I know that when I thought “what would a Rick and Morty Thanksgiving special be like,” I never conceived of a country song about soldiers paying the price of freedom by turning into turkeys. That’s why this show is worthwhile, because it sometimes gives us the stuff we didn’t know we wanted. This isn’t one of the more complicated episodes of this show, but it has a surprisingly solid subtext about mythologizing the past. If you aren’t interested in that, though, at least you get to see Rick and the President of the US played by Keith David messing with each other again. Oh, and the funniest Polio joke ever, which, admittedly, is not a super competitive category.
The episode starts with Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) trying to steal the US Constitution because apparently Nicolas Cage was right and there is a treasure map on it. Morty accidentally destroys it, so the President tries to trap the pair inside of the house. Rick reveals that he plans to become a turkey and get a Presidential pardon, something he does periodically in order to avoid consequences. The President, aware of Rick’s plan, has a bunch of soldiers turn into turkeys in order to thwart it, then ends up turning himself into a turkey as well. However, during the turkey-based fighting, the President’s tracking chip ends up in a random turkey who is then turned into a copy of the President. The Turkey-President bribes Congress, very easily, into allowing him to start an army of turkey supermen. Meanwhile, Rick, Morty, and the Real President join forces with the troops from before and break into the secret Thanksgiving vault under the Lincoln Memorial. It’s revealed that Americans have been fighting turkey dinosaurs since before the 1500s, when two groups of aliens, who look like Pilgrims and Native Americans, helped defeat them. The aliens are revived to help fight the turkey forces while Rick and Morty stop the Turkey-President from turning all turkeys to humans and the President fights his counterpart. They win, but Morty says he doesn’t know how to feel about America now. The President then just tells him to feel thankful. Later, a marine who was turned into a turkey has blueberry related PTSD only for the other citizens to say they don’t want to cover his healthcare.
Honestly, this episode is one of the most ridiculous joke episodes in the history of this show and that’s saying something. It’s like it throws out every ridiculous cliche while having a theme of undercutting Thanksgiving, American mythology, and the American Government. The first time I watched it, I thought it was a little underwhelming, but on rewatch I admit that a lot of the jokes really are pretty solid. Honestly, this episode might have my single favorite joke in Rick and Morty history when it is revealed that there is a giant half-spider FDR:
“He was a guinea pig for the polio vaccine. We asked ourselves: What walks the most?”
The sheer brilliant absurdity of this line makes me smile every single time.
Overall, pretty good episode. It’s just supposed to be fun and, for the most part, it is.
Rick and Morty tries to prove that it is not, in fact, a show for smart people. They succeed.
I don’t know if this is the worst episode of this series, but I am willing to state that it is probably the least clever episode. The entire thing felt like the set-up to a Rick and Morty joke where everything is revealed to be a prank on Morty or something like in the “Vat of Acid Episode,” but instead it is just played straight. I think that might be either a set-up for something later on in the series or kind of a meta prank on the audience who, like me, would constantly spend the episode waiting for the clever twist. It’s not that they haven’t done linear episodes before, ranging from the miserable “Anatomy Park” to the absolutely amazing “Pickle Rick,” but this one really needed something to redeem it.
The episode starts with Morty (Justin Roiland) meeting Beth (Sarah Chalke) at her veterinary office and seeing a machine that harvests horse semen. Morty then uses the machine to get off for a week before Rick (Roiland) steals a vat of the supposed horse semen to use in his war against the Cannibal Horse Underground Dwellers (CHUDs). Unfortunately, when Morty lies about having his semen in the container, it causes Rick to accidentally make Morty’s sperm gigantic and occasionally sentient. The sperm start attacking Earth and the President (Keith David) believes Morty’s lie about not knowing what happened. Rick and Morty join a pair of marines to find the sperm’s lair where Morty is captured by a talking sperm in a mech suit who reveals that Morty created them. Rick, disturbed by this revelation, helps Morty plant nukes in the sperm base, but find out that the sperm are heading to Vegas. Summer (Spencer Grammer) came up with the idea to have her egg enlarged to attract the sperm, only to have the credit stolen by a scientist working for the President named Shabooboo. Rick and Morty are captured by the CHUDs, but are saved by the revelation that Rick impregnated their princess. The CHUDs help Rick and Morty and the Army try to stop the sperm. They seem to succeed, only for a friendly sperm Morty had named “Sticky” to enter the egg, creating a giant incest baby that gets shot into space.
