Rick and Mondays: S5E4 “Rickdependence Spray”

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.

It begins with Morty sticking his genitals in a machine designed to catch horse sperm, so that’s not great.

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.

Yeah. Giant incest baby 2001: A Space Odyssey reference. Fun (except not).

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?”

The horse people are pretty funny. Particularly the “burrowing horses.”

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.” 

I mean, Amazing Jonathan has great talent at doing bad jokes as set-ups for great jokes.

Overall, I give this episode an

D

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.

PREVIOUS – 44: A Rickconvenient Mort

NEXT – 46: Amortycan Grickfitti

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 – S5E2 “Mortyplicity”

Welcome to Thunderclone!

After doing a heavy clone plot last season that pulled from the season before, I thought Rick and Morty might be done with the idea of duplicates, if only because they’d played it out. I was incorrect. This episode pulls off the concept in a way that was not only different, but in a way that allowed for a brilliant narrative structure. 

With explosions!

We start off with Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) planning to kill the Christian God, only for the two, Summer (Spencer Grammer), Jerry (Chris Parnell), and Beth (Sarah Chalke) to be murdered by squid-like aliens. It turns out these were a decoy family and their deaths alert Rick that someone is trying to kill him. While fleeing, Rick and the family are killed, which sets off yet another Rick’s decoy alarm. It turns out that this Rick built decoys, but built such a good decoy Rick that he, in turn, built decoys. This means that there could be hundreds or thousands of Smith-Sanchez families out there. This leads one Rick to decide to disguise the family as squids to take down the aliens, only to discover that the aliens are, in fact, just other decoys. Eventually, it’s revealed that each generation of decoys is just a little worse than the one before it, resulting in things like a nightmare looking Rick and a set of wooden people. The wooden Beth tries to start a civilization of decoys, but is quickly destroyed by squids, who are now firmly identified as other decoys. Finally, a Rick summons all the Ricks to a battle royale. Another Rick, observing this, has a breakthrough about how much he cares for his family. That Rick then kills the surviving Rick, only to be killed by a throw-away gag from the beginning of the episode. This triggers a decoy alert on the real Rick, who has been off-planet the entire time.

This Rick will haunt your dreams.

This episode’s brilliance partially comes from the fact that we never quite know when we’re supposed to follow the “real” Rick and Morty. Or, rather, that we never know who is supposed to end up being the protagonist for our narrative. Each time we watch some character try to break the cycle of dying, they ultimately just end up dying in a completely new way. When we finally see the “last” Rick defeat another Rick, declaring that he is a god and that the other is only made in his image, that seems like it has to be the real Rick. This is immediately hinted to be wrong because this Rick proceeds to admit that he loves his family and wants to change for the better. Naturally, this means he has to die so that we can continue with the miserable bastard we know and love. The theme for the episode was pretty blatantly stated in the beginning with Rick and Morty planning on killing God, because the rest of the episode is about various creations rising up against their creators. Appropriately, none of them ever kill the real creator, because he was up in the heavens the whole time.

The Star Fox final boss throwdown was excellent.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

How do we know the final Rick is actually the “real” Rick? Well, the episode makes it clear that each Rick decoy is slightly less intelligent or less “Rick” than its predecessor. They even use the metaphor of doing a “copy of a copy.” This same idea of clone degradation was even brought up in the film Multiplicity, the source of the episode’s title. When a Rick manages to challenge and kill all of the other Ricks on Earth at the time aside from, apparently, one, that Rick even recognizes that the surviving Rick is the “Rickest” and therefore might even be the real Rick. This is based on the plausible notion that the closer you are to the original Rick, the smarter and better you are. When the other Rick manages to destroy him, that means that this is apparently the Rickest Rick on Earth. However, when he is killed, he sets off the final decoy alert for the Rick in space, meaning that Rick is the one who created the Rickest Rick, and therefore is the Rick. The word Rick has now lost all meaning.

Yo Dawg, I heard you liked Rick, so here’s some Rick in your Rick.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.

PREVIOUS – 42: Mort Dinner Rick Andre

NEXT – 44: A Rickconvenient Mort

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: S5E1 “Mort Dinner Rick Andre”

Morty accidentally creates a civilization dedicated to killing him.

I was genuinely worried that, after Adult Swim waited so long to renew the show and some of the episodes last season had mediocre reception, that Rick and Morty fans might have cooled towards the show. Well, if they weren’t happy about this episode, I’d be surprised. This was a quality start to the season that instantly got me psyched to see the rest. 

Not just the squidmobile.

The episode starts with Rick and Morty trying to escape from another dimension while Rick (Justin Roiland) is mortally wounded and the car is damaged. As they start to crash to Earth, Morty (also Roiland) calls his crush, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), and tells her how he feels, something that I am pretty sure he’s done before, but apparently this time Jessica, who has been warming to Morty, actually pays attention. She asks him on a date and, reinvigorated, Morty manages to land the ship safely. Unfortunately, he lands them in the ocean, which breaks a treaty with Rick’s never-before-mentioned nemesis Mr. Nimbus (Dan Harmon). 

He’s Mr. Nimbus. He says that a lot.

Later, back at the Smith/Sanchez residence, Mr. Nimbus is coming over to renegotiate the treaty, while Rick sends Summer (Spencer Grammer) to secretly destroy the shell that gives Nimbus his power. Rick then starts the B-Plot by putting boxes of wine in a separate dimension where time moves faster in order to age it. Nimbus arrives, reveals he controls the police, and has his secretary invite a newly sex-positive Beth and Jerry (Sarah Chalke and Chris Parnell) to a threesome later. Beth and Jerry proceed to spend most of the episode deciding if they want that (spoiler: They do). Jessica arrives, but Morty gets distracted by being sent to the other dimension for wine. While there, the agrarian owner of a nearby house named Hoovy (Jim Gaffigan) helps him carry the wine and gives him advice about relationships, only for Hoovy to find out that decades passed in the few seconds while he was gone. His son murders him for abandoning his family, but Hoovy tells him it was Morty’s fault. Now, an entire society slowly builds up around killing Morty every time he comes through the door, which, to Morty, is every few minutes, but for them is decades or even centuries. After one group tries to murder him with catapults, Morty returns with Rick’s technology and destroys the entire kingdom, but accidentally leaves some of his weaponry. The Hoovians use this to develop a warrior who can survive the time dilation. He attacks, but Jessica kills him with a corkscrew, sucking her through the wormhole. Morty follows after her and finds that the entire civilization has now become robotic and that they froze Jessica in time. They capture Morty, but he manages to open the portal with Jessica. Rick sees them fighting robots and tries to save them, but it turns out this civilization is built to beat Rick’s gadgets. It looks like they’re doomed until Mr. Nimbus arrives and destroys the robots with water. Unfortunately, Jessica, having glimpsed time itself, He and Rick seem to make up, until Summer returns with the magic shell, revealing the deception. Nimbus then has Rick arrested and bangs Jerry and Beth. 

