Rick and Mondays – S2E6 “Rest and Ricklaxation”

Rick and Morty take a spa day and almost destroy the world with their toxicity.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland) picks Morty (Roiland) up from school for what he claims will be a short adventure, but it ends up taking days and almost killing both of them. The two are so stressed they both almost have mental breakdowns, resulting in Rick saying they deserve a vacation. The two go to an alien spa and have a full round of relaxing treatments, including going into a final machine which is supposed to “completely remove” their toxins. The pair quickly find themselves in a toxic, gooey world filled with monsters. They believe that the machine exploded and took the spa with it, but they discover the truth: They’re not the real Rick and Morty. They’re the toxic parts that were separated from Rick and Morty, who are currently headed home. Toxic Rick starts to plot a way out of the horror world.

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PULSE-POUNDING ACTION!!!!!

Morty discovers that the detox has removed all of his insecurities, making him confident and popular. He even manages to get a date with Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), his crush, but the date goes terribly due to Morty’s sociopathic overconfidence. He proceeds to rebound with a girl named Stacy (Tara Strong), but when he takes her back to the house, he finds that Rick has been receiving messages from the Toxic World and is preparing to re-merge himself and Morty with their toxic counterparts. Morty believes Toxic Rick could be lying and gets Stacy to save him, which turns out to be the right move as Toxic Rick was planning on just taking their place and not re-merging. Rick and Toxic Rick fight, with both evenly matched, until Toxic Rick decides it’d be easier to make the whole world toxic like him.

S3E6 - 2ToxicReal
This is what happens when a Rick gets eaten by a slime.

Rick at first refuses to stop Toxic Rick, saying that he can’t assert his own beliefs on what gets destroyed or saved, but Morty slaps him and Rick suddenly realizes something: The toxic parts were removed based on the user’s definition of toxicity. Toxic Rick uses two miniverse batteries and a moonlight tower to turn the world toxic, making everyone terrible. Rick arrives and reveals that the Toxic version got one thing Rick defines as toxic: Irrational attachments to people. He then shoots Toxic Morty, threatening to kill him if they don’t voluntarily re-merge. Toxic Rick agrees, but then Morty flees, not wanting his weaknesses back. Toxic Morty dies, but Rick preserves his essence.

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I was an adventurer until I took a bullet to the knee.

Weeks later, Morty is a top salesman at a New York brokerage firm. He’s living with an attractive woman in an expensive apartment, but receives a call from Jessica asking him to come back. He knows it’s a trap, but he fails to hang up the phone and Rick and Jessica find him and turn him into his former self. He later sees Jessica at school and she says it’s good to have him back.

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Also, Rick finds him with drones that form a mini-Voltron. AWESOME.

END SUMMARY

This episode has an interesting take on the traditional Jekyll and Hyde story. Rather than being split into “good” and “evil,” this is actually closer to the aim of the original story by having the two halves separated by what urges the original wants to suppress. Jekyll wants his violent tendencies gone, Rick wants his arrogance and his irrationality gone. Morty, on the other hand, wants all of his weaknesses gone, something that makes him much more traditionally evil than he was before, resulting in him being what appears to be Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s basically what happens when you apply moral relativism into the trope.

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Whereas catastrophe is what happens when you add Hasselhoff to it.

Interestingly, when we see “toxic world,” it actually appears to be less based around emphasizing the traits that the people are trying to suppress and instead to be based more around bringing out everyone’s id, making them all mindlessly aggressive, hypersexual, and cruel. One particularly notable remark is made by Father Bob (William Holmes) when he becomes toxic: “God is a lie. We made him up for money!” Even if that is what Bob actually believes, it’s unlikely that he believes the part of him that would admit God is a scam would be the “toxic” part of him. Also, a bunch of children go cannibalistic, and I don’t think that’s something kids would define as toxic, because children would kill you if they were bigger than you and they like thinking about it. NEVER TRUST CHILDREN.

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NEVER. TRUST. THE. CHILDREN.

