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Episode Recap: A Big Piece of Garbage
A colossal chunk of stinking garbage threatens to destroy New New York City.
The Professor announces to his staff that the scientific event of the
season, the Academy of Inventors annual symposium, will be held that
evening. During the event, members will present an invention, and the
best of the lot will be awarded a prize. The Professor proudly unveils
his entry: the Death Clock, a device that can calculate exactly when an
individual will die. As the event gets underway, the Professor
encounters one of his former students, Dr. Wernstrom. Wernstrom holds a
grudge against the Professor for giving him an A-minus on a test paper.
A short time later, Ron Popeil's head introduces the line-up of
inventors. When Wernstrom takes the stage, he presents the Reverse Scuba
Suit, which allows a goldfish to exit its tank and walk freely like a
bird. The audience applauds. Shortly before going on stage, the
Professor is reminded that he already presented the Death Clock the
previous year. Thinking quickly, the Professor uses a napkin to sketch
his latest idea: the Smelloscope, a device that detects odors from
far-off places. The concept is greeted with derisive laughter. As a
result, Popeil presents first prize to Dr. Werstorm. Afterward, Fry
convinces the Professor to turn his sketch into a working prototype. As
Fry searches the heavens with the invention, he stumbles upon a
disgusting smell. The Professor calculates the celestial body's
trajectory…and realizes it will impact the Earth in less that 72 hours.
The Professor discovers that a hundred years earlier, New York City ran
out of space to dispose of its garbage. The refuse was formed into an
immense ball and, in the year 2052, rocketed into outer space. Now, that
ball threatens to destroy the entire city. The Professor presents his
findings to the Mayor, who summons his scientific advisor for
consultation. The advisor turns out to be none other than Dr. Wernstrom,
who at first belittles the theory. But a transmission from Neptune
confirms everyone's worst fears. Later, the Professor convenes with a
military chief to discuss options for destroying the garbage ball. It is
eventually decided that an explosive planted on one of the ball's fault
lines could blow it to bits. The Professor prepares a bomb equipped with
an LED clock panel that reads, "25:00." Once the device is activated,
the Planet Express crew will have 25 minutes to make their escape. Fry,
Leela and Bender make the perilous journey to the stinking garbage ball,
which is comprised of an amazing vista of refuse from the 20th Century
(including a Beanie Baby and a Bart Simpson doll). Eventually, the
threesome locate the fault and arm the bomb. But they quickly realize
that the Professor installed the LED display upside down. As a result,
the team has 52 seconds to make their escape.
Bender, Fry and Leela begin tossing the bomb around, hot-potato-style.
Bender flings the device into space, where it detonates harmlessly.
Unfortunately, the garbage ball is still hurtling towards Earth. The
crew makes its way back to the doomed New New York City, where the
Professor takes responsibility for the disaster. The Mayor turns to
Wernstrom for help. Wernstorm makes a series of demands, such as tenure,
a large research grant and five graduate students. When the mayor
approves the demands, Wernstrom, who is "set for life," runs out the
door. A short time later, the Professor is struck with an idea. He
believes that if the city builds an object the same size as the garbage
ball, and launches it into space, it will knock the other ball away. Fry
explains to his refuse-challenged colleagues, who have always recycled,
how to create garbage. Eventually, people throughout the city follow
suit, and a huge bulldozer collects the debris. With some help from an
obese alien, Arcturus Fats, the second ball is launched into space. The
cue ball strikes the second ball, causing it to plunge into the sun,
where it is incinerated.