Rick and Mondays – S4E2 “The Old Man and the Seat”

Rick tracks down a crappy thief, Jerry develops an app, Morty tries to save the Earth from Jerry, Summer tries to find love, and Beth tries to parent Summer.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland) has a new intern named Glootie (Taika “What We Do In Ragnarok” Waititi) who is obsessed with developing an app. To keep people from agreeing to help him, Rick has actually tattooed “do not develop my app” on his face.  Despite this, when Rick goes to use his private toilet, Jerry (Chris Parnell) agrees to help Glootie. The rest is split by plotline.

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Somehow only Taika Waititi’s voice would make sense here.

Rick arrives on his private planet dedicated to his private toilet, only to find out that someone else broke in and pooped on it. Rick goes to elaborate lengths, including single-handedly winning a war, to find the culprit, a man named Tony (Jeffrey Wright). Rick threatens to kill Tony, but ultimately chooses to just shove a portable farting, pooping butt in his office. Tony then comes back to poop again, so Rick puts him in a Matrix-like simulation of paradise which he ends up rejecting. Rick declines again to kill him, which Tony takes as a sign of friendship, though Rick denies this. Finally, Rick comes to give Tony permission to use his toilet, only to find out that Tony died from trying to live life to the fullest, having been empowered by using Rick’s crapper. Rick, seemingly sad about this, still denies being Tony’s friend, then goes and sits on his toilet, revealing that he’d booby-trapped it to mock Tony mercilessly. Rick sits in the rain being mocked by his own voice about how pathetic and lonely he is. 

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He even proves that Tony is an asshole in multiple universes, which is brutal.

Jerry develops his app with Glootie, revealed to be a dating app which Jerry names Lovefinderrz. Morty (Roiland), upon finding out about it, realizes that the app has to be dangerous because of Rick’s precautions. He orders Glootie to take it down, but Glootie says he can’t, because the server’s on the mothership. Morty and Jerry then threaten their way onto the mothership and meet Glootie’s leader (Sam Neill) and his wife (Kathleen Turner). It turns out that Glootie’s people have used up all their water and are using the app to drive everyone into a frenzy to help lower Earth’s defenses. Presumably everyone will either be too distracted to notice the water theft, or will be too exhausted from loving to stop it. Rick and Jerry escape and try to destroy the server, but are recaptured due to Jerry’s idiocy. When Glootie is sent to kill them, Jerry points out that, despite his species’ claim to have perfected relationships, Glootie is alone. The app has failed him. Glootie frees them and destroys the app by adding a paywall.

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I love that it takes 3 people to find a gun at an app developer that has an army on board.

Summer (Spencer Grammer) downloads the app and starts a sequence of intense flings. Beth (Sarah Chalke) keeps tracking her down, trying to stop her. Eventually, with Summer on her fourth “soul mate,” Beth manages to confront her, telling her that she’s going to parent her no matter what. Summer fights back, but Beth is winning the fight until the app goes down, and everything goes back to normal. 

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Fortunately, she’s single at the end.

END SUMMARY

Okay, cards on the table, I didn’t think this was a spectacular episode of Rick and Morty. Not that it was bad, but I honestly think they pitched this as “I bet we can make an entire episode of poop jokes lead to a poignant moment of revelation.” The problem is that most of the jokes in the Rick plotline just didn’t land for me. I mean, there are some that are funny, but they’re not as funny as I would usually expect from the show. Maybe it’s just a personal preference thing. I will say that a lot of the other jokes in the other plotlines worked for me, even the ones that were kind of repeats or predictable. For example, when Morty tells Jerry “I started today disgusted and embarrassed to be your son. Then, later, I thought we were gonna die because you’re a loser,” the obvious joke there is that Morty doesn’t follow it up with a “but.” However, Jerry, now somewhat genre-savvier, predicts it, leading Morty to just say “quit f*cking up.” It’s pretty great that this is like a 3rd-level subversion of a tired joke. Eventually, the humorous thing may be to play it straight again. Then there’s the Fly mob boss who just lampshades the fact that Rick is asking about a sandwich, something that does nothing to explore the boss’s potential backstory. That’s such an unexpected and hilarious joke, because it basically tells the audience that they came up with this character completely for a throw-away gag. So, there were decent jokes, but there weren’t as many bust-a-gut moments as I’m used to. 