A few fun things from this episode:

One is that Toxic Rick uses Miniverse Batteries from the Microverse in “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” rather than Rick’s typical Microverse Battery to power his invention, which suggests that one of Rick’s toxic traits is his desire not to use other people’s work. Apparently Rick had more respect for Zeep Zanflorp’s design than he thought. Also, Toxic Rick is a monster because he apparently burns out both of those universes when he makes the world toxic, meaning he just committed omnicide twice over.

 

S3E6 - 7Batteries
Note that here, they’re alive. In the earlier picture, they’re dead.

Another thing is what I am convinced is the most obscure joke this show has done, when Morty asks Rick if he’s familiar with “Ben Wa” technology. First, this is a reference to Ben Wa balls, which are small balls (or smooth oval objects) which are used for sexual stimulation of the vagina. Since Morty’s clearly with a kinky girl when he asks the question, that makes sense. However, I believe that the way he asks it is also a reference to Hubert Benoit, the French Psychotherapist whose work foreshadowed integral psychology and integral spirituality, both of which involve using both of the good and bad traits within an individual to address the whole of a person. Considering that’s what most of this episode is about, that would be pretty much a perfect in-joke. Or maybe it really is just about shoving balls inside someone and I’m overthinking it. There’s a sentence I don’t think gets written enough.

The fight between Rick and Toxic Rick is hilarious to me and I think there are some solid lines from the overconfident American Psycho Morty. This is a pretty good episode.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Okay, so, this is actually more of a rebuttal to a complaint that people repeatedly made about this episode: That Rick reveals that he doesn’t have any of his irrational attachments and yet he still acts like he loves Morty even more than usual. I must have heard a half-dozen reviewers complain about it like it’s a glaring flaw in the episode and I’m here to say that no, it’s not, it’s just weird and complicated.

S3E6 - 8Seatbelt
This is also only the second time Rick’s worn a seatbelt.

Here’s the thing: When Rick first realizes that the machine separated out the things that HE decided were toxic, he’s surprised to realize that he doesn’t have any irrational attachments to Morty anymore. Despite that, earlier in the episode Rick says that he’s proud to be Morty’s grandfather. How is it possible that Rick can feel pride in Morty but not have an irrational attachment?

When Rick lists to Toxic Rick what has gone over in the transfer, he says that Toxic Rick has his entitlement, narcissism, crippling loneliness, and his irrational attachments. The thing is that an “irrational” attachment is something that would lead Rick to put the welfare of Morty so high that he would not be able to continue to make rational decisions. That’s not to say that Rick doesn’t value Morty’s welfare, but it’s only to the extent that Morty’s welfare provides a rational benefit to Rick. Similarly, we see Morty tell Rick he loves him, despite getting rid of most of his insecurities and emotional weaknesses. That’s because Morty only got rid of his vulnerabilities, which is to say that he got rid of his ability to love Rick so much that he allows Rick to convince him to do things against his self interest. He can still love Rick, but it’s not in a way that would ever be consider selfless.

LEAVING THE CORNER

So, most of you probably have heard that Season 4 has been announced. Some of you might also have realized that this blog ends the week before the first episode of the new season airs. That’s because Dan Harmon actually asked me to start this blog and has been providing me with these theories as part of a guerrilla marketing scheme.

Kidding, I’m just psyched for Season 4 and the scheduling kinda worked out. I look forward to reviewing it. Take it easy, kids.

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 26: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

NEXT – 28: Tales from the Citadel

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Rick and Mondays – S3E1 “The RickShank RickDemption”

Season 3 kicks off with a game-changing bang… that tells us the game isn’t changing.

SUMMARY

It’s been a few months since the Second Season Finale and Rick (Justin Roiland)  is being interrogated by the Galactic Federation’s top agent Cornvelious Daniel (Nathan “Firefly Was A Masterpiece” Fillion) inside of a fake reality that exists in Rick’s brain. Rick quickly sees through the ruse and reveals that he is actually capable of making alterations to the interrogation scenario when he changes Cornvelious Daniel’s coffee into a farting butt. Despite that, Cornvelious Daniel tries to convince Rick to show him the secret to interdimensional portal technology by giving him the chance to relive his last memory of his wife. Rick agrees to take him there, but they stop for McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNugget Sauce along the way, because it only exists in his memory.

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The image that launched a thousand a-holes to later go to McDonalds.

