I don’t know what to say except that somehow this show is actually pretty good.
Animal rescuer Sam-I-Am (Adam DeVine) steals a priceless Chickeraffe (half-chicken, half-giraffe, all Seuss). However, while at a diner, his bag gets mixed up with failed inventor Guy-Am-I (Michael “Yes, that Michael Douglas” Douglas). From there, the two get mixed up in wacky adventures trying to return the Chickeraffe while pursued by BADGUY agents McWinkle (Jeffrey Wright) and Gluntz (Jillian Bell). Along the way there’s a billionaire with fake hair (Eddie Izzard), an overprotective mom, Michellee (Diane “Yes, the one from Annie Hall” Keaton) and her wild daughter, E.B. (Ilana Glazer), a Goat (John Turturro), a Fox (Tracy Morgan), and a Mouse (Daveed Diggs), all under the Narrator’s (Keegan-Michael Key) watchful gaze.
There’s a show of Green Eggs and Ham. Let me write that again: There is a show, a television show featuring 13 half-hour episodes, based on a book that famously only has 50 words in it. In the most recent season of BoJack Horseman there’s a gag about a TV show being made based on a “Happy Birthday, Love Dad” greeting card and apparently it’s well received. That was supposed to be a commentary on the fact that we’ve adapted all the books and Hollywood has had to move on to cards. This show is apparently presented completely unironically on the same streaming service and… well, it’s impressively good.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be heralded as a revolution in animation, but I genuinely enjoyed watching it. The main characters have a surprising amount of depth, the world that it takes place in is probably the most Seuss-ian of any that’s been put on screen (and yes, I’m including the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and the show actually ties into the original story of Green Eggs and Ham. Each of the episodes is focused on one of the things that Sam-I-Am tries to pitch in the book (“Fox,” “Train,” “Box,” “Rain,” etc.) and in each one of them he pitches eating Green Eggs and Ham to Guy-Am-I based on that particular thing, just like in the book. That’s actually an example of what this show nails: It manages to be true to the spirit of the original book while also expanding and explaining it.
The theme of the original story of Green Eggs and Ham was that you should not be afraid to try new things, however, the persistence with which Sam-I-Am tried to pitch the foodstuffs to the character now called Guy-Am-I led to the story being accused of telling kids never to take no for an answer. Naturally, not obeying someone’s wishes about not wanting to do something is not a great lesson. The show manages to subtly change this. Rather than not accepting Guy-Am-I’s wishes, each time Sam accepts the rejection, then brings up the eggs in a different context in the next episode, but always allowing Guy an out. It makes the message clear that you can respect someone’s wishes and still try to convince them to step out of their comfort zone once in a while. It’s a tough balance, but I think they pulled it off.
The show’s writing is unbelievably creative, somehow managing to have the slapstick and inane feel of Dr. Seuss while also being clever and, at times, genuinely touching. There are some very sad and pensive moments in this show, something that you would never expect from a show involving green eggs and ham. In fact, the reveal of exactly what the food represents is an unbelievably touching moment. Still, the humor, particularly the commentary by Key as the Narrator, is pretty funny and works on a similar multi-generational level to things like The Muppet Show, encouraging parents to watch it with their kids.
Honestly, though, this show almost single-handedly restores my faith in human creativity, because even if we are, in fact, reduced to the point of claiming to be inspired by greeting cards in order to get a show greenlit, someone can still add and adapt it enough to make it work as a solid narrative. I recommend this to anyone with kids, and anyone who is a kid at heart.
Rick tracks down a crappy thief, Jerry develops an app, Morty tries to save the Earth from Jerry, Summer tries to find love, and Beth tries to parent Summer.
Rick (Justin Roiland) has a new intern named Glootie (Taika “What We Do In Ragnarok” Waititi) who is obsessed with developing an app. To keep people from agreeing to help him, Rick has actually tattooed “do not develop my app” on his face. Despite this, when Rick goes to use his private toilet, Jerry (Chris Parnell) agrees to help Glootie. The rest is split by plotline.
Rick arrives on his private planet dedicated to his private toilet, only to find out that someone else broke in and pooped on it. Rick goes to elaborate lengths, including single-handedly winning a war, to find the culprit, a man named Tony (Jeffrey Wright). Rick threatens to kill Tony, but ultimately chooses to just shove a portable farting, pooping butt in his office. Tony then comes back to poop again, so Rick puts him in a Matrix-like simulation of paradise which he ends up rejecting. Rick declines again to kill him, which Tony takes as a sign of friendship, though Rick denies this. Finally, Rick comes to give Tony permission to use his toilet, only to find out that Tony died from trying to live life to the fullest, having been empowered by using Rick’s crapper. Rick, seemingly sad about this, still denies being Tony’s friend, then goes and sits on his toilet, revealing that he’d booby-trapped it to mock Tony mercilessly. Rick sits in the rain being mocked by his own voice about how pathetic and lonely he is.
Jerry develops his app with Glootie, revealed to be a dating app which Jerry names Lovefinderrz. Morty (Roiland), upon finding out about it, realizes that the app has to be dangerous because of Rick’s precautions. He orders Glootie to take it down, but Glootie says he can’t, because the server’s on the mothership. Morty and Jerry then threaten their way onto the mothership and meet Glootie’s leader (Sam Neill) and his wife (Kathleen Turner). It turns out that Glootie’s people have used up all their water and are using the app to drive everyone into a frenzy to help lower Earth’s defenses. Presumably everyone will either be too distracted to notice the water theft, or will be too exhausted from loving to stop it. Rick and Jerry escape and try to destroy the server, but are recaptured due to Jerry’s idiocy. When Glootie is sent to kill them, Jerry points out that, despite his species’ claim to have perfected relationships, Glootie is alone. The app has failed him. Glootie frees them and destroys the app by adding a paywall.
