We’re at the end of season one; time to get wriggedity wriggedity wrecked, son!
Jerry (Chris Parnell) and Beth (Sarah Chalke) are heading away to take a cruise on Titanic 2, a ship that reenacts the James Cameron movie Titanic. Jerry threatens Rick (Justin Roiland) with no more trips with Morty (Roiland) if the house suffers any damage. However, the minute they’re gone, Summer (Spencer Grammer) announces that she’s having a party. Rick tells her that she can’t, however, because HE is going to have a party. Morty worries that this is going to be the end of the adventure and objects, but they ignore him.
On Titanic 2, Jerry is super enthusiastic about reenacting parts of his favorite movie, but Beth mostly just wants to relax and read. She suggests that Jerry use a maid, Lucy (Alejandra Gollas), as a stand-in. Jerry’s a little disappointed, but Lucy is a huge Titanic fan and they begin to have a good time. However, the ship’s planned collision with an iceberg goes awry, resulting in the ship not sinking. This upsets Jerry, but Beth doesn’t care. Lucy takes Jerry below decks and shows him a version of the car in which Jack and Rose bang in Titanic, then reveals herself to be nude and desperate to reenact a love story like she’s watched so many people do before. Jerry refuses, but she pulls a gun on him and forces him to draw her nude, before threatening to rape him. Fortunately, Beth saves him. Lucy attempts to follow them home, but ends up being run over by their car.
Back at the ranch, Rick invites a ton of alien friends to his party, including Squanchy (Tom Kenny), Bird Person (Dan Harmon), and Revolio “Gear Head” Clockberg, Jr. (Scott Chernoff), three of his friends from his past travels. Unwilling to pass up her own party opportunity, Summer still invites most of her class over in an attempt to increase her own popularity. The party is interrupted at first by Abradolf Lincler (Maurice LaMarche), a former experiment of Rick’s to combine Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. Morty initially tries to dissuade them from wrecking the house, but ends up trying to hit on Jessica (Kari Wahlgren). Eventually, he shows her the garage, where the pair accidentally activate an invention that sends the house into another dimension.
On the new planet, Rick tells Morty he needs to find Collaxion crystals to get them back. Morty, Lincler, and Summer’s uncool friend Nancy (Aislinn Paul) venture out into the planet’s wilderness, eventually recovering the crystals at the cost of Lincler. However, it’s revealed that Rick just wanted to snort the crystals as a drug, before showing that he can take them back at any point. Morty, angry at being deceived, throws the crystals out. However, a talk with Bird Person reveals that Rick is actually a miserable person who is asking for help but is too proud to really ask. Morty ends up deciding he still wants to travel with Rick.
Jerry and Beth return, but Rick freezes time so that they can clean up the house. They goof around in the frozen world and watch Titanic. Morty remarks that Rick seems to be less tortured while spending time with him and Summer. Rick responds by undercutting it and turning on some music while celebrating the end of Season One.
Now, one of my favorite things about the episode is that Rick’s party is basically the same as most “wild” parties depicted in media, except filled with insane aliens instead of humans. My favorite is probably Gear Head, who is the epitome of that guy that people don’t want to actually talk to at parties, because they just drone on and on about crap no one wants to hear. Then, later, he’s also the guy who busts out the guitar to play a folk song. If you haven’t been to a party with those guys… well, you’re probably those guys.
Some of the jokes in this are the most random and also funny in the season. I love most of Abradolf Lincler’s lines, particularly “Prepare to be emancipated from your own inferior genes!” It’s such a crazy line that it fits perfectly for a character who is, explicitly, the result of an insane concept. I also like that Rick takes the high road on Summer for trying to throw a party to get popular, with Rick stating that, like a mature adult, he parties to get wrecked because he doesn’t care about the other people’s opinions.
Beth and Jerry’s B-plot is entertaining, even though it gets a little dark towards the end. The idea that Jerry idolizes the romance of Jack and Rose from Titanic perfectly makes sense of the character, because that’s the kind of relationship that he wants without realizing the inherent flaw there: Jack and Rose only work because Jack dies. Jack and Rose were fiercely in love because Rose hated her life and Jack provided a release from that, while Jack loved Rose for being adventurous. That works for a short time, obviously, but how does a couple like that work when married for 20 years? People change, first of all, but also life has a way of eroding passion like that, which is why marriages and long-term relationships usually have to have something more at their core to sustain them. Jerry and Beth were clearly passionate (enough to get Summer, at least), but much of their story arc so far is them trying to determine if they actually do have something between them that merits keeping their marriage going. It’s like watching Titanic if Jack got his own plank.
This is a solid end to the season because it does show some of the growth that the characters have undergone through the series. Rick is slightly less miserable and self-loathing, having found some value in the time with his family. Morty is more assertive, being willing to stand up to Rick when Rick manipulates him. Is it a huge amount? Not really. But it’s something. Even in a show famous for trying to avert most typical character arcs, some amount of growth is naturally going to occur, if only because the writers themselves have grown during the course of making the show.