Meanwhile, Summer (Spencer Grammer) is rebelling against the family’s new life under Galactic Federation rule. Beth (Sarah Chalke) is unemployed because alien tech makes horses immortal, while Jerry (Chris Parnell) is thriving, because his new bosses are such bureaucrats that people who are completely clueless are more successful under them. Morty (Roiland) tries to talk Summer out of saving Rick, but ends up telling her that the dead Rick from “Rick Potion #9” has a working portal gun. She robs the grave, but the pair are caught by the family’s robot Conroy (Tom “Ice King” Kenny). They escape through a portal to Morty’s original universe and are saved by Jerry C-137 and Summer C-137. The now near-feral Smiths destroy the portal gun and try to exile Summer, but are stopped by a group of Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks who detected the portal gun’s destruction. Summer tells the Ricks that Rick C-137 has been captured, but is dismayed when they tell her that means he’ll have to be killed by Seal Team Ricks.

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The image that launched a thousand fanfiction.net nightmares.

Back in Rick’s head, he shows Cornvelious Daniel the story of figuring out interdimensional travel: While he was just a scientist in his garage trying to invent in-universe teleportation, another Rick came to him and informed him that teleportation is not an accomplishment, but interdimensional travel is. Rick, however, realized that this would make him miserable and alone, so he refused, infuriating the other Rick, who left. Rick C-137’s wife, Diane (Kari Wahlgren), comes out to check on him and Rick says that he’s giving up on science, so they should go for ice cream. He gets in the car, but when Diane and Beth come out, someone blows up the garage. Rick then writes out the mathematics behind interdimensional portal technology, something that the modern Rick says made him an “unfeeling ghost.” Cornvelious Daniel, thrilled at having achieved his message, uploads the equations… only to find out that they actually give control of the “brainalyzer” to Rick, who puts his brain into Daniel’s body and leaves him to die. The entire backstory was a lie. As Rick, now in Cornvelious Daniel’s body, tries to use his access to shut down the Federation, he’s interrupted by Seal Team Ricks, who kill everyone, but Rick manages to put his brain into one of the other Rick’s heads and kill the rest of the team, escaping from the Federation. He contacts the Citadel of Ricks and transfers his consciousness into the body of a high-ranking Rick.

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Probably not even close to Rick’s actual (likely redheaded) ex-wife.

Summer and Morty are being put on trial by the Council of Ricks, to whom Morty admits that he still is loyal to Rick. The trial is interrupted by Rick C-137 teleporting the citadel into the middle of the Galactic Federation Prison. Chaos ensues, with prisoners and the Ricks and Mortys fighting each other. The Council of Ricks take Morty and Summer hostage, but most of them are killed by Rick C-137. The remaining Council Rick (Riq IV) holds Summer hostage, but Rick C-137 fakes being shot by Morty (who didn’t know about it), giving him an opening to kill Riq IV. Rick, Morty, and Summer then break into the highest-level room of the Prison, giving Rick access to the top of the Federation’s computer system. Rick then changes the value of their currency to 0, collapsing the Federation economy and leading them to evacuate the Earth. Rick then returns home, where Jerry tells Beth to pick between Rick and him. She picks Rick and divorces Jerry. Being left alone with Morty, Rick proceeds to tell him that he did all of this to get rid of Jerry and the Federation, because he wants more Mulan McNugget Sauce.

END SUMMARY

I can’t even begin to cover this episode without mentioning the fact that it was part of one of the greatest April Fools Day pranks in history. Without warning anyone, this episode began to play on a continuous loop on Adult Swim. I was at a party at the time, and I didn’t believe it, thinking it was just a prank. But then we bothered to check the site and, to our amazement, here was a new episode of the show, almost exactly a year and a half after the last one, just like Mr. Poopybutthole said. Absolutely amazing.

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Few images have made me happier than seeing this that day.