Summer (Spencer Grammer) downloads the app and starts a sequence of intense flings. Beth (Sarah Chalke) keeps tracking her down, trying to stop her. Eventually, with Summer on her fourth “soul mate,” Beth manages to confront her, telling her that she’s going to parent her no matter what. Summer fights back, but Beth is winning the fight until the app goes down, and everything goes back to normal.
Okay, cards on the table, I didn’t think this was a spectacular episode of Rick and Morty. Not that it was bad, but I honestly think they pitched this as “I bet we can make an entire episode of poop jokes lead to a poignant moment of revelation.” The problem is that most of the jokes in the Rick plotline just didn’t land for me. I mean, there are some that are funny, but they’re not as funny as I would usually expect from the show. Maybe it’s just a personal preference thing. I will say that a lot of the other jokes in the other plotlines worked for me, even the ones that were kind of repeats or predictable. For example, when Morty tells Jerry “I started today disgusted and embarrassed to be your son. Then, later, I thought we were gonna die because you’re a loser,” the obvious joke there is that Morty doesn’t follow it up with a “but.” However, Jerry, now somewhat genre-savvier, predicts it, leading Morty to just say “quit f*cking up.” It’s pretty great that this is like a 3rd-level subversion of a tired joke. Eventually, the humorous thing may be to play it straight again. Then there’s the Fly mob boss who just lampshades the fact that Rick is asking about a sandwich, something that does nothing to explore the boss’s potential backstory. That’s such an unexpected and hilarious joke, because it basically tells the audience that they came up with this character completely for a throw-away gag. So, there were decent jokes, but there weren’t as many bust-a-gut moments as I’m used to.
As usual, the team behind the show remind us that they are masters at structuring the episode around A, B, and even C plots. The events of this episode take place over the course of roughly a week, which makes sense, but by cutting between them, it feels like a much tighter story. The storylines in this episode all seem to be based around demonstrating how the characters have changed since the first season. The Rick story is about Rick demonstrating how much he wants to isolate himself from others, to the point of pooping on his own planet, before realizing that he is just avoiding being close to others. He also realizes that one of the only people who tried to understand him on a deeper level is now dead, meaning Rick is even more alone than before. In the B-Plot, Morty is starting to be more assertive and honest with Jerry, while Jerry actually goes along with Morty on an adventure without being a coward. In the C-Plot, Beth actually tries to be a functioning parent to Summer, while Summer… well, Summer hasn’t changed that much, except that she’s moved from crushes to active sexual relationships, I guess. I just think it’s interesting that there’s an episode that basically shows off the character growth.
This episode also seems to suggest that there are two competing themes for this season. The first, which the last episode pointed out directly, is that this season is about balance and compromise in the storytelling. Sometimes they’ll be experimental, like the way the shots accompany Rick pooping are vast and beautiful landscapes, and sometimes they’ll be more traditional, like having a story-arc based around Jerry screwing up and Morty having to bail him out. However, the second theme appears to be that of human connection. In the first episode, the only thing that saves Rick and Morty is Wasp Rick having empathy towards Rick’s situation, something that’s abnormal for Ricks. Morty’s obsession with Jessica, similarly, causes him to distance himself from others, including a skinny-dipping Jessica. In this episode, we see Rick constantly reject connection only for him to realize at the end that it’s the reason he’s so alone and sad. We see Jerry and Morty only being saved by Jerry making an emotional connection with Glootie. We see Summer only being kept repeatedly from making a terrible mistake because Beth cares enough for her to keep trying to stop her. We also see that the form of connection that Glootie’s people seem to think is “optimized” is in fact completely false, as even their leaders end up getting divorced at the end of the episode. The thing is that Glootie’s people seem to value shallow notions like “soul mates” or empty platitudes more than actual work on relationships or empathy towards each other. I know two episodes don’t show a pattern, but I’m interested to see how this plays out.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
So, I didn’t have a big theory, so here are three mini-theories.
First, why does Rick have Glootie? I think originally Rick got it him because he knew that Jerry would agree to help him create a dating app which would likely lead Beth to find someone better. However, after the last season finale, Rick appears to have realized that he can’t get rid of Jerry, and therefore went ahead and tattooed a warning for Jerry on Glootie’s forehead. Sure, it’s not the biggest precaution, but Rick wanted the free labor and he still doesn’t care for Jerry THAT much.
Second, how does the dating app work? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: The minute you’re no longer interested in the person you have, it finds you a new one. It’s based entirely around infatuation, but once you have anything about your partner that you don’t want or someone better is nearby, then it just supplies you a new infatuation, apparently making you unnaturally attracted to someone else. This doesn’t really optimize relationships, only hookups and flings.
Third, at the end of the episode we see Jerry drink the Globaflyn and hallucinate a dream of being a water delivery man that makes him so happy he tries to lick up the rest of the substance. Why is that what Jerry fantasizes about? Well, earlier Rick says that Globaflyn connects the what-you-have part of your brain with the what-you-want part of your brain. It’s why we see Tony fantasize about an eternity with his wife (what he wants) based around sitting on a toilet (what he has when Rick knocks him out). Jerry has just dealt with a conflict over water, meaning he knows that he has it. What Jerry wants is to be important and loved. Therefore, he is shown using water, what he has, to get respect and admiration, what he wants.
LEAVING THE CORNER
Still a pretty good episode of television, even if it’s not top-tier Rick and Morty.
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.