This is when they start domesticating animals, I guess.

I’ve repeatedly said that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland somehow have mastered the art of A-plot and B-plot interplay. This episode is that same interplay done almost as well as Meeseeks and Destroy. We have multiple plots running, but by playing between the Hoovians developing a civilization around killing Morty and Rick’s attempts to negotiate a truce with Nimbus, we only see the funny or interesting parts of the stories but we also never feel cheated out of anything. It lets the show shortcut around everything that isn’t worth showing. Possibly the best sequence is watching a prince get exiled for claiming that Morty isn’t real, get manipulated by a cult leader, lead a revolt to take over the kingdom, and get immediately betrayed by the cult leader, only for Morty to emerge and kill everyone. The Cult Leader, hilariously talking about how God isn’t real and that he made lies his power, is shocked when Morty emerges, with his last words being “I was wrong! God is real!” This entire sequence takes 90 seconds. It’s literally a Cliffsnotes version of what could easily have been an entire fantasy novel and it’s basically just to make a few hilarious jokes. It’s textbook Rick and Morty, even roping in the concept that most civilizations develop out of fear of invasion rather than a desire for enriching lives.

That’s why you don’t stand where the portal is, Jeff.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Why does Mr. Nimbus control the police? Well, as we see, he doesn’t “control the police” in the sense of being a powerful figure or a politician with influence, he can literally tell them to do what he wants and they do it instantly. It’s similar to Aquaman’s control of sealife. He conveys this by telling the first ones we see to “Fight,” then “F*ck,” then “Flee,” three of the four f’s of evolution (along with feeding). Well, I think it’s supposed to suggest that police are some kind of sea life. This makes sense when you remember that Atlantis is real within Rick and Morty and that Atlantis was described in Plato’s Republic as the ideal and original city-state or “polis,” the very thing from which the term “police” is derived. In other words, Police are derived from Atlantis, so police are under Nimbus’s control. Or it’s a reference to Fish Police, the short-lived CBS animated series designed to compete with the Simpsons that relied heavily upon innuendo and adult language which sometimes is said to have opened the door to shows like South Park and Family Guy. But, let’s be honest, nobody remembers that show.

Not the worst thing cops can do on your lawn, but… pretty bad.

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.

PREVIOUS – 41: Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri

NEXT – 43: Mortyplicity

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 – S4E10 “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri”

Rick and Morty do a Star Wars episode and there’s an invisible truck.

SUMMARY

Beth Smith (Sarah Chalke) is the leader of the rebellion against the Galactic Federation, which has apparently rebuilt itself after Rick destroyed their currency. Rebel Beth learns that she has a bomb in her neck and, realizing she’s a clone, returns to Earth to kill Rick (Justin Roiland). Rebel Beth confronts Rick, who reveals that the other Beth also has a bomb in her neck, and doesn’t say which is the original. The Federation follows Rebel Beth to Earth, with Tammy (Cassie Steele) leading the attack on the Smith/Sanchez family at Dr. Wong’s office (Susan Sarandon) after thinking that regular Beth was her. Rick saves Beth and Jerry (Chris Parnell), but when they meet Rebel Beth, both Beths are pissed at him. Rick gets bailed out by an attacking Tammy, who captures both of the Beths and tries to kill Rick. 

Even Rebel Beth loves Shoney’s.

At the same time, Morty (Justin Roiland) and Summer (Spencer Grammer) have been fighting over the use of Rick’s invisibility belt. Summer finally gets it just as the Federation arrives, but Morty convinces them that he has psychic powers and steals their ship. They arrive in time to save Rick, who then kills Tammy. They all go to rescue the Beths from the Federation. Summer and Morty destroy the planet-busting laser as Rick battles Phoenixperson (Dan Harmon). The Beths attempt to save Rick (so that they can kill him), but are defeated. Jerry arrives, using the invisibility belt and Tammy’s corpse to distract Phoenix Person, giving Rebel Beth an opening to stop Phoenix Person. Back on Earth, Rick reveals that he doesn’t know which of the two Beths is the original, but literally no one cares anymore. Rick then plays out the memory, which reveals to him that Beth asked Rick to decide if he wanted Beth to be part of his life. In response, Rick cloned Beth… then had a computer randomize the two so that he never knew which was which. He sadly mentions that he’s a terrible father, tries to talk to a still-angry Birdperson, and then sits, alone, in the garage. Jerry then drives an invisible garbage truck, which is marketed as a “new franchise” until he runs out of gas.

END SUMMARY

At no point would I have predicted this as the finale of this season, and I almost think that the show deserves credit for keeping the audience on their toes. Rather than being a mostly self-contained episode like the entire rest of this season, which, aside from “Never Ricking Morty,” seemed to go out of its way to avoid continuity, this episode went ahead and resolved a handful of different lingering plotlines. As of now, there’s pretty much just Evil Morty and the Citadel left outstanding as far as prominent canon threads go. 

Tammy did live longer than most bureaucrats against Rick.

It’s probably all the more fitting that the episode that decides to try and continue/resolve a bunch of canon threads contains a bunch of references to Star Wars, a franchise famous for A) having a ton of plot threads that carry through generations of stories, B) having a ton of fan theories that get shot down by the actual canon later, and C) having a notoriously toxic fanbase. Aside from the title, the episode also has nods to Star Wars’ policy of having absurd but memorable names (by mocking Beth’s common name), the Death Star’s weak point (by having a planet remover that advertises no fatal design flaws), the presence of “fight chambers” where action sequences have space to happen, and, of course, having a close friend being brought back as a cyborg to fight an old man to the death.  Rick even says that the entire ordeal feels a little Star Wars-ish, where good and bad are fairly unambiguous and cliches abound. 

It was foreshadowed just a month ago that Tammy would be in the Star Wars one.

This episode felt a lot more like a “classic” Rick and Morty episode, and a big part of that is that this episode didn’t seem to try and be so meta about the fanbase or the future of the show or dealing with the realities of having to keep commercial viability alive. This episode just focuses on telling a story that has great jokes and a suggestion of much deeper workings behind the scenes. In particular, I thought the episode did a great job of doing the kind of fast, multi-level jokes that add to the rewatchability of the series. For example, when Morty spies on Summer using infra-red goggles to see her while she’s invisible, he says “to catch a predator,” which references both the show about catching perverts and also the movie Predator (since Predator sees in infra-red), but the show moves on before you really think about it. There’s also Rick’s line when he’s almost killed by PhoenixPerson where he says “I never thought this was how I’d die. We’re nowhere near Venice and you’re not a dwarf in a raincoat.” The line is funny, but it’s also a reference to the movie Don’t Look Now, which famously ends with Donald Sutherland stabbed to death by a serial killer in a raincoat. The joke here is that the movie’s theme is that preoccupation with death and loss leads to death and loss, which is the opposite of Rick’s policy of just moving on from everything. Also, there was a Pokemon battle involving a clown lion and I don’t think that was given enough screen time.