This episode stands for a complete rejection of character development, something that helps set this show apart in comparison with similar series, while simultaneously playing with the notion of what constitutes such development. At the end of the second season, we believe that Rick has finally decided to do something for his family rather than himself, but this episode reveals that everything was actually just Rick getting revenge on all of his enemies through an elaborate gambit. Morty, who threatens to never forgive Rick for leaving in the last episode, reveals that his feelings towards Rick haven’t changed. Beth, who finally seems to have gotten past her fear of her father leaving, immediately takes him back. The only one who seems to really change is Summer, who is now somewhat idolizing Rick. At the end of the episode, Rick takes it a step further by revealing that his new motivation is now just to get more McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNuggets sauce. Not to avenge his family or to fight for justice or anything else that usually motivates protagonists, no, just the sauce.  And that’s one of the best jokes a show can make: Rick’s motivation is completely unimportant to us, so why shouldn’t it be something absurd?

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Also, a reference to Angel from X-men becoming Archangel, another pointless change.

We even think that we’re getting Rick’s secret backstory to explain why he is the way he is, only for it to be revealed to be completely made up. It’s similar to how a lot of writers have treated the Joker in comics and film: Even when we’re given a backstory, it’s best to think that it could be a complete lie. After all, if we found out that Rick really is just driven by some catastrophic event or concrete motivation, wouldn’t that kind of ruin what makes him awesome? He’s just a force of chaos and that’s what works for him.

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This tells us nothing and everything at the same time.

Overall, this episode was the perfect continuation of the last season’s cliffhanger. It had references to things that had happened throughout the series, but it also just re-established the setting for the true Rick and Morty formula: Rick and Morty doing random crazy stuff because Rick’s a selfish prick.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Alright, so I just pointed out that this episode ultimately removes any real selfless element of Rick’s sacrifice from the season 2 finale, but I actually don’t think that’s completely true. Let’s break down how Rick’s plan worked:

  1. Get captured.
  2. Get put in a brainalyzer with an agent who wants the formula for interdimensional transportation.
  3. Determine what brainalyzer you’re in by seeing how many times Jerry can fold himself.
  4. Use that information to determine what virus will give you control of the machine.
  5. Put your brain in the agent’s body.
  6. Get Level 9 access.
  7. Wreck Federation Economy.
S3E1 - 7Currency.png
… So, they don’t have English, but they use Arabic numbers? Also, this would not work.

Ultimately, this didn’t end up working out beyond step 5, because of Seal Team Ricks, but at the end of the plan, there didn’t seem to be any steps that would actually get his family back. His last conversation with Morty was that Morty would never forgive him for leaving. Without Morty and Summer being captured by the citadel, who incidentally become victims of Rick’s original plan, Rick might not have been able to get back into the family. Sure, Morty later said that he hadn’t ever really renounced Rick, but Rick isn’t exactly perfect at guessing Morty’s motivations (see: Morty shooting him in the head). Now, he was aware that everyone but Jerry was on his side before leaving, but that’s still a huge risk that he’s never going to see them again, which means that on some level he was at least trying to do something to make his family’s lives better at his own peril.

If you’re saying that he knew his plan to collapse the Federation would work, I counter with: Then why had he waited to do it? Rick has been against the Federation since the pilot, but it’s not until he has nothing left to lose that he finally does it. He’s willing to take the risk now because if he fails, his family is still better off.

So, yeah, the show snuck a little bit of character development into an episode against it. Well done.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 21: The Wedding Squanchers

NEXT – 23: Rickmancing the Stone

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Carmen Sandiego: WHY ON EARTH IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?

One of the greatest fictional thieves is given a new origin in a new series, but it aims way too low.

SUMMARY

Carmen Sandiego (Gina Rodriguez) is a white-hat thief… in a red fedora and matching badass longcoat. Together with her hacker associate Player (Finn Wolfhard) and sidekick siblings Zack and Ivy (Michael Hawley and Abby Trott), Carmen travels all around the world to steal back treasures stolen by the evil organization V.I.L.E. (Villain’s International League of Evil) and return them to their rightful places.

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The redheads are from Boston, wicked accents included.