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I mean, this is pretty funny. As is the fact that the frogs only say “ribbit.”

As usual, the team behind the show remind us that they are masters at structuring the episode around A, B, and even C plots. The events of this episode take place over the course of roughly a week, which makes sense, but by cutting between them, it feels like a much tighter story. The storylines in this episode all seem to be based around demonstrating how the characters have changed since the first season. The Rick story is about Rick demonstrating how much he wants to isolate himself from others, to the point of pooping on his own planet, before realizing that he is just avoiding being close to others. He also realizes that one of the only people who tried to understand him on a deeper level is now dead, meaning Rick is even more alone than before. In the B-Plot, Morty is starting to be more assertive and honest with Jerry, while Jerry actually goes along with Morty on an adventure without being a coward. In the C-Plot, Beth actually tries to be a functioning parent to Summer, while Summer… well, Summer hasn’t changed that much, except that she’s moved from crushes to active sexual relationships, I guess. I just think it’s interesting that there’s an episode that basically shows off the character growth. 

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Beth’s still getting the hang of dealing with Summer in an emotionally active way.

This episode also seems to suggest that there are two competing themes for this season. The first, which the last episode pointed out directly, is that this season is about balance and compromise in the storytelling. Sometimes they’ll be experimental, like the way the shots accompany Rick pooping are vast and beautiful landscapes, and sometimes they’ll be more traditional, like having a story-arc based around Jerry screwing up and Morty having to bail him out. However, the second theme appears to be that of human connection. In the first episode, the only thing that saves Rick and Morty is Wasp Rick having empathy towards Rick’s situation, something that’s abnormal for Ricks. Morty’s obsession with Jessica, similarly, causes him to distance himself from others, including a skinny-dipping Jessica. In this episode, we see Rick constantly reject connection only for him to realize at the end that it’s the reason he’s so alone and sad. We see Jerry and Morty only being saved by Jerry making an emotional connection with Glootie. We see Summer only being kept repeatedly from making a terrible mistake because Beth cares enough for her to keep trying to stop her. We also see that the form of connection that Glootie’s people seem to think is “optimized” is in fact completely false, as even their leaders end up getting divorced at the end of the episode. The thing is that Glootie’s people seem to value shallow notions like “soul mates” or empty platitudes more than actual work on relationships or empathy towards each other. I know two episodes don’t show a pattern, but I’m interested to see how this plays out.

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Also, I’m down for all this heavily-detailed art. This is exactly where I want to poop.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, I didn’t have a big theory, so here are three mini-theories.

First, why does Rick have Glootie? I think originally Rick got it him because he knew that Jerry would agree to help him create a dating app which would likely lead Beth to find someone better. However, after the last season finale, Rick appears to have realized that he can’t get rid of Jerry, and therefore went ahead and tattooed a warning for Jerry on Glootie’s forehead. Sure, it’s not the biggest precaution, but Rick wanted the free labor and he still doesn’t care for Jerry THAT much.

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And Jerry ALMOST avoids screwing up.

Second, how does the dating app work? Well, it’s pretty straightforward: The minute you’re no longer interested in the person you have, it finds you a new one. It’s based entirely around infatuation, but once you have anything about your partner that you don’t want or someone better is nearby, then it just supplies you a new infatuation, apparently making you unnaturally attracted to someone else. This doesn’t really optimize relationships, only hookups and flings.

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I mean, one fight and she’s telling him to screw off.