Probably the biggest change is Bird Person’s revelation of the real meaning of Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub as “I am in great pain, please help me.” Morty insists that Rick is only saying it ironically, but Bird Person seems confident that Rick is, in fact, in a state of internal agony and begging for help. The end of the episode seems to reinforce that, although the show itself sometimes goes back and forth on it.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
One question which seems to come up on the message boards (and the Rick and Morty Wiki) about this episode is why Rick would invite two members of the council of Ricks to the party. They’re only seen in the background throughout the episode, but, given Rick’s general disdain for the council, why would he invite them to his party in the first place? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s because Rick is proud of making it to the end of his first season of television.
Yes, Rick wanted characters from throughout the season to appear at his party, allowing him to use it as a surrogate celebration of getting through the first 10 episodes despite being an animated show based primarily around nihilism and alcohol. That’s also why he ends the episode by putting on “Shake that Ass Bitch” by Slack Pack and telling everyone that Season One is over. Even better, he ends the season with time frozen so we don’t really have to worry about any changes to the world between the seasons.
LEAVING THE CORNER
While this isn’t quite the level of some of the episodes leading into it, this was still a solid way to end the season. Everything is kind of wrapped up, but we still want more.
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.
Alright, so, if the last episode really started to nail the Rick and Morty mix of dark humor and subversion, this was the first episode that started to explain why everything in Rick and Morty is not only supposedly meaningless to Rick, but justifiably so.
It’s flu season at Harry Herpson High School and that means it’s time for the annual Flu Season Dance (which Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie) reminds everyone is about awareness and not actually dancing when you have the flu). Morty (Justin Roiland) tries to ask his crush Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), but is stopped by her on-again-off-again boyfriend Brad (Echo Kellum) who tells Morty to stay in his league. Back at home, Jerry (Chris Parnell) tries to comfort his son by saying that he met Beth (Sarah Chalke) in high school despite her being out of his league, but Rick (Roiland) points out that Jerry’s marriage is in bad shape so he shouldn’t be giving advice. In contrast, Rick says that love is a lie brought on by brain chemistry and that Morty should focus on science to “break the cycle.”
Morty thinks about what Rick said and promptly isolates the exact wrong part of it, asking Rick to make a chemical to cause Jessica to fall in love with him. Rick refuses, asking Morty for a screwdriver, but Morty protests that Rick never does anything for him, so Rick gives him a formula made from vole-extracted oxytocin that will supposedly make her fall for him. However, right after Morty leaves, Rick adds the caveat that it might cause problems if she has the flu.
Jerry asks Beth if she loves him, but she responds that love is work and she puts up with him, therefore she’s working and therefore she loves him. She then leaves for an emergency horse surgery with her co-worker Davin (Hendrie), which angers Jerry.
At the Flu Season Dance, MC Haps (Dan Harmon) is doing his Flu Hatin’ Rap and everything seems to be going well. Morty spills some of the potion on Jessica, which quickly works, causing her to love Morty. She then sneezes, infecting Brad, who, in turn, infects the rest of the dance by sneezing into the vent and punch bowl. Back at the Smith House, Jerry is still worried about Beth being with Davin, provoked by Rick, so he heads to the Horse Hospital. Rick asks why Summer (Spencer Grammer) isn’t at the dance and, when she says it’s to avoid flu season, Rick realizes his error.
At the dance, Jessica is getting sexually aggressive towards Morty, shortly followed by everyone else fighting to mate with Morty. Rick shows up to rescue Morty and tells him that the serum interacted with the flu virus and became airborne. Rick, however, is immune, because the serum doesn’t affect close relatives. He tries to fix it by spraying an antidote composed of praying mantis DNA on the crowd, however, that doesn’t work, instead mutating all the people into mantis/human hybrids, making them monsters. Monsters who are still horny for Morty, apparently.
Jerry gets stuck in a traffic jam caused by the rapidly-spreading mutations. He’s attacked by the mantis-people but grabs a shotgun and starts removing heads. Back at the Smith House, Summer finds out what’s happened by global news broadcasts showing that everyone on Earth is infected before she’s attacked by mutants and forced to flee. In the desert, Rick creates a third serum using koala, rattlesnake, chimpanzee, cactus, shark, golden retriever, and dinosaur, which he claims will add up to normal humanity. Morty immediately points out the stupidity of that statement, but Rick ignores him.
At the Horse Hospital, Davin and Beth exit the clean room and Davin starts to hit on Beth before he gets infected, mutates, and attacks her. Jerry shows up with a crowbar and beats Davin to death. This appears to rekindle the spark in the marriage. Rick then sprays all of Earth with his third formula which, at first, appears to turn everyone back to normal. Then, as Rick gloats, the serum causes everyone to mutate into disgusting blob creatures they call “Cronenbergs” after David Cronenberg’s body horror films (I assume mostly The Fly). Jerry and Beth modify a car with sharp objects and fight their way through the crowds of Cronenbergs, showing that they are surprisingly good at killing monsters and openly flirting. They find Summer and Beth finally condemns all of Rick’s actions, including leaving her mother.
