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Episode Recap: The Problem With Popplers
Powerful alien beings threaten to devour of all mankind after the Planet Express crew inadvertently introduces earthlings to the aliens’ tasty offspring.
When moochers devoure everything in the space ship’s pantry, the crew lands on an uncharted planet to search for food. They discover a pit filled with little balls that resemble golden fried shrimp. Leela tastes one of the morsels…and eagerly begins gobbling up more. The crew cannot get enough of the delectable treats, which they call "popplers." Sensing they are onto something big, the crew sells the eatables from a pushcart, where they soon attract the attention of Fishy Jo Gilman, the owner of a fast food franchise.
Gilman pays the crew to supply his restaurants with popplers, which become a huge hit with customers. The food is so popular, it attracts the attention of protesters from Mankind for Ethical Animal Treatment. One of the members, a slightly overweight hippie named Free Waterfall, Jr., insists that man must not harvest living creatures for food. Leela takes issues with the cause , pointing out that in nature, animals eat other animals. Later, however, Leela reacts with horror when an unusually large poppler opens its mouth and calls her "mama."
Leela rushes into the Planet Express lounge and informs her colleagues that popplers are intelligent and must not be eaten. At first, the other crew members think she is hallucinating. But when one of the little creatures speaks, they realize she is telling the truth. Leela and her colleagues take to the streets in an effort to stop people from consuming more popplers.
As Leela, Waterfall and Fishy Jo debate the poppler issue on television, the sound of rumbling fills the studio. Huge Omicronian flying saucers fill the sky. Commodore Lrrr, flanked by other angry Omicronians, including Ndnd, broadcast a message to all earthlings, in which they demand justice. Since humans have been devouring their offspring, the aliens vow to consume all human life.
Later, at the Democratic Order of Planets, or DOOP, the top peace negotiator, Zapp Brannigan, strikes a bargain with the aliens. Instead of devouring everyone on Earth, the aliens will limit themselves to a single human of their choice. Since Leela was the first person to at one of their offspring, they choose her. A huge crowd fills the Madison Cube Garden arena to witness the spectacle of aliens eating Leela alive.
Meanwhile, Leela paces nervously inside a cage, where Bender and Fry say their last good- byes. Suddenly, Zapp appears and outlines a plan for saving Leela’s life. With some help from Kif, he transforms an orangutan into a Leela-lookalike. The Omicronians fall for the switch…and Lrrr raises the orangutan to his mouth, about to devour it. Suddenly, Waterfall rushes forward and tells the aliens about the swap. Calling the orangutan "one of Earth’s most precious creatures," he attempts to save it from harm. The aliens agree that they have been tricked…and promptly consume the orangutan.
Lrrr then pulls the real Leela from her cage and raises her towards his mouth. Suddenly, a little poppler runs onstage and urges his leaders not to eat Leela, calling her his friend. The Omicronians spare Leela’s life. Lrrr then asks the little poppler if Waterfall is also his friend. When the poppler tells him they aren’t friends, Lrrr promptly wolfs down Waterfall. The aliens leave Earth, and later, the Planet Express crew celebrates by dining on veal, suckling pig and dolphin.