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‘Futurama’ 11×04 review: “Parasites Regained”

By August 21, 2023No Comments3 min read
Fry, Bender, Zoidberg, and Leela hang from a ledge in “Parasites Regained.”

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.

In “Parasites Regained,” the Hulu revival of Futurama tries to tap a very familiar well – the parody episode. Futurama has had some real strong parodies in the past, Season 2’s “Fry and the Slurm Factory” is a stone cold classic, and while “Parasites Regained” doesn’t hit that high, compared to the lows of last week this episode could only possibly go up. For the first time since the revival started, I even managed to get an honest-to-goodness big laugh out of this one. 

This episode’s target, despite the name, is the Dune franchise; a choice that suits this series even without Denis Villeneuve’s follow up en route. It’s not even really the first time Futurama has lampooned Frank Herbert’s bizarre universe, but “Parasites Regained” is the most in a single episode and focuses much more on the most recognizable things from Dune, probably because now the less nerdy audiences might actually appreciate it. While this might be seen as low hanging fruit like “How The West was 1001001” last week was, the jokes in this episode are much snappier and confident in its subject matter and the easiest joke of them all is downright the funniest: the Futurama version of the Kwisatz Haderach. Sometimes the low hanging fruit is worth picking. 

“Parasites Regained” also re-learns the lesson from “Children of a Lesser Bog” by tying the narrative to an established relationship and continuity, this time centering Leela and her pet Nibbler. Once reminded (again) that Nibbler is hyper-intelligent, we’re treated to moments in their friendship, from seeing foreign films to solving crossword puzzle cubes. The complication comes in Nibbler getting worms that are damaging his brain, further complicated by the worms nesting in his special litter box. Here’s where the weirdest part of this episode comes in too: Nibbler is prescribed Ivermectin, which makes plenty sense as that is its actual purpose, but the episode keeps specifically name dropping the medication and made me suspicious that the entire point of this episode was at first to try to make fun of podcast hosts who think that Ivermectin is a cure for COVID-19. By the end of the episode, I think this was mostly an unfortunate coincidence; and also judging by the episode list we’re still due for Futurama’s take on the pandemic later. 

Another notable thing about “Parasites Regained” is once the plot kicks into gear – shrinking some of the Planet Express crew down to explore Nibbler’s litter box – there’s no B plot. That choice does let the parody breathe more, but also mostly benches some of the cast. Probably for the best, previous episodes have kept the larger gang together, demanding more one-liners, whereas Zoidberg gets that job this week as he continues his ongoing quest to be noticed. Again, “Parasites Regained” never hits the highs of Futurama’s best parodies, so it falls back instead on a reference to an older episode as its revealed Nibbler’s worms are the same as the ones Fry had in “Parasites Lost” (hence this episode’s name). Everything wraps up nicely enough without any twists or commentary on any of Dune’s real weird parts. 

Overall, “Parasites Regained” is a serviceable episode of Futurama. That’s helped a lot from previous episodes lacking in many places, but the premise is solid and the jokes are finally landing more consistently. Four episodes in and this revival season has been entirely scattershot in quality, so I no longer feel confident in finding any kind of new thesis for this season; but at least this week wasn’t agony to watch. At this point, it is hard to ask for much more than that. 

Futurama is available on Hulu.

Featured image via Hulu

  • ‘Futurama’ 11x04 - 6/10
Travis Hymas

Travis Hymas is a freelance writer and self appointed Pokémon historian out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known to be regularly obessive over pop culture topics and gaming discourse, he is a published Rotten Tomatoes critic and has been featured on sites such as Uppercut and The Young Folks

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