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Episode Recap: Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles
The Planet Express crew is exposed to a substance that causes everyone to revert to teenagers…and the Professor’s attempt to correct the problem only makes things worse.
When a monstrous gargoyle escapes from the Planet Express building, the Professor gives chase in the space ship. But the Professor’s interest soon turns to a cafeteria at a nearby strip mall, announcing to the crew that they’re just in time for the early bird special. During the meal, the crew talks it over and eventually decides that the Professor is just too old. They gang up on the Professor and drag him to a spa, where he undergoes rejuvenation treatments. An attendant explains that thick tar blisters age right out of the body. Dissatisfied with the results, Bender shoves the attendant aside and begins working a pump handle, sending a stream of tar into the air. Suddenly, a huge sinkhole develops, and the Planet Express crew falls in. When the crew members finish cleaning off the sticky tar, they realize they’ve reverted to teenagers.
The Professor attempts to maintain order amongst the pubescent group, but chaos soon erupts. Labarbara and Dwight arrive and take Hermes away. A short time later, Leela announces that she wants to spend time with her parents, Munda and Morris, because she grew up an orphan and doesn’t know what it’s like. Amy, too, returns to her parents house, where Leo and Inez aren’t terribly pleased to see her. Flowers in hand, Fry stops by Munda and Morris’ house, where he announces his intention to take Leela out on a date. Driving a souped-up cruiser, the pair make their way to a 1950s-style drive-in, where they strike up a conversation with Mandy and Moose, who are also sitting in a souped-up cruiser. The two couples challenge each other to a race, and before long they’re blasting through a sewer pipe, complete with giant tapeworms. Fry and Leela win the race, but Leela is unable to break the vehicle and it smashes into a school, destroying it.
Later, Leela tells her parents what happened, and reacts with glee when her parents ground her. Meanwhile, the Professor develops an oil-eating bacteria designed to remove the tar from everyone’s skin. Everyone save Leela (who enjoys reliving her youth) climbs into a Bacterial Spew Chamber, where they are exposed to a thick mist. But when the fog clears, the group realizes they now look like eight-year-olds. The Professor realizes the bacteria ate the tar and began replicating. Now, everyone is getting younger by the minute…and fears the group will get so young they’ll encounter pre-life, then death.
The Professor and the others board the Planet Express space ship and set out in search of the legendary Fountain of Aging, located in the darkest, most ancient region of outer space. As the ship approaches a dying sun, the Professor realizes the fountain is located on the sun itself. The ship lands on the surface of cooled black lava near the ancient stone fountain. As the crew reverts to four fetal shapes in amniotic sacs, Leela realizes there isn’t much time left. The Professor gathers the sacs up and wades into a whirlpool. Immediately, everyone begins to age. But when the whirlpool threatens to carry everyone way, Leela wades in to save them…even though she will lose her youth. Everyone in the group pulls themselves over the edge of the fountain as they reach their normal ages.