END SUMMARY

So, if you read this regularly, you might think that I’m not a big fan of reboots, but that’s really not true. Lots of reboots manage to take characters and put them in new and interesting situations that provide something new and important for the series. The 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series provided a darker and more serious take than the 1987 version, but they both were still true to the core of the characters. The Ducktales reboot took what was great about the original series (The interplay of the main characters and the “anything is possible” world) while fixing what wasn’t so good about it (weak female main characters, repetitive plots, not having Don Cheadle). The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina took beloved characters and put them in a world where they are inherently doing more morally questionable things, but didn’t change what was fun and interesting about them. The key is that you don’t change what was awesome about the character, because otherwise why wouldn’t you just make a new one?

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Sometimes you just keep the formula going, but pander like hell… and it works.

The creators of this show clearly disagree with me.

Throughout her history, many things have changed about Carmen Sandiego, largely due to the fact that she was originally an educational video game character who became a game show character and an animated series character. She was originally listed as a former spy, but later was depicted as a former detective who found catching criminals too easy and decided it would be more fun to commit impossibly huge crimes. Regardless of her origin, the central, and awesome, trait of the character was that she was a criminal for the thrill of it. She didn’t want riches or world domination or to spread chaos, she just liked planning the perfect heist and beating the authorities in the chase. She’d even leave clues to make it more sporting for the detectives, and allow them to battle wits with her V.I.L.E. henchmen first, not to prove their worthiness, but to build up their skills. She rarely, if ever, resorted to violence and never allowed any of her henchmen to kill anyone. In short, she was the ultimate gentlewoman thief, but she was still, always, a villain. Just check out the intro to the last series:

In this show, Carmen is still a thief, but she exclusively steals from V.I.L.E. and returns the goods to their rightful owners. The show compares her to a white-hat hacker, someone who commits a crime but for the purpose of helping people. This is probably the main reason why I don’t like this reboot, because you changed the one thing that was most awesome about the character: THAT SHE WAS THE BAD GUY. Look, I’m fully prepared to watch a show where she’s the protagonist, but I still want her to be a criminal. In this, she’s not doing it for the thrill, but because she “rejects evil.” She’s only pursued by authorities because of a series of misunderstandings and the fact that some of the officers are idiots. At one point, the detectives of ACME believe that Carmen actually is the head of V.I.L.E. as she usually is, but, again, it’s only because the detective just plain isn’t smart. Making her a pure hero removes any of the wonderful moral ambiguity of her character. She’s supposed to be a noble thief, but not a Robin Hood. In this, she’s just a hero who happens to use thievery. She might as well be Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. Why not just come up with another character (or use a character that already does that) instead of trying to capitalize solely on nostalgic naming?

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At least most of the new VILE heads are some of the best characters from the old series.

I also don’t like the particular way they try to make the show “educational.” Rather than being worked organically into the plot of the episode, most of the information is just given in one single infodump that includes a bunch of awkward facts about the location that the episode is set in. Look, I want kids to be learning during the show the way that I used to learn while playing the games, but that’s not going to happen if your main education is a 30 second exchange of rapid-fire facts in a 22 minute episode. In the original, it was a number of infodumps presented as fun, short, vignettes which made sense because they were being told to the Player, a real person playing the game that made the show, in order to help him win.

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For example, in Indonesia, they have 1:02 of clunky dialogue, including this graphic of a Komodo.

For an even more personal gripe: She doesn’t steal the unstealable, for one. In almost every incarnation of Carmen Sandiego, one of her most famous traits is that she intentionally steals things that cannot realistically be stolen, like the Mona Lisa’s smile or the Orient Express. Admittedly, this was tied into her desire to just commit crimes for the challenge, something this version doesn’t share, but that was one of the more consistent elements of the series. In this, she just takes things that would actually be the targets of theft, like coins or paintings, and that just pisses me off. THIS IS THE WOMAN WHO STOLE THE BEANS FROM LIMA, DAMMIT!!!

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Oh, and she stole the Sydney Opera House. WHILE PLAYING BEETHOVEN.

