It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets every sitcom where the main character runs into their “unhealthy ex” on this week’s episode.
Rick (Justin Roiland), Summer (Spencer Grammer), and Morty (Roiland) are in space when they pick up a distress beacon. Rick follows it so he can loot the ship, but they find survivors who tell everyone that there is an entity taking over the minds of those it infects. They’re immediately infected themselves. Rick prepares to fight, but it’s revealed that the hive-mind entity is actually Unity (Christina Hendricks), his ex-girlfriend.
They return to the planet that Unity has recently taken over. Summer immediately is put off by the nature of Unity’s expansion by enslaving people to her will, despite the fact that Unity has improved the quality of life massively. Morty and Summer go off to explore the planet while Rick proceeds to rekindle his relationship with Unity. When another hive-mind named Beta-Seven (Patton Oswalt) comes to trade with Unity, Rick mocks him until he leaves, at which point he and Unity use Beta-Seven’s supplies to make mind-altering drugs and alcohol.
Back on Earth, Jerry (Chris Parnell) discovers that Rick has a secret basement lab under the garage. He and Beth (Sarah Chalke) get into a fight over her being unable to stand up to Rick until they find a captive alien. The two of them begin fighting more and more about Rick’s behavior until the alien, revealed to be Blim Blam the Korblock (John “I’m the f*cking Cryptkeeper” Kassir), escapes and tells them that they are the “f*cking worst” even by the standards of him, a baby-eating alien murderer with Space AIDS. He tells them that their marriage is terrible because they hate themselves and each other and Rick has nothing to do with that. He then leaves the planet forever just because he hates them too much to stay.
Back on the Unity Planet, Unity’s alcohol and drug use has reached the point where she’s not able to maintain her control over the population and several people start to gain their freedom back. Unfortunately, this immediately leads to a race war between the people of the planet over the shape of their nipples. Morty and Summer are rescued, barely, by Unity. When they rejoin Unity and Rick, Summer tells Rick to leave with them, because he’s a terrible influence on Unity. He refuses and sends them away, only for Unity to realize that he’s bad for her, even though she loves him, and leave him in a letter.
Rick returns home and is confronted by Beth over the basement lab, which he immediately apologizes for and concedes the point to Beth. He then tells her he’s not going to leave and tells the kids that he left Unity. Immediately afterwards, in one of the bleakest sequences in the show, Rick then goes to the lab and attempts to commit suicide. He survives by passing out slightly before the death ray fires. Later, he confronts Beta-Seven in order to see Unity again, but Beta-Seven stops him and Rick leaves.
We actually learn quite a bit about Rick in this episode. First, we learn that he has actually had relationships other than his failed marriage to Beth’s mother. Well, one relationship, at least. Given how much Rick continually disdains marriage and the idea of love, it makes sense that he might seek out relationships which, by their nature, almost certainly can’t lead to marriage. As for love, Rick certainly doesn’t seem to actually care about Unity in any loving manner and he very much uses her love of him to manipulate her into doing what he wants. However, at the end of the episode, Rick’s reaction to Unity’s break-up and the accompanying note leads him to be so depressed that he cries and attempts to kill himself, suggesting that he either actually did have feelings for her, or at least realizes that she didn’t deserve to be treated the way that he treated her. Literally any of those reasons would be a revelation about Rick’s character.
Second, we learn that Rick really has a thing for redheads, is pansexual, and has daddy issues. Given that Beth is a blonde, Rick has blue-grey hair (and, since his 14-year-old clone did, too, apparently always has), Jerry has brown hair, and Jerry’s mother has blonde hair, this means that Summer’s red hair is likely a recessive trait inherited from her grandmother, Rick’s ex-wife. As such, Rick’s insane lust over redheads, telling Unity to get all of them naked in a stadium, could be a sign that he still has repressed feelings for his wife, or maybe that’s part of the reason he fell for her in the first place. Additionally, we get a sign that Rick has some father issues when he tells Unity that he wants to have sex with her in front of any man that even remotely resembles his father. We even, disturbingly, get to hear this later when the stadium chants “go, son, go!” The idea of Rick, who is borderline amoral and an admittedly terrible father, being the product of another terrible parent is believable, but sadly common and mundane. Still, this is a revelation about Rick.
Unity is a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and other such films where a single hive-mind takes over. The difference is, with Unity, the episode actually makes the case that individual will is overrated when compared to societal progress. Unity might not allow the people to act according to their own desires, but the planet improves massively under her rule. Part of that is that people, especially the ones on this planet, suck. The minute they’re free, rather than trying to fight Unity or rebuild, they immediately start a race war. It’s hard to go downhill from that. It reminds me a little of a line from Alan Moore’s Miracleman: “If you see a kid about to drink bleach, you take the bleach out of his hand. There’s no discussion of ‘free will’ about it.” That same line of thinking is used in that series to justify taking complete control of humanity, but the result is a utopia, much like with Unity.
Jerry’s and Beth’s plotline is basically just a continuation of their constant marital strife. In this, though, Blim Blam says something that often get overlooked: Rick is just the catalyst, he is not the cause. Beth hates herself for not living up to her own image of success, Jerry hates himself for his weakness and insecurity, and both of them hate the other for constantly keeping them from fixing those problems. In Unity’s letter, she actually acknowledges that she’s okay with Rick being Rick, but that her being okay with it means that she has problems with herself that she needs to address. The difference is, by leaving, Unity figures out how to address her problem, because she can’t separate from Rick enough while he’s present to ever work on herself.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Alright, so, there are a few theories about the creature that Rick kills before he tries to kill himself. Sadly, a few were destroyed by Ryan Ridley and Justin Roiland, who stated that the creature is in unstoppable pain and therefore was being freed by death and that was its purpose in the narrative. One theory said that it was a creature possessed by Unity that Rick had saved to always be close to her, but the eyes are the wrong color for someone possessed by Unity. Instead, I think that the creature, which seems to be a Cronenberg, was the last thing Rick saved from his previous universe and, not to be dark, I think it was a mutated baby.
Hear me out, we witness a lot of people dying in the process of everyone becoming Cronenbergs and Rick and Morty were on the planet for a while after the mutations started. I think that Rick found an abandoned mutant baby that was suffering due to all of the changes and froze it, not to try and give it comfort, but to have a test subject. See, if you’re amoral or have… alternate morality… as Rick does, then a baby is likely going to be the best test subject for any genetic treatment since their cells are still changing, there are fewer of them, the test subject is easier to transport, and the subject’s metabolism is higher. I believe that Rick took the baby with them and planned on using it as a test subject to cure the Cronenberg-ism in case he and Morty ever needed to find another dimension. That way, they could just go back to their regular dimension, cure everyone, and resume life as usual.
This means that Rick’s killing of the creature is akin to murder, but is also probably an act of mercy in his opinion, since the baby would just die if it was sent back to C-137. However, what it mostly indicates is that Rick has completely given up on ever going back and he wanted to grant it a quick death rather than allow it to thaw and die slowly or get discarded by the Smith family. He also wanted to test that the death ray worked, of course, but it makes sense that Rick would want to double check that his suicide method is effective. After all, what if he just crippled himself or removed his ability to drink alcohol? That’d just make his life harder.
So, yeah, that’s Rick killing a baby he mutated through his own incompetence which he planned on experimenting on so that he could have another escape option available. It’s Rick, he’s a monster. This shouldn’t shock you.
LEAVING THE CORNER
Overall, this is one of the darkest episodes of Rick and Morty and also one of the most subversive in its message. Since those things are what the show calls “The Wheelhouse,” that also makes it one of the best.
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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