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

Alright, so, if the last episode really started to nail the Rick and Morty mix of dark humor and subversion, this was the first episode that started to explain why everything in Rick and Morty is not only supposedly meaningless to Rick, but justifiably so.

SUMMARY

It’s flu season at Harry Herpson High School and that means it’s time for the annual Flu Season Dance (which Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie) reminds everyone is about awareness and not actually dancing when you have the flu). Morty (Justin Roiland) tries to ask his crush Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), but is stopped by her on-again-off-again boyfriend Brad (Echo Kellum) who tells Morty to stay in his league. Back at home, Jerry (Chris Parnell) tries to comfort his son by saying that he met Beth (Sarah Chalke) in high school despite her being out of his league, but Rick (Roiland) points out that Jerry’s marriage is in bad shape so he shouldn’t be giving advice. In contrast, Rick says that love is a lie brought on by brain chemistry and that Morty should focus on science to “break the cycle.”

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

Morty thinks about what Rick said and promptly isolates the exact wrong part of it, asking Rick to make a chemical to cause Jessica to fall in love with him. Rick refuses, asking Morty for a screwdriver, but Morty protests that Rick never does anything for him, so Rick gives him a formula made from vole-extracted oxytocin that will supposedly make her fall for him. However, right after Morty leaves, Rick adds the caveat that it might cause problems if she has the flu.

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Twist: It’s just Slice. Remember Slice? It stopped existing in 2010, I think.

Jerry asks Beth if she loves him, but she responds that love is work and she puts up with him, therefore she’s working and therefore she loves him. She then leaves for an emergency horse surgery with her co-worker Davin (Hendrie), which angers Jerry.

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

At the Flu Season Dance, MC Haps (Dan Harmon) is doing his Flu Hatin’ Rap and everything seems to be going well. Morty spills some of the potion on Jessica, which quickly works, causing her to love Morty. She then sneezes, infecting Brad, who, in turn, infects the rest of the dance by sneezing into the vent and punch bowl. Back at the Smith House, Jerry is still worried about Beth being with Davin, provoked by Rick, so he heads to the Horse Hospital. Rick asks why Summer (Spencer Grammer) isn’t at the dance and, when she says it’s to avoid flu season, Rick realizes his error.

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This is not the anti-roofie message I expected, but okay.

At the dance, Jessica is getting sexually aggressive towards Morty, shortly followed by everyone else fighting to mate with Morty. Rick shows up to rescue Morty and tells him that the serum interacted with the flu virus and became airborne. Rick, however, is immune, because the serum doesn’t affect close relatives. He tries to fix it by spraying an antidote composed of praying mantis DNA on the crowd, however, that doesn’t work, instead mutating all the people into mantis/human hybrids, making them monsters. Monsters who are still horny for Morty, apparently.

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Hello, Nightmares. Thanks for not being part clown or spider.

Jerry gets stuck in a traffic jam caused by the rapidly-spreading mutations. He’s attacked by the mantis-people but grabs a shotgun and starts removing heads. Back at the Smith House, Summer finds out what’s happened by global news broadcasts showing that everyone on Earth is infected before she’s attacked by mutants and forced to flee. In the desert, Rick creates a third serum using koala, rattlesnake, chimpanzee, cactus, shark, golden retriever, and dinosaur, which he claims will add up to normal humanity. Morty immediately points out the stupidity of that statement, but Rick ignores him.

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It’s like an FPS, only with consequences… so nothing like an FPS.

At the Horse Hospital, Davin and Beth exit the clean room and Davin starts to hit on Beth before he gets infected, mutates, and attacks her. Jerry shows up with a crowbar and beats Davin to death. This appears to rekindle the spark in the marriage. Rick then sprays all of Earth with his third formula which, at first, appears to turn everyone back to normal. Then, as Rick gloats, the serum causes everyone to mutate into disgusting blob creatures they call “Cronenbergs” after David Cronenberg’s body horror films (I assume mostly The Fly).   Jerry and Beth modify a car with sharp objects and fight their way through the crowds of Cronenbergs, showing that they are surprisingly good at killing monsters and openly flirting. They find Summer and Beth finally condemns all of Rick’s actions, including leaving her mother.

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Okay, so where did the tentacles come from?

Rick and Morty watch the world falling into chaos and madness, arguing over who is at fault. Rick agrees to fix it with his emergency solution. It then shows Rick and Morty returning home with the newspapers reading “Genetic Epidemic Averted.” Rick then asks Morty for the screwdriver from the beginning of the episode and, with three turns of the screw, blows up the garage, killing them both. The “real” Rick and Morty then walk out of a portal. Morty panics at the disco-very (f*ck you, I’m leaving that joke in), but Rick tells him that there are infinite universes and that in a few dozen of them Rick solved the genetic crisis and in a few of those universes, Rick and Morty died shortly after. So, they’re going to take their place. Rick and Morty then bury their counterparts (to the tune of “Look On Down From the Bridge” by Mazzy Star) and a clearly traumatized Morty watches the new universe play out just like his old one.

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What a Thousand-Yard Stare.

After the credits, a Cronenberg Rick and Morty come to the old universe, now happily surrounded by fellow Cronenbergs, while Summer, Beth, and Jerry seem to be living a simple but happy life.

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END SUMMARY

So, I think we have to start at the ending and acknowledge that Morty is fundamentally changed by this episode. This even sets up the absolutely devastating speech he will give in two episodes. Despite Rick telling him explicitly “don’t think about it,” that seems to be all Morty can do, and can you blame him? Sure, he’s been to other universes before, but he clearly has never had to deal with the reality that there are also other versions of himself. That’s a big discovery to stack on top of destroying the world, probably never seeing his original family again, seeing his own dead body, and being informed that, had Rick not destroyed the world, he would also be dead right now. So, yeah, Morty had a pretty bad day and it does change his character a bit.

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Sometimes it only takes one bad day.

