Rick and Mondays – S1 E8 “Rixty Minutes”

Okay, so, I already did this one once, because I listed this as one of the greatest episodes in the history of television. As such, I’m going to re-use a lot of that material, because I’m lazy and a little drunk.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland) mocks the Smith family for being invested in an episode of The Bachelor, leading Jerry (Chris Parnell) to challenge Rick to show them something better. In response, Rick upgrades the family’s TV to get channels from every dimension, meaning that they can see things such as “Showtime in a world where corn evolved sentience instead of humans.”

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And Game of Thrones where Tyrion is the tall one.

While scrolling through channels, they catch sight of a universe where Jerry is famous, which Jerry wants to keep watching. Rick, annoyed by this, throws Jerry, Beth (Sarah Chalke), and Summer (Spencer Grammer) a pair of goggles that lets them see other universe versions of themselves, including a universe where Jerry bangs Kristen Stewart and another where Beth is a rich, successful surgeon. Unfortunately, the two realize that these are the universes where Beth and Jerry aborted Summer when Beth got pregnant at seventeen, which they say out loud in Summer’s presence.

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C-500A Jerry does coke with Johnny Depp

Meanwhile, Rick and Morty (Roiland), are watching interdimensional television. This can’t really be summarized, because almost every clip was improvised by Justin Roiland, apparently while stoned. Even when other actors were asked to do the voices, they were told to copy everything about the way that Roiland had spoken. I love the majority of them, but I think my favorite is either “Quick Mysteries,” which is like Unsolved Mysteries except that the killer immediately confesses, or Tophat Jones and his advertisement for Strawberry Smiggles, where he’s murdered by the children who want the cereal.

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Though I’d see the hell out of this film.

Summer, shocked at the revelation that her existence has made her parents’ lives worse, decides to run away. Morty follows her upstairs and, after she yells that he doesn’t understand, shows her the grave of his other-dimensional double from “Rick Potion #9.” She asks if he’s her brother, and he says “I’m better than your brother. I’m a version of your brother you can trust when he says, ‘Don’t run.’” He then delivers 13 of the greatest words in the history of anything:

Nobody exists on purpose.
Nobody belongs anywhere.
Everybody’s gonna die.
Come watch TV?

Summer and Morty head downstairs and watch TV, only to find that the other versions of Jerry and Beth reunite, believing that their biggest mistake, even in their seemingly perfect lives, was breaking up. The regular Jerry and Beth, realizing that they have something even their seemingly perfect selves don’t, kiss passionately.

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Then they visit Butt-Hamster world!

END SUMMARY

First, most of the episode is improvised. I consider this to be a brilliant way to do these vignettes, because it seems like ad-libbing produces the absurd kind of things that one might encounter by looking through infinite realities and also makes the inter-dimensional content feel very distinct from the show itself. Some people might not enjoy it, and maybe not all of the sketches are gold, but it at least sets it apart.

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This apparently doesn’t appeal to everybody. I think it’s hilarious.

But, let’s not beat around the bush, this episode is all about the B-Plot. Even by Rick and Morty standards, there are some devastating moments when it’s revealed that not only was Summer an unplanned Prom-night baby, but that her very existence apparently is what kept her parents from living the amazing lives they wanted. Yeah, not the happiest moment in television history, and her response seems to be exactly what a teenager would do when confronted with that information. After all, how the hell could anyone process that rationally?

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“You’re the little brother. You’re not the cause of your parents’ misery. You’re just a symptom of it.” Dang.

Somehow, though, Morty manages to say the exact right thing to her, because it’s almost the exact right thing for anyone to hear.

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Nobody exists on purpose.
Nobody belongs anywhere.
Everybody’s gonna die.
Come watch TV?

Look, I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve read a lot of philosophy. I’ve read the core texts of most religions and I subscribe to one or two. I’ve even been sick on a hospital bed waiting to die. But, despite all of that, I believe that I have never seen anything summarize the human condition as well as Morty does in this moment.

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You lose again, Immanuel Kant!

Morty straight up tells Summer, and by extension everyone, that he doesn’t care about the futility of existence. He doesn’t care that everything is meaningless. He doesn’t care that there are infinite realities and no grand purpose out there. He’s choosing to be happy anyway by just enjoying what he has. I’ll argue that this is one of the rare moments where Morty proves he’s actually better than Rick. Rick saw infinity and all it told him was that nothing matters, making him a miserable bastard who tells everyone not to think about it. Morty saw that nothing matters, thought about it, and chose to find something meaningful anyway.