Rick and Morty watch the world falling into chaos and madness, arguing over who is at fault. Rick agrees to fix it with his emergency solution. It then shows Rick and Morty returning home with the newspapers reading “Genetic Epidemic Averted.” Rick then asks Morty for the screwdriver from the beginning of the episode and, with three turns of the screw, blows up the garage, killing them both. The “real” Rick and Morty then walk out of a portal. Morty panics at the disco-very (f*ck you, I’m leaving that joke in), but Rick tells him that there are infinite universes and that in a few dozen of them Rick solved the genetic crisis and in a few of those universes, Rick and Morty died shortly after. So, they’re going to take their place. Rick and Morty then bury their counterparts (to the tune of “Look On Down From the Bridge” by Mazzy Star) and a clearly traumatized Morty watches the new universe play out just like his old one.
After the credits, a Cronenberg Rick and Morty come to the old universe, now happily surrounded by fellow Cronenbergs, while Summer, Beth, and Jerry seem to be living a simple but happy life.
So, I think we have to start at the ending and acknowledge that Morty is fundamentally changed by this episode. This even sets up the absolutely devastating speech he will give in two episodes. Despite Rick telling him explicitly “don’t think about it,” that seems to be all Morty can do, and can you blame him? Sure, he’s been to other universes before, but he clearly has never had to deal with the reality that there are also other versions of himself. That’s a big discovery to stack on top of destroying the world, probably never seeing his original family again, seeing his own dead body, and being informed that, had Rick not destroyed the world, he would also be dead right now. So, yeah, Morty had a pretty bad day and it does change his character a bit.
This episode also really introduces the show’s particularly brilliant version of nihilism: Infinite Nihilism. Because there are an infinite number of universes, everything happens. Every possibility happens, constantly branching off of the current universe with every action. And there are an infinite number of each of those branches, because each fraction of infinity is also infinity. So, there are an infinite number of universes where Rick saves the world, an infinite number where he fails, an infinite number where he fails and dies, an infinite number where he succeeds and lives, an infinite number where he says screw it an eats tacos, etc. So, if everything happens, then does anything matter? You’re not really “doing” anything. You’re just existing in the branch of the multiverse where the thing you do happens, but it’s also not happening at the same time in another universe. If you’re Rick and can just jump sideways onto the next one, then your choice in the previous universe was meaningless. However, at the same time, another Rick is jumping in exactly the opposite way between two other universes, because INFINITE. Everything is meaningless.
What’s interesting is that being able to go between all these universes may also be the thing that does make the difference between Rick being a supergenius and Rick being the near god-level being that we see in the series. In fiction, when people actually gain the ability to move between universes at will, it usually grants them near omniscience, because you can find a universe where death is curable by pill or a universe where P=NP has been solved already. Look at Byakuran from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! or Angstrom Levy from Invincible, these characters point out that, if there’s an infinite number of universes, or even just a very large number (say, Graham’s Number if you replace all of the threes with Graham’s Number), then if you have a problem you can always find one where an answer already exists. Rick travels between dimensions that all have different levels of technology and learning in every field, allowing him to constantly push the boundaries of human knowledge just by combining all the common knowledge of those worlds.
So, why does Rick say that there are only a few dozen universes where Rick and Morty save the world and only a few more where they die after? Well, because the multiverse is infinite, Rick’s time isn’t. It’s probably difficult to search through a constantly-increasing multiverse, even within the “Central Finite Curve” that Ricks usually travel within (a clearly finite subset of the infinite multiverse which we later find out has multiple “iterations”). So, Rick found a couple dozen “nearby” universes that fit the bill using whatever method he uses. Why does he say that he and Morty can only do the swap 3 or 4 more times? Well, either his methods limit him, the Council of Ricks limits him, or, more likely, Roiland and Harmon just wanted to limit it so they wouldn’t be tempted to re-use the idea of dimension-hopping.
They also probably limited it because, like I said before, Rick could always just solve his problems by looking at the solutions that other Ricks were forced to find for their problems, since, in an infinite multiverse, there’s always some other Rick who has solved it ten minutes before.
To be fair, I also don’t think that there are actually an infinite number of alternate realities, even if the Many Worlds Interpretation is correct, because there was a starting point to the universe (at least, most evidence suggests so), so the only way it could be infinite is if an infinite number of realities spawn from all quantum interactions (or at least from one particular interaction). I actually point to Isaac Newton for my reasoning why that doesn’t happen. When Newton created Calculus (as did Leibniz, but Newton’s the one who actually mentioned the specific thing I’m going to address), at one point during a proof he stated that an infinitesimal multiplied by an infinitesimal was equivalent to 0 and thus could be ignored for the purpose of the proof. Well, that’s not something that really is justified by any mathematical study of infinite, but Newton used it and no one complained, because, by eliminating that squared infinitesimal, CALCULUS WORKED. Accurate derivations and integrations could now be made. But, if there really was such a thing as infinity within the universe, then it should have always been off.