This episode also really introduces the show’s particularly brilliant version of nihilism: Infinite Nihilism. Because there are an infinite number of universes, everything happens. Every possibility happens, constantly branching off of the current universe with every action. And there are an infinite number of each of those branches, because each fraction of infinity is also infinity. So, there are an infinite number of universes where Rick saves the world, an infinite number where he fails, an infinite number where he fails and dies, an infinite number where he succeeds and lives, an infinite number where he says screw it an eats tacos, etc. So, if everything happens, then does anything matter? You’re not really “doing” anything. You’re just existing in the branch of the multiverse where the thing you do happens, but it’s also not happening at the same time in another universe. If you’re Rick and can just jump sideways onto the next one, then your choice in the previous universe was meaningless. However, at the same time, another Rick is jumping in exactly the opposite way between two other universes, because INFINITE. Everything is meaningless.

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Though, some things are MORE meaningless than others.

What’s interesting is that being able to go between all these universes may also be the thing that does make the difference between Rick being a supergenius and Rick being the near god-level being that we see in the series. In fiction, when people actually gain the ability to move between universes at will, it usually grants them near omniscience, because you can find a universe where death is curable by pill or a universe where P=NP has been solved already. Look at Byakuran from Katekyō Hitman Reborn! or Angstrom Levy from Invincible, these characters point out that, if there’s an infinite number of universes, or even just a very large number (say, Graham’s Number if you replace all of the threes with Graham’s Number), then if you have a problem you can always find one where an answer already exists. Rick travels between dimensions that all have different levels of technology and learning in every field, allowing him to constantly push the boundaries of human knowledge just by combining all the common knowledge of those worlds.

So, why does Rick say that there are only a few dozen universes where Rick and Morty save the world and only a few more where they die after? Well, because the multiverse is infinite, Rick’s time isn’t. It’s probably difficult to search through a constantly-increasing multiverse, even within the “Central Finite Curve” that Ricks usually travel within (a clearly finite subset of the infinite multiverse which we later find out has multiple “iterations”). So, Rick found a couple dozen “nearby” universes that fit the bill using whatever method he uses. Why does he say that he and Morty can only do the swap 3 or 4 more times? Well, either his methods limit him, the Council of Ricks limits him, or, more likely, Roiland and Harmon just wanted to limit it so they wouldn’t be tempted to re-use the idea of dimension-hopping.

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Unlike other shows where stuff just resets.

They also probably limited it because, like I said before, Rick could always just solve his problems by looking at the solutions that other Ricks were forced to find for their problems, since, in an infinite multiverse, there’s always some other Rick who has solved it ten minutes before.

To be fair, I also don’t think that there are actually an infinite number of alternate realities, even if the Many Worlds Interpretation is correct, because there was a starting point to the universe (at least, most evidence suggests so), so the only way it could be infinite is if an infinite number of realities spawn from all quantum interactions (or at least from one particular interaction). I actually point to Isaac Newton for my reasoning why that doesn’t happen. When Newton created Calculus (as did Leibniz, but Newton’s the one who actually mentioned the specific thing I’m going to address), at one point during a proof he stated that an infinitesimal multiplied by an infinitesimal was equivalent to 0 and thus could be ignored for the purpose of the proof. Well, that’s not something that really is justified by any mathematical study of infinite, but Newton used it and no one complained, because, by eliminating that squared infinitesimal, CALCULUS WORKED. Accurate derivations and integrations could now be made. But, if there really was such a thing as infinity within the universe, then it should have always been off.

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It doesn’t hit the line in math, but, in reality, it does.

A second proof would actually be Zeno’s Paradox. I’m sure you’ve all heard it by this point: If you shoot an arrow at a target, the arrow has to travel half the distance to the target. Then, it has to travel half again. Then half again, then half again, then on and on and it should never get there, because there are an infinite number of halves. However, if you shoot an arrow in real life, it’s going to get there.

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Both of these suggest that there is somewhere out there a minimum distance or a minimum unit of time for something to take place in (and no, not the Planck Length, that’s not actually what Planck was saying), which means that there can never be an infinite number of anything. Just a really, really, really, really big number. Like, sooooo big that you might think it’s infinite, but it isn’t. And that’s okay.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Yeah, I did technically give a “theory” about why Rick said there were only a few dozen versions of this universe, but that’s not the one I’m gonna count in this review, especially since I’ve got a much bigger related theory coming later.

For this review, I want to address why Rick failed. Think about it, Rick really screws up in this episode, something that even he points out doesn’t happen often. Rick isn’t perfect, of course, but this is a notably stupid screw-up to the point that even Morty points out Rick’s logic is terrible. In most shows I’d chalk it up to bad writing, but this is Dan Harmon’s show hitting its stride, so I assume almost nothing is allowed to be just for plot necessity. What is it about this episode that caused Rick F*cking Sanchez to fail 3 separate times?

Well, what is Rick dealing with in this episode? Normal humans. The one thing that Rick absolutely never seems to be able to grasp is normal emotional interactions with other people. The closest thing we ever see to Rick’s relationships is with Unity in Season 2 and that’s a hive-mind who he seems to only be using for extremely weird sex (not kink-shaming, just saying that even the giraffe looked violated). So, when Morty asks Rick for a love potion, Rick instead gives him a lust potion. When he tries to figure out how to counteract that, Rick assumes that hate is the opposite of love and just adds mantis DNA. What’s particularly interesting is that Rick classifies these not in terms of emotions but in terms of how species conduct their mating practices: Voles are for life, Mantises eat their mates (for the record: only when the female believes resources will be scarce during pregnancy). So, rather than trying to address emotional complexities, Rick just treats people like on/off switches. Then, when he does actually try to contemplate more sophisticated models of humans, it’s revealed that Rick knows so little about people that he basically just combines an almost random assortment of animals (and plant) together.