This is a strong contender for the worst episode of this show so far. The plot is linear and not particularly interesting, beyond the intervention of the CHUDs. I admit horse cannibals who burrow through the ground were pretty funny. The only way they could have pulled this off something so straightforward was if the humor in the episode was really on point, but it definitely was not. The entire episode is mostly gross-out humor ranging from the giant sperm images to a literal incest baby. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments. The scene of Beth telling Summer that she’s finally a woman because a man stole her idea and didn’t give her credit is pretty solid, even if that joke has been played out a lot lately. The line from the sperm queen about them not bringing a woman who can kickbox was pretty great. Rick finally admitting his addiction when he realizes that he impregnated a mutant horse was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough jokes to fill the whole time without making me think “am I really watching giant sperm right now?”
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
Is this episode intentionally stupid? Here me out. This season has, so far, mostly been a series of really funny episodes that usually contain either great A-Plot and B-Plot interplay or, like Mortyplicity, an amazing premise that keeps surprising you. However, these episodes have been a bit harder to follow than some of the episodes in the earlier seasons, at least for people who don’t have great attention spans. So I think they might actually have made an episode that’s intentionally base and stupid so that the fandom that was complaining about the first few episodes would have something to grab onto. Dan Harmon is exactly the kind of guy who might troll the audience like that, perhaps even later calling this a “gas leak episode.”
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.
Jack Sullivan (Nick Wolfhard) is a teenager and one of the only survivors of an apocalypse that brings forth a horde of zombies and eldritch monsters. He soon joins up with his tech genius best friend Quint (Garland Whitt), former bully Dirk (Charles Demers), and his crush and ace warrior June (Montserrat Hernandez) in order to start taking out the bigger threats and make the apocalypse more bearable. They’re joined by the mutant dog Rover (Brian Drummond). Soon, they find out that other sentient monsters were pulled into our world, including the expert hunter Skaelka (Catherine O’Hara), wizard Bardle (Mark Hamill), chef… Chef (Bruce Campbell), and leader Thrull (Keith David). Thrull soon betrays the group in order to summon the dark goddess Rezzoch (Rosario Dawson), but Jack and crew manage to stop him. The world is a little bit safer, but Rezzoch is now looking for a new way in, and she will stop at nothing.
When this show first came out, I compared it to the other then-recent “kids in the apocalypse” show, Daybreak. Well, this show has now gotten two more seasons with awesome new regulars while Daybreak got cancelled, so I guess we know who won. Honestly, I wish they’d continued both, but I admit that this show has kept things fresh as it keeps going.
A big part of why it still works is that they’ve given each of the characters deeper arcs that expand on their initial characterization. Jack gamifies the world and tries to make everyone happy because he is afraid of being left behind. June keeps people at a distance because she’s focused on her missing family. Dirk, who is accustomed to being the biggest guy around, now finds himself outclassed by the monsters and wants to regain his position. Quint is nervous about keeping everyone happy because he thinks people only want him for what he can do, not who he is. These feel like real people with real flaws and their interactions are all heightened by desperation.
The monsters are also amazing. They’re simpler characters in some ways, each mostly matching a traditional fantasy archetype, but that makes it all the more interesting when they reveal something that subverts your expectations. The fact that they all have great voice actors is a huge bonus. The show has used the fact that their main characters are mostly genre savvy as a way to work in pop culture references, but with the presence of actual sci-fi/fantasy/horror legends on the cast, you knew that some in-jokes were made. Campbell and Hamill have a great interaction in this season that made me laugh for a solid minute only because it was the joke that had to be made.
Overall, solid series for kids and adults, glad it’s still going.
The kid-friendly apocalypse returns with Keith David, Bruce Campbell, and Mark Hamill.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Book 1)
It was a normal day, up until a bunch of portals to other dimensions opened up and allowed a number of nightmarish horrors onto the Earth… or at least around Wakefield, Indiana. Zombies, mutant insects, giant eldritch abominations, you name it, it’s destroying the town. Many people escaped, many more were turned into zombies, but four kids were trapped in the town: Video gamer and natural leader Jack Sullivan (Nick Wolfhard), bully and strongman Dirk Savage (Charles Demers), action girl June Del Toro (Montserrat Hernandez), and tech nerd Quint Baker (Garland Whitt). Together with their pet mega-dog Rover, they managed to defeat the giant alpha monster Blarg.