But, let’s get into some of the things that this show did pretty well on. First, to its credit, while they missed the big picture of what made Carmen Sandiego amazing, they did at least do enough of their homework to include a lot of references from the other media. It does bother me a little that most of their new characters aren’t the same level of punny as the old ones, with the new ones even mocking that idea, but they do still have quite a few of them. Also, they got Rita f*cking Moreno, the voice actress from Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego to voice Cookie Booker, the evil accountant, who provides this version of Carmen with her signature hat and coat, acting as a covert passing of the torch. The art style is pretty solid and, honestly, though I’m mixed on Carmen so frequently being out of her signature outfit, I think it was a good choice to show that she isn’t always “on the job.” I think it was also clever to make Player, who usually in the media represented a human playing the game that the show took place in, into a hacker who only communicates with Carmen through his computer. It keeps some aspect of their dynamic alive. Carmen is much more of an action girl in this, too, as opposed to her mastermind characterization, but that didn’t bother me much, since it fit the more “Kim Possible” version of the character in the series. 

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Although the coat reminds me more of Secret Squirrel.

Overall, I didn’t like the fact that this reboot didn’t try to take the core of the character and put it in a different setting as much as it just changed the core of the character to something completely different but called it the same thing. If the writing had been better, maybe I could have gotten into it, but I wouldn’t recommend this show to fans of the original or to their kids.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Rick and Mondays – S2 E6 “The Ricks Must Be Crazy”

Rick meets the closest thing he has to a match inside of a world of his own making.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland), Morty (Roiland), and Summer (Spencer Grammer) are in a parallel dimension to see a movie. They get back in Rick’s car to get ice cream, but it doesn’t start. Rick tells Morty that it’s a problem with the “Microverse Battery.” Rick tells the car to keep Summer safe and teleports into the battery with Morty. Morty is astounded to find that Rick’s battery is run by a planet full of aliens who generate power for him as a side-effect of creating power for their own civilization. They believe Rick to be “Rick the Alien” and essentially worship him as the person who gave them modern civilization, unaware that he is siphoning off most of the planet’s power. Morty repeatedly points out the inherent immorality of this situation, but Rick refuses to actually engage in the debate.

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He told them this means “Peace Among Worlds.”

In the microverse, President Chris (Alan “Curse this sudden but inevitable betrayal” Tudyk) informs Rick that they no longer need to generate power using Rick’s method (essentially walking on a treadmill) and instead have a new method thought up by the brilliant but angry scientist Zeep Zanflorp (Stephen “It sounds like a chilly ursine” Colbert). That method is the “Miniverse Battery,” which is substantially the same as the Rick’s Microverse Battery. Rick starts to recite all of Morty’s arguments to Zeep, who ignores them much like Rick did. Rick then realizes that there must be someone within the Miniverse who is working on their own version of a microverse, so Rick finds Kyle (Nathan Fielder), a scientist who is building a “Teenyverse Battery.” Once Rick, Morty, Zeep, and Kyle go into the Teenyverse, Zeep starts to use Morty/Rick’s arguments against Microverses, which leads Zeep to realize that his home universe is a Microverse. This enrages him and leads him to attack Rick. Kyle then realizes that he was born in a microverse within a microverse, which leads him to an existential crisis and he kills himself, trapping the rest within the Teenyverse.

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Three of these people created a universe. The other one turns into a car.

Meanwhile, Summer is sitting in the car when a man walks up and knocks on the car. The car’s computer (Kari Wahlgren), detecting a potential threat, violently cuts him into small pieces. Another man sees it and approaches, but is only crippled after Summer begs the car not to kill him. The police approach the car, but since Summer asks the car not to kill or cripple anyone, the car resurrects one of the commanding officers’ dead children and then liquidates the child in front of his eyes, threatening to do the same for anyone who comes nearby.

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Yes, the car traumatizes a grieving father by making him re-live the death of his son. FUN!

In the Teenyverse, months have passed. Morty left after getting fed up with Rick and Zeep’s fighting. Rick and Zeep have been constructing rudimentary mechanical exoskeletons out of wood and rock in order to do battle, but after proving to be basically equal, Morty and the Tree People who populate the Teenyverse capture them. Morty pretends to try and teach them the ways of simple natural living before threatening them into working together to get out of the Teenyverse into the Miniverse. Once out, Zeep and Rick seem to reconcile, but Rick soon realizes that Zeep plans on stranding them in the Miniverse. He tries to get Morty to turn into a car based on the nanomachines Rick secretly put in his blood, but they catch a cab instead and manage to return to the Microverse with Zeep. Inside the Microverse, Zeep and Rick race to Rick’s ship with Rick getting there first. He then proceeds to fist-fight Zeep and defeat him before leaving to the regular universe.

