The more things change, the more things stay the same. Futurama season 11 episode 7, “Rage Against the Vaccine,” was written by Cody Ziglar and directed by Edmund Fong.
In New New York City’s Central Park, Mayor C. Randall Poopenmeyer (David Herman) hosts “Back-to-Normal Fest
2021 2547 3023.” The event celebrates Earth’s successful triumph of COVID-19, which has finally been achieved in 3023.
However, the television broadcast of the event is interrupted by a Channel √2 News Special Report. Linda (Tress MacNeille) and Morbo (Maurice LaMarche) report that a new virus, “Explovid-23,” has broken out among NNYC’s sewer mutant population. Symptoms include blinding uncontrollable rage and a mild cough. Police are enforcing a travel ban for the sewers. Philip J. Fry (Billy West), Hubert Farnsworth (West), Doctor Zoidberg (West), Amy Wong (Lauren Tom), and Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio) watch the broadcast in the Planet Express building break room.
They’re joined by Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal), who emerges from a manhole in the break room and says goodbye to her parents Turanga Munda (MacNeille) and Turanga Morris (Herman). Both are surly and have a cough. Everyone else in the break room scoots away from Leela. Then Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) enters the room carrying a package and tells them they’ve got a delivery.
“Rage Against the Vaccine”
The PlanEx ship lands near Poopenmeyer’s event in Central Park. It’s revealed that the box contains Bill Nye the Science Head (Bill Nye). The PlanEx crew delivers him so he can recieve NNYC’s highest honor, the key to the Times Square liquor cabinet. Leela coughs as she deposits him on the podium.
Nye thanks the people of NNYC for the tremendously dubious honor. He says that after what seems like a thousand years of COVID (but which Bender points out was actually more), Nye officially declares the pandemic to be over. But then everyone on the stage begins coughing and becomes surly. Soon everyone in the crowd is fistfighting, even Father Changstein El-Gamal.
Back at the PlanEx offices, a New New York Post headline declares, “Sewer Flu Spreading Rapidly: Anger All the Rage.” Amy points her toe at Leela to avoid pointing a finger at her. Farnsworth arrives with a new test to determine who has the virus. He demonstrates by shoving the Q-tip way up his nose to collect a brain matter sample. Zoidberg says he can’t wait to do the same thing hundreds of times. Then a line appears on the Q-tip to show whether the subject is infected.
Everyone’s test comes back negative except Leela’s. Leela is quarantined in the Angry Dome.
Stop the Spread
At the White House, President Richard M. Nixon’s Head (West) issues an “executive aroo” requiring everyone to wear a mask over their ears to prevent the spread of angry remarks. Scoop Chang attempts to ask a clarifying question, but since Nixon can’t hear him, he concludes the conference.
Elsewhere, Hermes announces the PlanEx crew will be working remotely. They communicate via a new app called “Gloom.” Hermes says it will be better for those of them with families. However an undressed Dwight soon Gloom-bombs Hermes, only to be plucked away by LaBarbara Conrad (Dawnn Lewis). Zoidberg’s connection is terrible. Bender won’t stop eating Silicorn snacks. This angers Leela, who punches him through the screen. Amy intentionally changes her hair using the filter. Farnsworth accidentally turns on a Lovey Bear filter.
Then they’re interrupted by Hattie McDoogal (MacNeille), who asks if this is a Gloom room where she can refill her prescriptions. Farnsworth demands everyone return to the office in person. Hermes protests that it’s a violation of health and safety standards. Farnsworth says everything they do is a violation, just wear a mask.
Soon the PlanEx crew (minus Leela) gather around the conference table in person. No two crew members are wearing their masks the same way. Hermes states they need to practice hygiene theater. Fry uses Sandwich Bleach (“Not for Use on Rye”). Scruffy wipes up his loogie with his sleeve. Amy suggests the virus could be a hoax. Hermes says they need to look at the facts. He concludes Explovid-23 carries all of the classic symptoms of zombieism.
Farnsworth calls Hermes’ theories unscientific. He continues that Explovid-23 victims move too quickly to be zombies. But Hermes counters that there are zombies of all speeds out there. He says, “The cure is always the same: voodoo.” Farnsworth says people stopped believing in voodoo in Fry’s time. But Hermes says voodoo gets results, whether you believe in it or not. Everyone else dismisses Hermes, pointing and laughing at him. “And yet there are zombies,” seethes Hermes as he exits.
At the Conrad home, LaBarbara and Dwight cook together. Hermes enters and informs LaBarbara they’re going to New New Orleans. LaBarbara asks if they’re attending Mardi Gras. While Mardi Gras is currently underway, Hermes says the trip is to find people who practice voodoo. LaBarbara gasps and sends Dwight to his room. She tells Hermes he’s messing with powers he doesn’t understand, but which she does. LaBarbara says she “grew up in a voodoo family, and zombieism killed [her] father… and then brought him back to life.” She doesn’t want anything to do with that world. Hermes resolves to go alone. LaBarbara makes him promise to bring her back some beignets.