Now, the four have to deal with the fact that there are a number of humanoid and sentient monsters who have come here from other dimensions who are trying to find their way home. They’re led by the warrior Thrull (Keith David) and include such members as the Chef (Bruce Campbell), the gruff Bardle (Mark Hamill “Applause”), and the deadly Skaelka (Catherine O’Hara). Unfortunately, it seems that an evil being called Rezzoch (Rosario Dawson), is also trying to find her way to Earth.
I have to give the show credit for completely changing the structure of the show during the second season. First off, the show is now made up of episodes rather than just a single film. This gives the show more time to do subplots and b-plots which help when you have a cast of this size, particularly now that there are other characters they can interact with. Second, rather than just being a survival story in the dystopia, now the characters have a set of goals involved in preventing the arrival of Rezzoch.
The four person group dynamic is an old one and it plays out well here. They map roughly onto the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles model, with the leader (Jack), the “does machines” guy (Quint), the cool but rude (June), and the idiot (Dirk). I also appreciate that they have a lot of moments where they each step outside of their expected model. They also do play up some more of the realities of being teenagers who are now living in the apocalypse, even though they are still handling it better than most people would.
Overall, it’s a pretty solid show… also, it has Keith David, Mark Hamill, and Bruce Campbell.
The out-of-control Time Travel comedy comes to a fun and powerful ending.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 in that you know they’re not the finale)
Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson) is a janitor who lives in his parents’ house and spends most of his time playing the game “Biotic Wars,” a game which apparently no one has ever beaten. Josh becomes the first person to finish it, but this summons two soldiers from the future, Tiger and Wolf (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson). It turns out that the game was designed to help them find their savior to help save the future from the real Biotics. It turns out they’ll be created as a byproduct of the research of Doctor Elias Kronish (Keith David), Josh’s employer. Josh attempts to manipulate Kronish in the 60s, but when he returns to the present, he finds out that the world is subtly different and he still failed. They keep trying again and again to mess with history and eventually kind of succeed, but Josh gets pulled into the new future that is caused by Kronish’s partner Stu Camillo (Haley Joel Osment). After ultimately thwarting this new future, Josh, Tiger, and Wolf discover that their actions have killed billions upon billions of people and are now being prosecuted via a horrible reality show.
Future Man was a time travel show that basically lampooned every single time-travel movie by pointing out all of the vast logical inconsistencies that typically populate the genre, as well as by playing out the implications of time travel that normally would be ignored because they’re disturbing. Josh, the supposed savior, believes he is extremely genre savvy, in contrast to his completely uncultured companions, but he frequently is shown to be out of his depth. In response to screwing up his time travel missions, Josh’s response is usually to go travel in again, thinking that the repercussions will all work themselves out despite the fact that they never do. Tiger and Wolf, on the other hand, start out knowing pretty much one thing: How to kill anyone using anything at hand. Their complete and utter lack of social skills (having lived in the apocalyptic sewers for most of their lives) is a treasure trove of comedy for the first season.
The best part, though, is that all three of the characters change frequently during the show. During the first season, for example, Wolf stays in the 1980s due to his love of Corey Hart, Josh stays in an alternate present, and Tiger heads back to the 1940s. As a result, Josh realizes he’s a bit of a douche, Wolf becomes a coke addicted chef, and Tiger starts to resemble the mom from Leave It To Beaver. Then they change again multiple times in each season, usually growing in response to their circumstances. As a fan of character arcs, I love a show that has tons of them.
Similarly, the premise of the show changes frequently, based on the fact that time travel constantly shifts the world they’re in. Because of this, there can be huge differences in the tone or humor in any given episode, keeping the show fresh throughout most of the run.
Honestly, I liked this show a lot, and I enjoyed the ending quite a bit. I recommend giving it a try, particularly if you were born in the 80s or early 90s. One of my favorite jokes is contained in the end of the last episode, so I can say I found it pretty consistent.
I take on the task of looking at three takes on the same idea over 3 generations.
*Update* I have reconsidered these films now and I would like to say the following: The Carpenter film will literally always win. It’s a masterpiece. However, I do admit that the 2011 film has a lot more going for it than I thought the first time.
Each of these movies is an adaptation of the story “Who Goes There?” from 1938.
The general plotline of the films is that an Antarctic, or Arctic, research station finds a frozen alien spacecraft. The alien is revealed to be a threat to the world, because it consumes life forms and then propagates itself at a rapid pace, sewing a large amount of distrust among all of the humans. Everything else is going to be part of the compare and contrast.
