In this episode, Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) must wear the Scarlet C. Futurama season 11 episode 8, “Zapp Gets Canceled,” was written by Shirin Najafi and directed by James Kim.
Zapp records a Captain’s Log. Stardate: National Donut Day. The Nimbus battles a starship made of “solid fire.” Zapp orders Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche) to fetch the travel tub. Soon Zapp is bathing on the bridge. Zapp demands Kif serve as his loofa. Finally, Zapp has a revelation: water beats fire. He orders Kif to fire the water cannon. However, Zapp’s shower has exhausted the ship’s three-year water supply.
Later, Zapp ends the battle by surrendering. His opponent asks him to sign a certificate of defeat. Zapp orders Kif to serve as a desk for the signature. After puncturing Kif’s head with the pen, Zapp realizes Kif is full of fluid. Zapp squeezes Kif’s juices all over his fiery opponent, extinguishing him. Then he hangs the deflated Kif on a coat rack. Kif says he’s filing a formal complaint.
“If You Can Read This, You’re Too Far From the Screen”
At the Planet Express building in New New York City, Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) stands beside a cake on the conference table. Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal), Philip J. Fry (West), Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio), Amy Wong (Lauren Tom), Zoidberg (West) and Farnsworth (West) look on. Hermes announces the winner of the monthly “Only Good Employee of the Month” award. This month’s winner, Leela, also has the distinction of having won the award every previous month.
The long line of “Only Good Employee of the Month” plaques on the wall each feature a photo of Leela. However, Leela’s visage becomes visibly crushed over time. The rest of the crew congratulates her (with phrases like, “You’ve reached rock top”). In the meantime, Zoidberg has eaten the entire cake.
At DOOP HQ in space, Zapp is the subject of a disciplinarian hearing presided over by Glab (Tress MacNeille), the President of the DOOP. Both Zapp and Kif are represented by the Hyper-Chicken (LaMarche). Kif describes the events of the first scene, shocking the crowd. Zapp tries to play it off as a joke. Then Zapp dismisses sharing his fantasies about Kif’s wife as “locker room talk.” Kif’s allegation that Zapp wore green face shocks several Amphibiosan DOOP delegates present at the hearing. Zapp claims this was a Halloween costume. And when Kif claims Zapp forced him to watch an “erotic fan dance,” Zapp argues it was a different time. “It was yesterday,” Kif says.
The Hyper-Chicken reaches a verdict: Zapp is guilty. “I’m going to allow this,” says Glab. She tells Zapp there is no room in the DOOP for “bullying and harassment.” Zapp reacts by attempting to give Glab a massage.
Glab states the decision of the court is that Zapp faces the ultimate penalty. She declares him “canceled.” He will be stripped of his title until he attends sensitivity training. Furthermore, he must wear the Scarlet C for the duration of his cancellation. Meanwhile, at her apartment in NNYC, Leela prepares for bed by removing her contact lens. But she’s interrupted by a call from DOOP on her Wrist Lo-Jack-O-Meter. Glab is calling Leela about the application to become a DOOP pilot an hour ago. Leela is hired.
At the PlanEx building, Leela’s former coworkers celebrate her new job. Zoidberg asks if Leela will be Kif’s commanding lobster. But Kif is taking family leave to spend time with the rest of the Wong-Krokers (Mandy is playing with a Feffernoose doll, from the Humplings). So Leela names a new first officer: Fry. Leela is about to name Farnsworth as her chief science officer when Bender interjects and accepts the position (and double salary) for himself. Hermes wishes the trio good luck on their next endeavor. “Next item of business,” Hermes says as soon as they leave, “We have (one, two) three office chairs for sale.”
At DOOP HQ, Zapp asks the robot outside Sensitivity Training if she has a better-looking sister. Inside Zapp meets his “cancel-mates.” These take the form of Flashbot, who engages in “indecent exposure” (opening his chest cabinet to reveal blinding light), and Marlene (Kathy Griffin), who can’t stop throwing food at her crewmates. Zapp insults Marlene, so she tosses her drink cup in his face.
