Futurama Review: Working for the Clampdown
The Robot Mafia is an under-appreciated group of characters on Futurama.
They've been prominent parts of episodes before "Viva Mars Vegas," but any appearances from the trio are welcome. They serve as a perfect satire of Mafioso types from pop culture staples like The Godfather and Goodfellas.
In the universe of the show, their characters play an interesting balance: they're bumbling buffoons, but they're also effective. They'd be the perfect henchmen – if they worked for Mom instead of her bumbling sons, she would probably rule the galaxy.
However, these felons are self-starters, representing an entire cyborg crime syndicate in their collective lonesome. And they're just fearful enough as villains that when they decide to shake down the Wongs for their casino, they get it pretty much right away, setting in course the actions for the Planet Express crew.
On the surface, this would appear to be a Zoidberg episode, and there was something of a moral for him of the perils of wealth and gambling - but mainly it was just an excuse to make him invisible for the purpose he would later serve.
Everything led to the eventual casino heist. And what worked with that plot was the way that it played off of the typical heist tropes of having someone with a crazy plan. Amy served as this scheming ringleader, even saying that she would explain parts of the plan later, lampshading her role and actions.
Of course, everything worked out in the end. The events unfolded in a paint-by-numbers fashion, as introducing the casino vault (which never really felt explained as to why Planet Express would be there anyway) and its security mechanisms eventually came into obvious play.
Interestingly, there were some plot threads that could have been followed, with the Wongs having to adjust to the poverty among the native Martians and their mobile home community. But here it was just a brief blip in the episode, almost an excuse to give Amy the inspiration to use Zoidberg to steal the money from the vault. Though the inspiration could really have come from anywhere. I mean, if one wants to steal money, and one has access to an invisible person/decapod, if that lightbulb doesn't click then one should not be planning casino heists, period.
But the Robot Mafia still grounded this episode and made it worth watching.
Because they play that balance of strength and incompetence that makes for great comic villains, their exploits in their episodes remained entertaining to watch. Maybe this wasn't the funniest or smartest half-hour of the series or even of this season, but I can't sit here and say that I didn't enjoy it.
After all, I watched robot gangsters rob a bunch of Gungans – replete with a BINKS security truck – and that's all it should take for Donbot, Clamps and Joey Mousepad to win anyone's heart over.