People’s emotions are Rick’s kryptonite. Hell, he almost admits it to himself in “The Wedding Squanchers” when he says that he couldn’t make marriage work, despite being able to do things that seem impossible. But this episode managed to present that fact without having to really comment on it, which is extremely impressive, considering the other absurd amount of character and series changes they put into this episode. Really, the fact that this revelation is secondary… I guess tertiary?… within the episode should be lauded. In most shows, this would be the focus of an entire episode, here, it’s just a thing that defines Rick as he plays out other plot lines, which, for the record, IS A GOOD THING.

THIS HAS BEEN JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Overall, this is a weird episode for me in that I didn’t like at all the first time I watched it, because the ending felt like a cop-out. In most shows, the concept of just jumping to another world at the end would literally be a huge deus ex machina that would be summarily ignored in the rest of the series. Now, having seen the rest of the series, this show averts that trope so hard it almost seems like they wrote the rest of the series as a f*ck you to all the shows that would just allow something so massive to go without comment.

I also have to give credit to the episode for showing us a Jerry and Beth relationship that actually starts to work, because Jerry is forced to actually be the Alpha Male he always wants Beth to think he is. I’m not saying that you have to be an Alpha Male or even that it’s a good thing, but it’s what Beth was looking for and what Jerry wanted to be. Other relationships might not work well with that dynamic, but the reason why it works here is that they are both very broken people (wait ’til “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez”).

So, ultimately, I enjoyed this episode more on the re-watch, because, in context, this is a massive game-changer, not a typical sitcom reset.

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S1 E5 “Meeseeks and Destroy”

Alright, well, now we’ve hit the real meat of the show. At least one Rick and Morty episode ranker said that this was their favorite episode and I really can’t blame them. This episode has one of the most balanced A and B plots not just within the show but within all of television and it is also the episode that this show first hinted at how dark it was willing to get.

SUMMARY

The cold-open features Rick and Morty running through a space station chased by copies of Jerry, Beth, and Summer. Morty is hesitant to get rid of them, but Rick tells him to do it anyway because they’re not really his family, they’re alt-universe clones possessed by demonic aliens from another universe’s future, because they wanted to cram EVERY possible cliché into one line. Mission accomplished, guys, and I love it. Morty pushes the button, destroying his family members, capturing the alien spirits, and traumatizing him thoroughly. Rick, however, implies it was therapeutic.

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Ghostbusters of the Lost Ark

Morty decides to quit adventuring, because adventures are supposed to be simple and fun. Rick mockingly says that Morty has it easy as the sidekick, and that if Morty was in charge, he’d know how hard leading an adventure is. Morty bets Rick that he can lead a great adventure and, if he does, he gets to pick every tenth Rick and Morty adventure. The pair are about to depart when Summer, Beth, and Jerry all come in with requests for Rick. Rick gives them a Meeseeks Box. When you press the button on the box, a blue man named “Mr. Meeseeks” (Justin Roiland) appears and fulfills the request given by the pusher before promptly disappearing out of existence. Rick and Morty leave the Smiths with the box, with Rick delivering the caveat of “keep your requests simple.”

S1E5-2MeeseeksAppears

Alright, I’m gonna try to lump the A and B plots in their own paragraphs, because the episode weaves them pretty tightly together and it would be confusing.

All three of the Smiths excitedly make requests on the Meeseeks Box, with Beth asking to be a more complete woman, Summer asking to be popular at school, and Jerry asking for two strokes off of his golf game. Three Meeseeks eagerly agree to help them. Summer’s makes a speech at her school that makes her popular, while Beth’s takes her for a drink and reminds her that she still has to be herself independently of her family, which she takes as a sign that she should leave Jerry. Both of the Meeseeks promptly disappear.

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

Rick and Morty appear in what appears to be an 18th-century-esque village with fantasy elements. Morty asks for a quest from a local and is told that a rich giant lives in the clouds. They go up to the castle and hide when they hear the giant (Steve Agee) approaching to eat them, only for the giant to slip and kill himself by cracking his head open on a table. Before they can really process this, the giant’s wife (Cree Summer, despite having like 2 lines) finds them and calls the giant police claiming they attacked him. Rick and Morty are then interrogated by giant police (voiced by Tom f*cking Kenny and Rob f*cking Paulsen!) who are dead-set on charging them with murder.

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

At the golf course, Jerry is proving to be a real challenge for his Meeseeks, due to his inability to take any form of constructive criticism without flipping out. Is it really any surprise he got fired from his advertising job after his first pitch? In desperation, the Meeseeks itself pushes the Meeseeks Box button, summoning another Meeseeks who doesn’t actually have any more ideas. Even after they leave the golf course, the Meeseeks continue to try and get Jerry to work on his game. Jerry is shocked when Beth and Summer say that their Meeseeks disappeared quickly, so shocked he misses that his wife has a new hairdo. Or maybe that’s less shock, more that he’s Jerry. The Meeseeks try to get him back on task because they aren’t meant to live this long.

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The existential crisis, from the other side of existence.

Back in fantasy world, Rick and Morty are put on trial (apparently Giant Justice is swift), before being saved by a giant lawyer from a tiny-persons advocacy group (Ryan Ridley). Apparently, they were never… whatever the giant equivalent of Mirandized is and are therefore “free-fi to fo-home.” And yes, that joke fails within the episode itself, only for the lawyer to complain that it was a good joke that nobody got. It was at this point that I felt personally attacked, having attempted to coin the phrase “oh mens rea-lly?” during a hearing. The pair leave the courthouse, only to realize that they are thousands of feet from the ground, due to the size of the stairs. Nonetheless, Morty insists they get climbing.

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

In the Smith’s living room, there are now dozens of Meeseeks trying to help Jerry, who continues to suck. Meanwhile, Beth has really started to give up on Jerry, who tries to salvage his marriage with a nice dinner. The Meeseeks beg him to help them stop existing, but Jerry refuses to care. Each of the Meeseeks start blaming the other for summoning them. It quickly becomes apparent that they have started to lose their sanity, now forming cultish groups around whether choking up or working on the follow-through will help Jerry. They eventually start to attack each other violently. After fighting for a while, they realize that if they kill Jerry, then they’ll have taken all the strokes off of his game, something that definitely falls under “technically correct.”