A diminutive alien wearing a blue sweater enters the room and introduces himself as “Doctor Kind.” He picks up the cup from the floor and calmly addresses the trio of canceled DOOPers. When Zapp says he’s ugly, Kind says they don’t talk that way in this “safe space.” He says they need to be made aware of how it feels when their words hurt others. Ominous music plays as Kind’s arms extend and raise him to a very tall height. He slaps Zapp multiple times.
“This isn’t some woke-ass seminar,” Kind declares. He says the seminar will take the form of a simulated space mission. Kind will play the role of their abusive captain. This way, the seminar attendees will learn from the example he’s not setting. Kind tosses the soda cup at Marlene and knocks the other one off his chair. Then he returns to his “small form” and previous gentle demeanor.
Kind leads the canceled trio across a docking bay filled with boxes (including a “Clothing Donation” and an “Organ Donation” box). They arrive at a shuttlecraft. Kind assures them that while the mission may be simulated, his abuse will be real. “Set course for degradation,” Kind tells them. Zapp says it sounds exotic.
Elsewhere at DOOP HQ, Glab welcomes Leela. She explains the DOOP is attempting to rebrand to an image of peaceful exploration rather than war. “Also, we want to show we care about looking like we care about hiring women.”
The quartette takes in the docked Nimbus before boarding. Soon, Leela addresses the crew in the Nimbus cargo bay. She confides in Fry that she’s nervous, but Fry offers her encouraging words. The crew salutes Leela as she takes the podium. When Leela opens with the admission that she’s nothing like Zapp, the assembled crew breaks into raucous cheering and applause.
Later, Leela records a Captain’s Diary entry. The Nimbus is preparing to make first contact with a primitive civilization. Leela locks the diary with a key after concluding her entry. Glab asks if Leela has prepared a shuttlecopter to visit the alien civilization. Leela suggests that such advanced technology could be intimidating. Glab says she usually likes to intimidate new civilizations but is open to Leela’s idea: a bucket on a rope.
Soon, Fry, Leela and Glab are standing in a bucket being lowered via rope using a pulley located in Bender’s chest cabinet. Leela says she’s sorry Bender can’t come, as he is technology that might frighten the aliens. Bender is unsympathetic. He lets the bucket freefall to scare them. But when he tries to stop the pulley, it’s moving too fast. Bender’s arm is torn off, but fortunately, he gets jammed in the winch, stopping the bucket just above the ground.
Leela says they are people from the sky. One of the locals is amazed they speak “Tactillian.” Bender’s arm falls out of the sky and lands on Fry. Quing Airee introduces herself and welcomes the DOOPers. But soon the Tactillians are groping all three. Glab says they must win the “hearts and knobs” of these people, but Leela protests that “they’re so grabby.”
Leela tells Airee it might be difficult to communicate because of the disparate levels of technological advancement of their respective people. Airee says no kidding, they travel in a bucket. Elsewhere, Kind forces the seminar attendees to clean the shuttle floors using toothbrushes. Zapp protests that Kind can’t yell at him while on his short legs. Kind says he yells at any height he wants. Then Kind resolves to take a shower on the bridge. “You sicken me,” responds Zapp.
On Tactillia, Airee explains their society became so advanced because they learned to harness pneumatic technology. She shows them their main air power plant, which fuels their society. Glab asks where the air comes from. Airee pumps open a pair of doors to reveal the Great Blowhole. Fry falls in but easily floats. Leela tells Airee this is an amazing natural resource and they should do everything they can to protect it.
This prompts Glab to pull Leela aside and explain that the real point of the mission is to acquire the air. The frozen gas at the center of the planet keeps “paying out air.” Since there’s not a lot of air in space, “and what we do have is like 50% burb,” the DOOP needs that air. Glab gives Leela a “Peace” Treaty for the Tactillians to sign which will grant DOOP air rights. Leela is disillusioned. “Leela, sometimes we coerce people with war,” Glab explains. “Other times, we take the high road and trick them with peace.” Then Glab belches.