A second proof would actually be Zeno’s Paradox. I’m sure you’ve all heard it by this point: If you shoot an arrow at a target, the arrow has to travel half the distance to the target. Then, it has to travel half again. Then half again, then half again, then on and on and it should never get there, because there are an infinite number of halves. However, if you shoot an arrow in real life, it’s going to get there.
Both of these suggest that there is somewhere out there a minimum distance or a minimum unit of time for something to take place in (and no, not the Planck Length, that’s not actually what Planck was saying), which means that there can never be an infinite number of anything. Just a really, really, really, really big number. Like, sooooo big that you might think it’s infinite, but it isn’t. And that’s okay.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Yeah, I did technically give a “theory” about why Rick said there were only a few dozen versions of this universe, but that’s not the one I’m gonna count in this review, especially since I’ve got a much bigger related theory coming later.
For this review, I want to address why Rick failed. Think about it, Rick really screws up in this episode, something that even he points out doesn’t happen often. Rick isn’t perfect, of course, but this is a notably stupid screw-up to the point that even Morty points out Rick’s logic is terrible. In most shows I’d chalk it up to bad writing, but this is Dan Harmon’s show hitting its stride, so I assume almost nothing is allowed to be just for plot necessity. What is it about this episode that caused Rick F*cking Sanchez to fail 3 separate times?
Well, what is Rick dealing with in this episode? Normal humans. The one thing that Rick absolutely never seems to be able to grasp is normal emotional interactions with other people. The closest thing we ever see to Rick’s relationships is with Unity in Season 2 and that’s a hive-mind who he seems to only be using for extremely weird sex (not kink-shaming, just saying that even the giraffe looked violated). So, when Morty asks Rick for a love potion, Rick instead gives him a lust potion. When he tries to figure out how to counteract that, Rick assumes that hate is the opposite of love and just adds mantis DNA. What’s particularly interesting is that Rick classifies these not in terms of emotions but in terms of how species conduct their mating practices: Voles are for life, Mantises eat their mates (for the record: only when the female believes resources will be scarce during pregnancy). So, rather than trying to address emotional complexities, Rick just treats people like on/off switches. Then, when he does actually try to contemplate more sophisticated models of humans, it’s revealed that Rick knows so little about people that he basically just combines an almost random assortment of animals (and plant) together.
People’s emotions are Rick’s kryptonite. Hell, he almost admits it to himself in “The Wedding Squanchers” when he says that he couldn’t make marriage work, despite being able to do things that seem impossible. But this episode managed to present that fact without having to really comment on it, which is extremely impressive, considering the other absurd amount of character and series changes they put into this episode. Really, the fact that this revelation is secondary… I guess tertiary?… within the episode should be lauded. In most shows, this would be the focus of an entire episode, here, it’s just a thing that defines Rick as he plays out other plot lines, which, for the record, IS A GOOD THING.
THIS HAS BEEN JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Overall, this is a weird episode for me in that I didn’t like at all the first time I watched it, because the ending felt like a cop-out. In most shows, the concept of just jumping to another world at the end would literally be a huge deus ex machina that would be summarily ignored in the rest of the series. Now, having seen the rest of the series, this show averts that trope so hard it almost seems like they wrote the rest of the series as a f*ck you to all the shows that would just allow something so massive to go without comment.
I also have to give credit to the episode for showing us a Jerry and Beth relationship that actually starts to work, because Jerry is forced to actually be the Alpha Male he always wants Beth to think he is. I’m not saying that you have to be an Alpha Male or even that it’s a good thing, but it’s what Beth was looking for and what Jerry wanted to be. Other relationships might not work well with that dynamic, but the reason why it works here is that they are both very broken people (wait ’til “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez”).
So, ultimately, I enjoyed this episode more on the re-watch, because, in context, this is a massive game-changer, not a typical sitcom reset.
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.
Alright, well, now we’ve hit the real meat of the show. At least one Rick and Morty episode ranker said that this was their favorite episode and I really can’t blame them. This episode has one of the most balanced A and B plots not just within the show but within all of television and it is also the episode that this show first hinted at how dark it was willing to get.
The cold-open features Rick and Morty running through a space station chased by copies of Jerry, Beth, and Summer. Morty is hesitant to get rid of them, but Rick tells him to do it anyway because they’re not really his family, they’re alt-universe clones possessed by demonic aliens from another universe’s future, because they wanted to cram EVERY possible cliché into one line. Mission accomplished, guys, and I love it. Morty pushes the button, destroying his family members, capturing the alien spirits, and traumatizing him thoroughly. Rick, however, implies it was therapeutic.