Third, at the end of the episode we see Jerry drink the Globaflyn and hallucinate a dream of being a water delivery man that makes him so happy he tries to lick up the rest of the substance. Why is that what Jerry fantasizes about? Well, earlier Rick says that Globaflyn connects the what-you-have part of your brain with the what-you-want part of your brain. It’s why we see Tony fantasize about an eternity with his wife (what he wants) based around sitting on a toilet (what he has when Rick knocks him out). Jerry has just dealt with a conflict over water, meaning he knows that he has it. What Jerry wants is to be important and loved. Therefore, he is shown using water, what he has, to get respect and admiration, what he wants. 

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Also, the logo is designed by him. You can tell because it’s bad.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Still a pretty good episode of television, even if it’s not top-tier Rick and Morty.

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 – 32: Edge of Tomorty: Rick, Die, Rick-peat

NEXT – 34: One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty

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Halloween Review – In The Mouth of Madness: Carpenter + Lovecraft = Amazing

John Carpenter brings us this story that manages to capture the madness and existential terror of H.P. Lovecraft.

SUMMARY

John Trent (Sam Neill) recounts his story to his doctor, Dr. Wrenn (David Warner). Trent was an insurance investigator who was asked to look into a claim by a publisher called Arcane Publishing. When he was first given the request, he was attacked by a man wielding an axe asking if he reads “Sutter Cane.” He discovers that the insurance claim is regarding the disappearance of horror author Sutter Cane (Jürgen “Das Boot” Prochnow), and that the axe-wielding man was Cane’s agent, who went mad from reading Cane’s work. Arcane Publishing’s director, Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), assigns Cane’s editor, Linda Styles (Julie Carmen), to help Trent find the missing author. Trent manages to piece together the covers to all of Cane’s books into a map to a location from Cane’s book called Hobb’s End. Styles and Trent head off to find it.

InTheMouth - 1Hobb'sEnd
If I ever get published, I’m hiding maps in the covers. Maps to various Shoney’s restaurants.

The two experience some disorienting phenomena on the drive, only to end up suddenly appearing in Hobb’s End. They wander around the town, finding characters and places from Cane’s novels, which Trent claims are part of a publicity stunt. Styles disagrees, admitting that the initial insurance claim was a stunt, but that the town was not part of it. Styles heads inside the church of the town trying to find Cane, who shows her his last book, In the Mouth of Madness. She quickly goes mad for him, literally and figuratively. A mob of the people in the town start to attack Trent, and he attempts to drive away, only to find that any attempts to drive out of the town only lead back into the center of the village. He crashes his car and wakes up next to Styles in the church. In the church, Cane reveals the truth of his work to Trent: Trent is one of his characters, created to deliver the manuscript of In the Mouth of Madness. Once the book is read by enough people, it will open a connection to an extradimensional realm of monsters who will destroy the world. Cane then rips himself open, becoming a portal to the monster realm. Trent escapes through the portal, with Styles staying behind, ending up in reality. 

InTheMouth - 2Portal
I would read this book, right up until the madness overtook me.

Back at Arcane publishing, Trent reports that he destroyed the manuscript and lost Styles. Harglow tells him that there is no Linda Styles. Trent was sent alone, the manuscript was delivered, the book has been published already, and a movie adaptation is set to come out soon. Trent, going insane with the realization, kills a reader of Cane’s work, getting himself committed to an asylum. After he finishes relaying the story, Trent awakens to find the asylum abandoned and evidence that monsters have overrun the world. Trent goes to see the movie version of In The Mouth of Madness, which is the same film that we just watched. Trent starts to break down when he realizes that he is, in fact, fictional. 

END SUMMARY

This movie is part of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy along with The Thing and Prince of Darkness. The three movies are about three different concepts of how the world could be destroyed, whether by aliens, by the devil, or, as here, by creatures beyond our reality.  Unfortunately, this film is the middle child of those three, with The Thing towering over it as a masterwork in horror and Prince of Darkness being mostly forgettable. In the Mouth of Madness is in-between, with a ton of great and memorable scenes and ideas unfortunately inter-cut with a decent amount of forgettable filler. Hell, I didn’t remember some of it until this re-watch and this is like the 10th time I’ve seen this movie. Still, the good parts so far outweigh the bad that I have to recommend this movie for literally anyone that enjoys horror.