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Even if it’s just watching Ball Fondlers

In Season 3, Rick essentially insists that his unhappiness is because his intelligence makes the universe his and the universe doesn’t like it. It fights his desire to control or fully comprehend it. The fact that he has an infinite number of other universes at his disposal only intensifies this. Rick has seen things that no other human has seen and done things no other human have done, or even can do, but he isn’t able to grasp the idea of just being happy by embracing futility and moving on anyway. In the episode “Pickle Rick,” Dr. Wong (Susan Sarandon), even tells him he can’t do it because it requires accepting that he’s responsible for his own happiness. He constantly says that the key is NOT to think about it, but in this episode, Morty seems to say that’s wrong. You don’t have to try not to think about it, because trying to avoid thinking about it is still refusing acceptance.

A lot of great episodes of television involve dealing with the idea of facing your mortality or the void at the end of existence. Some involve turning to God, some involve denying mortality, some involve just accepting that you’re going to die, but this one nails it hardest. Whatever is true doesn’t matter. You get to exist. That alone is something to enjoy. Be happy anyway.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Why did Rick give Jerry the goggles? Well, on the surface, it’s to get Jerry to leave him alone so he can watch TV. But, it’s the way the goggles work in this episode that makes me think there’s more to it. We first saw the goggles in “Rick Potion #9” when Rick is looking for other dimensions to escape their Cronenberged world. He says they latch onto the wearer’s DNA and let the user look through alternate dimensions. Since there are an infinite number of universes, or at least a huge number of very similar universes near to their universe, it’s strange that Jerry is immediately viewing the same universe that was on television (C-500A). We know that the goggles don’t immediately show the viewer the dimension they want, because Summer gets no response due to her not existing in C-500A. Additionally, it’s strange that one of the first channels Rick turned to, in the whole of all dimensional cable, is Jerry on Letterman.

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So, why would the goggles already be attuned to a universe that Rick had just shown them? Because Rick planned this whole thing as a way to try and break Jerry and Beth up. Rick, knowing how selfish Beth and Jerry are, knew that showing them a universe where they both achieved their dreams would make it obvious that their marriage is what’s keeping them in perpetual misery. After all, there are infinite universes, so it would make sense that there’s a universe where Jerry and Beth lead happy lives and are also married and had Summer, but that’s not the universe Rick shows them.

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And successful Beth is still an alcoholic, just now one with birds.

Why does Rick’s plan end up failing, then? For the same reason Rick’s plan failed in “Rick Potion #9”: Rick doesn’t understand love. He tries to break it down into just “cause and effect” or specific chemical motivations of lust and desire to breed, but that cause him to fail almost every time he tries to manipulate it. Rick knew that Beth and Jerry would see that they were both objectively better off without each other, but he didn’t predict that Beth and Jerry in C-500A would realize that they still wanted to be with each other because that’s derived from their love for each other. Admittedly, Beth and Jerry are terrible together and seem to actually make each other worse people but, somehow, they really do have a connection that they both need in order to even approach being happy. Because love is insane like that.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Obviously, I think this episode is about as good as Rick and Morty gets. Hell, I think this is about as good as television gets. It’s funny, it’s original, it’s insightful, it’s emotional and it’s got Ants-in-my-eyes Johnson. This is 24 minutes of genius sundae that’s got a cherry made up of four of the most brutal sentences ever put down on paper. And yet, this isn’t my favorite episode to re-watch. Still, I think you know what I have to give it.

Overall, I give this episode an

A+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 7: Raising Gazorpazorp

NEXT – 9: Something Ricked This Way Comes

Author Bonus: 26a) Rixty Minutes (Rick and Morty)

Okay, this is the third of the add-on episodes. Update: And the only show that now has its own page. Oddly, most of them are animated. I don’t know if that’s because lately animated shows are able to take more risks than live-action, or because, like in the case of WestWorld and Mr. Robot, that live-action shows that have insanely high quality are so invested in serialization that it keeps any one episode from standing out enough to be noticeable or distinctly memorable. But, whatever the reason, the animations tended to stick out.

Rick and Morty is a show about the futility of existence and other nihilist stuff most shows would consider impossible to joke about. Rick (Justin Roiland) is a super-genius on a scale that surpasses most portrayals in fiction. Rick is often called a god, because he can basically do anything. He travels between alternate universes, creates sentient life to power his car battery, destroyed planetary, galactic, and interdimensional order because they annoyed him, and even turns himself into a pickle just to show that he can… and also to get out of going to family therapy. Morty (Roiland) is his grandson, whose role in their adventures varies over the course of the series, from unwilling participant to instigator.

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Rick made a planet believe this means “peace among worlds.” Morty is unsurprised.

