The episode (written by Cody Ziglar) tips its hat too much by name-dropping COVID-19 itself. At the outset, the city of New New York is hosting a “back to normal” party — apparently, it’s taken over 1000 years to fully get COVID under control. Just when one pandemic is over, another begins.

While COVID causes numerous different symptoms (but especially respiratory ones), Explovid makes its sufferers angry. So, the Professor invents new nasal swabs to tell the infected from the “naturally mean.” 

COVID nasal swabs are thinner than a pencil and only a couple inches long; while using one can feel like you’re tickling your brain, they don’t actually reach that far. Farnsworth’s, though, are about four feet long and require a brain matter sample. On the upside, Farnsworth’s swabs give instantaneous results; once Leela is identified as the source, she’s forcibly quarantined.

From there, the crew tries to work remotely via the video chat app “Gloom.” Unlike the modern Zoom, this one is 3D — chat participants can reach out and touch each other across screens. How can an interstellar delivery crew complete work from their homes? Even the episode doesn’t know since after just a few minutes of Gloom shenanigans, Farnsworth (like many real bosses) orders everyone back to the office. Hermes objects, but the Professor shoots him down, (“Everything we do is a violation of health and safety standards!”), instead ordering everyone to mask up.

Since our leads don’t know how the virus spreads, they all wear their masks in different arrangements (Hermes covers his mouth and nose, while Bender covers his antenna, etc.). Hermes also refers to the protocols as “hygiene theater,” reflecting how some people and institutions simply want to appear like they’re fighting COVID.

By mrtrv