This is the conclusion of my 13 reviews of Halloween. Four of the reviews were classic movies, four of them were reader requests, and four of them were independent movies/lesser seen films. This review has all three of those, but they’re all adaptations of the same story. This review originally ended up being over 3500 words. I’ve edited it heavily in order to get it to a reasonable length for a blog post. Maybe one day I’ll post the full thing, but… well, due to my own stupidity, I didn’t save a copy of the full review, I just cut it down. Long story short, this is a long story, short.
A little background here:
The Thing from Another World was made in 1951 by Christian Nyby, who really was just an editor throughout most of his career. It was in black-and-white and was produced by Howard Hawks’ studio, the makers of Scarface and The Big Sleep. It was a low-budget sci-fi horror film that was designed mostly to capitalize on the anti-scientific-exploration mentality that was prevalent after the world realized that “oh hey, atomic bombs are bad now that Russia has them” as well as the growing threat of “communism.” It was a big hit both commercially and critically, doing better than more well-known films like The Day the Earth Stood Still. It’s still considered a classic monster movie and holds up better than most movies from 1951.
The Thing is a movie made by the legendary John Carpenter in 1982. It could represent any number of potential social issues, because the central focus is that anyone could secretly be an alien and you’d never notice. That said, it could represent absolutely nothing and still just be a great horror film. The Thing was a critical flop of epic proportions, with most of the people saying it was too bleak and too slow to be a decent film. However, as time passed, the film was reconsidered by most audiences, where it went from being one of the most hated films of all time to one of the most celebrated films. It stands today as one of the best examples of practical effects in the 1980s and of suspense in films. The fact that it is so dark and depressing, what made people hate it when it came out, is now what sets it apart from other horror films. It’s just a masterpiece through and through.
The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 movie that was made in 2011 because you can always cash in on nostalgia. While the Carpenter film depended heavily on practical effects, the 2011 movie tried to replace it with CGI. Sadly, the CGI did not improve the film. While the Carpenter film has a slow pace to increase the paranoia and uncertainty of the audience and the characters, this version seems to go slow solely because the Carpenter version did. It also suffered because the end of the film had to correspond with the observations of the location from the Carpenter version. Ultimately, it wasn’t very successful either critically or commercially.
The big constants in every version are the alien, the setting, the team, and the paranoia. I’d originally intended to go through each, pick a winner and a loser in each category, and then do an overall analysis to determine the best movie. The problem was that I immediately knew that the one done by John Carpenter was going to win every category. It’s one of the best horror films ever made and one of my favorite movies, so… yeah, that one is going to win literally everything. Instead, I’m just going to explain WHY it wins.
1) The Alien
The alien is a global threat. In The Thing From Another World, the creature feeds on blood and is plant-based. It’s blood subsequently grows other plants, which will eventually feed on more blood. In this way, if it were to get out of the tundra, it would cause carnivorous plants to take over the world. In the 1982 The Thing and its 2011 prequel of the same name, the alien consumes living matter and can absorb the memories of anyone it eats, allowing it to perfectly duplicate its victims. After it consumes enough mass, it can duplicate itself into another organism, making any number of itself until it could eventually consume everyone on Earth without anyone even knowing it.
If it comes down to why The Thing wins here, it’s a combination of, ahem, things. First, the alien in the older movie, while it is played by the legendary James Arness, is nowhere near as scary. It’s also nowhere near as focal to the threat of the film. It basically shows up, gets injured, drives a guy insane, then dies in an incredibly stupid trap. It’s still fairly lethal, but much easier to deal with, due to it not propagating on its own. Also, it’s extremely humanoid, which removes some level of intimidation.
Meanwhile the Carpenter alien is a nightmare. It not only infiltrates with ease, but quickly consumes and spreads itself at such a fast pace that neither the characters nor the audience can ever be sure who is human and who isn’t. Now, you may point out that this is the same monster from the prequel, and that’s technically true, but A) it’s inherently not original, B) the creature is nowhere near as creative in its killing, and C) the digital special effects for it just don’t match up to the practical effects of the Carpenter film. *Update* Admittedly, CGI did allow for a lot of shots that couldn’t be done practically, but Rob Bottin and special-effects legend Stan Winston really came up with some disturbing shots for the Carpenter version.