Soon, Hermes is waiting in line at NNYC’s Grand Cylindrical Station. After passing through a TSA check conducted by Officer Smitty, he is directed to his seat by Tube Attendant Randy (DiMaggio). Hermes takes a seat in “Business” rather than “Fighting,” sitting down beside Petunia (MacNeille), who offers him a swig of hand sanitizer before drinking it all herself.
Randy asks Space Karen not to cram her husband into the overhead bin. She becomes confrontational and begins recording Randy with her eyePhone. Soon the majority of the passengers are arguing and recording each other with each of their respective eyePhones.
At Citihall in NNYC, Poopenmeyer holds a press conference. Also present on the stage is the mayor’s secretary and Chaz, the mayor’s aide (see: season 4’s “The Why of Fry”). Motivated by his low poll numbers, Poopenmeyer announces Farnsworth has created a vaccine for Explovid-23. Farnsworth takes the podium and explains his cutting-edge RNA technology makes his vaccine as potent as it is untested.
However, that’s when Ogden Wernstrom (Herman) arrives with his own “essentially identical vaccine” and declares it far superior. Wernstrom brags his carries a two-shot regimen, but Farnsworth counters that his is three. Farnsworth’s makes your shoulder sore for a month. Wernstrom’s vaccine causes it to shrivel and fall off. Farnworth says his vaccine comes with a futuristic way to tell who has and hasn’t been vaccinated: “a small scrap of easily lost paper.” The wind blows the scrap from Farnsworth’s fingers.
Back at the PlanEx building, Fry approaches the Angry Dome to bring Leela her favorite meal: chicken-shaped steak. He communicates with her via a screen labeled “Mad TV.” Leela is overly critical but Fry says that’s just the virus. He asks her about the cream pie, and she throws it in his face using the same tech that allowed her to punch Bender over Gloom.
Back at Citihall, Chang questions Wernstrom about reports that his vaccine causes magnetism. Wernstrom states this is a feature, not a bug. He sticks a spoon to his nose and impresses the crowd. Linda asks Wernstrom about reports his vaccine causes sterility. Wernstrom says this is essential, as children make people angrier than anything else.
Next comes Dr. Banjo (Herman) of The Dr. Banjo Experience Podcast Experience Hour. Banjo asks how Farnsworth responds to rumors Banjo is starting that there are 5G chips in Farnsworth’s vaccine. Farnsworth says the chips are safe and “purely for surveillance purposes.” The journalists are aghast. Farnsworth says the chips track the virus particles so the space lasers can shoot them. Wernstrom says to keep Farnsworth’s “quackery” away from him. However, his magnetism causes every needle in Farnsworth’s suitcase to stick Wernstrom in the forehead.
Meanwhile, the tube carrying Hermes arrives in NoNola (“Birthplace of Jazzabetes”). The passengers aboard continue to fight. This eventually causes the tube crash in the midst of a Mardi Gras parade, which features a float carrying Gumbo Tron, a gumbo-flinging robot who is shaped like a giant prawn. Hermes has injured his legs but pushes through the pain for gumbo.
Later, Hermes wades through the vomit at the corner of Bourbon Street and Diet Coke Avenue. He arrives at Madame Robeaux’s Voodoo Shop. Inside, he approaches Magda the Automatic Fortune Teller Robot (MacNeille). Hermes asks her if this is Voodoo HQ. He offers her a quarter in exchange for information. Magda consults the tarot. She offers Hermes several paths: “The Key of Bones,” “The Hanging Man,” “The Man Being Crushed by a Big Beignet,” and “The Man Being Beaten by The Saints Mascot.”
The Hanging Man
Hermes asks Magda what’s in the pot under the hanging guy. She answers that it’s boiling gumbo. Hermes says he’ll start with the gumbo. At Elzar’s NoNola, Hermes accepts a blast from a spice weasel held by Elzar (DiMaggio). Hermes breathes fire as he declares it “kind of mild.” He resolves to try “The Key of Bones” instead.
Back in NNYC, Farnsworth throws unused vaccine in the trash and says the pandemic could be over if people would take his vaccine. He asks why everyone but him is so stupid. Amy says its because everyone but him uses social media. She shows him a video of Banjo monologuing about the “vaccine fascists” who are “taking away our freedom.” In the next video, Judge Ron Whitey (West) sits in a golf cart and claims the masks are destroying his lungs as he deeply smokes a cigarette. Amy says all the misinformation on Facebag is tearing them apart and wonders who is posting it.
The origin of the misinformation is revealed to be Omicron Persei 8. Jrr (Tom) is posting misinformation at the behest of Lrr (LaMarche) and Ndnd (MacNeille). Lrr suggests telling them worm medicine helps. He reveals the misinformation is designed to divide the citizens of Earth to make them ripe for the conquering.
At the PlanEx building, Fry returns to the Angry Dome to give Leela flowers. Leela warns him to stay away or risk infection (and a beating). Fry says he doesn’t care and enters anyway. The sounds of violence give way to sounds of coughing followed by sounds of cough-making-out.