Morty decides to quit adventuring, because adventures are supposed to be simple and fun. Rick mockingly says that Morty has it easy as the sidekick, and that if Morty was in charge, he’d know how hard leading an adventure is. Morty bets Rick that he can lead a great adventure and, if he does, he gets to pick every tenth Rick and Morty adventure. The pair are about to depart when Summer, Beth, and Jerry all come in with requests for Rick. Rick gives them a Meeseeks Box. When you press the button on the box, a blue man named “Mr. Meeseeks” (Justin Roiland) appears and fulfills the request given by the pusher before promptly disappearing out of existence. Rick and Morty leave the Smiths with the box, with Rick delivering the caveat of “keep your requests simple.”
Alright, I’m gonna try to lump the A and B plots in their own paragraphs, because the episode weaves them pretty tightly together and it would be confusing.
All three of the Smiths excitedly make requests on the Meeseeks Box, with Beth asking to be a more complete woman, Summer asking to be popular at school, and Jerry asking for two strokes off of his golf game. Three Meeseeks eagerly agree to help them. Summer’s makes a speech at her school that makes her popular, while Beth’s takes her for a drink and reminds her that she still has to be herself independently of her family, which she takes as a sign that she should leave Jerry. Both of the Meeseeks promptly disappear.
Rick and Morty appear in what appears to be an 18th-century-esque village with fantasy elements. Morty asks for a quest from a local and is told that a rich giant lives in the clouds. They go up to the castle and hide when they hear the giant (Steve Agee) approaching to eat them, only for the giant to slip and kill himself by cracking his head open on a table. Before they can really process this, the giant’s wife (Cree Summer, despite having like 2 lines) finds them and calls the giant police claiming they attacked him. Rick and Morty are then interrogated by giant police (voiced by Tom f*cking Kenny and Rob f*cking Paulsen!) who are dead-set on charging them with murder.
At the golf course, Jerry is proving to be a real challenge for his Meeseeks, due to his inability to take any form of constructive criticism without flipping out. Is it really any surprise he got fired from his advertising job after his first pitch? In desperation, the Meeseeks itself pushes the Meeseeks Box button, summoning another Meeseeks who doesn’t actually have any more ideas. Even after they leave the golf course, the Meeseeks continue to try and get Jerry to work on his game. Jerry is shocked when Beth and Summer say that their Meeseeks disappeared quickly, so shocked he misses that his wife has a new hairdo. Or maybe that’s less shock, more that he’s Jerry. The Meeseeks try to get him back on task because they aren’t meant to live this long.
Back in fantasy world, Rick and Morty are put on trial (apparently Giant Justice is swift), before being saved by a giant lawyer from a tiny-persons advocacy group (Ryan Ridley). Apparently, they were never… whatever the giant equivalent of Mirandized is and are therefore “free-fi to fo-home.” And yes, that joke fails within the episode itself, only for the lawyer to complain that it was a good joke that nobody got. It was at this point that I felt personally attacked, having attempted to coin the phrase “oh mens rea-lly?” during a hearing. The pair leave the courthouse, only to realize that they are thousands of feet from the ground, due to the size of the stairs. Nonetheless, Morty insists they get climbing.
In the Smith’s living room, there are now dozens of Meeseeks trying to help Jerry, who continues to suck. Meanwhile, Beth has really started to give up on Jerry, who tries to salvage his marriage with a nice dinner. The Meeseeks beg him to help them stop existing, but Jerry refuses to care. Each of the Meeseeks start blaming the other for summoning them. It quickly becomes apparent that they have started to lose their sanity, now forming cultish groups around whether choking up or working on the follow-through will help Jerry. They eventually start to attack each other violently. After fighting for a while, they realize that if they kill Jerry, then they’ll have taken all the strokes off of his game, something that definitely falls under “technically correct.”
On the way down the stairs, Rick and Morty find a tavern filled with a ton of weird creatures. Rick continues to try and make the adventure miserable for Morty by not helping at all and just generally being a bastard, until Morty finally tells him that he’s just being petty and that part of being a sidekick is rolling with the punches. Morty heads to the bathroom as Rick joins a poker game at the bar. In one of the most disturbing scenes in the show to date, Morty is confronted by Mr. Jelly Bean (Kenny) who first tries to comfort him then tries to rape Morty. Morty ends up beating the crap out of him, slamming the toilet seat onto his head, but is, understandably, now much more traumatized that he was at the beginning of the episode. Morty comes out and begs Rick to quit, but Rick sees Mr. Jelly Bean, realizes what happened, and decides to help Morty with the quest.