2) The Setting
Every version of the movie takes place in a frozen wasteland. This is essential to the story, because it is the only reason why the creature doesn’t immediately start taking over the world.
In The Thing From Another World, the setting is the North Pole, which is unique among the movies in the sense that it’s on the exact opposite side of the world, but… how the hell would you know? I mean, it’s just a snowy desert. However, unlike the other two movies, the setting is much more tied in with the military. It’s ostensibly an arctic research base, but it is run by the air force and staffed by airmen. The base also is designed to be visited more often, keeping the feeling of isolation at a much lower level than the other films. To be fair, the movie is supposed to be more of a monster epic, as opposed to a psychological thriller, so the lack of isolation isn’t as noticeable.
The 2011 version takes place at the set which the cast of the 1982 film briefly visit, that of a Norwegian research station called “Thule,” an ancient term for the border of the world (solid reference there, guys). Similar to the 1951 movie, though, the fact that people keep coming and going from the station removes some of the elements of isolation compared to the Carpenter version. The station is also designed for more clinical research, which makes it seem more pristine and somewhat unloved. However, the movie does include the inside of the alien ship, which… actually is kind of a disappointment. The ship looks similar to most spaceships from alien movies, with hallways designed to accommodate humanoid inhabitants. This is despite the fact that the alien that inhabits it is a shapeshifter who wouldn’t need such regular dimensions. It still looks cool, but not as cool as it could be. Yes, we technically see part of it in the original, but there was a lot of room to expand on this in inventive ways that I think didn’t happen.
Then there’s the original. The people staffing the American research station aren’t scientists, they’re blue collar workers. They wreck stuff. They put their feet on stuff. You really believe this is the kind of place where a bunch of guys get stuck together for months at a time. But mostly, it drives home that this is the kind of place that is separated from the rest of the world. They can barely go outside for any amount of time, so the inside is kind of dirty and crowded and lived in. The shots of the landscape just show whiteness and emptiness everywhere; it’s perfectly bleak and isolated.
3) The Team
This is probably the category in which each of the movies is the most fundamentally different. It’s a little unfair that John Carpenter had Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, and Donald Moffat, although the 2011 film did have Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton. The Thing from Another World’s biggest star was James Arness as the monster, and he had only just started his career at that point.
However, it’s not just the performances and the caliber of actors that set the John Carpenter film apart. It’s the kind of people being portrayed. In The Thing from Another World, most of the cast are either military or scientists. A lot of them don’t know each other and thus, any distrust between them is kind of easy to create. Several of the people already have inherent issues, because the scientists don’t like the military and vice versa. None of the characters are particularly memorable aside from Carrington (Robert Cornwaite), a scientist who becomes obsessed with the alien. In the 2011 Thing, the team is composed almost entirely of scientists who were working at the Norwegian Antarctic research station. They have history together, but they trade out fairly frequently. They’re also always rational about the situation, reacting to it more analytically than would maybe be natural. Then, there’s the Carpenter version.
The 1982 The Thing features a team of blue collar workers who have all been stuck together for a long time. They’re close, almost to a familial point, but they’re not a pleasant family because they keep getting stuck together for such long periods of time. They have a level of “f*ck off* that they wear on their sleeves. Additionally, these are mostly normal humans who frequently react with emotional outbursts. One of my favorite scenes in film is when R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell), gets mad at losing to the chess computer on site and pours scotch into it, destroying it. It’s such a perfect representation of the kind of people who are at this station, and they’re so much more relatable to the viewer than teams of scientists or military personnel. By making the characters more normal, it makes the horror of their situation more understandable to the viewer and more powerful.
4) The Paranoia
Since this is the core theme of the original story, each of the versions has tried to convey it with varying levels of success.
In the black-and-white film, the paranoia comes from the fact that the monster can propagate an entire army via the seed pods on its body and that it can convince people to follow it based solely on its superior genetics. It was apparently seen as a metaphor for Communism in the McCarthy era. The monster, while humanoid, drains its victims and grows new emotionless soldiers to replace them. I don’t think it’s a great metaphor, but then again I have the benefit of knowing how the Soviet Union panned out so far. Ultimately, while everyone is afraid of the threat of the monster, it still doesn’t give the same level of “trust no one” as the other films.