Clown-lion-Unicorn should have a fun name, like Purrliacci.

I also love that there is still a running meta-commentary about character arcs throughout this episode, particularly with the Beths and Morty talking about it. Every character completes an arc throughout the episode, ranging from Beth (and Rebel Beth) finally not needing Rick’s approval, to Morty and Summer resolving their differences to work together, and even Jerry’s puppeteering managing to save the day. Rick, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have completed an arc, but finally begun one when he actually recognizes that he’s a bad father. He’s said that he’s terrible before, but this time he seems to actually have bonded with Beth enough to realize that what he’s done is beyond the pale. 

Rick flinched, because now he’s in a vulnerable position. Fun times.

Overall, a really solid episode that still leaves me wanting more Rick and Morty. I also really appreciate that the episode ends on a sad, somber image of Rick, alone, drinking. Except for the pitch for Jerry and the invisible garbage truck which is amazing.

Wow, I forgot how emotionally devastating this show could be.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

First off, I’m going to go ahead and call myself out. I was totally wrong on how they resolved the clone thing. I thought that Rick wouldn’t allow a clone to remember the choice being offered to Beth at all in order to prevent some kind of Blade Runner scenario, but instead Rick picked a third option: Not knowing which one is the clone. I assumed that Rick would want to avoid giving the non-clone an existential crisis, but it turns out that Rick just didn’t care. Instead, it turns out that Beth asked Rick to make a decision about what he wanted with their relationship, meaning that rather than being about Beth finally living out her potential, this entire clone saga was about Rick deciding if it was better to have a daughter who’s fulfilled in her life or one who is in his life. In true Rick fashion, he just cheated and said “Both.” Then, he not only declined to find out which one would be the “real” Beth, but apparently wiped his memory of making the clone in the first place. So, if even Rick didn’t know which one is real, what were the two devices in the necks for? After all, if the plan was just to keep Rebel Beth from coming back and revealing the whole thing or to kill off Beth so Rebel Beth could take her place, you’d only need one device. 

Hey, at least he didn’t use it to get out of therapy.

Well, there are three possibilities: 

The first is that they’re just a backup. If one of the Beths was killed, then the memories go to the other Beth and now the surviving Beth gets to know that she lived out the other one’s life and now knows which life is better and thus would get to choose which one to continue.

The second is that it was just a warning to Rick. If the device had stayed in Rebel Beth’s neck, then when they got too close, it would alert Rick so that he could figure out a way to resolve the whole situation.

The last, and sadly most likely, is that it really is a bomb. It was set to go off whenever Rebel Beth came back and would kill one of the Beths so that Rick’s actions wouldn’t be uncovered. If Beth dies, Rick doesn’t have to explain to Rebel Beth what happened, because she thinks the home Beth was just a clone she could replace. If Rebel Beth died, then Beth would never need to know she’d even existed. Basically, either one could die and Rick would be fine. The problem is, how would Rick decide which one could live? Well, the bomb probably was just set to kill the one that Rick would like the most. 

Overall, I give this episode a

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you whenever the show starts again.

PREVIOUS – 40: Childrick of Mort

NEXT – 42: Why Do Ricks Suddenly Appear?

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.

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 – S4E9 “Childrick of Mort”

Rick screws an entire world. Yes, in that way, too.

SUMMARY

The Smith/Sanchez family are going camping, much to the delight of Jerry (Chris Parnell). Summer (Spencer Grammer) and Morty (Justin Roiland) are upset because they’re missing out on drugs and video games, and it’s revealed that Rick (Roiland) only came because he’s ghosting a former lover. Summer steals his phone and it’s revealed that Rick’s ex says she’s pregnant. Beth (Sarah Chalke) forces Rick to go raise his kids, which are revealed to be the children of Gaia (Kari Wahlgren), a sentient planet. Rick denies that the kids are his, but when they come out looking kind of like him, Beth demands that he raise them. Rick and Beth work together to build a society, literally engineering it, for the clay people. 

S4E9 - 1Car
I love that they’re driving a car that’s clearly from the 70s. 

Meanwhile, Jerry tries to convince the kids to go camping on Gaia, but Summer tells him off because he doesn’t want to camp, he just wants to feel useful. Jerry wanders off, only to be sucked into Rick’s and Beth’s new city, where he is summarily kicked back out with the other “unproductives.” After showing the rejected clay people how to camp, he becomes their leader. The kids discover they have NO survival skills and almost die, until they find a crashed spaceship. They believe that the spaceship’s panels resemble a video game controller and Summer starts inhaling a drug which she believes is the collected knowledge of the dead aliens. The pair vow to show their parents what “video games and partying” can do.

S4E9 - 2SummerMorty
That’s right, just inhale random alien glowing substances. 

After Rick and Beth manage to get the clay civilization to space travel, it’s revealed that the kids are not Rick’s, but instead the offspring of a Zeus (an alien species, apparently) named Reggie (Rob Schrab). Reggie ends up giving Jerry and the unproductives divine power to revolt against Rick’s city, so Beth and Jerry fight while Rick goes to fight Reggie in space. Rick is about to lose the fight when Morty and Summer activate their ship, revealing that they were completely wrong about everything they thought they knew about it, and crash it into Reggie’s brain. Reggie’s giant corpse drops onto the city, which leads Gaia to erupt and kill most of her offspring. Jerry saves Beth from dying and Rick and the family head home. 

END SUMMARY

This episode seemed a lot like those clay creatures that formed the basis for the plot: Not quite done baking. Parts of it are amazing, other parts of it just feel like filler that no one could figure out a joke for. While they do a great job with the A-B-C-Plot interplay that I respect this show for, there’s not much to say when the C-plot (Morty and Summer) is really just a set-up for a deus ex machina later. 

S4E9 - 3Trampoline
Fortunately, the fandom will trampoline it into being amazing by blind devotion.

The A-Plot about Rick and Beth starting a civilization around Rick’s presumed offspring is definitely the best part of the episode and, honestly, I wish they’d spent a little more time on it. Some of the lines about how they’re trying to manipulate society through emotional engineering, like diverting teachers into playwrights by just spanking them more, are freaking hilarious. Although, as a lawyer, I should object to the line about bypassing the ethics tube, I have also been a lawyer long enough to know that this joke has been earned by other members of my profession. I also thought the “pachinko” style sorting to determine if the people believe in flat Earth, round Earth, or Middle Earth to be random and amazing.

S4E9 - 4Earths
Lucky Middle-Earth believing crowd.

