I don’t really know what to write about, since I”m kind of at a loss for words, but writing is therapeutic, so it felt necessary.
I just finished watching the Futurama episode “Game of Tones,” and I’m feeling extremely emotional as a result. Like other episodes of the series, it tricks you into laughing about a funny storyline or a 22-minute string of one-liners, before punching you in the gut with an ending that is heartwarming, beautiful, or just plain traumatic.
This episode was much the same. The only difference is I knew it had something to do with Fry’s mom, but I didn’t know how it would factor in.
The episode is basically a mixture of Star Trek IV and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A ship has been going from planet to planet, playing a sequence of notes in repeating iterations, looking for a response that unfortunately ends with that planet being completely destroyed. It finally comes to Earth, and Fry realizes he has heard the sequence somewhere before. The other characters decide that they need to decipher Fry’s memories to determine where the tones came from, hoping it will allow them to save their planet before it’s destroyed.
The entire episode is Fry living his last day in the past before being frozen (the main plot of the first episode of the series). He goes from his apartment to his home, to his work, and finally, to the cryogenic lab where he accidentally gets frozen for a thousand years.
While the rest of the episode is a bit of a throwaway, the parts that really got to me were the parts spent with Fry’s mom.
Although up until this episode, Fry’s mom (still unnamed) is presented humorously as a mother who cares more about sports than her family, (even shouting “This is the happiest day of my life!” the moment the Mets win the World Series while giving birth to her son).
However, in this episode, there’s a feeling that Fry is desperately trying to tell his mom something, and is so focused on doing so that he’s willing to let Earth get destroyed just to have one last conversation with his mom, knowing he’ll never see her again. Throughout the episode, Fry is repeatedly pulled away from spending time with his mom, and at the end of the episode realizes, now defeated, that he will never see her again.
Having figured out the source of the sequence of notes, Fry saves the planet from being destroyed. Despite this, Fry feels it is an empty victory because in spending his final day in the past with the perspective of knowing he would never see his family, he realizes all the things he wish he had said before he came to the future.
As a reward for saving the planet, Nibbler (a powerful being as old as the universe posing as a domesticated house pet) tells Fry that he will repay him somehow.
That night, Fry has a dream about his mom, sitting down with her while she watches one of her beloved football games. Feeling sad and heartbroken that he never got the chance to tell his mom all the things he wanted to say, he laments that telling his mom those things in his dream would accomplish nothing. Just then, the end of the game comes, and Fry realizes it’s a game from after he was frozen. Nibbler then appears and tells him that they’re not in Fry’s dream, they’re in his mom’s. Nibbler says that as repayment, Fry has one last chance to talk to his mom in her dreams, so he better not waste it.
What happens next is not something I can really describe in words, so here it is in gif form.
I can’t tell you why, but that ending made me bawl so many manly tears that for awhile I feared I might pass out from dehydration.
Something about the relationship between Fry and his mom has struck a chord deep within me. I think that the bond between mother and child is a powerful one, something that is unknown and mysterious, but has existed since life in the universe began. It’s said that a mother never stops loving her child, and I’m moved by what it is that makes the relationship between a mother and child so strong. Yes it’s biology. Yes it’s about survival. But I still don’t think that explains why children love their mothers long after they’ve become adults, or what benefit it would serve for biology or survival telling my mom I love her.
There is something strange and ethereal about the relationship between mother and child. It is sad, but beautiful. Happy, but impermanent. Much like light shining in the darkness of the universe, its beauty is that it is all too brief. Most of the time, we only get all-too-brief moments to tell our mothers we love them, even though that love is one that carries on throughout our lives and even far beyond the end of our lives. If you were in Fry’s place, knowing you only had one last brief moment with your mother, what would you do?
It doesn’t really make sense, but I think seeing Fry hug his mother, a wordless gesture of love, is the most beautiful thing in the world.
It makes me sad, it makes me happy, it makes me feel in touch with my soul and with love and with the fabric of the universe. But more than anything, it makes me want to call my mom and tell her I love her.