In Carpenter’s film and the re-make, the paranoia is because you actually can’t trust anyone. Moreover, in the 1982 film, the audience is in the same boat as the characters. We see a character get eaten and absorbed by the thing, but only in shadow, and we never get any confirmation who that character was. That’s the point, though: Anyone could be the Thing and you’d never know. Now, the creature appears fairly early on in the movie and nobody knows that it is an alien at first because it appears as a sled dog. That means, in retrospect, it could potentially have killed and assimilated anyone, because no one was even aware of the threat. Ergo, anyone can be the monster. Trust no one.
The prequel has a similar premise, because it’s ostensibly the same monster, but it has two major flaws. First, it takes almost an hour to get the thing into the movie and we know that it wasn’t there before. In other words, everything we’ve seen before then had to involve only humans, so we can’t read anything into those actions. Also, the people are aware of the Thing and its powers almost immediately, meaning that while the paranoia is palpable, it goes from 0 to 60 in about 2 scenes, rather than the slow build of Carpenter’s film.
So the winner is: Carpenter’s film. I literally said that it would at the beginning. There was never a question. However, I like all of these movies, although I admit that the 2011 prequel feels mostly unnecessary. *Update* It does have some good performances and a few added locations that at least expand the story a bit. The Howard Hawks film is a great monster movie that, while definitely dated, still can keep your interest and the prequel, while flawed and derivative, still does an amazing job of keeping the continuity of the previous film. However, Carpenter’s movie is not just one of the best horror films ever made, it’s one of the best movies ever made. Rather than being a metaphor for a particular idea like Communism, Carpenter managed to make a film about one of the most perpetually disconcerting inherent aspects of human consciousness: You will never, ever, truly know another human being. Now, you can have people you are close to, people you are completely honest with, or people you think you can understand, but you will never be positive that they’re that way with you. They could always be hiding something or, more likely, they could just change in a way that isn’t reflected physically. In this movie, Carpenter plays upon one of the most basic issues in the human experience and points out that, when we are forced to confront that fact, we immediately start turning on each other. It’s truly a bleak outlook that most movies wouldn’t even try to take on.
Happy Halloween, my readers. Regular schedule will come back in November, with probably a few hiccups due to plans.
Rick and Morty get bored working for the President and start a small war while Beth goes through an existential crisis.
The President of the United States (Keith David) calls Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) to the White House to deal with a monster in the tunnels under the building. Rick and Morty arrive and shoot the very small alien, which runs away, but the two decline to chase it, preferring instead to go home and play Minecraft. Unfortunately, the President catches them lying about still being at work and yells at them. They end up severing their relationship with the President after he points out that he constantly overlooks all the laws they break in exchange for saving the world and Rick points out that the US Government couldn’t stop him anyway, so he doesn’t need them to overlook anything.
Meanwhile, Beth (Sarah Chalke) is concerned that she is actually a clone, given Rick’s offer to her in the last episode. It doesn’t help that, in her mind, choosing to stay has made her happier, so her behavior towards Summer (Spencer Grammer) has been noticeably friendlier. Beth calls Rick to ask if she’s a clone, but no answer he gives can convince her and he also doesn’t try very hard. However, she becomes paranoid that if she is the clone and is self-aware, Rick has to kill her.
A miniature nuclear-capable civilization is discovered in the Brazilian rainforest. Rick and Morty go to investigate, but the President arrives claiming jurisdiction… over Brazil. The President attempts to capture Rick and Morty and goes on to shrink himself and head towards the civilization, but Rick quickly escapes. When the President arrives at the small civilization, dubbed Megagargantuans, he finds that Rick and Morty already made it there and negotiated a peace treaty with their Presidentress (Tara Strong, I think?). He declares war on Rick and Morty, who respond by creating peace in the Middle East and giving the credit to the President. The President finds Rick and Morty in the Oval Office insisting on a selfie with him and orders the Secret Service to arrest them, resulting in Rick indirectly or directly killing almost all of the Agents. He and the President then engage in a sci-fi battle through the White House, destroying huge amounts of property.
Beth goes to see Jerry (Chris Parnell) in order to get him to confirm that she’s the real Beth. He ends up kissing her, she recognizes his unconditional love as something she needs, and they reconcile.
While Rick and the President are fighting, Morty leaves and takes Rick’s portal gun, intent on hiding his family now that they’re back together. Rick concedes defeat to the President and asks for his help teleporting to the Smiths’ hiding place. Beth tries to reason with Rick to leave them alone and not kill her for being a clone, but Rick claims she’s the real Beth and ultimately comes back to the family despite Jerry returning. Rick considers leaving for another dimension, but Summer demonstrates she can now fart on cue, something that apparently convinces him to try again. He pretends to leave and arrive as a new version of himself in a fly-fishing hat in order to mend his relationship with the President. At home, Beth rejoices that the family has a new, better start, unless she’s a clone (something Rick doesn’t laugh at).