The B-Plot of Jerry being the leader of the unproductives is a joke that practically writes itself. In the Season 3 premiere, Jerry is only successful in the new alien-dominated Earth because it was dependent upon bureaucracy so redundant that Jerry doesn’t even know what he does. He even gets into the situation because he tries to skip a rock and hits himself. Then, once he has power, he refuses to allow anything to evolve because any progress is a threat to him. It’s a reminder that while Jerry is mostly a character that exists to be humiliated by Rick, he would be just as much of a dick as Rick is if he had any of Rick’s intellect or drive. I particularly love that, as Rick points out, when Jerry gets a literal staff of divine power, he only conjures up plagues from The Ten Commandments. He doesn’t even try to create clothing for himself, he just rips off the Bible… or, let’s be honest, he rips off a movie. Rick would probably have used it to power a bong capable of smoking a planet. 

S4E9 - 5Jerry
Jerry, destroying progress, like usual.

Summer’s and Morty’s plot is really only funny in the sense that they’re so dumb that they think partying and video games can help them pilot a spaceship. But, it’s like Abraham Maslow said: “[I]t is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” I do also like the fact that they literally ex a deus with a machina, which is f*cking funny. Aside from that, though, the time spent on their adventure feels like a waste.

S4E9 - 6ZeusDead
The Titans would have won if they had spaceships. 

The highlight of the episode, though, has to be Rick literally challenging a god to a fistfight. Rather than do a ton of elaborate special effects or smite-and-countersmite, it just turns into an old-school slugfest, which is an amazing subversion. While it feels a little similar to the same thing from “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” I think this one works better because Rick is also defending his kids from a bad father, meaning Rick is actually in the right, for once.

S4E9 - 7ZeusFight
WHY ARE YOU JUMPING? HOW ARE YOU JUMPING?

Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst. I will say that I laughed my butt off at “Planets Only.” 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

This season is not making these easy. Okay, so, why would Rick agree to go and raise these kids in the first place? Yeah, sure, Beth was going to yell at him, but what else is new? However, I think he realized that, as the show has gone on, he actually does care about what Beth thinks of him and knows that going to Gaia will give him a chance to bond with her. The evidence for this, aside from him being uncharacteristically complimentary of her during this endeavor, is that when the Zeus shows up, Rick doesn’t just take it as an opportunity to bail. Instead, Rick asserts that at least he stepped up and therefore all of the kids, and their civilization, is part of his family. This means Rick is trying to actually be a good dad for once, something that Beth will appreciate. It’s part of the payoff from “The ABCs of Beth,” where Rick tells Beth “[m]aybe you matter so little that I like you. Or maybe it makes you matter. Maybe I love you….” Rick isn’t quite as cold and dead inside towards Beth as he wants people to think, so spending an episode to make her feel happy isn’t a stretch. That’s probably why, when she’s mad at him at the end of the episode, Rick quickly lashes out by throwing her parenting under the bus.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 39: The Vat of Acid Episode

NEXT – 41: Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri

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Rick and Mondays – S4E8 “The Vat of Acid Episode” 

Rick decides to take Morty down a notch.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) go to a shady criminal exchange and, when it goes awry, Rick tells Morty to jump into a fake vat of acid which has air hoses and fake bones. Unfortunately, the gangsters end up standing around talking for a long time, finally annoying Morty so much that he kills them out of frustration. Rick gets angry at Morty for criticizing his idea about the vat of acid and Morty gets angry at Rick for never taking his ideas seriously, specifically an idea for a “save point” which allows someone to reload reality from the last save point. Rick ends up building the device, which Morty proceeds to use to wreak havoc and live out every urge he has without consequences. However, he ends up meeting a beautiful young woman with whom he has a great relationship… until Jerry deletes the whole thing by accident and Morty ends up ruining the next attempt. 

S4E8 - 1Vat
I’m surprised that the Mountain Dew isn’t burning their eyes.

Morty apologizes to Rick and says that he learned a lesson about living without consequences. Rick then reveals that there WERE consequences. Rather than using time travel (the thing Rick hates), Rick’s device worked by shunting Morty to parallel universes… after murdering the Mortys that already occupied them. Morty, horrified at his suicidal genocide, asks Rick to fix it, so Rick offers to collapse it so that there is a universe where Morty did everything that was undone by the save point, but that means that everyone he wronged will be there. Morty agrees, and finds an angry mob hunting for him. Rick gives him an out in the form of the exact same vat of acid that he used at the beginning. Morty ends up faking his death with the acid and Rick takes them back to their original universe (having put the mob in another one so that he wouldn’t have to move). 

END SUMMARY

This episode seems a little out of place because it is the eighth episode of a season, but isn’t this season’s anthology episode. I dunno if the order change was part of the message of the sixth episode that Rick and Morty is going to keep changing and trying new things or if the network reordered them a bit or if the fact that the anthology was the eighth episode of the other seasons was just coincidence. However, we do get the montage of Morty using the “save point” in hilarious ways, which satisfies my rapid-fire joke requirement. 

S4E8 - 2Chair
Including having a bar called “Pour Decisions.” 

The fact that the “save point” montage is so long (clocking in at a solid 7 minutes or ⅓ of the episode) is impressive because it tells two completely separate narratives in two different, but overlapping, styles and never feels either rushed or slow. For comparison, the two snake montages in “Rattlestar Ricklactica” combined are shorter and, if I’m being honest, they start to wear thin by the end of the second time-travel one. It’s interesting that the montage is a combination of the typical Groundhog Day “living it up” sequence (and later a multiple suicide sequence), an Up-esque “falling in love” sequence, and an Alive-style survival sequence, somehow linked together flawlessly. It should be tonally jarring, but thanks in large part to a masterful use of non-verbal storytelling and music cues, it works. 

S4E8 - 3Montage
I feel like this is a South Park reference, but maybe that’s a stretch.

Similar to many of this season’s episodes, there is an underlying theme of being slightly concerned for the future of Rick and Morty and through them the show itself. Morty is shown slowly growing less amused and less impressed by Rick’s antics and inventions, starting with the self-parking car and extending to the vat of fake acid. This is similar to how, over a long enough show, the audience can start to be less interested in a character’s development, particularly if a seemingly intelligent character, like Rick, makes a seemingly stupid decision… like a fake acid vat. He defends it by saying that there are no bad ideas, but Morty, as the fan surrogate, basically says that they should use one of his ideas. So, in response to Morty’s attitude, Rick creates an extremely enjoyable adventure that ends with a major existential crisis and somehow makes the seemingly dumb idea not just relevant but brilliant. This seems like the show telling us that even though we might seem to see problems showing up in Rick and Morty, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that it’s going somewhere good in the end. I also like that, as Rick said to Morty, “the world [knew] when [he tried] to hurt [him],” a reminder that you do NOT mess with Rick Sanchez.

S4E8 - 4Gun
This isn’t even his good gun. This is just the ladle gun. 

Honestly, a solid episode of the show. I’m feeling more confident about this show’s future as the season goes on.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

I realize that a lot of theories in this show boil down to “Rick’s lying,” but that’s what’s happening in this episode as well. Rick is lying to Morty about how the “save point” works. Rick states that every time that Morty resets the world, a Morty who was doing the same thing at the same time would die and then Morty would take over their timeline. However, there are a few things that indicate that it probably does NOT work like that and that Rick actually just resorted to either time travel or, more likely, just reorganizing the universe back to an earlier state, because Rick is basically a god when motivated. 