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Rick just killed a universe and the universe within that universe. FUN!

Back in the normal universe, right before Rick and Morty return, the military have surrounded Rick’s car. The car complains because Summer tells it not to kill anyone, cripple anyone, or use devastating psychological tactics. In response, the car brokers peace between the humans and the psychic spiders that populate the planet, leading the President of the planet to tell the military to leave the car alone as thanks. Rick then returns and starts the car, having reasoned that Zeep would provide power to the vehicle knowing that Rick would destroy the Microverse otherwise. However, Rick gets pissed when he finds out that all ice cream in the planet now has flies as part of the “spider-peace.” After the credits, Morty spontaneously transforms into a car.

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Guess who has a new worst fear?

END SUMMARY

It’s interesting that, even more than other episodes where Rick literally meets versions of himself, this is the episode that creates the most explored Doppelgänger of Rick. Zeep isn’t quite as smart as Rick, as evidenced by a few small things throughout the episode, but he very clearly serves as Rick’s double, to the point that he not only duplicates Rick’s justifications for why the Microverse isn’t immoral, but also later duplicates Rick’s duplication of Morty’s arguments for why it is. We’ve seen Rick deal with doubles that he hates before, however, unlike the episodes dealing with the Citadel of Ricks, in this Rick doesn’t immediately recognize that Zeep is doing exactly what he is. This makes it even more humorous when we see Rick mocking Zeep for being a hypocrite, to Morty’s annoyance. This is an interesting subset of the Doppelgänger myth, with everyone being able to see that the two are identical except for the actual duplicates.

S2E6 - 6ZeepDouble.png
They’re both miserable drug addicts.

This episode was used brilliantly by Wisecrack to illustrate Dan Harmon’s dedication to the story circle. I’ve embedded it below, but here are the steps that Harmon says dictate a traditional story arc:

  1. A character is in a zone of comfort,
  2. But they want something.
  3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
  4. Adapt to it.
  5. Get what they wanted,
  6. Pay a heavy price for it,
  7. Then return to their familiar situation,
  8. Having changed.

If you want a classic example of this, read The Hobbit. However, since television shows can’t have the main characters change every episode, he says that there is a special “Futility” arc that happens within television that basically makes the whole show take place within step 4 of the true arc. The TV arc is:

  1. The main character
  2. notices a small problem,
  3. and make a major decision.
  4. This changes things
  5. to some satisfaction, but
  6. there are consequences
  7. that must be undone
  8. and they must admit the futility of change.

This episode is pretty much exactly that, but it also contains other cycles involving a different character within their own sub-universe. It might even have continued if Kyle’s civilization had developed sufficiently to create yet another sub-universe, or if Kyle hadn’t responded to the realization of his universe’s nature by killing himself. Either way, I just love how perfectly structured this episode is under the rules of Dan Harmon’s TV futility arc.

The car telling Summer “My function is to keep Summer safe, not keep Summer being, like, totally stoked about, like, the general vibe and stuff. That’s you. That’s how you talk” is one of the funniest lines to me. The car is reminding her that it is doing its job, but only within the letter of the law, and everytime the car has to think around her, it’s making it think less of Summer. Ultimately, Summer’s restrictions on the car are what end up ruining Rick’s happy ending in the episode, so maybe it would have been better to just have the car emotionally cripple everyone? Or was it worth it for spider peace? Some things will never be certain.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, I think that the episode implies that Zeep isn’t as smart as Rick, even though Zeep says otherwise. First, Zeep has to use the Government’s resources to create a miniverse, as opposed to Rick building one in the garage. Second, Zeep’s miniverse is designed to power his civilization, whereas Rick’s just powers his battery, meaning that what is the be-all end-all of Zeep’s inventing is something so mundane to Rick that it doesn’t even power his lab, just his car. Third, his miniverse is larger than Rick’s microverse, despite producing the same amount of energy. I’m not counting the fact that he doesn’t master multiverse travel, because Zeep doesn’t live in a multiverse.

