Rick meets the closest thing he has to a match inside of a world of his own making.
Rick (Justin Roiland), Morty (Roiland), and Summer (Spencer Grammer) are in a parallel dimension to see a movie. They get back in Rick’s car to get ice cream, but it doesn’t start. Rick tells Morty that it’s a problem with the “Microverse Battery.” Rick tells the car to keep Summer safe and teleports into the battery with Morty. Morty is astounded to find that Rick’s battery is run by a planet full of aliens who generate power for him as a side-effect of creating power for their own civilization. They believe Rick to be “Rick the Alien” and essentially worship him as the person who gave them modern civilization, unaware that he is siphoning off most of the planet’s power. Morty repeatedly points out the inherent immorality of this situation, but Rick refuses to actually engage in the debate.
In the microverse, President Chris (Alan “Curse this sudden but inevitable betrayal” Tudyk) informs Rick that they no longer need to generate power using Rick’s method (essentially walking on a treadmill) and instead have a new method thought up by the brilliant but angry scientist Zeep Zanflorp (Stephen “It sounds like a chilly ursine” Colbert). That method is the “Miniverse Battery,” which is substantially the same as the Rick’s Microverse Battery. Rick starts to recite all of Morty’s arguments to Zeep, who ignores them much like Rick did. Rick then realizes that there must be someone within the Miniverse who is working on their own version of a microverse, so Rick finds Kyle (Nathan Fielder), a scientist who is building a “Teenyverse Battery.” Once Rick, Morty, Zeep, and Kyle go into the Teenyverse, Zeep starts to use Morty/Rick’s arguments against Microverses, which leads Zeep to realize that his home universe is a Microverse. This enrages him and leads him to attack Rick. Kyle then realizes that he was born in a microverse within a microverse, which leads him to an existential crisis and he kills himself, trapping the rest within the Teenyverse.
Meanwhile, Summer is sitting in the car when a man walks up and knocks on the car. The car’s computer (Kari Wahlgren), detecting a potential threat, violently cuts him into small pieces. Another man sees it and approaches, but is only crippled after Summer begs the car not to kill him. The police approach the car, but since Summer asks the car not to kill or cripple anyone, the car resurrects one of the commanding officers’ dead children and then liquidates the child in front of his eyes, threatening to do the same for anyone who comes nearby.
In the Teenyverse, months have passed. Morty left after getting fed up with Rick and Zeep’s fighting. Rick and Zeep have been constructing rudimentary mechanical exoskeletons out of wood and rock in order to do battle, but after proving to be basically equal, Morty and the Tree People who populate the Teenyverse capture them. Morty pretends to try and teach them the ways of simple natural living before threatening them into working together to get out of the Teenyverse into the Miniverse. Once out, Zeep and Rick seem to reconcile, but Rick soon realizes that Zeep plans on stranding them in the Miniverse. He tries to get Morty to turn into a car based on the nanomachines Rick secretly put in his blood, but they catch a cab instead and manage to return to the Microverse with Zeep. Inside the Microverse, Zeep and Rick race to Rick’s ship with Rick getting there first. He then proceeds to fist-fight Zeep and defeat him before leaving to the regular universe.
Back in the normal universe, right before Rick and Morty return, the military have surrounded Rick’s car. The car complains because Summer tells it not to kill anyone, cripple anyone, or use devastating psychological tactics. In response, the car brokers peace between the humans and the psychic spiders that populate the planet, leading the President of the planet to tell the military to leave the car alone as thanks. Rick then returns and starts the car, having reasoned that Zeep would provide power to the vehicle knowing that Rick would destroy the Microverse otherwise. However, Rick gets pissed when he finds out that all ice cream in the planet now has flies as part of the “spider-peace.” After the credits, Morty spontaneously transforms into a car.
It’s interesting that, even more than other episodes where Rick literally meets versions of himself, this is the episode that creates the most explored Doppelgänger of Rick. Zeep isn’t quite as smart as Rick, as evidenced by a few small things throughout the episode, but he very clearly serves as Rick’s double, to the point that he not only duplicates Rick’s justifications for why the Microverse isn’t immoral, but also later duplicates Rick’s duplication of Morty’s arguments for why it is. We’ve seen Rick deal with doubles that he hates before, however, unlike the episodes dealing with the Citadel of Ricks, in this Rick doesn’t immediately recognize that Zeep is doing exactly what he is. This makes it even more humorous when we see Rick mocking Zeep for being a hypocrite, to Morty’s annoyance. This is an interesting subset of the Doppelgänger myth, with everyone being able to see that the two are identical except for the actual duplicates.
This episode was used brilliantly by Wisecrack to illustrate Dan Harmon’s dedication to the story circle. I’ve embedded it below, but here are the steps that Harmon says dictate a traditional story arc:
- A character is in a zone of comfort,
- But they want something.
- They enter an unfamiliar situation,
- Adapt to it.
- Get what they wanted,
- Pay a heavy price for it,
- Then return to their familiar situation,
- Having changed.
If you want a classic example of this, read The Hobbit. However, since television shows can’t have the main characters change every episode, he says that there is a special “Futility” arc that happens within television that basically makes the whole show take place within step 4 of the true arc. The TV arc is:
- The main character
- notices a small problem,
- and make a major decision.
- This changes things
- to some satisfaction, but
- there are consequences
- that must be undone
- and they must admit the futility of change.
This episode is pretty much exactly that, but it also contains other cycles involving a different character within their own sub-universe. It might even have continued if Kyle’s civilization had developed sufficiently to create yet another sub-universe, or if Kyle hadn’t responded to the realization of his universe’s nature by killing himself. Either way, I just love how perfectly structured this episode is under the rules of Dan Harmon’s TV futility arc.
The car telling Summer “My function is to keep Summer safe, not keep Summer being, like, totally stoked about, like, the general vibe and stuff. That’s you. That’s how you talk” is one of the funniest lines to me. The car is reminding her that it is doing its job, but only within the letter of the law, and everytime the car has to think around her, it’s making it think less of Summer. Ultimately, Summer’s restrictions on the car are what end up ruining Rick’s happy ending in the episode, so maybe it would have been better to just have the car emotionally cripple everyone? Or was it worth it for spider peace? Some things will never be certain.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
So, I think that the episode implies that Zeep isn’t as smart as Rick, even though Zeep says otherwise. First, Zeep has to use the Government’s resources to create a miniverse, as opposed to Rick building one in the garage. Second, Zeep’s miniverse is designed to power his civilization, whereas Rick’s just powers his battery, meaning that what is the be-all end-all of Zeep’s inventing is something so mundane to Rick that it doesn’t even power his lab, just his car. Third, his miniverse is larger than Rick’s microverse, despite producing the same amount of energy. I’m not counting the fact that he doesn’t master multiverse travel, because Zeep doesn’t live in a multiverse.
If I was to hazard a guess as to why the Rick equivalent in the microverse isn’t as smart as Rick, I’d say that it’s probable that no sub-universe can be more complicated than the parent universe. I know that the science in this show is basically supermagic, but it does make sense that no engineer would bother to make a more complex, or even equally complex, version of their universe in order to just generate power.
Sorry, guys, I don’t have a great one for this episode, it’s kind of air-tight.
LEAVING THE CORNER
I can’t articulate why I like this episode so much. A lot of it is that Stephen Colbert’s portrayal of Zeep is hilarious, but I also just love watching Rick constantly ignore the obvious that he and Zeep are almost the same person.
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.
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