Interdimensional Cable gets skipped this season in order to show us a clip show of all of the adventures Rick and Morty don’t want us to know about.
Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) are escaping from a dream-like dimension populated by a figure who very much resembles Dream from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Rick warns Morty not to look at their prize, the Truth Tortoise, in the eyes, but Morty reveals that he already did before dropping the Truth Tortoise. A few days later, Morty is being tortured by his inability to forget all of the information which the Truth Tortoise put in his head (apparently it’s “everything”) and Rick offers to erase the memories from his mind before revealing that he’s done this many, many times, even having a secret room filled with stolen memories, which Rick calls “Morty’s Mind Blowers.”
Rick then proceeds to play a series of highlights from the stored memories for Morty, including “Moonspiracy,” where Morty ends up accidentally driving a man to suicide. There are a ton of other shorts and it quickly becomes apparent that, despite claiming otherwise, Rick organizes the memories by who blew Morty’s mind, which each correspond to a different color (Blue is himself, purple is the family, red is Rick, and green and yellow are undefined). Morty becomes angry at finding out that Rick has been erasing memories without him asking in order to avoid embarrassment and attacks him. Rick tries to erase his memory, but both of them end up getting their memories erased.
The pair don’t remember their own identities or each other, but Rick deduces that they’re in a room of stored memories and tells Morty to try them out. Morty starts uploading as many memories as possible, finding out horrible things that have happened to him. Eventually, Morty is overwhelmed and decides to kill himself. Rick, believing in Morty’s conviction, puts a gun to his head. They’re both about to pull the trigger when Summer (Spencer Grammer) arrives. She reveals that this has happened before and activates “scenario 4” protocol. She tranquilizes the pair, restores their memories, and puts them on the couch in front of the TV. They yell at her and leave, with her telling them “no wonder you’re constantly fighting with each other and behind schedule.” At the end of the episode, we see a “Jerry’s (Chris Parnell) Mind Blower” in which Jerry screws up an E.T.-esque plan and kills an alien.
This episode addresses the idea of “are we us if we don’t remember being us?” and combines it with “are other people them if we don’t remember them being them?” The concept of how much memory, or the lack thereof, shapes our existence has been done in a ton of shows, with characters changing after they lose their memories, but this is a rare occasion in which another character completely has control over the amnesia. Moreover, that person is Rick Sanchez, which naturally leads to hilarity ensuing. Rick appears to not only have no moral qualms over wiping Morty’s mind, but it’s revealed that he actually does it to maintain the image of superiority.
I think one of the best parts of the episode is the revelation that Morty is basically being treated like an audience surrogate. Thanks to Rick, he’s only party to a fraction of his own life that’s being curated both to keep him from remembering things which are two traumatic for him, but also to eliminate memories which would change his relationships with Rick and with his family. Much as how Morty’s views of Beth and Summer are changed by the revelation that Beth picked Summer over Morty or his respect for Rick wanes when he learns that Rick used the phrase “taken for granite,” so too do we gain new insight into them. If this were reality instead of fiction, these things very well could happen all the time when we’re not watching (and apparently they do), but one natural aspect of fiction is that we are only interacting with a selected fraction of the world and that fraction is how we derive our images of the characters. When we are given more material that shows the characters acting differently, then we have to reshape it. Look at how people felt betrayed by Atticus Finch when Go Set a Watchman came out, because it displayed an aspect of the character (racism) that we previously hadn’t seen.
Aside from that, we have the typical amnesia question of “is Morty better off not knowing?” After all, it’s not that any of these things didn’t happen, it’s that he isn’t able to remember them and therefore is incapable of learning from them. From a meta-narrative standpoint, it’s that he’s not allowed to grow or change from anything which the audience didn’t witness. It’d be crazy if we were watching a character recover from a trauma or grow from a challenge that happened entirely offscreen. From an in-universe standpoint, this probably is less for Morty’s benefit and more so that Rick can control what Morty has within his mind, which probably makes him easier to manipulate.
Mostly, though, this episode was another way to do an Interdimensional Cable episode without having to actually do Interdimensional Cable. Many of the vignettes in this are entirely visual, which apparently was because Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland wanted to give some of the animators the opportunity to express themselves more on the show. It also naturally saved Roiland from having to improvise more material, because this episode did not appear to be spontaneous like those episodes. Still, it works.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Back in “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind,” we see Rick’s memories, one of which famously sparked a number of wild and idiotic theories (including mine). Namely, when we see Rick looking at a young Morty, despite it being established in the series that Rick had disappeared decades prior. Well, this episode gives us a way that Rick can see Morty as a child and Beth also think he’s been gone for decades: He just erased everyone else’s memory. We know that he’s at least erased Jerry’s memory for Jerry’s own benefit (likely on Beth’s request), so it stands to reason that he’s willing to erase memories aside from Morty’s.
Why would Rick do that? Well, it probably would be a lot easier for him. We know in the past that Rick could be tracked by certain parties when he didn’t have Morty’s brainwaves, which meant he was usually on the run. However, he still would have to have monitored Morty’s development in order to know when Morty would start to actually be useful as a human shield. So, whenever he interacted with the Smith family, he just erased their memory, that way no one could interrogate them for information about his whereabouts.
LEAVING THE CORNER
It’s a fun episode, but it has a lot of great meta-narrative that makes it more fun.
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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