The adult animation returns for more violence, more strong female friendships, and more of a giant shark with a cuddly heart.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)
After the Joker (Alan Tudyk) took over the city, got rid of the Justice League, and captured Batman (Diedrich Bader), Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) finally managed to take down the clown. Unfortunately, his last act was to activate a device that created an 8.2 earthquake (~30 Megatons of TNT or slightly more powerful than the biggest US nuclear device) in the middle of Gotham City. With everything destroyed, Batman gone, Joker presumed dead, and the Justice League trapped in another dimension, Harley finally has the city at her feet. The US Government has declared Gotham no longer part of the US, so no one is planning to come in and stop her. Unfortunately, the Riddler (Jim Rash), Two-Face (Andy Daly), Penguin (Wayne Knight), Mr. Freeze (Alfred Molina), and Bane (James Adomian) have banded together to put the new “No Man’s Land” under their rule. Harley has to deal with the new “Injustice Gang” with the help of her crew: Clayface (Tudyk), Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), Frank the Plant (J.B. Smoove), King Shark (Ron Funches), and Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander).
This show originally didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped. It seemed a little too violent and a little too crass to be what I was looking for. However, when I rewatched it, I found myself really enjoying the show’s fairly unique style of humor, often involving the mundane conversations of the characters that stand in contrast to the fact that they’re involved in superhuman events. For example, when trapped on a magical cloud populated by the giant from Jack in the Beanstalk, Poison Ivy and Harley both are interested in seeing how well-endowed the giant is. It’s a strange diversion, but it works well because it’s just so absurd for the situation.
While the first season focused on Harley’s development in getting past her relationship with the Joker by trying to get into the Legion of Doom, this season starts with her in a new place both emotionally and in terms of power. While she has previously been mocked by most people for her dependence on the Joker and just generally being a female supervillain (Gotham is sexist, unlike the real wor… oh, right), Harley has shown that she is much more intelligent and capable than almost anyone else in the show. However, due to her preference for anarchy, she ends up allowing the other villains to cement power rather than just taking over the city herself, something that gives her yet another personal flaw to overcome for the season.
I will also give the show credit that it starts averting one of the general rules for comic book shows pretty early on in this season. I won’t spoil it, but it took me by surprise (or would have, if the damn ads for the show didn’t ruin it for me).
Honestly, I recommend this show. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to watch it, since there aren’t a ton of people with DC Universe subscriptions and they won’t put the season on Amazon streaming until after the entire season is over. Still, if you can find someone with the account, you should ask to watch this show.
We have two cosmetic plots which our minds mistake for thematic in this episode. Also, vampires are real.
At breakfast, Morty (Justin Roiland) mentions that a lunch lady at his school was exsanguinated by two holes in her neck. Rick (Roiland) points out that it was probably a vampire, something that Summer (Spencer Grammer) is surprised to find out are real. She suggests that Rick transfer his mind into a teenage body so that he can help them find and kill the vampire, something that Rick angrily condemns. Beth (Sarah Chalke) tells Jerry (Chris Parnell) to support his daughter, only for Jerry to be revealed not to be paying attention, leading to a fight. Rick, still crotchety, tells them to fix their marriage or get a divorce. They respond that they’ve tried to do therapy, which Rick derides as “Earth therapy” and then tells them he’ll take them to a therapy center on an alien planet. Rick takes them both, still bickering, to the planet while Summer makes stakes for Buffy-ing.
On the therapy planet, it’s revealed that a key part of the therapy is generating physical representations of how each partner views the other one. Jerry’s vision of Beth is as a Xenomorph-esque monster, while Beth’s vision of Jerry is a weak, worm like version who wants to offer his servitude and sexual favors in exchange for safety. Both of them are pissed at the other for these images, but Glexo Slim Slom (Jim Rash), the head couples’ counselor, tells them both that this is normal and part of the process. He takes Beth and Jerry, along with a number of other couples, through observations of the battles between the monsters generated by the couples, using it as a metaphor for how we envision our partner differently than they actually are. Unseen, Beth’s “Mytholog” communicates with Jerry’s and starts to cover her body with a layer of Jerry’s Mytholog’s blood.
Back on Earth, Rick appears at school in a teenage body, calling himself “Tiny Rick.” He quickly assists the kids in killing “Coach Feratu,” the vampire at the school. Rick’s about to put his mind back into his old body, but it turns out that Tiny Rick is fairly popular at the school and Summer’s crush Toby Matthews (Alex “I CREATED GRAVITY F*CKING FALLS AND AM MAGICAL” Hirsch) asks if he’ll be at a party later. Rick agrees to stay small for party purposes.
Beth and Jerry continue the therapy tour, only for it to appear that their Mythologs have escaped. It’s revealed that the Betholog camouflaged itself and escapes along with the Jerry Mytholog, both of them killing numerous people and rampaging throughout the facility. Glexo realizes what has happened and tells Beth and Jerry that their demons are actually co-dependant, making theirs the single worst marriage that he’s ever seen. He then abandons the two of them to die. Jerry finds a hiding spot, but Beth chooses to try to find a way out before she is abducted by Betholog. Jerry then manages to subdue his Mytholog, due to its blatant cowardice, and tells it to take him to Beth. Betholog tells her that she’s going to be used to produce an army of Jerry Mythologs to help her enslave the universe. Beth sarcastically points out that she should be trying to create more Bethologs, but the Betholog says that there can only be one of her, because she’s so much smarter and stronger than Beth because Jerry thinks Beth is so much stronger and smarter than she actually is.