Later, Leela and Airee sit across a table beside the Great Blowhole. However, Tactillian tradition dictates that the signing begins with “the ritual knob-elling.” Leela would rather not.
Kind to be Cruel
In the shuttlecraft, Zapp and the other canceled DOOPers argue with one another over the source of an odor. Kind gets out of the shower and reveals the scent comes from a durian. As Kind eats the fruit, actual stink lines appear. “Tough it out, snowflake,” Kind growls. He says now they understand how their crews feel. Then he says it’s time to see how they fare in simulated battle under these conditions.
Kind continues to verbally abuse the trio as they fire the shuttlecraft weapons on the Nimbus, which has appeared on the shuttlecraft viewscreen. On the Nimbus, Acting Captain Bender mistakes the emergency siren for a catchy song. But when he realizes what the klaxon actually indicates, he panics and puts his head into his own chest cabinet.
On Tactillia, Glab tells Leela to “start acting like a Captain and fondle knobs.” Leela attempts to force herself to comply, but “something just feels inappropriate.” That’s when the DOOP shuttlecraft lands beside the Great Blowhole. The three canceled DOOPers and Kind disembark. Zapp marvels at the verisimilitude of the simulation.
Glab says she canceled all four of them. But Kind reveals he hijacked the ship after hog-tying the sensitivity instructor (the robot Zapp insulted before entering the seminar). Zapp realizes the Nimbus was real and the simulation was simulated. Gary Kind (doctor of botanical science) is revealed to be one of the DOOP’s most notorious gropers. Hearing this, the Tactillians eagerly crowd around him.
The Cancel Cannon
Kind reveals he has a weapon of inconceivable power: another durian. He’s going to use it to befoul the planet’s air supply for centuries. Glab tells Kind to put down the durian, which DOOP has sworn never to use during peacetime. Bender contacts Leela on her DOOP glove Wrist Lo-Jack-O-Meter to belatedly inform her the Nimbus is under attack in orbit.
Glab orders Leela to command the Nimbus to fire on Kind. Leela protests that he’s surrounded by the innocent Tactillians, who could be injured. Kind calls Leela a wimp. “Captains need to be ruthless,” declares Kind. “Women belong in the kitchen, fixing me a sweet durian pie.” Zapp declares this to be an offensive stereotype and declares Leela to be terrible at baking. That’s when his Scarlet C badge informs him his 8-hour training seminar is complete.
Having completed his rehabilitation, Glab reinstates Zapp and orders him to fire on Kind. Zapp says he’s not sure he can do that, because of what Kind taught him. “I know there’s a difference between right and wrong,” says Zapp. “One of them gets you canceled.”
Kind cackles. He says P.C. Culture breeds “weak captains too cowardly to shoot the helpless.” Kind breaks open the durian. The odor is so noxious, Farnsworth gags while using his Smell-o-Scope back in NNYC. On Tactillia, Kind says he would have fired without a second thought if he had been captain. Kind’s Scarlet C badge informs him he’s completed training as well. Glab reinstates him and puts him in command of the Nimbus. Without hesitation, Kind orders the Nimbus to fire. He is summarily disintegrated (but the nearby Tactillians avoid the ray).
Only Good Employee of the Month
Leela leaps to stop the durian from falling into the Great Blowhole. She is splattered with fruit in the process. Fry tries to hug her but collapses from the stench. Leela approaches Airee and says she is now prepared to Knobble. Airee declares the Knobbling option and after signing, flees from the stage.
At DOOP HQ, Zapp apologizes from a podium. Glab shoves him away and presents Leela with the DOOP’s highest honor: the Medal of Valor. She continues that Leela’s peaceful strategies are an inspiration for them all. But they’re also grounds for dishonorable discharge.
Back at the PlanEx building in NNYC, Leela hangs the Medal of Valor on the wall. She laments that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a DOOP captain. But Fry says she has what it takes to be Leela. He snaps a Polaroid of the ensuing smile and pins it over her most recent “Only Good Employee of the Month” photo. Then Zoidberg asks if he can suck the durian residue from her skin.
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