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I assume they’re unable to commit suicide.

On the way down the stairs, Rick and Morty find a tavern filled with a ton of weird creatures. Rick continues to try and make the adventure miserable for Morty by not helping at all and just generally being a bastard, until Morty finally tells him that he’s just being petty and that part of being a sidekick is rolling with the punches. Morty heads to the bathroom as Rick joins a poker game at the bar. In one of the most disturbing scenes in the show to date, Morty is confronted by Mr. Jelly Bean (Kenny) who first tries to comfort him then tries to rape Morty. Morty ends up beating the crap out of him, slamming the toilet seat onto his head, but is, understandably, now much more traumatized that he was at the beginning of the episode. Morty comes out and begs Rick to quit, but Rick sees Mr. Jelly Bean, realizes what happened, and decides to help Morty with the quest.

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

At the restaurant, Beth is trying to talk to Jerry about her newfound resolve towards independence, but they’re interrupted by the massive mob of murderous Mister Meeseeks. Jerry tells them that he’ll cooperate, but they’re intent on offing him. Jerry and Beth hide in the freezer at the restaurant. The Meeseeks take a woman (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) hostage to force Jerry out, but Beth quickly forces him to fix his golf swing. Jerry hits a garlic clove into a pot, which satisfies most of the Meeseeks, although a “stickler Meeseeks” forces him to prove his putting has improved. Jerry makes a putt, satisfying the last Meeseeks and allowing them all to disappear. Jerry tries to coolly ask for their food to go, but the manager informs them they’ll have to talk to the cops.

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

Rick and Morty make their way to the village and give them all the gold Rick won playing poker, leading the villagers to want to introduce their king, Mr. Jelly Bean. Rick and Morty quickly portal out, only for Rick to stick his hand back through and shoot Jelly Bean fatally.

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

Jerry and Beth reconcile over Beth realizing that all of the other men she dated were like the Meeseeks: Willing to do anything to complete their task and disappear. Jerry, though she implies he would say anything to get laid, didn’t disappear. Jerry points out that’s because he got her pregnant, which Beth sadly acknowledges. Rick and Morty return to find the house wrecked. Rick offers them a Fleeseeks Box to help clean it up, which is just a mop and floor wax. He then first says the phrase “Wubba-lubba-dub-dub” and tells the audience he’ll see them next week.

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Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub enters the zeitgeist.

Post-credits, two people from the village find a box of pictures of what I assume were underage children in Jelly Bean’s closet. One wants to tell the village, but the other says to destroy it, because people will get more from the legend than the reality.

END SUMMARY

In terms of storytelling, the key to this episode was the quick cuts between the A and B plots. By constantly moving between them, the show was able to get away with long time- and logic-skips that would otherwise have been problematic. Basically, it cut away all the bullshit, optimizing the time spent on furthering the plots. This isn’t always something that can be pulled off, but this episode nailed it.

The common theme behind both of the plots is basically “be careful what you wish for,” but the show goes on to deconstruct that in more horrible ways than seemed possible up front. In fact, the entire episode is basically just dedicated to continually averting how these stories usually go.

Let’s cover Rick and Morty’s: They go to a fantasy world where they’re going to face a giant, but that immediately turns into a legal drama when the giant kills himself. The legal drama quickly gets crushed by the giant lawyer and a loophole, only for the problem to now be getting out of the courthouse. It seems like Morty is finally making progress with Rick on the adventure, only for Morty to be sexually assaulted by a creepy guy in a men’s room. And all of this is a rejection of Morty’s original stated wish of just having a “simple” adventure.

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Though he DOES win the bet.

Mr. Meeseeks is an obvious “be careful what you wish for” joke, since Jerry, who actually has what seems like the easiest request, makes it impossible for the Meeseeks to get the job done due to his incompetence. However, more than that, the Meeseeks are actually a “be careful what you wish for” on the audience.

Think about it: “Meeseeks are not born into this world fumbling for meaning.” All of philosophy, all of religion, most, if not all, of art and literature, probably all of civilization itself, they all exist because humans ARE born in to the world fumbling for meaning. We have no idea what our purpose is or even if there is a purpose at all. The greatest pain of the examined life is knowing that we will never know if we really found a purpose. But, if you wish for the simpler existence of the Meeseeks, this episode gives you the caveat that you might know your purpose but NEVER BE ABLE TO FULFILL IT. And that is just a tortured existence.

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This episode also benefits from a lot of great jokes and surreal lines, like the lawyer trying to justify his deconstructive joke. One of my favorite random exchanges is when Rick asks how much 25 shmeckels is. The waitress tells them that her big fake boobies cost 25 shmeckels, at which point Mr. Booby Buyer offers to buy her boobs for 25 shmeckels. The waitress says it’s a tempting offer, which is one of the most bizarre moments for me, since that would just put her back to 0, not make her a profit. I guess since she’s been using the boobs, their value has decreased and she could get new ones? Either way, I just love how fast that exchange happens and how weird and still charming it is.

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Waitresses are used to this, clearly.

Beth and Jerry’s marriage problems really start to become a recurring feature after this episode, with even the resolution pointing out that all Jerry really did for Beth was not leave when she was pregnant. That’s the positive that Beth points out about Jerry and, while it might seem like a nice moment, it really cements exactly how thin their relationship is.

The stinger scene is an interesting touch, because it reminds me of the line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The thing is, though, is that creating these divine images of our heroes lets the reality that they were human be used against us later. It’s something I’d have to dedicate more time to than just this review but suffice it to say that I am against the mythologizing of history. I know some amount of it is inevitable, but let history be history and let story be story. We can get our inspirational figures from fiction, representing our ideals, while history can represent the reality that people are flawed.

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This was the episode where the show really and truly became Rick and Morty. It’s dark, it’s full of great subversions, it has a ton of crazy elements, and it finally gives us Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub. This isn’t my favorite episode, nor do I think it’s the best episode period, but it’s a damned strong episode that represents the best aspects of the show.