S4E8 - 5Merged
Behold the One True Morty. Wait, we did that already.

First, Rick kills Morty before announcing that the device worked and brought Morty back to life by operating the device himself. If this device worked as intended, then Rick would have shifted himself into another dimension where he didn’t kill Morty in order to reset the save point (as the operator), meaning that Rick would have had to kill another Rick and take his place. Given that THAT Rick would also have just built a “save point,” it seems inconceivable that Rick wouldn’t have something in place that would prevent him from being murdered by an alternate timeline as part of building the device. Otherwise, half of the Ricks would be dying in order to be replaced by another Rick at that time. Second, if Rick really was just killing a mass number of Mortys the entire time, then a bunch of OTHER Ricks were likely to show up and be pissed at him. If there are an infinite number of Ricks and Mortys that are playing out multiple timelines and Rick is ultimately combining all of them into one reality, then all of the Ricks from those timelines would either have combined (which we didn’t see) or they’d be showing up trying to claim the Morty. Third, you can’t collapse all of the Mortys, because a LOT of them died. If you collapse those into Morty, then, well, a lot of people should be confused as to how Morty did anything or is still standing. Lastly, Rick tells Morty “let’s go home,” but he just told Morty that he wasn’t that Morty’s original Rick before the collapse, saying that it doesn’t matter because “every Rick has a vat.” If this Rick and this Morty weren’t from the same universe, then Rick wouldn’t have needed to take Morty to another universe before wrecking it, he would just have let Morty wreck his original world and then Rick would go back to HIS original world. Instead, Rick picked another Earth.

S4E8 - 6Vat
Also, what did he do 

Given the fact that Rick is lying about the save point, it seems more likely that, rather than having the device do alternate timeline jumps and collapsing them back into one, which would require merging many, many universes, Rick just had the device monitor all of the shitty stuff Morty did, then reshape that Earth so that it was in a state identical to if Morty had done it. In other words, Rick comes up with an elaborate escape scenario to fool Morty… just like the vat of acid was supposed to work in the beginning. God, I love this show.

Overall, I give this episode an

A-

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 38: Promortyus

NEXT – 40: Childrick of Mort

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 (-ish) – S4E7 “Promortyus”

Rick and Morty deal with facehuggers and genocide.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) suddenly regain consciousness on an alien planet where they have facehuggers attached to their heads. They kill the facehuggers, finding out that they are the Glorzo, and then discover that they’re attempting to use Rick’s ship for some master plan. Rick and Morty instead use the ship to fight their way off of the planet, committing a number of mass-casualty attacks, including an intentional Pearl Harbor reference (although avoiding replicating 9/11). They get home, but then realize they left Summer (Spencer Grammer) back on the planet. They go back to rescue her, only to find out that she’s now the new goddess of the planet and does not have a Glorzo on her face. 

S4E7 - 1Facehuggers
Ridley Scott has declined to comment. 

Summer fills in what happened to the pair, explaining that they fell under the control of the Glorzo, but she was spared because she had a toothpick in her mouth. She convinced the Glorzo to stop their cycle of latching onto people’s faces and then dying after 30 minutes as they lay eggs, instead developing a peaceful civilization. It turns out that most of the stuff Rick and Morty destroyed were dedicated to spreading peace throughout the galaxy. The Glorzo capture Rick and Morty, but Summer tries to save them, resulting in all three being captured. Rick has Morty play a tune on his harmonica which forces all Glorzo to lay an egg, killing them and destroying their entire civilization. Upon returning home, Rick and Morty both think they’re going to lay eggs, but instead crap their pants in front of Beth (Sarah Chalke). Meanwhile, Jerry (Chris Parnell) takes up beekeeping, something that makes Summer’s friend Tricia (Cassie Steele) want to bang him.

END SUMMARY

Sorry for the delay, hopefully the next release will get to me on time.

This episode is basically the opposite of what the last one was. Rather than a dense, complicated, experimental, and medium-challenging episode, this was just a fun, fairly straightforward (albeit mildly non-linear) episode about Rick and Morty just reacting to a situation. The only “twist” is that Summer had technically already solved the problem before they actually got there, meaning that their mass destruction of the Glorzo civilization was, in fact, pointless slaughter. Apparently the writer of the episode described Rick and Morty as the villains of the entire saga because of this.

S4E7 - 2Armor
They do at least start doing it in a fun way.

The core of this episode is the moral issue of what a species is permitted to do in order to survive and how that shifts as the species “evolves” both culturally and literally. The Glorzo originally believe that they cannot live longer than thirty minutes, forcing them to constantly kill new hosts in order to perpetuate their life cycle, but once Summer points out that they don’t HAVE to do that, they immediately try to move towards a more peaceful species. Unfortunately, Rick and Morty end up taking inadvertent advantage of this, which allows them to escape being controlled and then murder the majority of the planet. This leads to one of the Glorzo to remark “this is what we get for evolving?” 

S4E7 - 3Summer
Of course, Summer only did it as part of a long con to save Rick and Morty…

The question, though, is whether or not the Glorzo were actually the bad guys to begin with. After all, they HAVE to take over hosts in order to exist. They have to kill those hosts in order to reproduce. Even after Summer reforms them, that hasn’t really changed, they just do it at a slower pace. The episode kind of side-steps it, but eventually the species would have to still kill their presumably still-aging hosts eventually and spawn the next generation. But are humans any different? We cannot really survive without killing something, at least a plant, for either food or shelter, so are we immoral? Well, from the point of view of the tree that’s getting cut down to build a gazebo, hell yes, but from our point of view, it’s more complicated. 

S4E7 - 4Sentience
Albeit, we seem to finally agree that doing ti to sentient creatures is bad.

However, the show takes it a step further with Glorzo Rick’s Plandemic-esque insane rant about how it is only natural for the species to kill their host pitted against Summer’s plans to try and progress the Glorzo beyond their natural biological needs. This is the kind of debate that humanity has engaged in for centuries, about whether we are okay with upsetting the “natural order” of things in the name of building a civilization that doesn’t necessarily agree with our Darwinian origins. After all, we don’t need the biggest and the strongest to hunt for us anymore, since the smartest and the most innovative can come up with solutions that don’t require hunting. In a fun mirror of many advocates of the more Spartan or “natural” lifestyles on YouTube and other media, Glorzo Rick is revealed to mostly be a total hypocrite, as he himself is not willing to actually just lay the egg and die like he advocates. 

S4E7 - 5Rick
And yet I still prefer him to multiple actual pundits.