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I’ll get around to doing all three of these eventually, I’m sure. 

This is one of the best adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft on film and it’s not even a real adaptation. It’s hard to say that this isn’t a film absolutely dripping with love for his work, though. Sutter Cane’s books are all references to Lovecraft, including “The Hobb’s End Horror,” a clear nod to “The Dunwich Horror,” and the film’s titular book being derived from At The Mountains of Madness, one of the most central and broad works by Lovecraft. By playing up the themes of Lovecraftian horror without actually using the author, the film manages to use some of the best parts of it while also avoiding some of the more controversial aspects of Lovecraft’s work.

The racism. I’m talking about the racism. 

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Though, it wasn’t like he was the most racist person in the 1920s. 

The central themes of Lovecraftian horror, or cosmic horror, mostly revolve around the idea that humanity is so insignificant that all of existence is pointless or hopeless. Typically this is because of the revelation that the thing we call reality is only a small piece of it, and that we are surrounded by beings that are so much greater than us that their very presence means that all of humanity is rendered but a speck in the eye of the universe. When confronted by this revelation, characters in cosmic horror usually respond in one of two ways: madness or misanthropy. Either you go insane because the human mind isn’t capable of understanding things that exist in dimensions beyond our reality or you decide that the fact that these creatures are out there means that humanity needs to be destroyed by them. This movie has both of those reactions. 

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I mean, wearing a cross-drawn asylum outfit with popcorn helps sell the insanity.

However, it adds in a layer that the main character’s existence, and eventually the existence of everyone in the movie, is rendered even more pointless than the Lovecraftian cosmic horror because they become aware that they are only characters in the movie that we’re watching. While the citizenry of Hobb’s end are fictional beings in a fictional setting, by having Trent enter into the “real” world and then witness the film that we’re watching, he becomes a self-aware character who is now aware that the story is ending. When the credits roll, he stops existing. Given the state of him at the time, perhaps this is a mercy. Much like in plays by Tom Stoppard, Luigi Pirandello, or Samuel Beckett, the existence of the self-aware character questions whether or not they have an existence beyond just the show itself, but here we have a character who was created as a fictional entity within the work of yet another character, who was given life in a higher-realm (the film) only for the purpose of bringing about its end. If this is confusing, that’s kind of the point. If you were in this film and facing what Trent is, you wouldn’t just be confused, you’d be standing on ground that doesn’t really exist. Your mind would shatter, like his does. 

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I mean, he takes it in some stride.

When it came out, this movie was not a hit. In fact, it pretty well tanked, much like The Thing. While The Thing has since been recognized for the work of genius that it is, In the Mouth of Madness is begging to be reevaluated by a newer audience. This movie came out in 1994 and the only adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft we’d had so far were the Re-animator movies that don’t really address any of those themes (though those movies are awesome). This movie tried to convey a sense of the hopelessness and overwhelming insanity that would be felt by someone living in a Lovecraft story, and that’s just not what people expect from a cinematic narrative. I’m not saying this is a perfect film; it definitely lags in a lot of places and should probably be 20 minutes shorter (though a decent amount of filler IS a Lovecraft trait), but it’s essentially trying to get the audience to imagine something that’s inherently unimaginable, and that’s a hell of an ambition. 

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Although, you do get a little glimpse of some eldritch abominations.

Even at the time of release, though, people recognized the strength of Sam Neill’s performance and of Carpenter’s direction. The environment that the two create within the story is dripping with dread. Prochnow’s portrayal of Cane, while brief, is extremely memorable and powerful. The scenes of the impossible geography of the city of Hobb’s End still make me uneasy even now. 

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Also, just… damn, man. That subtle intensity. 

Overall, this is a great movie. It’s one of my favorite horror films, and if you’re a fan of the genre, you really need to take a shot at it yourself. 

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.