JOKER’S WISHLIST

Okay, so, personal wish here: I want them to Cerebus Syndrome the hell out of this episode later. I want them to show up in 3 more season in this same place only to find that by assassinating the king and giving money to the poor, Rick and Morty set the stage for a massive and devastating peasant revolt. I want Morty’s “simple” adventure to result in something unbelievably horrible on a geopolitical scale, just to drive home how hard this episode really was subverting traditional story direction. But, even if the creators read this, they might take it to a place darker than I ever could think of, just to tell me to be careful what I wish for.

Well, that’s it for this week. In two weeks, we get our first hint of the multi-Rick multiverse.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S1 E4 “M. Night Shaym-Aliens”

Welcome to Episode 4, where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

SUMMARY

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Look at that, doesn’t even have a Squiddlyspooge!

The episode opens with Rick dissecting a rat in his lab, stating that it’s sloppy craftsmanship. Morty comes in, remarking on the beauty of the day, but Rick makes cryptic comments on Morty’s statements to someone invisible. Beth appears, acting in a simple and robotic fashion, which Morty notes is “weird.” Rick tells the unseen observers they’re going to burn out the CPU with Morty’s sophistication. Morty tells Rick he’s also being weird, then walks into the wall, then leaves. Rick looks at him suspiciously.

At Morty’s school, Morty is asked a simple math question (What’s 5×9?) which he gets incorrect (“at least 40”) but is praised for his technical correctness. Mr. Goldenfold offers to have him teach the class for being such a genius, at which point someone asks him for the formula for concentrated dark matter, a fuel for accelerated space travel. The entire class seems strangely interested in this, including Jessica who offers to be his girlfriend if he makes it. Rick breaks in and pulls Morty out, even as Goldenfold threatens to fail Morty.

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Zigerions don’t like nudity, but apparently seducing a minor is fine.

Rick takes Morty to the showers and tells him to strip. Morty complies, though he’s still confused. Rick explains that they’re not in the real world: They’re in a simulation run by the Zigerion Scammers, the galaxy’s worst con-artists. Rick’s and Morty’s nudity is due to the Zigerions being super uncomfortable with naked people, apparently to the point that Rick believes that they will quit monitoring them if they’re naked. Rick ends up stealing Morty’s clothes to ensure they stay unwatched.

On the Zigerion Ship, the aliens are, in fact, refusing to look at the screen while Rick and Morty are naked. Prince Nebulon (David “I’m half of the Mr. Show” Cross) is alerted to the fact that Jerry is also in the simulation. In one of my favorite exchanges, every department aboard the ship blames another department until it forms a loop, preventing us from ever finding out how Jerry actually got on the ship. Jerry, being an idiot, doesn’t notice the obvious signs he’s in a simulation, which become even more absurd after the Zigerions set his simulation cap at 5%.

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To be fair, this would be much easier.

Rick and Morty continue walking around naked as Rick convinces Morty that it’s a simulation by pointing out all the ridiculous elements, like an anthropomorphic PopTart living in a toaster house and driving a toaster car. Rick tells Morty that the two of them are going to scam the scammers, because dragging Morty in was a step too far.

S1E4-4PopTarts.png
I think the toaster oven would be the house. Fancier.

Jerry, meanwhile, tries to pitch an ad for apples. In typical Jerry fashion, it’s a completely banal slogan: “Hungry for apples?” However, the pitch is successful because his boss, Mr. Marklevitz (Dan Harmon), is caught in a loop of snapping his fingers and saying yes. Jerry runs out, elated, not noticing that the world is now populated by three people: an Old Man, a Hot Woman, and a Mailman (Maurice LaMarche, Kari Wahlgren, Brandon Johnson). Apparently, these are the easiest personalities to generate.

S1E4-5Trio.png
“Slow down” “Looking Good” “My Man!”

Rick and Morty are now preparing to put on a concert featuring their hit song “The Recipe for Concentrated Dark Matter.” They proceed to give the audience complicated instructions, overloading the computer generating the simulation and freezing it, allowing them to run past the edge and onto the Zigerion ship. At the same time, Jerry arrives home and has sex with a frozen Beth, which, apparently, is the best sex of his life. He lies in bed with her before telling her that he’s a fraud, having ripped off “Got Milk?” for his pitch. He never notices that she literally is frozen in place. Meanwhile, Prince Nebulon comments that now that they’re out of the simulation, it’s going to be a “mindf*ck.”

S1E4-6Mindfuck
This guy looks like he has discolored butthole flaps, like David Cross

Rick and Morty run through the ship and steal a ton of crystalline processing chips, even playing around with them, before easily escaping. Back in the simulation, Jerry meets with Mr. Marklevitz, who is still stuck in the same loop. Jerry talks himself into getting fired, then getting his job back, then getting an “Appley” award for commercials about apples.

Rick and Morty arrive home but when Rick enters the code to his safe, the Earth dissolves back into the Zigerion ship. Nebulon confronts Rick and explains that they already had the formula for concentrated dark matter but wanted the combination to Rick’s safe. Rick points out that he’s going to just change the combination, at which point Nebulon orders him captured. Rick pulls Morty’s pants down, repulsing the Zigerions, and the pair run for it.

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If the Matrix ran on a Macbook Air.

Jerry is accepting his “Appley” award, citing it as the best day of his life and the thing that finally completes him, before witnessing the simulation glitch out as Rick and Morty run into the room. The duo drags Jerry, weeping, onto an escape ship. The Zigerion ships pursue, leading Rick to comment that they apparently DO have concentrated dark matter. Morty asks Rick to make some and Rick says they just need cesium, plutonic quartz, and bottled water, which all happen to be on the ship. When Rick lists the quantities, Morty freezes in place before dissolving, revealing that they are in yet another simulation.