At the restaurant, Beth is trying to talk to Jerry about her newfound resolve towards independence, but they’re interrupted by the massive mob of murderous Mister Meeseeks. Jerry tells them that he’ll cooperate, but they’re intent on offing him. Jerry and Beth hide in the freezer at the restaurant. The Meeseeks take a woman (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) hostage to force Jerry out, but Beth quickly forces him to fix his golf swing. Jerry hits a garlic clove into a pot, which satisfies most of the Meeseeks, although a “stickler Meeseeks” forces him to prove his putting has improved. Jerry makes a putt, satisfying the last Meeseeks and allowing them all to disappear. Jerry tries to coolly ask for their food to go, but the manager informs them they’ll have to talk to the cops.
Rick and Morty make their way to the village and give them all the gold Rick won playing poker, leading the villagers to want to introduce their king, Mr. Jelly Bean. Rick and Morty quickly portal out, only for Rick to stick his hand back through and shoot Jelly Bean fatally.
Jerry and Beth reconcile over Beth realizing that all of the other men she dated were like the Meeseeks: Willing to do anything to complete their task and disappear. Jerry, though she implies he would say anything to get laid, didn’t disappear. Jerry points out that’s because he got her pregnant, which Beth sadly acknowledges. Rick and Morty return to find the house wrecked. Rick offers them a Fleeseeks Box to help clean it up, which is just a mop and floor wax. He then first says the phrase “Wubba-lubba-dub-dub” and tells the audience he’ll see them next week.
Post-credits, two people from the village find a box of pictures of what I assume were underage children in Jelly Bean’s closet. One wants to tell the village, but the other says to destroy it, because people will get more from the legend than the reality.
In terms of storytelling, the key to this episode was the quick cuts between the A and B plots. By constantly moving between them, the show was able to get away with long time- and logic-skips that would otherwise have been problematic. Basically, it cut away all the bullshit, optimizing the time spent on furthering the plots. This isn’t always something that can be pulled off, but this episode nailed it.
The common theme behind both of the plots is basically “be careful what you wish for,” but the show goes on to deconstruct that in more horrible ways than seemed possible up front. In fact, the entire episode is basically just dedicated to continually averting how these stories usually go.
Let’s cover Rick and Morty’s: They go to a fantasy world where they’re going to face a giant, but that immediately turns into a legal drama when the giant kills himself. The legal drama quickly gets crushed by the giant lawyer and a loophole, only for the problem to now be getting out of the courthouse. It seems like Morty is finally making progress with Rick on the adventure, only for Morty to be sexually assaulted by a creepy guy in a men’s room. And all of this is a rejection of Morty’s original stated wish of just having a “simple” adventure.
Mr. Meeseeks is an obvious “be careful what you wish for” joke, since Jerry, who actually has what seems like the easiest request, makes it impossible for the Meeseeks to get the job done due to his incompetence. However, more than that, the Meeseeks are actually a “be careful what you wish for” on the audience.
Think about it: “Meeseeks are not born into this world fumbling for meaning.” All of philosophy, all of religion, most, if not all, of art and literature, probably all of civilization itself, they all exist because humans ARE born in to the world fumbling for meaning. We have no idea what our purpose is or even if there is a purpose at all. The greatest pain of the examined life is knowing that we will never know if we really found a purpose. But, if you wish for the simpler existence of the Meeseeks, this episode gives you the caveat that you might know your purpose but NEVER BE ABLE TO FULFILL IT. And that is just a tortured existence.
This episode also benefits from a lot of great jokes and surreal lines, like the lawyer trying to justify his deconstructive joke. One of my favorite random exchanges is when Rick asks how much 25 shmeckels is. The waitress tells them that her big fake boobies cost 25 shmeckels, at which point Mr. Booby Buyer offers to buy her boobs for 25 shmeckels. The waitress says it’s a tempting offer, which is one of the most bizarre moments for me, since that would just put her back to 0, not make her a profit. I guess since she’s been using the boobs, their value has decreased and she could get new ones? Either way, I just love how fast that exchange happens and how weird and still charming it is.
Beth and Jerry’s marriage problems really start to become a recurring feature after this episode, with even the resolution pointing out that all Jerry really did for Beth was not leave when she was pregnant. That’s the positive that Beth points out about Jerry and, while it might seem like a nice moment, it really cements exactly how thin their relationship is.
The stinger scene is an interesting touch, because it reminds me of the line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The thing is, though, is that creating these divine images of our heroes lets the reality that they were human be used against us later. It’s something I’d have to dedicate more time to than just this review but suffice it to say that I am against the mythologizing of history. I know some amount of it is inevitable, but let history be history and let story be story. We can get our inspirational figures from fiction, representing our ideals, while history can represent the reality that people are flawed.
This was the episode where the show really and truly became Rick and Morty. It’s dark, it’s full of great subversions, it has a ton of crazy elements, and it finally gives us Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub. This isn’t my favorite episode, nor do I think it’s the best episode period, but it’s a damned strong episode that represents the best aspects of the show.