This wasn’t a great season finale. It’s a solid episode of the show, but for what was supposed to be the “darkest season,” it really goes out on a fairly unimpressive note. I do have to acknowledge that it probably was due to Cartoon Network ordering the season to be cut down from Dan Harmon’s original desired length, something that forced them to adapt a quick end to the plot threads. Still, it’s just only okay as an episode by Rick and Morty standards.
The highlight of the episode is definitely the fight between Rick and the President, because it just keeps escalating in all the funniest ways. It’s basically a Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd cartoon on a small amount of acid and that is damned entertaining. It’s made even better by the fact that, in this episode, Rick overall has helped the President massively, something that annoys him even more than outright antagonism, much like when Bugs Bunny would kiss Elmer to spite him. Here’s the total of what Rick does to/for the President: Refuses to deal with what is essentially a rodent problem, lies about working, negotiates a peace treaty, negotiates another peace treaty, makes the President the most popular figure on the globe, asks for a selfie. The President responds by declaring war on them, on the grounds that there cannot be a god that doesn’t bend to the will of the US, something that is insane on so many levels but also true on several others. In the same vein, all of the escalations in this episode are simultaneously ridiculous and also believable.
The B-Plot of Beth is… well, covered below in the theory, so I’ll just leave it there, but it really just seemed rushed.
The final resolution of resetting everything to Season 1 feels slightly rushed, mostly because Beth, a character who had just spent an episode discovering her identity and potential independence ended up just choosing to go back to her previous life. I understand that the logic is that this time she actually chose it, rather than feeling forced into it by getting pregnant with Summer, but it still felt like they just had to hit the “wrap it up” button on the season.
I did like the stinger with Mr. Poopybutthole (Roiland), particularly the fact that he takes a blatant shot at most of the audience by showing that he is perpetually moving on with his life, even if he’s not in the show proper. As someone whose life frequently stagnates, I thought that was appropriate.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
The plotline about Beth potentially being a clone continues in this episode and seemingly resolves, but, given that Rick lies about anything that would make his life more difficult, we could still find out that he’s lying. So, despite my normal reticence to do theories that I know are popular amongst the fandom, I submit the following:
Beth’s not a clone.
What is my justification? Well, it’s admittedly rather light, but the key is in Rick’s statements about the clone in the last episode. He stated that the clone would not be able to “go Blade Runner” on her. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner and don’t get the reference, the Cliff’s Notes version is that it means that the clone won’t develop a knowledge of its own nature leading it to rebel against its creator. Why would Rick then even allow a clone of Beth to consider the possibility that she’s a clone? We know that Rick can pretty easily manipulate memories; there’s an entire episode about it. There’s absolutely no reason why Rick should even have allowed the clone to remember the choice being given to Beth. One could argue that he wanted to give the clone the knowledge of the choice and therefore make it happier the way that Beth is within the episode, but Rick should understand that this was quickly going to result in an existential crisis. It’s actually odd that Beth, who in the last episode was shown making a series of complicated logical deductions, didn’t arrive at the same conclusion, but I guess we needed her and Jerry to get back together for plot reasons.
LEAVING THE CORNER
Like I said, this isn’t the best episode of the show and it isn’t a good season finale, but it isn’t the worst episode either.
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.
Rick and Morty try to save the world through the power of their music.
A giant floating head (Dan Harmon) appears in the sky above Earth and starts exclaiming “Show me what you got!” Rick (Justin Roiland) immediately recognizes the threat as a Cromulon and takes Morty (Roiland) to the Pentagon to inform the President (Keith “f*cking” David). It turns out that the Cromulons travel to planets seeking a live performance of a catchy new song. Unfortunately, the Cromulon’s arrival created an earthquake which killed all of Earth’s famous musicians except for Ice-T, who won’t make it in time to save the planet. Desperate, the President asks Rick and Morty to perform. Rick proceeds to spontaneously compose the song “Get Schwifty” which, as the President says, is a jam. The head is pleased by this and teleports Earth to another galaxy filled with giant heads for another performance.
