tiny UFO) which was due to be sent to Area 51 for study: since this was where the fake Moon landing was to be filmed, Truman has ordered NASA invented to land on the Moon for real. But as they prepare to travel back to the future, Bender's head accidentally falls out of the Planet Express ship before they enter the time warp and is left behind in the year 1947. Back in the 31st century, Zoidberg has all but one non-essential organs in him. Fry laments about the loss of Bender, but then hits on a brainwave and the Planet Express crew finds him in the approximate physical location of the Roswell Airbase around the Roswell desert in the 31st century and re-attaches him to his floating 'UFO' body. The crew is content that their misadventures did not upset history, figuring if history doesn't care about what Fry did, neither should they. They then walk off into the sunset.
This is the first episode that involves backward time-travel. The first episode involving time-travel was "Anthology of Interest I", but that was "fictional" time-travel narrated by the "What If" machine. The first episode involving "real" time-travel was "Time Keeps on Slippin'", but the chronotons caused time to jump forward only. Here the Planet Express crew discover that they themselves are the reason for the alien conspiracies surrounding Area 51 in the western United States, while Philip I in particular becomes his own grandfather.
An unexplained time-anomaly occurs in this episode. When Philip I has sex with Mildred, she is young. But the next time we see her she is an old woman. So in the span of just a few hours she has aged by many decades while everyone else seems to have aged normally. This may however simply be Philip I's own mind playing tricks on him once he realises that he has just had sex with his own grandmother and his remembering what she was like when he knew her. Either way the only response his crew mates make is one of disgust at the incestuous coupling that has just happened.
Fry and Leela
Philip I has a one-night stand with his grandmother Mildred. Leela doesn't seem jealous at all. Disgusted by the sight of incest, but not jealous. There has been no sign of feelings between Fry and Leela for a couple of episodes now.
Death, near-death, mutilation
- Bender flies through the windscreen when the Planet Express ship crash-lands on Earth. He is thrown an incredible distance from the ship and is thoroughly dismembered when he himself crashes. However, his individual parts still function, as his arm steals the wallet of a crash-site investigator and his head nonchalantly accompanies Fry throughout the remainder of the episode. A newspaper photo shows that Bender's shiny, metal arse has suffered no damage.
- As Hubert explains, the time-travel event "tore the universe a new space-hole".
- While shopping for a microwave at Sears Roebuck, Leela assaults a salesman who makes condescending remarks about women. She also sets the Professor's tie on fire with a stove burner.
- Philip I tackles Enos, knocking him onto a pile of rusty bayonets.
- Philip I leads Enos into a firing range which was formerly a minefield, where the two dodge a number of explosions.
- Enos eats Bender's brain.
- Enos cuts up the inside of his mouth by eating Bender's brain.
- Enos is killed in an atomic blast.
- Area 51 surgeons perform vivisection on Zoidberg.
- Leela beats up Zoidberg's two surgeons and President Truman.
- The Planet Express shipping attacks Roswell Air Base, which doubtless injures and kills a number of those stationed there.
- Bender's head falls out of the Planet Express ship as the ship rockets away from Earth.
- Zoidberg feigns death to prank Leela.
- Leela hits Bender in the head with a shovel.
In becoming his own grandfather, Philip I causes himself to have a genetic abnormality that results in him lacking a "delta brain wave". This is explained by Ken the Nibblonian in "The Why of Fry". Philip I's disorder allows him to save Earth in "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" by making him immune to the mental attacks of the Brain Spawn, to save the entire universe in The Why of Fry by making him invisible to the Brain Spawn and to save all life in "Into the Wild Green Yonder" by making his mind unreadable by the Dark Ones.