Morty bangs Captain Planet, kinda.
I know Rick and Morty often does pop culture tributes, but this might be my favorite one so far. Captain Planet, a show that ended in 1996, was a big cultural part of the 1990s and one that represented the hope and unity we believed would come as a result of the end of the Cold War. Unfortunately, in retrospect, it also was ridiculously naïve. The show’s central theme was that each individual working to stop pollution would save the world. While there are a lot of signs that bringing awareness about the environment has managed to mitigate some of the impacts, like flaming rivers and acid rain, people have pointed out that shifting the blame to individuals rather than the much-heavier-polluting corporations has limited the amount that recycling efforts can actually achieve when combating climate change. This episode only touches on that aspect, but, being Rick and Morty, it takes it in a hilariously dark direction.
Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) are buying t-shirts when they witness an acid rain attack by a supervillain named Diesel Weasel (Tom Kenny(?)), who appears to be a cross between Verminous Scumm from the Captain Planet series and the Biker Mice from Mars. Diesel Weasel is quickly defeated by eco-friendly superhero Planetina (Alison Brie), who Morty promptly, and successfully, asks out. Morty chooses to pursue Planetina rather than join Rick on their planned “apocalypse bar crawl,” where they go to three planets that are about to end in order to join in the orgies and debauchery that precedes such events. Summer (Spencer Grammer) agrees to join Rick instead, looking forward to the guilt-free orgy, over objections from Jerry and Beth (Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke). Morty manages to find Planetina again and asks her out again, resulting in them hooking up. When Planetina’s formerly-teenage summoners call her forth at a convention, Morty is accidentally brought with her. This quickly agitates the now middle-aged “Tina-teers,” who kidnap Morty to kill him before selling Planetina to a rich man. Morty escapes and kills the American Tina-Teer (Steve Buscemi), before murdering all of the Tina-teers, freeing Planetina and moving her into the house.
Meanwhile, Rick meets an alien named Daphne (Jennifer Coolidge) on the first planet and brings her along to the next two, much to Summer’s disappointment. Rick insists that what he and Daphne have is special. However, on the third planet, in the middle of the orgy, Summer gets fed up with Rick and saves the planet by destroying the asteroid that’s going to hit it. Rather than being elated, most of the citizens are upset that they have to go to work and live with the stuff they did when they thought they would die. Also, Daphne reveals that she wasn’t really interested in Rick, but was only staying with him to avoid her fate. Rick ends up admitting to Summer that stopping an apocalypse to make a point is something he would do and seems to respect her more. Back on Earth, Morty watches Planetina escalate her anti-pollution efforts from stopping fires to committing arson on politicians and murdering miners. Morty, horrified, breaks up with her. She asks him to reconsider and points out that he violently murdered the Tina-teers, but he refuses to take her back. She tells him off and leaves, with Beth comforting a crying Morty.
This episode is one of the best A-plot and B-plot thematic connections in the series. Both involve the planet dying, but the former evaluates the slow death from climate change that we’re seeing on Earth and the latter involves the sudden and inevitable death suffered by planets undergoing natural cosmic ends. Earth basically ignores it and refuses to take any measure to stop it, with the Tina-teers even trying to sell their champion into sexual slavery. It seems to be a reference to the idea that people will sell out the future of the planet as long as it isn’t concretely going to affect them. Meanwhile, when death is inevitable, people seem to break into hedonism and are freed from the concerns of the future. While I think it’s more likely that a lot of people would try to spend time with their loved ones rather than in an orgy, I’m sure at least some orgies would break out. It’s interesting to note that Summer actually is the only one that saves a planet… but only does it out of spite. I also think that the aliens being pissed at having to go to work was hilarious.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
So, why does Planetina move from just putting out the forest fires to killing miners? Because this might be the first time that she’s actually been out of her rings for a prolonged period of time. The progression of Planetina’s actions is consistent with the idea that she is extremely naive at the beginning (possibly explaining why she would sleep with a teenager), and believes that the solution to pollution is, indeed, the individual. She unfortunately maintains that same belief in the individual, but starts to blame them for not doing “enough.” If she had shifted her focus to punishing the companies or corporate heads that cause most of the pollution, then maybe she could have had more of a point, but she wasn’t willing to break her genuine belief that only individuals can have an impact. So, rather than stopping pipelines or factories, she murders the workers who likely can’t afford to do anything about it.
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.
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