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Nebulon reveals that they had tricked Rick into revealing his secret formula. Rick is shocked that they could simulate Morty’s wang (and the audience is confused as to how Rick knew that it was accurate). Nebulon mocks Rick for his gullibility before taunting him with the possibility of still being in a simulation. As Rick and Jerry depart in a ship, Rick takes a shot at Jerry for the fact that “the most meaningful day of [his] life was a simulation operating at minimum capacity.” Jerry tries to counter that, since the Zigerions also tricked Rick, he’s just as foolish as everyone else. At that moment, Nebulon combines the Plutonic Quartz and Cesium with the water, causing a massive explosion. Rick tells Jerry that he blew them up, then starts vocalizing the saxophone part of “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty heard throughout the episode as they fly home.

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If only you could do this to internet trolls.

Later, Jerry pitches his “Hungry for Apples” idea in the real world and is immediately fired for incompetence. That night, Rick, completely hammered, breaks into Morty’s room and threatens to kill Morty for being a simulation, before accepting that Morty isn’t and passing out.

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Failing isn’t getting fired, Jerry. Failing is taking 2 seasons and aliens to get a job.

END SUMMARY

First of all, the opening line where Rick is observing the rat’s intestines is a great example of Rick and Morty’s particular brand of clever humor. When removed from context, it appears to be Rick criticizing the “craftsmanship” of a rat, which would be Rick basically taking a shot at God or guided evolution. In context, it later becomes obvious that he’s talking about the Zigerions, but the fact is that we could see Rick saying it either way.  Plus, it explains why Rick is so prepared for rat fighting in “Pickle Rick.”

S1E4-11RatFight
Yes… that explains it.

The episode itself is a brilliant subversion of all of the “simulated reality” movies that people come up with after reading Jean Baudrillard. Sure, it’s a fake reality, but it’s a fake reality that’s pretty easy to discern from the real one. It’s like you’re living in The Sims running on a crappy PC: Sure, most of the stuff is there, but it’s clearly not the real world. This really feeds perfectly into the show’s blending of sci-fi technology and the incompetence of sentient beings.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

When exactly Rick realized it was a simulation of a simulation of a simulation is up for debate, but it seems extremely likely that he knew before he picked Morty up from the school. Rick explains to Morty that the Zigerions won’t monitor them when they’re naked, but nothing about avoiding the video would stop the aliens from listening to them talking. The fact that he then explains his plans to Morty would be a mistake if he wasn’t counting on them listening and being too stupid to wonder WHY he is still talking. It’s possible Rick didn’t know from the first time he saw Morty, because if he hadn’t been at least momentarily uncertain about the levels of the simulation, then he wouldn’t have threatened the real Morty at the end to confirm he wasn’t still in a simulation.

S1E4-12Knife.png

But, honestly, I’ll take a step back and say that I think Rick actually set this entire thing up because Rick just wanted the Zigerions to leave him alone and, as a bonus, he got to mess with Jerry. Think about it: None of the Zigerions know why Jerry is there. When Rick and Jerry leave, Rick indicates that he knows what happened in Jerry’s simulation AND that it was on minimum power, something even Jerry wouldn’t have known. Given that he apparently knew what was happening the whole time, Rick’s actions throughout the episode mostly appear to be just leading the Zigerions to believe that he actually fell for their scheme so that they wouldn’t question the formula he eventually gave them. A formula which contained Cesium and Water, two things that violently react when mixed. So why would Rick still threaten Morty at the end? Because, much like the film The Matrix, once you have the idea out there that you could be living in a simulation and not know it, it’s a hard thing to get out of your mind, particularly when you’re blackout drunk.

THIS HAS BEEN JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

This is probably the episode where I first decided I was going to love this show. The pilot was good, as were the next two episodes, but this was the episode where I first glimpsed the nested levels of brilliance they could put into the episodes by having Rick be so far ahead of the game, compared to a normal protagonist. That’s the thing about having a character who is basically a hyperintelligent being: Normally he’d be boring because he’d know what’s happening next or he’d have to be acting out of character in order to be challenged. If you give that character fourth-wall awareness (like, say, humming the episode’s musical score) it can be even harder to really find something to challenge them. But Rick is not just hyperintelligent, he’s nearly omnipotent and only seems to feel alive when putting himself at risk, so watching him play through the scenarios just for the hell of it becomes much more interesting. Hell, it’s part of why Rick and Morty has decided to avert any form of traditional character growth and focusing on a more nihilistic outlook, because watching Rick grow would be boring and out of character.

Overall, this was really when I felt like the show was starting to find its strengths, though it wasn’t until the next episode that I really think they started to prove how great this show could be.

Oh, and did anyone else notice that they don’t spell the first part of M. Night Shyamalan’s name right?

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.

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S1 E3 “Anatomy Park”

Welcome to the third episode. Out of all the episodes, this one is third-est. It also counts as the Rick and Morty Christmas episode, I guess.

SUMMARY

So, the episode starts with Jerry getting into the spirit of the season by singing “Last King Christmas,” a version of “Good King Wenceslas” designed for morons. As such, Jerry sings it well. He comes out of the kitchen with a ham to find that his family are all on their electronic devices, something that annoys him as he wants everyone to be a family for his parents, who apparently haven’t visited in years for some reason. It’s implied that Beth doesn’t like them, but it seems weird that they don’t show up for years at a time when they have grandchildren there.

RickAndMondayS1E3Opening.png
The spirit of the season

Jerry tries to get his family to celebrate a “human holiday,” but gets ignored until he takes all of their devices. Rick enters, accompanied by a senile, drunken, homeless man dressed as Santa Claus, who Rick introduces as Ruben Ridley (Jess Harnell). Rick says that every year he checks up on Ruben and gives him a medical evaluation, eliciting responses of admiration and suspicion from Beth and Jerry, respectively. Rick takes Ruben into the garage as Jerry’s parents arrive, followed by a young man named Jacob (Echo Kellum).

Jerry’s mother, Joyce (Pat Lentz), explains that Jacob came into their lives after his father, Leonard (Dana “Wait, Dana Carvey? Holy shit, Dana Carvey” Carvey), had a heart attack. She says that the three of them are learning to “live again.” Jacob, unfailingly polite and upbeat, quickly charms most of the family, aside from a still-confused Jerry.

