Rick and Morty take a spa day and almost destroy the world with their toxicity.
Rick (Justin Roiland) picks Morty (Roiland) up from school for what he claims will be a short adventure, but it ends up taking days and almost killing both of them. The two are so stressed they both almost have mental breakdowns, resulting in Rick saying they deserve a vacation. The two go to an alien spa and have a full round of relaxing treatments, including going into a final machine which is supposed to “completely remove” their toxins. The pair quickly find themselves in a toxic, gooey world filled with monsters. They believe that the machine exploded and took the spa with it, but they discover the truth: They’re not the real Rick and Morty. They’re the toxic parts that were separated from Rick and Morty, who are currently headed home. Toxic Rick starts to plot a way out of the horror world.
Morty discovers that the detox has removed all of his insecurities, making him confident and popular. He even manages to get a date with Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), his crush, but the date goes terribly due to Morty’s sociopathic overconfidence. He proceeds to rebound with a girl named Stacy (Tara Strong), but when he takes her back to the house, he finds that Rick has been receiving messages from the Toxic World and is preparing to re-merge himself and Morty with their toxic counterparts. Morty believes Toxic Rick could be lying and gets Stacy to save him, which turns out to be the right move as Toxic Rick was planning on just taking their place and not re-merging. Rick and Toxic Rick fight, with both evenly matched, until Toxic Rick decides it’d be easier to make the whole world toxic like him.
Rick at first refuses to stop Toxic Rick, saying that he can’t assert his own beliefs on what gets destroyed or saved, but Morty slaps him and Rick suddenly realizes something: The toxic parts were removed based on the user’s definition of toxicity. Toxic Rick uses two miniverse batteries and a moonlight tower to turn the world toxic, making everyone terrible. Rick arrives and reveals that the Toxic version got one thing Rick defines as toxic: Irrational attachments to people. He then shoots Toxic Morty, threatening to kill him if they don’t voluntarily re-merge. Toxic Rick agrees, but then Morty flees, not wanting his weaknesses back. Toxic Morty dies, but Rick preserves his essence.
Weeks later, Morty is a top salesman at a New York brokerage firm. He’s living with an attractive woman in an expensive apartment, but receives a call from Jessica asking him to come back. He knows it’s a trap, but he fails to hang up the phone and Rick and Jessica find him and turn him into his former self. He later sees Jessica at school and she says it’s good to have him back.
This episode has an interesting take on the traditional Jekyll and Hyde story. Rather than being split into “good” and “evil,” this is actually closer to the aim of the original story by having the two halves separated by what urges the original wants to suppress. Jekyll wants his violent tendencies gone, Rick wants his arrogance and his irrationality gone. Morty, on the other hand, wants all of his weaknesses gone, something that makes him much more traditionally evil than he was before, resulting in him being what appears to be Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s basically what happens when you apply moral relativism into the trope.
Interestingly, when we see “toxic world,” it actually appears to be less based around emphasizing the traits that the people are trying to suppress and instead to be based more around bringing out everyone’s id, making them all mindlessly aggressive, hypersexual, and cruel. One particularly notable remark is made by Father Bob (William Holmes) when he becomes toxic: “God is a lie. We made him up for money!” Even if that is what Bob actually believes, it’s unlikely that he believes the part of him that would admit God is a scam would be the “toxic” part of him. Also, a bunch of children go cannibalistic, and I don’t think that’s something kids would define as toxic, because children would kill you if they were bigger than you and they like thinking about it. NEVER TRUST CHILDREN.
A few fun things from this episode:
One is that Toxic Rick uses Miniverse Batteries from the Microverse in “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” rather than Rick’s typical Microverse Battery to power his invention, which suggests that one of Rick’s toxic traits is his desire not to use other people’s work. Apparently Rick had more respect for Zeep Zanflorp’s design than he thought. Also, Toxic Rick is a monster because he apparently burns out both of those universes when he makes the world toxic, meaning he just committed omnicide twice over.
Another thing is what I am convinced is the most obscure joke this show has done, when Morty asks Rick if he’s familiar with “Ben Wa” technology. First, this is a reference to Ben Wa balls, which are small balls (or smooth oval objects) which are used for sexual stimulation of the vagina. Since Morty’s clearly with a kinky girl when he asks the question, that makes sense. However, I believe that the way he asks it is also a reference to Hubert Benoit, the French Psychotherapist whose work foreshadowed integral psychology and integral spirituality, both of which involve using both of the good and bad traits within an individual to address the whole of a person. Considering that’s what most of this episode is about, that would be pretty much a perfect in-joke. Or maybe it really is just about shoving balls inside someone and I’m overthinking it. There’s a sentence I don’t think gets written enough.
The fight between Rick and Toxic Rick is hilarious to me and I think there are some solid lines from the overconfident American Psycho Morty. This is a pretty good episode.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Okay, so, this is actually more of a rebuttal to a complaint that people repeatedly made about this episode: That Rick reveals that he doesn’t have any of his irrational attachments and yet he still acts like he loves Morty even more than usual. I must have heard a half-dozen reviewers complain about it like it’s a glaring flaw in the episode and I’m here to say that no, it’s not, it’s just weird and complicated.
Here’s the thing: When Rick first realizes that the machine separated out the things that HE decided were toxic, he’s surprised to realize that he doesn’t have any irrational attachments to Morty anymore. Despite that, earlier in the episode Rick says that he’s proud to be Morty’s grandfather. How is it possible that Rick can feel pride in Morty but not have an irrational attachment?
When Rick lists to Toxic Rick what has gone over in the transfer, he says that Toxic Rick has his entitlement, narcissism, crippling loneliness, and his irrational attachments. The thing is that an “irrational” attachment is something that would lead Rick to put the welfare of Morty so high that he would not be able to continue to make rational decisions. That’s not to say that Rick doesn’t value Morty’s welfare, but it’s only to the extent that Morty’s welfare provides a rational benefit to Rick. Similarly, we see Morty tell Rick he loves him, despite getting rid of most of his insecurities and emotional weaknesses. That’s because Morty only got rid of his vulnerabilities, which is to say that he got rid of his ability to love Rick so much that he allows Rick to convince him to do things against his self interest. He can still love Rick, but it’s not in a way that would ever be consider selfless.
LEAVING THE CORNER
So, most of you probably have heard that Season 4 has been announced. Some of you might also have realized that this blog ends the week before the first episode of the new season airs. That’s because Dan Harmon actually asked me to start this blog and has been providing me with these theories as part of a guerrilla marketing scheme.
Kidding, I’m just psyched for Season 4 and the scheduling kinda worked out. I look forward to reviewing it. Take it easy, kids.
Overall, I give this episode a
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.
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