This isn’t the best Rick and Morty episode, but it is never boring and it does have some actual interesting points to it.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Since the Rick and Morty plotline doesn’t have a ton that seems to be unexplained or lingering, my theory this week actually concerns Jerry. Why is Jerry taking up beekeeping? Well, three reasons: First, so that he can make a statement about how he has a right to exist and that he has dreams that would blend in with the theme of the other plotline. Also, bees have lives that are driven almost entirely by biology while still creating elaborate structures that can become extremely complex “societies.” Even if the subplot only has a few lines in the whole episode, this show’s still good about at least making sure there’s a cosmetic or thematic relationship between the plots. Second, it means that the B-plot is a literal Bee Plot, humor that is just the right kind of terrible and hilarious. Third, beekeepers are supposed to be extremely long-lived. This rumor started as far back as ancient Greece, but was further supported by Fred Hale, Sr., the world’s oldest man (until he died over a decade ago). I think that Jerry believes that one of the only ways that Jerry thinks he can get rid of Rick is to outlive him. Which, let’s be fair, is probably true. 

S4E7 - 6Jerry
Or because it lets you relive American Beauty, which REALLY does not age well.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 37: The Never Ricking Morty

NEXT – 39: The Vat of Acid Episode

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.

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 – S4E6 “The Never Ricking Morty”

A Rick and Morty Meta-episode goes off of the rails… or does it?

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

This episode is almost impossible to accurately summarize because the story is revealed to be an anthology crafted by a meta-character that is trapped within a larger meta-narrative that is trapped within a storytelling device that is contained within a commercial. Still, here we go:

S4E6 - 1Joker
Another fourth-wall breaker, at least in the comics.

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) are on a train with no memory of how they got there, but everyone on the train is telling stories which are related to Rick. Rick finds Morty and ends up discovering that the train is a giant circle, never going anywhere, because it’s just a storytelling device. Rick detonates a container of continuity so that they can move around the train after killing the ticket taker. They manage to survive using meta-fictional awareness and eventually arrive at the lead car, where they find the Story Lord (Paul Giamatti). The Story Lord beats the crap out of the pair, often so hard that they leave canon, before draining them of their narrative potential. Eventually, he shows them how the story of Rick and Morty ends, but Rick destroys the narrative by bringing in Jesus (Chris Meloni), allowing him to trap the Story Lord inside of the broken terrible story. Rick tries to stop the train, but it’s revealed that the train is actually a toy that the real Morty bought at the citadel of Ricks. Inside the Story Lord’s domain, he explains the meta-story to Jesus, who then uses his powers to derail the toy train.

S4E6 - 2StoryLord
Story Lord is jacked, because it makes the narrative more interesting.

END SUMMARY

Welcome back Rick and Morty and thank you for deciding to try and break every boundary that exists in narrative structure. 

S4E6 - 4Deadpool
Deadpool is jealous right now.

First, I want to give the show credit for not backing away on anthology episodes. Since the first one, “Rixty Minutes,” was one of the best episodes of the show, and of television in general, fans of the show have taken shots at their two follow-ups “Interdimensional Cable 2” and “Morty’s Mind Blowers.” I thought those episodes were actually pretty good, but I acknowledge that they weren’t at the level of “Rixty Minutes.” This episode doesn’t quite reach the original’s heights, but it manages to reach an almost unheard of level of deconstruction of narrative theory, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. 

S4E6 - 5Lasers
Or fire crotch lasers at.

I once said that the “Three Stories” episode of House was one of the best examples of a pataphysical narrative that was actually understandable, even though people can’t even agree on what constitutes “pataphysics.” I am not sure what definition currently dominates, but I am positive that this episode meets it, because this is metaphysics on metaphysics on metaphysics. This episode has more nested levels of narrative than there were dream levels in their Inception parody in “Lawnmower Dog” and the nested levels of the story can actually interact with each other, because why not? Perhaps the most insane example is the part where the ticket taker from the story is killed, but then wakes up in a “Blips and Chitz” VR simulator a la “Mortynight Run,” has an existential crisis, then it’s revealed that he’s just dying in the train reality… only for the camera to go back and focus on another character inside the “Blips and Chitz” reality who believes that his virginity keeps the universe going because they live in the ticket taker’s mind… only for that reality to die when Rick mercy kills it, which the kid in the sub-reality thinks is because of him. Or maybe it’s when the Jesus that Rick prayed for inside of Story Lord’s fake ending to Rick and Morty the series that managed to derail the fake narrative inside of the train uses his powers to derail a train inside of the “real” world. THAT SENTENCE WAS JUST WRITTEN AND IT HURTS MY BRAIN BUT I LOVE IT. 

S4E6 - 6Train
Here’s them literally going outside of the narrative to complete the narrative.

It would take me days to sort through all of the references and meta-references in this episode, but there are two that I want to bring up now. One is that the map of the train is actually the story wheel that Dan Harmon repeatedly has brought up as the backbone of his storytelling. Rick even points out that the episode has to follow the same beats in order for them to get to the climax allowing them to get out. I mentioned Wisecrack’s dissection of it in my review for “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.” The second is that, in order to break the usual narrative, Rick has Morty tell a story that passes the Bechdel test, something that Rick and Morty almost never passes, according to its critics. However, critics of the Bechdel Test point out that trying to match an artificial standard often leads people to sacrifice appropriate storytelling, particularly when the writer is not naturally progressive, exemplified when Morty cannot tell an unforced story that passes it. I just think both of these are strong commentaries by the show on its own storytelling limitations.

S4E6 - 3Circle
Dammit, Dan, your brilliance is only matched by how much you’re an a-hole.

Overall, honestly an amazing episode and I may spend more time going through it in the future. It’s got so many shots at the fandom and at critics alike as well as at the show itself it’s amazing.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

How could I even come up with a theory in an episode in which basically no events actually happen, and the ones that do are part of a fake commercial and commentary on capitalism? Well, actually the fake commercial is the theory.  I’m sure that several of you immediately tried to search for whether or not the Story-Train website was real, only to be slightly confused when, rather than a fake page (or even a real one), the page simply didn’t exist. Why would Cartoon Network go to the effort of buying the domain but then not at least put SOMETHING on the page (aside from just trying to avoid someone stealing it for a scam)? Because Rick doesn’t want other people selling his crap in this dimension, where he’s fictional and can’t collect royalties. How can a fictional character impact the real world? Well, in the episode, Jesus manages to derail the real train even though he’s a fictional idea within a fictional setting, so the idea might be that Rick can do the same. As to why it doesn’t have a message from Rick, he probably can’t do that much, only delete the page. Is this ridiculous? Yes, but I don’t have time to come up with anything else if I want this posted before Monday is over.

S4E6 - 7Train
TRAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 36: Rattlestar Ricklactica

NEXT – 38: Promortyus

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.

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 – S4E5 “Rattlestar Ricklactica”

Morty won’t stay in the car and suddenly snakes from the future are destroying the universe.