RickAndMondayS1E3JacobEnters.png
Guess who’s coming to dinner? And also banging your mom?

Rick re-enters and grabs Morty. In the lab, Ruben is dying on the table, so Rick shrinks Morty down and sends him inside Ruben, where Morty finds himself at the entrance to Anatomy Park, a theme park in Ruben’s body. Rick explains that it’s a business venture he’s been planning in order to earn some sciencin’ money. At first it just appears to be mostly Disneyland-esque rides, including Rick’s problematic personal passion project Pirates of the Pancreas. Yeah, that’s alliteration.

Morty heads to Ruben’s liver, where he’s ambushed by Poncho (Gary Anthony Williams), the park’s head of security, and introduced to: Roger (Jess Harnell), a zookeeper; Annie (Jackie Buscarino), a churro-stand worker; and Dr. Xenon Bloom (John Oliver), who appears to be a sentient amoebic alien from the UK that runs the park. Bloom reveals that Anatomy Park is a collection of the world’s deadliest diseases, which are now running rampant throughout Ruben’s body. Also, they’re monsters, rather than, say, what any disease actually looks like, because that would be boring. The group is attacked by Hepatitis A.

S1E3MortyMeetsTheTeam

Back at the house, the rest of the family is at dinner, where Jerry finally inquires about exactly what relationship Jacob has to his parents. Jacob is revealed to be Joyce’s lover, whom Leonard enjoys watching have sex with his wife, typically while dressed as Superman. Beth is supportive of this, while Jerry is horrified. Summer, still mad at not having her phone, feels some serious Schadenfreude at Jerry’s pain.

Inside Ruben, the group escapes from Hep A, finding themselves in the lungs, which aren’t producing enough air for Ruben’s brain, which apparently shuts down security. Whether this is because the security team lives in Ruben’s brain and are now dead or if Ruben’s brain actually IS the security system is frustratingly never answered. They’re joined by Alexander (Rob Schrab), who is a dog mascot for the park. Morty, trying to impress Annie, climbs up the alveoli in the lungs to check for blockage, but soon finds that there is a swarm of tuberculosis attacking them. During the attack, Poncho shoots Ruben’s lungs, causing him to cough. The team tries to evacuate the lungs, but Alexander is killed when Ruben takes a deep breath, with his corpse being coughed onto Rick’s forehead. Morty tells Rick that Ruben has TB, which Rick says he can cure, before Ruben suddenly dies.

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Somehow, I feel this isn’t the first time Rick has had a corpse spit on him.

Rick, apparently unable to cure death, tells the group they need to quickly get out of Ruben, before telling Morty to check out Pirates of the Pancreas, because the pirates are realistic and “really rapey.” The group tries to make its way out of the park through the digestive tract to the colon, where there is an emergency enlarging ray. Morty leads the team while still trying to hit on Annie and failing. They board the “It’s A Small, Small Intestine” ride, which is a parody of exactly what you think it is. They then get attacked by Gonorrhea, which is actually less horrifying than the singing dolls. Morty realizes that they’re surrounded by explosive gas and has Poncho ignite it, killing Gonorrhea. This finally gets Annie to really notice Morty.

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I’m so curious about Tummy Fillers! Do they sell food or taxidermy supplies?

Back in the house, the family is in a drum circle having a great time, except for Jerry who is still upset about Jacob. Beth even apologizes to Jerry and tries to get him into the holiday. Ethan (Daniel Benson), Summer’s secret boyfriend shows up, complaining that she hasn’t texted him in a few hours. Ethan snaps at Summer, not really listening to the situation, before Jerry asks if this is her boyfriend. Jacob remarks that Jerry really needs to connect more with his family.

In Ruben’s colon, the group arrives at the enlarging ray. Roger tries to power it up before the sphincter dam breaks and floods the colon with crap, but Morty notices a strange object in Poncho’s backpack. It’s revealed that Poncho has been stealing exhibits of Bubonic Plague to sell as bioweapons. Morty attacks him, allowing Bubonic Plague to get free and bite Poncho, resulting in his death. Then, the dam starts to burst. Roger gets caught trying to flee and ends up killed by the wave of shit.

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It happens.

Inside the living room, Jacob confronts Ethan over his anger, which is revealed to come from being molested by his brother. This emotional revelation is quickly parlayed by Jacob into personal growth for Ethan, which leads to he and Summer proclaiming their love and making out. Jacob and Joyce start making out while Leonard goes into a closet to reveal his Superman outfit. Jerry shouts that he hates this, but everyone else in the house seems to be on-board. Jerry then proclaims that he hates Christmas and leaves for the garage.

At the Anatomy Park theater, Morty and Annie are rounding first base, with Annie giving him the go-ahead to round second, while Dr. Bloom eats ice cream and watches an animatronic Ruben introduce himself. In the garage, Jerry apologizes to Rick for judging him as a crazy relative, which gives Rick an idea. He tells Morty to get to Ruben’s left nipple to get out. Dr. Bloom says that to get there, they need to ride The Bone Train, a monorail system attached to Ruben’s skeleton. Rick grabs a scalpel, Ruben’s corpse, and some dynamite and gets in the car, flying to space. Morty’s group is pursued by E. Coli. Dr. Bloom sacrifices himself to start The Bone Train before realizing there is an autopilot that renders his sacrifice stupid. Morty defends Annie with a fire extinguisher from the legions of E. Coli.

S1E3EColi.png
Oddly, E. Coli is a bacteria, but these look like viruses.

Rick flies Ruben to outer space and enlarges him to gigantic proportions. Newspeople all over the US report, with a fair amount of professional calm, about the giant man floating over America, though they do speculate about the size of Ruben’s penis over the Rocky Mountains. As Annie and Morty get to the end of the track and find the nipple, they are attacked by Hepatitis A again, before Hep A is dispatched by the larger Hepatitis C. The pair exit the nipple hole and are rescued by Rick, who dynamites Ruben’s corpse.

