|Episode no.||Season four
|Directed by||Mark Ervin|
|Written by||Kristin Gore|
|Original air date||February 17, 2002|
|Opening caption||"It's like "Hee Haw" with lasers"|
|Season four episodes|
"Leela's Homeworld" is the second episode of the fourth production season of Futurama. It originally aired as the fifth episode on the Fox network in the United States on February 17, 2002. "Leela's Homeworld" was written by Kristin Gore and directed by Mark Ervin. The episode reveals Leela's true origin as a mutant who was abandoned by her parents, so she could have a better life. She is disguised as an alien, as it is illegal for mutants to live on the surface.
The Professor announces that Leela's old orphanarium has named her Orphan of the Year. In another announcement, he shows off a machine that makes glow-in-the-dark noses. Unfortunately, the machine produces enormous amounts of toxic waste. By law, Hermes tells him to get rid of it. The Professor hires Bender to dispose of the waste, and he does so by dumping it into the sewer.
At the orphanarium's award ceremony, the headmaster presents a story of Leela's arrival. She was left with a note written in Alienese, and a bracelet. Back at Planet Express, Leela is in tears over not having parents. Fry takes her for a walk, and she looks up to the stars, wondering which alien world her parents were from, as two one-eyed sewer mutants look up from a drain.
Meanwhile, Bender has expanded his one-time dumping into a full waste management service, having been paid to clean up the set of Free Willy 3. The mutants grow angry with Bender's disposal technique and capture him, Fry, and Leela. The mutants sentence Fry and Leela to be lowered into a lake of sludge and chemicals, which would mutate them as well. Bender is sentenced to being beaten up.
Two hooded mutants call out to Leela, then swing the crane the three are tied to, dropping the crew on the far side of the mutagenic lake. The mutant mob, immune to the effects of the lake, swim across and pursue. Fry, Leela, and Bender take refuge in a mutant home, where they find a shrine to Leela's life, scaring her. The mob captures them, but after a whispered word from the hooded mutants, the crew's sentence is commuted to exile. They ride a hot-air balloon made of Macy's parade parts to a surface access ladder hanging over the lake. Fry and Bender emerge on the surface; but Leela, determined to find out what the hooded mutants know, dives into the chemical lake.
She swims to shore, and is confused as she finds she is unaffected by the chemicals. Fry heads to the orphanarium to try to get some clues as to what is going on, and the headmaster gives him the note that was left with Leela. Fry takes the note back to the Professor for analysis and they discover the shocking truth: Leela is not an alien, but actually a mutant, but was born "the least mutated mutant ever". Her parents, realizing she could pass as an alien, decided to leave her at the orphanarium with an Alienese note, so she would have a better life.
Meanwhile, an armed and irrational Leela has pursued her still-hooded parents through the sewers, back to the home with the shrine to herself. Leela reveals that her mother has the same bracelet the mutant has. Seeing this, Leela comes to the conclusion that they killed her parents, leaving her an orphan. She plans to kill the two in her rage. They are willing to let her do so, agreeing that they would rather die than ever let her find out the "shameful" truth that she is a mutant. They both admit they murdered her parents. Fry falls through the ceiling at the last second and stops Leela before removing the mutants' hoods, revealing the two one-eyed mutants as Leela's parents. The two confirm Fry's discovery to Leela. A tearful reunion ensues, and the episode closes with a montage of scenes that show Leela's parents secretly watching over her throughout her life.
This episode reveals Leela's origins, something she had been searching for all through the series. Until this episode Leela believed she was an alien who was abandoned on Earth after her home planet collapsed (as seen in "A Bicyclops Built for Two"). The revelation of her true origin in this episode was previously foreshadowed when Leela's parents appeared in a crowd of mutants in "I Second That Emotion".
The idea for the character Leela and her back story were conceived by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen before they even pitched the series to Fox. Because they knew from the beginning that Leela would later be revealed to not be an alien, they intentionally included a shot of Leela's parents in "I Second That Emotion". As the plot for this episode developed though they realized that the design of the characters needed to change to look less normal. In the original design, Morris had a normal mouth; and Munda had normal human arms, one of which was visible in her original appearance. For a while the idea was thrown around to stay true to some aspects of this design and Munda had a normal human arm and a tentacle arm. Eventually it was decided to make both arms tentacles and work under the assumption that in the previous appearance she had been wearing something similar to a human flesh colored glove. There was a large amount of debate amongst the writers as to whether the truth of Leela's origin should be revealed to the viewer before Leela realized it or if it should be a surprise for the viewers as well. The final decision was made based on the idea that it would be easier to make jokes if the viewer were in on the plot.
The song played during the ending montage is "Baby Love Child" by Pizzicato Five; the scene was slightly extended due to a desire to include more of the song. Producers claim that the montage was inspired by the musical sequences used on Homicide: Life on the Street.
Along with the episodes "Jurassic Bark" and "The Luck of the Fryrish", this episode is considered to be a fan favorite and one of the most emotional episodes of the series. In 2006 IGN.com ranked the episode as number 23 in their list of the top 25 episodes of Futurama. Although the episode delivered fewer laughs, it made up for it with character driven drama which served to enhance the characters for the series as a whole.
- Cohen, David X. (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Leela's Homeworld" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Gore, Kristin (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Leela's Homeworld" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- ""Top 25 Futurama Episodes"". Retrieved 2006-11-04.
- "Broadcast Watch. (Programming).(Statistical Data Included)". Broadcasting & Cable (Reed Business Information). 2002-02-25. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
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