Rick believes that nothing means anything, and, in his case, he’s completely justified. Usually, when a character has that kind of attitude, it arises out of a religious nihilism. In Rick’s case, though, it’s different, because it arises from the fact that he has seen that there are infinite alternate worlds and infinite versions of himself, meaning that everything he ever does is being done in another world at the same time, or that he’s only doing it because another version of him is doing the opposite. Nothing matters because everything happens. Because of this, Rick is a miserable jerk most of the time, an alcoholic on a cosmic scale, and arguably out-eviled the devil through science. The last is not a metaphor, he actually drove the devil to suicidal depression through rendering him obsolete. Prior to this episode in the series, he and Morty wreck their version of the world and move to a different universe to replace the deceased Rick and Morty there, abandoning the rest of their family (not particularly caring if the others live or die).

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WE *burp* DON’T DO “SOFT” REBOOTS, MORTY! IT’S ALL HARDCORE!

Some people will probably be angry because they don’t think this is the best episode of Rick and Morty. Much like my entry for The Office, I can only say, this is not my favorite episode of Rick and Morty, but it is the one that I think distinguishes the show the most for two reasons.

SUMMARY

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This is what happens when you have a lot of weed and a lot of genius in one booth.

First, most of the episode is improvised. The premise is that Rick upgrades the family’s TV to get channels from every dimension, meaning that they can see things such as “Showtime in a world where corn evolved instead of humans.” However, all of the programming, with limited exception, was improvised by series creator Justin Roiland, mostly while he was stoned. Even when other actors were asked to do the voices, they were told to copy everything about the way that Roiland had spoken. I consider this to be an extremely weird, but brilliant, way to do this episode, because it seems like ad-libbing both produces the absurd kind of things that one might encounter by looking through infinite realities, and also because it makes the inter-dimensional content very distinct from the show itself, confirming that they’re not in the same universe. Some people might not enjoy it, and maybe not all of the sketches are gold, but it at least sets it apart.

RickAndMortySummer.jpgSecond, and most important, is the B-plot. At the beginning of the episode, Morty’s dad Jerry (Chris Parnell) sees a version of himself who is a celebrated actor, and decides he wants to see other realities where he has a different life. Similarly, his wife, Beth (Sarah Chalke), and daughter, Summer (Spencer Grammer), want to see other universes where they have lived their dreams. During the course of this, Beth and Jerry accidentally reveal that Summer was an unwanted pregnancy, and that most or all of Beth’s and Jerry’s dream realities are where they broke up after having her aborted. This shakes Beth and Jerry over the fact that their marriage definitely kept them from achieving their dreams, and Summer over the fact that her entire existence was not just the result of a mistake, but one that she can confirm ruined her parents’ lives. Yeah, not the happiest moment in TV history.

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Morty shows Summer his grave

Summer decides to leave the family, and Morty confronts her. She at first says that he can’t understand because, as the second child, he wasn’t the cause of her parents’ pain, only a biproduct of it. Morty responds by telling her that he’s not really her brother, that her brother is dead and buried in the yard, and that he’s a version of her brother who can tell her not to run and she’ll know it’s sincere. He then delivers 13 of the greatest words in the history of anything.

Nobody exists on purpose.
Nobody belongs anywhere.
Everybody’s gonna die.
Come watch TV?

I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve read a lot of philosophy. I’ve read the core texts of most religions, and I subscribe to one or two. I’ve been sick on a hospital bed waiting to die. But, despite all of that, I believe that I have never seen anything summarize the human condition as well as Morty does in this episode.

Morty straight up tells everyone that, despite the fact that he’s realized the futility of existence, he doesn’t care. He chooses to be happy anyway, by just enjoying what he has. Depending on your perspective, this arguably makes him better than Rick, because Rick is a miserable human being, whereas Morty can actually find enjoyment in aspects of life.

END SUMMARY

Rick insists that his unhappiness is because when you’re smart, the universe is yours, and the universe is not going to like it. It’s going to fight your desire to control or comprehend it. However, really, despite the fact that Rick has seen things that no otherDon't think about it human has seen, done things no other humans have, or even can, do, he isn’t able to grasp the idea of just being happy by embracing futility and moving on anyway, because it requires accepting that he’s responsible for his own happiness. He constantly says that the key is NOT to think about it, but that’s wrong. You don’t have to try not to think about it, because trying to avoid thinking about it is still refusing acceptance.

Many of the episodes on this list deal with the idea of facing your mortality or the void at the end of existence. Some involve turning to God, some involve denying mortality, some involve just accepting that you’re gonna die, but this one nails it hardest. Whatever is true doesn’t matter. You get to exist. That alone is something to enjoy. Be happy anyway.

PREVIOUS – 26: Star Trek

NEXT – 25: Family Guy

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

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