SUMMARY

It’s Christmas time. A time for family. In that spirit, Rick (Justin Roiland) helps Jerry (Chris Parnell) hang Christmas lights by making him slightly lighter than air and his shoes slightly heavier, allowing him to jump higher. Okay, well, it’s less “in the spirit of family” and more “so that Morty (Roiland) can go on an adventure with him because Beth (Sarah Chalke) told Morty to make sure Jerry doesn’t die.” Jerry, naturally, immediately tries to show off this power and ends up floating to his doom. He refuses to accept help from Rick or Beth, insisting that he can take care of it.

S4E5 - 1Jerry.png
He looks so happy, you’d almost forget he’s one shoe from dying.

Meanwhile, on their adventure, Rick and Morty hit something and Rick goes out of the car to fix the spaceship. Morty follows, against Rick’s orders, and gets bitten by a space snake, which he then kills. Rick and Morty go to the snake’s planet, a planet filled with racist snakes (racist against other colors of snake), and Rick finds the antivenom and cures Morty. Morty, however, feels guilty and buys another snake which he drops on the planet in the spacesuit. The snake planet ends up realizing that this is a snake from another world, leading somehow to the snakes creating time travel and killer robots, resulting in an army of snakes attacking the Smith/Sanchez household to either kill or save the family. 

S4E5 - 2Terminsnaker.png
Termisnaker 2: Judgement Fang

Rick, realizing what Morty did, travels to the Snake planet in the present, only to be greeted by a future version of themselves that are pissed off at them. Rick and Morty end up traveling back in time to an earlier point in the Snake World history and give the snakes a book telling them how to develop time travel. This leads to even more rampant time-traveling until finally the Time Police notice and destroy the first intelligent ancestor of the snakes. This destroys the entire snake population. Jerry manages to save himself from floating to his doom, finishes the lights, and then breaks his leg on the way down from the roof. Rick and Morty are about to celebrate, only to run into future versions of themselves that force them to re-enact the other half of the events in order to avoid a paradox. Rick punches Morty for leaving the car.

END SUMMARY

Rick and Morty has mostly avoided doing a time travel episode and I guess they decided to do all of them at once to compensate, then avert the hell out of most of them. In another strange decision, they made snakes, a typical symbol of evil or Satan, into the focal point of a Christmas episode. The episode doesn’t shy away from making anti-Xmas statements, either. Rick claims his superiority to Jesus by saying that he wasn’t “born into the God business,” instead he earned it. Jerry, upon agreeing to sacrifice himself to spite Rick or look good for Beth, declares himself “the Jesus Christ of Christmas.” It’s like they looked back at their earlier Christmas episode in “Anatomy Park,” said “that was too sincere,” and decided that this one should have some less-than-subtle blasphemy. 

S4E5 - 3JerryChrist.png
I mean, he’s surrounded by Christmas Trees, so it’s a bold proclamation.

The snake world was one of the best parts of the episode for me. First, any sequence in which we have to figure out what’s happening solely through visual storytelling is amazing. Second, the sequence in which they bring in a linguist snake to interpret the speech of the Earth snake Slippy that Morty used to replace the space snake is hilarious. It’s a combination of references to A Beautiful Mind, Stargate, and Nell, the last one from the fact that the linguist snake realizes if he slows down the speech, the other snake is hissing just like they are. If you haven’t seen Nell, there’s a big part of the movie involving someone speaking English in a way that is perceived as a different language, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the snake is doing during that scene. 

S4E5 - 4SnakeLinguist.png
So is the Rod of Asclepius on that planet two humans wound around a stick?

The time travel elements contain a ton of fun and funny references. When we meet the first time traveling snakes, they’re clearly all a ton of variations on the Terminator franchise, with robots, robot protectors, cyborg protectors, etc. each showing up to thwart the previous one. It really drives home the absurdity of those kind of movies and reminds me of the Great Time War from Doctor Who, where after every battle, each side would go back in time and change the outcome to make their side win until eventually the battle didn’t occur in the first place. We see that taken to the extreme… with snakes. We also see the traditional plotlines of trying to save Lincoln and kill Hitler, with saving Lincoln ironically resulting in the US becoming Nazis. I feel like this is an allusion to Abradolf Lincler, albeit indirect and serpentine. At the end of the episode, when the Time Police eradicate all of the snakes, they bite their tails and transform into Ouroboros, a symbol of infinite that often represents the ending of a temporal paradox (because the causal loop is closed). 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, why are Rick and Morty so pissed at themselves? I mean, while they technically have to say whatever they heard themselves saying earlier in order to avoid violating causality, it’s clear by the end that they really are resenting their past/future selves, even though they know that they are bound in the same loop and forced to go through the same motions. Well, that’s exactly why.

S4E5 - 5Paradox.png
Very festive time travelers.

Rick and Morty telling themselves how to finish the adventure, particularly using a journal containing the secrets to time-travel, resembles the plot of the famously internally consistent time-travel story “By His Bootstraps” by Robert Heinlein. Of course, since this is Rick and Morty, the pair are massively pissed off at being dragged into a causality loop, requiring that they fulfill the actions that they already did in order to not get caught by the Time Police themselves. In other words, Rick and Morty, two characters who are usually allowed to do whatever the hell they want with no thought towards the consequences, are now unable to alter the course of their behavior in any way. That makes it feel less like an adventure and more like a chore. 

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, this episode was pretty funny, but I still expect more from the show. I am still anxiously waiting for the next half of the season when it comes back.

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 – 34: Claw and Hoarder: Special Rick-tim’s Morty

NEXT – 37: Hell if I Know

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.

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 – S4E4 “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty”

Rick gets drunk with a dragon and also dragons are real and kinda creepy.

SUMMARY

Morty (Justin Roiland) goes with Rick (Roiland) on an adventure, only for it to be revealed that Morty had only agreed if he got a dragon. Rick, eventually giving in, gives Morty a dragon that he contracts with a Wizard to obtain. Morty rides the dragon, named Balthromaw (Liam Cunningham), but quickly realizes that the dragon doesn’t like him. When Balthromaw starts accidentally wrecking the house, Rick goes to get rid of him, but finds that the beast’s hoard is filled with things that he treasures. Upon talking to the dragon, the two start getting along and partying together, leading to them both ignoring Morty. After a particularly revelatory evening, Rick and Balthromaw end up soul bonding just as Morty revokes his contract. The Wizard returns to collect the dragon, but it turns out that Rick now feels any pain that Balthromaw does. Since Balthromaw is going to be killed for being a “slut” dragon, Rick, Morty, and Summer (Spencer Grammer) follow the Wizard back to his dimension, only for the Wizard to easily defeat Rick. 

S4E4 - 1Dragon.png
The dragons did not win the treaty negotiations with the wizards.

