In The Thief of Baghead, Bender finds a new hobby in photography and sets out to capture a photograph of the greatest actor on the planet, Langdon Cobb, who managed to earn the title as Earth’s most respected actor without ever showing his face. That’s right– Langdon, bag over his head and all, is more beloved than even Calculon, the hammy All My Circuits star. Calculon refuses to accept that he’s not the greatest actor in the world and challenges Langdon’s position, and a lot of people get hurt on the way.
The Planet Express crew are tuning into the newest episode of All My Circuits. “You’re no doubt curious as to why I tricked you all into hang gliding here,” Calculon tells his TV family. Someone in the room is a MURDERER- it’s Calculon, reveals Calculon. The real question: who is the victim? But Calculon takes the secret to his grave, killing himself in front of his family… It’s a confusing show, All My Circuits. Amy joins the Planet Express crew and invites them along to the aquarium to check out the new non-biting otter.
Bender asks the crew to pose for a picture in front of Jurassic Tank, a gigantic tank filled with aquatic dinosaurs (and one T-rex trying desperately not to drown). Bender might be a robot whose eyes ARE digital cameras, but he’s old school, and still shoots with film. The last chemical dark room on Earth exists in his body, in fact. Just then Caluculon shows up, spending some studio-mandated time with his TV family. Bender captures some photos of the not-so-elusive celebrity (Seriously, it’s really easy to run into Calculon, it seems) and in Zoidberg’s opinion, they’re good enough to be in his favorite tabloid, Us People Magazine.
And so, Bender takes his photos to Us People Magazine headquarters and the slug-like creature in charge hires Bender as a “paparazzo.” Bender manages to get a lot of scandalous photos (that he stages) of some big time celebs and quickly decides to go big; he’s going to snap a picture of Langdon Cobb’s face. Cobb is a living legend, having raked in seven Academy Awards for best actor and two for best actress without ever taking his “trademark bag” off his head. Bender’s boss at Us People thinks it’s impossible to snag a picture of Langdon’s face. He has a 50-foot force field around his house. After a quick stop at Beverly Hills Ladders for a sixty-foot ladder, Bender heads to Cobb’s home.
Bender has a run-in with Langdon’s “attack fungus,” a strange mushroom creature that he barely escapes. In the privacy of his home, Langdon takes the bag off and Bender sneaks a photo. Langdon begs Bender not to publicize the photo. If he does, there will be terrible consequences. Bender swears that he will never show the photo to anyone, then quickly gets back to Planet Express to show Fry. And then those terrible consequences Langdon was talking about kick in. Upon viewing the photograph, Fry’s “life-force” vanishes and he is left deflated on the Planet Express couch. To make sure it’s not just a coincidence, Fry shows Amy and Hermes too. Same deal. Fry, Amy and Hermes are, essentially, dead? Rest in peace Fry, Amy and Hermes!
Professor Farnsworth bursts in and tears the photo to bits, and tells Bender he has seen this all before. Langdon is from a planet of quantum lichen people, attention parasites who feed on admiration. If you look at their faces, they suck your very life-force.
The quantum lichen people are composed of two separate parts- an algae-based id and a fungus-based ego that stores stolen life forces. “Here’s the weird part,” the Professor tells Bender and Leela. The id and the ego of the lichen people species are not joined physically, but by quantum entanglement. Cobb, the id, has a separately living fungusy ego running around somewhere. But the Professor fears they’ll never find the ego-creature and take back Fry, Amy and Hermes’ life forces. They might as well give up and go back to the aquarium, Farnsworth suggests.
“I feel like I was chased by a mushroom recently,” Bender tells the Professor. Bender recalls his chase with the attack fungus at Langdon’s place. Professor warns that subduing an actor’s ego is no easy task, and they’ll have to weaken it first. Zoidberg chimes in with some helpful information (what!?). Tonight is the World Acting Championship, and Calculon and Cobb are competing for the title of World’s Greatest Actor. If Farnsworth, Leela and Bender can help Calculon win, it might weaken Cobb’s ego enough for them to reclaim the rest of the crew’s life forces. Calculon’s only chance is a classic death scene, one with a lot of ‘thy’ and ‘thou.’ Leela suggests Calculon perform the death scene from Romeo and Juliet, by Will.i.am Shakespeare. Instead of fake-poisoning himself, Calculon is going to ensure victory by ACTUALLY poisoning himself.
Zoidberg and Farnsworth hide out at Cobb’s estate, where they wait for his ego creature to be weakened by his defeat at the Championship. But at the Championship, Langdon does a heartbreaking scene from Beantown Buddies and the crowd is eating it up. Back at the estate, the actor’s ego is “going totally Kanye” and growing larger and more vicious. Cobb’s is a tough act to follow, but Calculon takes the stage and gives it his all. After a dramatic monologue, Calculon guzzles the poison and falls to the ground. “At least he died knowing I was great,” Bender assures Leela.
The crowd is impressed by Calculon’s chilling performance and Cobb’s ego begins to shrink, and the Professor strikes – he aims his Anti-Fungal Ray at the ego… It just needs about 10 minutes to warm up. Unfortunately, as they wait for the ray to warm up, Cobb is declared the winner of the Championship. The ego grows enormous and shows up to the Championship, smashing through the theater.
Bender realizes that if he were to just show Cobb the photo he snapped of him, it would drain his life force. The Professor reminds him that he tore the photo up, and as you know, once you delete a photo it’s gone forever. But that’s the magic of film – Bender still has the negative. After quickly developing a new print in his dark room (himself), Bender shows Cobb the photo. But it doesn’t work the way he thought it would. The actor’s life force cannot be drained. Fortunately, though, Bender is quite the photographer and his photo is SO sublime that Cobb admires it to the point of his ego, literally, blowing up. The stolen life forces are zapped back into the crew’s bodies. Bender has everyone huddle in for a final group photo, focuses the camera on his face exclusively and shoots.
The crew narrowly avoids death once again! Well, technically they don’t and they all die, but only for a little while! Make sure you don’t miss next week’s episode, “Zapp Dingbat,” when Zapp Brannigan and Leela’s mom become an item!