Okay, so, personal wish here: I want them to Cerebus Syndrome the hell out of this episode later. I want them to show up in 3 more season in this same place only to find that by assassinating the king and giving money to the poor, Rick and Morty set the stage for a massive and devastating peasant revolt. I want Morty’s “simple” adventure to result in something unbelievably horrible on a geopolitical scale, just to drive home how hard this episode really was subverting traditional story direction. But, even if the creators read this, they might take it to a place darker than I ever could think of, just to tell me to be careful what I wish for.
Well, that’s it for this week. In two weeks, we get our first hint of the multi-Rick multiverse.
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.
Welcome to Episode 4, where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.
The episode opens with Rick dissecting a rat in his lab, stating that it’s sloppy craftsmanship. Morty comes in, remarking on the beauty of the day, but Rick makes cryptic comments on Morty’s statements to someone invisible. Beth appears, acting in a simple and robotic fashion, which Morty notes is “weird.” Rick tells the unseen observers they’re going to burn out the CPU with Morty’s sophistication. Morty tells Rick he’s also being weird, then walks into the wall, then leaves. Rick looks at him suspiciously.
At Morty’s school, Morty is asked a simple math question (What’s 5×9?) which he gets incorrect (“at least 40”) but is praised for his technical correctness. Mr. Goldenfold offers to have him teach the class for being such a genius, at which point someone asks him for the formula for concentrated dark matter, a fuel for accelerated space travel. The entire class seems strangely interested in this, including Jessica who offers to be his girlfriend if he makes it. Rick breaks in and pulls Morty out, even as Goldenfold threatens to fail Morty.
Rick takes Morty to the showers and tells him to strip. Morty complies, though he’s still confused. Rick explains that they’re not in the real world: They’re in a simulation run by the Zigerion Scammers, the galaxy’s worst con-artists. Rick’s and Morty’s nudity is due to the Zigerions being super uncomfortable with naked people, apparently to the point that Rick believes that they will quit monitoring them if they’re naked. Rick ends up stealing Morty’s clothes to ensure they stay unwatched.
On the Zigerion Ship, the aliens are, in fact, refusing to look at the screen while Rick and Morty are naked. Prince Nebulon (David “I’m half of the Mr. Show” Cross) is alerted to the fact that Jerry is also in the simulation. In one of my favorite exchanges, every department aboard the ship blames another department until it forms a loop, preventing us from ever finding out how Jerry actually got on the ship. Jerry, being an idiot, doesn’t notice the obvious signs he’s in a simulation, which become even more absurd after the Zigerions set his simulation cap at 5%.
Rick and Morty continue walking around naked as Rick convinces Morty that it’s a simulation by pointing out all the ridiculous elements, like an anthropomorphic PopTart living in a toaster house and driving a toaster car. Rick tells Morty that the two of them are going to scam the scammers, because dragging Morty in was a step too far.
Jerry, meanwhile, tries to pitch an ad for apples. In typical Jerry fashion, it’s a completely banal slogan: “Hungry for apples?” However, the pitch is successful because his boss, Mr. Marklevitz (Dan Harmon), is caught in a loop of snapping his fingers and saying yes. Jerry runs out, elated, not noticing that the world is now populated by three people: an Old Man, a Hot Woman, and a Mailman (Maurice LaMarche, Kari Wahlgren, Brandon Johnson). Apparently, these are the easiest personalities to generate.
Rick and Morty are now preparing to put on a concert featuring their hit song “The Recipe for Concentrated Dark Matter.” They proceed to give the audience complicated instructions, overloading the computer generating the simulation and freezing it, allowing them to run past the edge and onto the Zigerion ship. At the same time, Jerry arrives home and has sex with a frozen Beth, which, apparently, is the best sex of his life. He lies in bed with her before telling her that he’s a fraud, having ripped off “Got Milk?” for his pitch. He never notices that she literally is frozen in place. Meanwhile, Prince Nebulon comments that now that they’re out of the simulation, it’s going to be a “mindf*ck.”
Rick and Morty run through the ship and steal a ton of crystalline processing chips, even playing around with them, before easily escaping. Back in the simulation, Jerry meets with Mr. Marklevitz, who is still stuck in the same loop. Jerry talks himself into getting fired, then getting his job back, then getting an “Appley” award for commercials about apples.
Rick and Morty arrive home but when Rick enters the code to his safe, the Earth dissolves back into the Zigerion ship. Nebulon confronts Rick and explains that they already had the formula for concentrated dark matter but wanted the combination to Rick’s safe. Rick points out that he’s going to just change the combination, at which point Nebulon orders him captured. Rick pulls Morty’s pants down, repulsing the Zigerions, and the pair run for it.