At the same time, Jerry (Chris Parnell) has been dealing with a talking cat (Matthew Broderick) that convinces him to fly to Florida. The cat constantly comments on the fact that he won’t explain why he can talk. Jerry and the cat have a good time until the cat blames Jerry for pooping on the beach, getting Jerry ostracized. The cat then tries to party with some college kids, but ends up pissing them off by questioning their games. The cat gets kicked off of a party boat and reunites with Jerry, asking for a ride home.

S4E4 - 2Cat.png
I love that the cat does not really show many natural reactions. 

It turns out that Rick’s science doesn’t work in the realm of magic. Morty saves Rick with a magic spell, then Rick manages to build a “magic-punk” gun that allows him to turn Summer into a magic archer and devastate the forces of the Wizard… right up until Summer screws up and the Wizard retakes the upper hand. Morty frees Balthromaw and the group flees to a cave filled with other “slut dragons.” The slut dragons are revealed to be, in fact, extremely sexual, which unnerves Morty until the elder dragon forces everyone to soul-bond and create a soul dragon that destroys the Wizard and frees all of the dragons. Balthromaw follows the group back to Earth, but everyone just wants to be done with him, declaring it the “worst adventure ever.” 

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This looks cool, but is, in fact, totally messed up.

Rick goes to pick up Jerry and the cat, but ends up scanning the cat’s brain to figure out why it can talk. While undisclosed, the cat’s mind horrifies Rick and makes Jerry nauseous to the extreme. Rick is about to kill himself, only to instead wipe Jerry’s memory and get rid of the cat. It eventually meets up with Balthromaw and asks to go back to Florida.

END SUMMARY

So, this definitely was not one of my favorite episodes, but the more I thought about it while writing this review, the more I think that maybe it’s not as bad as I initially thought. I mean, it was never “bad,” because Rick and Morty is just naturally a bit more creative in storytelling than other shows, but I thought it was a little bit of a low point. 

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Not the lowest, though.

A big part of what I think is missing in this episode is the traditional A-plot and B-plot interplay that the show does so well (AND I WILL NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT IT UNTIL OTHER SHOWS GET IT RIGHT), but here the two don’t seem to really have any thematic connections on the surface and the B-Plot is extremely short. However, both of them are actually about dissecting two different sides of the fantasy genre. The traditional Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones high fantasy subgenre is shown to consist of a repressive wizard who captures and enslaves dragons for profit and dragons which are revealed to be very aggressively sexual, bordering on rapey. The cat, meanwhile, is a representation of magical realism subgenre. It’s just a cat that shows up, talks, and offers adventure to a poor schlub… but it turns out that the cat’s just kind of an a**hole (like most cats), the adventure is just a beach party that the cat ruins, and that the reason why the cat talks, which in most magical realism will be a major revelation, is never revealed and we’re apparently better for that. While it’s not the best subversion in the series, or even the season, it’s a little better upon realizing that both plots are at least hitting the same genre.

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Talking cats can start entire cultural movements, man…

Rick being a dragon is a neat parallel to draw. Rick, like a dragon, is destructive, old, and also brilliant. Rick and Balthromaw end up bonding over his hoard, because while Balthromaw hoards valuables, Rick hoards his technology from anyone else. They both thrive on keeping stuff from others to make themselves superior. Unfortunately, they don’t really leave it up to the viewer, instead having both Balthromaw and Rick himself say that Rick is a dragon.

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I also love that they both agree on releasing captive animals and getting high.

One thing that I both like and dislike about the episode is that the show couldn’t let Rick be powerless. When Rick is shown to have no technology in the wizarding world (sue me, Rowling) and Morty quickly starts to recite spells from the book, it seems like we’re looking at a rare role-reversal with Morty taking the lead. This quickly gets undone by Rick managing to create a new version of technology using magic that puts him back in charge. When I first watched the episode, that kind of annoyed me because it rendered Morty’s use of the spellbook as mostly pointless, but in retrospect it just shows us that Rick’s mind is so amazing that he can adapt to new laws of nature. Magic is just a sufficiently advanced technology and vice-versa. Still, I kind of want to see Morty have the upper hand more often and this was a good opportunity. 

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Rick having a magic cannon was pretty fun, though.

I also kind of liked the idea of the villain being a slut-shamer, except that the dragons he was shaming ended up being creepily sexual, so… really a plus and minus there as well.

Oh, and Rick interrupts the Wizard masturbating, which is funny.

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Enter a caption

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

There aren’t a ton of floating theories here since there is no indication that Rick planned all this nor is there anything about the situation that would give him a motive to. So, instead, I’m going to take a stab at the big unknown: 

WHY DOES THE CAT TALK?

First, what do we know? The cat was not born able to talk, because that would be his explanation. Instead, he somehow gained the ability from something which he is extremely ashamed of. It’s also something that is horrifying not only to Jerry, but, more impressively, to Rick freaking Sanchez. Rick is about to kill himself out of pure disgust, as opposed to his usual depression, so he’s seeing something worse than the stuff he does which means worse than enslaving a planet or a lot of genocide. While we don’t see what it is, we hear a few things. We hear what appears to be boots marching in sync, explosions, and babies crying. HUMAN babies. We also get the implication from Jerry that no one else would remember the events, which is why Rick chooses to remember them. 

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I mean… dang.

Second, what is the cat a reference to? Well, several things, but most prominently the 1978 Disney movie The Cat from Outer Space, which the episode even directly references. In that movie, there’s a cat that talks telepathically and, like the cat in this episode, hardly ever seems to stop doing cat things while talking (because it was a real cat in the movie and cats are a**holes). However, none of the events of that film really lend themselves to a backstory like that… unless you consider that at the end of that film, Jake, the titular cat, has a girlfriend, superior technology, and a pending litter. While Jake can’t really talk or use his powers without a collar, it’s stated in the film that the telepathy powers are only AMPLIFIED by the collar. They are innate to Jake’s species, unlike the telekinesis which the collar provides. So, what happens when Jake’s offspring learn what happens to common cats like their mother, like being locked up in the pound or put down? Well, they might end up very, very upset at humanity for how they treat cats… and that their dad can call down an armada. 

My proposal, therefore, is that the cat in this episode is the son of the cat from outer space. He ended up using his species’ superior technology to eradicate humanity on another Earth, but humanity ended up taking the cats out with it, since this is the only survivor. Since one of the collars in the film was ultimately given to the humans as a token of goodwill and the other would be with his father who likely would oppose his plan, in order to destroy humanity, the cat had to focus and develop his powers to be able to talk without a collar. Him learning to speak ultimately destroyed both sides of his family. So why does that look worse than Rick’s usual murder sprees? Well, because this is presumably an army of cats clawing people, including children and infants, to death, ensuring total genocide of both species. That’s going to be a very, very, graphic image, even for Rick.  

Or maybe the cat’s Cthulhu, but I’m going with the reference here. 

LEAVING THE CORNER

This was still one of the weaker episodes of Rick and Morty, but I still had an okay time with it. Plus, it referenced The Cat from Outer Space, which I love.

Overall, I give this episode a

C-

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

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