Meanwhile, Beth (Sarah Chalke), Jerry (Chris Parnell), and Summer (Spencer Grammer) evacuate to the local church where Principal Gene Vagina (Phil Hendrie) decides to go outside and pray to the head. By coincidence, the head tells Rick and Morty “I like what you got” at the same moment that Vagina is praying, so the people believe that Vagina’s prayer pleased the head. After the head moves Earth to a head-filled area, Vagina convinces everyone he can speak to the heads and turns the neighborhood into a cult under his rule.
Rick is joined by Ice-T (Dan Harmon) to compose a new song. Morty wants to run away with his family, but Rick claims to not have enough charge in the portal gun. This is proven false when Rick shortly forgets his lie and grabs snacks for Ice-T. Morty, angry, steals the portal gun and ends up with Birdperson (Dan Harmon) who advises Morty indirectly to put his faith in Rick. Ice-T reveals himself to be an alien from Alphabetrium whose true form is that of Water T. He was punished for his lack of empathy by being frozen and banished, so he doesn’t care about what happens to Earth.
Beth and Jerry are pleased with how Summer is behaving now that they are part of a cult, but when offered positions within the cult, they refuse, believing that using the Cult as a substitute for parenting doesn’t work. They’re summarily set to be launched into the sky by balloons.
Rick begins to play his improvised song, but it is poorly received. Morty returns to find out that Earth is up, however, a rogue General, General Nathan (Kurtwood Smith), launches nukes at the Cromulons over the President’s objection. This disqualifies Earth and the Cromulons try to disintegrate it, but Ice-T blocks the shot and advocates that Rick and Morty should get a shot. They, along with the President, perform “Head Bend Over,” which wins the contest. At the same time, all of the Cromulons’ reactions to Rick and Morty are interpreted as being against Principal Vagina’s claims of being chosen by the heads, resulting in him being launched into the sky, temporarily.
This episode marks the first time (aside from the temporary Giant Santa in “Anatomy Park”) that Rick and Morty face a public, global threat. It’s also the first time that we see them interacting with the President, who will later become the focus of the Season 3 Finale. Between these two episodes, it’s implied that the President will call on Rick and Morty to address a number of off-screen threats, but never allows Morty to take any pictures. Interestingly, the President doesn’t attempt to threaten Rick himself, which probably suggests that he believes that Rick won’t tell anyone or that telling Rick not to do something is the only way to guarantee that he does it. Justin Roiland says that he believes that Rick and the President were best friends in the past, but Rick’s intro in this episode suggests that they haven’t met before.
Rick and Morty’s arc is ostensibly about whether or not Rick actually cares about anything. While Birdperson seems to agree with Morty’s assertion that Rick doesn’t care about anything other than himself and never thinks about the consequences, Rick’s conversation with Ice-T makes it clear that he does actually care about stuff, even though he has spent a lot of his life trying to avoid it. It also confirms that Rick has a history of being a musician, something that he will spend more time doing after this episode. It’s implied that Rick basically comes up with two songs spontaneously, something that I imagine is extremely difficult, even if they have very repetitive lyrics.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
I don’t have much in this episode, but I have one theory about Ice-T. When we see Ice-T leave from Rick, his last words to Rick are a dismissive statement that he’s just going to wander around the universe, but then he reappears spontaneously to say, in an unconvincing manner, that suddenly he cares more. It seems like a complete 180 of his character combined with a deus ex machina of him saving the planet from the Cromulons. So, what actually caused the change of heart?
Ice-T didn’t learn to care from Rick, he learned that you can give people another chance from Morty coming back. It stands to reason that, although Ice-T had left the planet, he still wanted to see the results of the contest, if only to know if he could return to the planet and resume his life of luxury and not giving a f*ck. That means he’s watching when Morty returns, despite having given up on Rick previously, and sees how happy Rick is to see him. We now know that Magma-Q, Ice-T’s father, is the one that banished him. This is likely the one thing Ice-T relates to and realizes that his father will be happy to see him, even if he won’t admit it. So, he decides to do the one thing that might reunite them: Pretend to care. That’s why he doesn’t sound convincing, because he’s not actually caring much about Rick and Morty, he just knows that’s the only way to see his father again. Of course, this still means he has realized he cares, just not about Rick and Morty.
LEAVING THE CORNER
This is a pretty solid episode, but it’s still less sophisticated and the storytelling is a lot less efficient than other stories. On the other hand, Mr. Bulldops would have been my profile name if it hadn’t been taken.
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.