Jerry is accepting his “Appley” award, citing it as the best day of his life and the thing that finally completes him, before witnessing the simulation glitch out as Rick and Morty run into the room. The duo drags Jerry, weeping, onto an escape ship. The Zigerion ships pursue, leading Rick to comment that they apparently DO have concentrated dark matter. Morty asks Rick to make some and Rick says they just need cesium, plutonic quartz, and bottled water, which all happen to be on the ship. When Rick lists the quantities, Morty freezes in place before dissolving, revealing that they are in yet another simulation.
Nebulon reveals that they had tricked Rick into revealing his secret formula. Rick is shocked that they could simulate Morty’s wang (and the audience is confused as to how Rick knew that it was accurate). Nebulon mocks Rick for his gullibility before taunting him with the possibility of still being in a simulation. As Rick and Jerry depart in a ship, Rick takes a shot at Jerry for the fact that “the most meaningful day of [his] life was a simulation operating at minimum capacity.” Jerry tries to counter that, since the Zigerions also tricked Rick, he’s just as foolish as everyone else. At that moment, Nebulon combines the Plutonic Quartz and Cesium with the water, causing a massive explosion. Rick tells Jerry that he blew them up, then starts vocalizing the saxophone part of “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty heard throughout the episode as they fly home.
Later, Jerry pitches his “Hungry for Apples” idea in the real world and is immediately fired for incompetence. That night, Rick, completely hammered, breaks into Morty’s room and threatens to kill Morty for being a simulation, before accepting that Morty isn’t and passing out.
First of all, the opening line where Rick is observing the rat’s intestines is a great example of Rick and Morty’s particular brand of clever humor. When removed from context, it appears to be Rick criticizing the “craftsmanship” of a rat, which would be Rick basically taking a shot at God or guided evolution. In context, it later becomes obvious that he’s talking about the Zigerions, but the fact is that we could see Rick saying it either way. Plus, it explains why Rick is so prepared for rat fighting in “Pickle Rick.”
The episode itself is a brilliant subversion of all of the “simulated reality” movies that people come up with after reading Jean Baudrillard. Sure, it’s a fake reality, but it’s a fake reality that’s pretty easy to discern from the real one. It’s like you’re living in The Sims running on a crappy PC: Sure, most of the stuff is there, but it’s clearly not the real world. This really feeds perfectly into the show’s blending of sci-fi technology and the incompetence of sentient beings.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
When exactly Rick realized it was a simulation of a simulation of a simulation is up for debate, but it seems extremely likely that he knew before he picked Morty up from the school. Rick explains to Morty that the Zigerions won’t monitor them when they’re naked, but nothing about avoiding the video would stop the aliens from listening to them talking. The fact that he then explains his plans to Morty would be a mistake if he wasn’t counting on them listening and being too stupid to wonder WHY he is still talking. It’s possible Rick didn’t know from the first time he saw Morty, because if he hadn’t been at least momentarily uncertain about the levels of the simulation, then he wouldn’t have threatened the real Morty at the end to confirm he wasn’t still in a simulation.
But, honestly, I’ll take a step back and say that I think Rick actually set this entire thing up because Rick just wanted the Zigerions to leave him alone and, as a bonus, he got to mess with Jerry. Think about it: None of the Zigerions know why Jerry is there. When Rick and Jerry leave, Rick indicates that he knows what happened in Jerry’s simulation AND that it was on minimum power, something even Jerry wouldn’t have known. Given that he apparently knew what was happening the whole time, Rick’s actions throughout the episode mostly appear to be just leading the Zigerions to believe that he actually fell for their scheme so that they wouldn’t question the formula he eventually gave them. A formula which contained Cesium and Water, two things that violently react when mixed. So why would Rick still threaten Morty at the end? Because, much like the film The Matrix, once you have the idea out there that you could be living in a simulation and not know it, it’s a hard thing to get out of your mind, particularly when you’re blackout drunk.
THIS HAS BEEN JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
This is probably the episode where I first decided I was going to love this show. The pilot was good, as were the next two episodes, but this was the episode where I first glimpsed the nested levels of brilliance they could put into the episodes by having Rick be so far ahead of the game, compared to a normal protagonist. That’s the thing about having a character who is basically a hyperintelligent being: Normally he’d be boring because he’d know what’s happening next or he’d have to be acting out of character in order to be challenged. If you give that character fourth-wall awareness (like, say, humming the episode’s musical score) it can be even harder to really find something to challenge them. But Rick is not just hyperintelligent, he’s nearly omnipotent and only seems to feel alive when putting himself at risk, so watching him play through the scenarios just for the hell of it becomes much more interesting. Hell, it’s part of why Rick and Morty has decided to avert any form of traditional character growth and focusing on a more nihilistic outlook, because watching Rick grow would be boring and out of character.
Overall, this was really when I felt like the show was starting to find its strengths, though it wasn’t until the next episode that I really think they started to prove how great this show could be.
Oh, and did anyone else notice that they don’t spell the first part of M. Night Shyamalan’s name right?
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.