S2E6 - 7Aliens.png
Also, Zeep used way too much effort on his disguise. Engineers don’t do extra work.

If I was to hazard a guess as to why the Rick equivalent in the microverse isn’t as smart as Rick, I’d say that it’s probable that no sub-universe can be more complicated than the parent universe. I know that the science in this show is basically supermagic, but it does make sense that no engineer would bother to make a more complex, or even equally complex, version of their universe in order to just generate power.

Sorry, guys, I don’t have a great one for this episode, it’s kind of air-tight.

LEAVING THE CORNER

I can’t articulate why I like this episode so much. A lot of it is that Stephen Colbert’s portrayal of Zeep is hilarious, but I also just love watching Rick constantly ignore the obvious that he and Zeep are almost the same person.

Overall, I give this episode an

A-

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 16: Get Schwifty

NEXT – 18: Big Trouble in Little Sanchez

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E11 “Rick-sy Business”

We’re at the end of season one; time to get wriggedity wriggedity wrecked, son!

SUMMARY

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.

S1EB - 1JerryAndBeth.png
Jerry doesn’t exactly scream “authority” dressed like a drowned broke artist.

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.

S1EB - 2LucyDraw.png
Yes, just like one of his French Girls.

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.

S1EB - 3SlowMobius.png
Slow Mobius adds the “Can’t Hardly Wait” effect.

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.

S1EB - 4Lincler.png
Technically, he should die by a bullet to the head, either way.

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.

END SUMMARY

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.

S1EB - 5GearHead.png
This is his go-to move. Along with betrayal.

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.

S1EB - 6Plank.png
See, he does end up letting go. It’s a metaphor.

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.

S1EB - 7Ricks.png
He’s right next to Daria.

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

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS –  10: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind

NEXT – 12: A Rickle in Time

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E6 “Rick Potion #9”

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.

SUMMARY

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.”

S1E6-1Jessica.png
He throws the football really well, guys, that’s why he dates Jessica.

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.

S1E6-2Potion.png
Twist: It’s just Slice. Remember Slice? It stopped existing in 2010, I think.

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.

S1E6-3JerryBeth.png
“I obviously sort of love you, don’t I? So stop asking and maybe I’ll love you more.”

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.

S1E6-4ButtGrope.png
This is not the anti-roofie message I expected, but okay.

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.

S1E6-5Monsters.png
Hello, Nightmares. Thanks for not being part clown or spider.

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.

S1E6-JerryGoesApeshit.png
It’s like an FPS, only with consequences… so nothing like an FPS.

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.

S1E6-7Cronenbergs
Okay, so where did the tentacles come from?

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.

S1E6-8MortyStare.png
What a Thousand-Yard Stare.

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.

S1E6-9CronenbergMorty.png

END SUMMARY

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.

S1E6-AKillingJoke.jpg
Sometimes it only takes one bad day.

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.

S1E6-BErnest.png
Though, some things are MORE meaningless than others.

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.

S1E6-CSimpsons
Unlike other shows where stuff just resets.

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.

S1E6-DAsymptote.png
It doesn’t hit the line in math, but, in reality, it does.

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.

S1E6-EZeno.jpg

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

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 5: Meeseeks and Destroy

NEXT – 7: Raising Gazorpazorp

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E5 “Meeseeks and Destroy”

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.

SUMMARY

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.

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Ghostbusters of the Lost Ark

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.”

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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.

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It’s a bad sign that she thinks any emotional support comes from physical desire.

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.

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And yet, nobody charged the original giant with eating small people. Racist system.

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.

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The existential crisis, from the other side of existence.

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.

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That’s the giant’s wife watching a loophole free what she thinks are her husband’s killers.

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.”

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I assume they’re unable to commit suicide.

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.

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This is a comedy cartoon in a fairy-tale world. We are a sick species.

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.

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To be fair, this is how my golf lessons usually ended.

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.

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This blog does not condone murder, but we are less sad when it’s a child rapist.

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.

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Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub enters the zeitgeist.

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.

END SUMMARY

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.

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Though he DOES win the bet.

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.

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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.

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Waitresses are used to this, clearly.

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.

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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.

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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

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

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