Mon Amie Bonebot
In a NoNola cemetery, Hermes encounters Bonebot. He explains he’s “been boneskeeper of this boneyard for three-bone-dred years.” Hermes says that’s good because he’s on a bone-related errand. He explains he’s looking for the secret bone key to the Voodoo HQ. Bonebot says he’s never seen the bone key. Hermes asks if he’s checked the prominently displayed skull with a key-shaped cut-out on its bonehead — I mean, forehead.
Bonebot shakes the skull and the bone key falls out. Bonebot admits he’s never looked around the place. He attributes this to his lack of eyes. Then he offers Hermes a ride. Soon they are traveling across the bayou in Bonebot’s airbot. Bonebot knocks a garfish away. Hermes vomits over the side and says the eighth bowl of gumbo may have been a mistake. Bonebot says, “No amount of gumbo is a mistake, mon amie.” He explains the water is always choppy here because of the forcefield levies.
The Colonel (Herman) and his daughter Umbriel, both of the lost city of Atlanta, appear. The Colonel tells Bonebot and Hermes that if they see that dewgong from Macon to run him down, as he has absconding with his daughter’s dowry (see season 2’s “The Deep South”).
Bonebot and Hermes arrive at Voodoo HQ. Hermes is thrown on to the dock by Bonebone, who promptly wishes him “bone voyage” and navigates his airboat away.
Voodoo HQ Bayou-Bio Medical Center
Hermes uses the bone key to enter Voodoo HQ. Inside, he is greeted by Barbados Slim. Slim tells Hermes to come in and make himself feel inadequate. Meanwhile, Omicronian ships advance on Earth’s skies. Fortunately, the Nimbus is patrolling the planet’s orbit. Unfortunately, Earth’s internal divisions make defensive strategy impossible. Kif Kroker (LaMarche) and Zapp Brannigan (West) both cough as they use the Nimbus weapons to fire on one another.
On the news, Linda coughs as she reports on these events. When Morbo says both sides must be destroyed, Linda laughs, coughs and then picks up her chair and begins to beat Morbo with it.
In Louisiana, Hermes is surprised that Slim is the head of the Voodoo HQ. Slim says he learned from the best of the best: LaBarbara. Hermes tells Slim to stay away from LaBarbara, declaring Slim and LaBarbara to be “mostly ancient history.” Slim counters that history has a way of repeating itself. Getting back to business, Hermes tells Slim he believes voodoo might be the only thing that can fight the virus. Slim says that much is obvious. However, the test for demonic possession came back negative.
Hermes shares his theory that the virus is a form of zombieism. Slim says “you don’t see a lot of angry shouting zombies, but it would explain a lot.” But he continues that they have a problem. There’s only person with the expertise to cure zombieism. But LaBarbara enters and reveals she’s come to help Hermes with his mission. LaBarbara dodges answering Hermes’ questions about how she found them and why she has a key. After revealing he also has a key to Hermes and LaBarbara’s place, Barbados leads them to the Bayou-Bio Medical Center.
Omicronian ships arrive in NNYC. One of them squishes the HGB (LaMarche) as it lands. At Citihall, Lrr addresses the people of Earth (including many of the same journalists from the previous press conference). He is interrupted when he sneezes (even though he doesn’t have a nose). Ndnd sneezes as well. The couple begin to cough and fight. Farnsworth tests them and determines the virus has mutated with their Omicronian NdndDNA. “It’s a highly contagious Omicron variant.” Soon the crowd is coughing and brawling.
At the Bayou-Bio Medical Center, LaBarbara explains the strategy. “The key is to create a voodoo potion that tricks the body into thinking it has the virus, but without actually getting the disease.” Hermes deduces that the immune system “falls under its spell and anti-jujus that attack the spike protein, thus inoculating against future infection.” LaBarabra says Hermes has “some serious mental pecs, [her] second favorite kind.”
LaBarbara says they’ll need a test subject. Hermes declines but gets a shot in his shoulder through a Hermes voodoo doll anyway. LaBarbara and Slim make out to test the potion’s efficacy. Hermes feels only “a normal, easy-to-repress rage.” Success.
Free Voodoo shots
Later, outside the PlanEx building in NNYC, a banner instructs people to “maintain six green-snake lengths social distance” as they queue for free voodoo shots. A battered Fry and Leela kiss after they’ve each recieved their shots. Banjo asks for assurance that there’s no science in the vaccine. Zapp asks for a lollypop but settles for licking his Zapp voodoo doll. He identifies the flavor as wig glue.
Farnsworth arrives and calls the vaccine “mumbo gumbo.” He says anything he can’t understand is fake. Nevertheless, he gets his shot and his rage is alleviated. Farnsworth tells Hermes he owes him an apology for being so anti-voodoo. “It may seem backwack crazy to a layman, but I see now that voodoo methods are built on centuries of brilliant scholarship.” Hermes accepts his apology and says it’s understandable. “After all, any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from science.”
As Bender gets his shot, the Bender voodoo doll says, “Aw yeah.”
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