Back on Earth at the party, Tiny Rick sings a song that appears to be a cry for help from the older version of Rick trapped in a vat in the garage. At school, Tiny Rick continues to refuse to transfer his mind back into his original body. Summer complains, but Morty tells her to get her shit together. At the school dance, Rick sings a song that is clearly about being trapped in the garage. Summer gets him expelled by planting evidence that he killed Coach Feratu, which leads Rick to call her a psycho. Everyone then turns on Summer, having loved Tiny Rick. Tiny Rick goes to destroy his grown body, but Summer and Morty stop him by playing Elliot Smith, leading him to want to be back in his original body. He gets put back in and then destroys all of his clones, dubbing the experiment a failure. He then goes to pick up Beth and Jerry.
Jerry arrives with a gun to kill all of the Mythologs. Beth then thinks that Jerry is heroic, resulting in the machine cranking out first normal Jerrys, then muscular and heroic Jerrys. Jerry tries to save Beth, but is about to die, until he puts the Mytholog Maker on a heroic Jerry, leading to that version creating a literal Goddess Beth, who easily kills the Betholog. In the wreckage of the planet, Beth and Jerry reconcile as a nude, blood-covered Rick picks them up.
This episode, much like “Meeseeks and Destroy,” benefits heavily from the cuts between the A and B plots. While in that episode it allowed us to perfectly split between two advancing plotlines by cutting all of the boring scenes out, in this one it (slightly imperfectly) allows us to do that while also masking the fact that the timeline for this episode seems rather uncertain and uneven. We know that the events of the Tiny Rick plot take at least 3 days, but Beth and Jerry’s therapy appears to go off the rails immediately. Did they just wander around hiding from monsters for 2 days, did the initial tour just take that long, or did the events of their trip play out and then they were waiting for Rick for a few days? Whatever, I didn’t really notice at the time, and I’m sure Dan Harmon has some justification for it. Either way, the fact that I didn’t notice is a credit to the editing.
The vampire is pretty much my favorite plot instigator in the series. It’s so random that vampires are real and that not only is Rick aware of it, but considers people stupid for NOT being aware of it. It’d be the same as the reveal that dragons are real being met with a disinterested “and?” To cap that off, it’s quickly revealed, offscreen, to be Coach Feratu, the least subtle vampire name in history, and he’s dispatched apparently within a few hours. Somehow, apparently, Morty and Summer hadn’t immediately concluded it was the Coach from the beginning, however. That’s why it’s even better when they have the stinger at the end where the head vampire points out that Coach Feratu is a terrible name to hide under and tells them to pick generic names from now on.
At the end of the episode, Jerry tries to connect the themes of the stories, but Rick just responds that the story connections are just cosmetic, not really thematic, which I guess is true. Rick’s story is more related to the fact that people are terrible at having perspective in High School and that accepting aging and the inevitability of death is part of life, while Beth’s and Jerry’s stories are more about how perception shapes relationships. There’s some stuff about how appearances reflect behavior in both stories, but not much more than that in common.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Everything in this episode happens because Rick’s pissed off at breakfast. Well, not the vampire attacks, those clearly are independent of the rest of the episode, but everything besides that. If you watch the opening to the episode, it’s apparent that Rick is even more crotchety than usual. He acts disdainful towards the family during the vampire discussion, yells at Summer for proposing the kind of hi-jinks that Rick himself usually would jump to, then flat-out tells Beth and Jerry to get a divorce or fix their marriage in a very angry tone. Now, Rick would probably do any of these things normally, but the way he does them in this episode still seems pretty extreme. But, after running Beth and Jerry to the therapy planet, Rick ends up turning himself young like Summer suggested. He says this is because he felt bad about how he treated Summer, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I think there’s another reason why Rick is pissed and why he chooses the path that he does.
Anyone who has dealt with older people learns a horrifying fact about the eventual state of their body: You can’t keep eating all the crap you loved as a kid. Spicy food, greasy food, and especially ultra-sugary cereals will tear your insides up. And what is Morty eating for breakfast along with the hot food that his mother made for the family? Why, a delicious bowl of magical Strawberry Smiggles! Now, why do I think that Rick is upset by this? Well, admittedly, not much to go on, but it’s the one thing that Rick asks for that’s unrelated to any of the other conversation parts: The pepper. Every other time we see Rick eating breakfast in the series, he is fairly complimentary of the way that Beth prepares it, but this time we see him dissatisfied about the flavor. I think that’s Rick expressing his anger about not being able to do something because he’s too old. That’s why he does eventually decide to do the plan of making himself young again, even though it’s an overly-complicated solution to the vampire problem: Because that morning he really felt crappy about being old and wanted to get away from that for a few minutes. So, yeah, if Morty doesn’t pick the cereal, Rick probably isn’t as angry, and most of the stuff in the episode probably plays out differently.
NOW LEAVING THE CORNER
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.