Rick and Mondays – S4E8 “The Vat of Acid Episode” 

Rick decides to take Morty down a notch.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) go to a shady criminal exchange and, when it goes awry, Rick tells Morty to jump into a fake vat of acid which has air hoses and fake bones. Unfortunately, the gangsters end up standing around talking for a long time, finally annoying Morty so much that he kills them out of frustration. Rick gets angry at Morty for criticizing his idea about the vat of acid and Morty gets angry at Rick for never taking his ideas seriously, specifically an idea for a “save point” which allows someone to reload reality from the last save point. Rick ends up building the device, which Morty proceeds to use to wreak havoc and live out every urge he has without consequences. However, he ends up meeting a beautiful young woman with whom he has a great relationship… until Jerry deletes the whole thing by accident and Morty ends up ruining the next attempt. 

S4E8 - 1Vat
I’m surprised that the Mountain Dew isn’t burning their eyes.

Morty apologizes to Rick and says that he learned a lesson about living without consequences. Rick then reveals that there WERE consequences. Rather than using time travel (the thing Rick hates), Rick’s device worked by shunting Morty to parallel universes… after murdering the Mortys that already occupied them. Morty, horrified at his suicidal genocide, asks Rick to fix it, so Rick offers to collapse it so that there is a universe where Morty did everything that was undone by the save point, but that means that everyone he wronged will be there. Morty agrees, and finds an angry mob hunting for him. Rick gives him an out in the form of the exact same vat of acid that he used at the beginning. Morty ends up faking his death with the acid and Rick takes them back to their original universe (having put the mob in another one so that he wouldn’t have to move). 

END SUMMARY

This episode seems a little out of place because it is the eighth episode of a season, but isn’t this season’s anthology episode. I dunno if the order change was part of the message of the sixth episode that Rick and Morty is going to keep changing and trying new things or if the network reordered them a bit or if the fact that the anthology was the eighth episode of the other seasons was just coincidence. However, we do get the montage of Morty using the “save point” in hilarious ways, which satisfies my rapid-fire joke requirement. 

S4E8 - 2Chair
Including having a bar called “Pour Decisions.” 

The fact that the “save point” montage is so long (clocking in at a solid 7 minutes or ⅓ of the episode) is impressive because it tells two completely separate narratives in two different, but overlapping, styles and never feels either rushed or slow. For comparison, the two snake montages in “Rattlestar Ricklactica” combined are shorter and, if I’m being honest, they start to wear thin by the end of the second time-travel one. It’s interesting that the montage is a combination of the typical Groundhog Day “living it up” sequence (and later a multiple suicide sequence), an Up-esque “falling in love” sequence, and an Alive-style survival sequence, somehow linked together flawlessly. It should be tonally jarring, but thanks in large part to a masterful use of non-verbal storytelling and music cues, it works. 

S4E8 - 3Montage
I feel like this is a South Park reference, but maybe that’s a stretch.

Similar to many of this season’s episodes, there is an underlying theme of being slightly concerned for the future of Rick and Morty and through them the show itself. Morty is shown slowly growing less amused and less impressed by Rick’s antics and inventions, starting with the self-parking car and extending to the vat of fake acid. This is similar to how, over a long enough show, the audience can start to be less interested in a character’s development, particularly if a seemingly intelligent character, like Rick, makes a seemingly stupid decision… like a fake acid vat. He defends it by saying that there are no bad ideas, but Morty, as the fan surrogate, basically says that they should use one of his ideas. So, in response to Morty’s attitude, Rick creates an extremely enjoyable adventure that ends with a major existential crisis and somehow makes the seemingly dumb idea not just relevant but brilliant. This seems like the show telling us that even though we might seem to see problems showing up in Rick and Morty, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that it’s going somewhere good in the end. I also like that, as Rick said to Morty, “the world [knew] when [he tried] to hurt [him],” a reminder that you do NOT mess with Rick Sanchez.

S4E8 - 4Gun
This isn’t even his good gun. This is just the ladle gun. 

Honestly, a solid episode of the show. I’m feeling more confident about this show’s future as the season goes on.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

I realize that a lot of theories in this show boil down to “Rick’s lying,” but that’s what’s happening in this episode as well. Rick is lying to Morty about how the “save point” works. Rick states that every time that Morty resets the world, a Morty who was doing the same thing at the same time would die and then Morty would take over their timeline. However, there are a few things that indicate that it probably does NOT work like that and that Rick actually just resorted to either time travel or, more likely, just reorganizing the universe back to an earlier state, because Rick is basically a god when motivated. 

S4E8 - 5Merged
Behold the One True Morty. Wait, we did that already.

First, Rick kills Morty before announcing that the device worked and brought Morty back to life by operating the device himself. If this device worked as intended, then Rick would have shifted himself into another dimension where he didn’t kill Morty in order to reset the save point (as the operator), meaning that Rick would have had to kill another Rick and take his place. Given that THAT Rick would also have just built a “save point,” it seems inconceivable that Rick wouldn’t have something in place that would prevent him from being murdered by an alternate timeline as part of building the device. Otherwise, half of the Ricks would be dying in order to be replaced by another Rick at that time. Second, if Rick really was just killing a mass number of Mortys the entire time, then a bunch of OTHER Ricks were likely to show up and be pissed at him. If there are an infinite number of Ricks and Mortys that are playing out multiple timelines and Rick is ultimately combining all of them into one reality, then all of the Ricks from those timelines would either have combined (which we didn’t see) or they’d be showing up trying to claim the Morty. Third, you can’t collapse all of the Mortys, because a LOT of them died. If you collapse those into Morty, then, well, a lot of people should be confused as to how Morty did anything or is still standing. Lastly, Rick tells Morty “let’s go home,” but he just told Morty that he wasn’t that Morty’s original Rick before the collapse, saying that it doesn’t matter because “every Rick has a vat.” If this Rick and this Morty weren’t from the same universe, then Rick wouldn’t have needed to take Morty to another universe before wrecking it, he would just have let Morty wreck his original world and then Rick would go back to HIS original world. Instead, Rick picked another Earth.

S4E8 - 6Vat
Also, what did he do 

Given the fact that Rick is lying about the save point, it seems more likely that, rather than having the device do alternate timeline jumps and collapsing them back into one, which would require merging many, many universes, Rick just had the device monitor all of the shitty stuff Morty did, then reshape that Earth so that it was in a state identical to if Morty had done it. In other words, Rick comes up with an elaborate escape scenario to fool Morty… just like the vat of acid was supposed to work in the beginning. God, I love this show.

Overall, I give this episode an

A-

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in a week.

PREVIOUS – 38: Promortyus

NEXT – 40: Childrick of Mort

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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