The only way this episode makes sense is that somebody in the writer’s room said, “Hey, you know how Bender is always asking people to bite his shiny metal ass? Well, we’ve never really explored that ass as a character, y’know? I feel like it’s a part of the mythology that’s been left unresolved, and seeing as how we’re getting into the end of the show, maybe it’s time we finally give the ass its moment to shine.” And everybody laughed because it was Albert talking, and they all knew Albert comes up with the craziest damn ideas. Two months later, with scripts due soon and no new ideas in sight, and suddenly, Albert’s thought doesn’t sound so crazy. Suddenly, it becomes the only thing that makes sense anymore. Because we all rest on our asses, right? We depend on them to be there for us when we need them, but we never really give them a choice in the matter. “Assie Come Home” is all about choice. It’s about getting lost and realizing the only home you know is sometimes the only home you need. Also, the word “ass” is pretty funny, even if it is just a circle of metal with two holes cut in it where the legs go through.
Really, I have no idea; if ever a half-hour of television screamed “placeholder,” it’d be this one. Although it wouldn’t even have the energy to scream. It would probably just shrug and then go back to lie on the couch and watch reality TV marathons on Bravo. “Assie Come Home” suggests it’s absolute lack of caring with a title pun so eye-roll inducing it hurts to read more than once. The episode isn’t actively terrible. There are some bad spots, but for the most part, the biggest problem is a story with barely any story behind it. There’s plenty of incident (and it takes about half the running time for the main plot—Bender’s quest for his butt—to kick in), but for the most part, that incident doesn’t have any rising or falling action. The only attempt at any kind of stake is in Bender’s fears he won’t get his rear end back, and while the writers get credit for trying to push that idea really hard in the final few minutes, it’s such an odd, under-developed idea there’s nowhere to go with it.
The episode also suffers from a script that never manages to upset expectations or have any point. The Planet Express crew gets a job delivering a mysterious crate to People’s Alpha (as always, no close captions on my TV means I might have gotten new names wrong). There’s a decent gag about the gangs on the planet have distinctive colors, red and blue, but both gangs wear both colors; the only difference between them is one has the red on the left, the other on the right. That’s clever, and it pays off well enough with one gang member panicking and shooting his reflection when he sees his colors reversed. But the rest of the episode is marked by a distinct lack of cleverness. The gang members all shoot themselves with guns Leela had Bender bend because she hates violence (she told him to pretend they were human necks), and that’s not bad, but then the gang stuff is over (which, given the way the show approached the “Blips” and the “Cruds” is probably for the best), and it’s just a progression from point to point.
Bender gets “bot-jacked,” losing all his body except for his mouth and eyes. So Fry and Leela track down his body parts one by one. That’s it, really. There’s the bit at the end about his ass (heh), but apart from that, there’s no plot, just a series of quick skits as Bender pieces himself back together. The robot nerd frat is using Bender’s body as a keg. The Borax Kid is using his hands to cheat at cards, only to have the hands turn on him in the end. The best skits deal with Bender’s antenna (which, in case you haven’t watched the first season in a while, is basically his penis; it was a metaphor from “I, Roommate” that was, if not subtle, at least more suggestion than statement, and that gets thrown out of the window here), and his legs. The legs segment may be the strongest few minutes of the episode, and it’s one of the few bits that keep this from being a complete waste of 30 minutes. Bender finds out Tinny Tim just had Bender’s legs installed, and while Leela’s talking about sacrifice, Bender is chainsawing off his property. For good measure, he even steals Tim’s rolling cart, although he quickly gets bored with it.
That kind of meanspirited funniness is often the linchpin of a good Bender storyline, and it follows through to the ending of the episode, in which Bender’s ass, sick of listening to Bible stories from a tedious lighthouse keeper, flees back to its natural habitat, leaving the lighthouse dark, and the ships it was supposed to warn off doomed to crash. But a few bits of black humor aren’t enough to hold the rest of the half hour together. This isn’t wretched, just so insubstantial it’s hard to feel much about it one way or the other.
- I forgot to thank Dennis for stepping in for me two weeks ago, so, thanks, Dennis. Sorry about the terrible episode. (And I’ll be on vacation next week, look forward to some more fresh perspective.)
- Bender: “Nope. He’s dumb, and I don’t care.” Leela: “Well, I’m smart, and I care too much.”
- “I’m okay with most kinds of violence, but not gang violence!” -Leela
- “Close the door, you’re letting the smut out.”
- It was nice to see Hedonism-Bot again. “It has done everything and everyone imaginable.”
- “Found me a whole Blue Man Group once” -Tarquin, the lighthouse keeper.
- Followed by: “And I’m a butcher, if you like blue meat.”
- Hermes: “Backdraft is on!” Bender: “Even my ass wouldn’t watch that.”