At the Smith house, the family is lamenting Jerry’s attitude when it starts to rain blood. Everyone panics until Jerry comes in with screens for them all, telling them that the media says not to worry. Jerry says they all learned something this Christmas, which Summer immediately denies. In the garage, Rick laments Dr. Bloom’s passing until Annie says that she could create a new Anatomy Park, leading him to shrink her again. Morty complains that Rick took Annie away, but Rick tells him Annie had a puffy vagina. The pair re-enter the house to find everyone on a screen, leading Rick to call them out for not paying attention to the holiday. In the post-credits scene, Rick is building a new Anatomy Park in Ethan, but finds that they are not going to include Pirates of the Pancreas, leading Rick to get pissed off and seemingly quit the project.

S1E3RedRain.png

END SUMMARY

Okay, so, this episode is reference-heavy, even by Rick and Morty standards. So, let’s go through some of them.

JOKER’S “DID YOU GET THAT?” REFERENCE CORNER

First, Anatomy Park is a combination of Jurassic Park, Fantastic Voyage, and Disneyland. It’s actually probably closer to the park seen in Jurassic World than in the first Jurassic Park film, since the original park was more akin to a nature safari designed to show off the zoo, whereas there are actually rides and shows in the new park… prior to it getting destroyed. The whole shrinking and entering a body thing is from a lot of sources, but I think the idea of going into a body to fix a problem is most associated with Fantastic Voyage. The Jurassic Park thing is made pretty explicit. Xenon Bloom is clearly designed to look like John Hammond, down to the cane with what appears to be a fetus trapped in amber. Hepatitis A being caught in mid-attack by Heptatitis C who somehow wasn’t noticed until this point is a reference to the T-Rex eating the velociraptor at the end of the original film. Hep C then gives a thumbs-up to Morty and Annie, with Morty asking if they had any relationship with him, to which Annie says “I think they’re just like that.” This seems to be a reference to the fact that T-Rexes often save the heroes during the Jurassic Park films. At one point, Dr. Bloom tells the group that Gonorrhea can’t see them if they don’t move, but then admits he was thinking of a T-Rex, which is about as direct a reference as it gets.

S1E3HepA.png
Haven’t seen Jurassic World 2 yet, but I hope this part is in it.

According to the Rick and Morty wiki, Xenon Bloom’s name is a play on Jeff Goldblum, but with another element in place of gold. I also have seen people speculating that Xenon was chosen based on the fact that it can be used in anesthetics and neuroprotectives, referencing both Bloom’s boring nature and the fact that he works to keep Ruben alive. I myself first thought it was a joke in that Xenon is a noble gas that reacts to basically nothing, while Bloom panics constantly and seeks validation for jokes throughout the episode. However, I now realize that his name is a reference to the Disney Channel film Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, a sci-fi movie which featured the musician Proto Zoa and the band Microbe. This is clearly the intention of the writers and will hear no other explanation. The spelling difference is clearly for legal reasons.

S1E3Zenon.png
Cetus Lapetus, this is the greatest reference ever.

There’s also apparently a theory going around that Leopold, Jacob, and Joyce’s relationship is a reference to Ulysses, where Leopold Bloom is cuckolded by his wife, but literally nothing about this matches up except that Leopold is the husband’s name in both, and Joyce sounds like James Joyce, the author of the book. The relationship is completely unrelated to the one in the book, so I’m gonna just say it’s coincidence or the leftovers from a planned reference. Maybe they’ll even use it as one in the future, but it ain’t one here.

LEAVING THE CORNER

So, this isn’t my favorite episode of Rick and Morty, but it’s hard to articulate why. I guess I should say that I think the jokes in this episode are just too easy for a show of Rick and Morty’s caliber. The premise is funny, but it isn’t quite the level of subversion that we usually get from the show. Instead, it’s just “what if Jurassic Park were filled with diseases” and nothing else. Usually, this is the kind of thing that the show would use to show a different angle on the premise.

I also don’t think the jokes quite land as hard as other episodes, pretty much summarized with Bloom’s line “The digestive tract is the evacuation route. Get it?” He has several things like that where he’s attempting to do bad comedy, with Morty even asking him why he’s doing a bit while they’re going to die. Now, don’t get me wrong, this could have been hilarious and, in fact, probably should have been, but it just didn’t ever quite land for me. This is despite the fact that they cast John Oliver, who is a comedian you can absolutely envision saying “I made a joke. Did you get the joke? Oh god, why didn’t you get the joke. I shouldn’t do this. I shouldn’t have been a comedian. I should have been a haberdasher like my mother told me to.” Usually, I’d totally find that funny, but it never quite goes far enough out of the scene to really hit absurd.

S1E3JohnOliver
Perfect casting.

Another joke that usually should have been the gateway to hilarity is Poncho’s rant, but, again, it just felt too easy of a joke. He says he could have sold the Bubonic Plague to “Al Quaeda. North Korea. Republicans! Shriners! Balding men that work out! People on the Internet that are only turned on by cartoons of Japanese teenagers!” I mean, this is just a list of people who society points out are angry bastards. This could be on any show. The humor in Rick and Morty is usually more distinct. It almost seems to get there when Poncho starts to say that it’s all because Bloom gave him an iTunes gift card as a holiday bonus, but that gets cut-off by Morty attacking him. Oh, and Bubonic Plague still exists in the real world, so that’s a stupid thing to try to sell. Could you not find smallpox?

S1E3Poncho.png

Morty’s assertiveness in this episode is a little out of character, even for when Morty is trying to get laid. Usually Rick has to goad him more or pull him along, but since Rick isn’t in most of the episode, the show naturally has to give Morty more to do to move the plot along.

Also, and this one is weird, Rick’s role in the episode bothers me. First, Rick creating a theme park to make money is odd, because I have never understood why exactly Rick seems to constantly need money. He’s the smartest person in the universe, he routinely makes technology that crosses from science-fiction into fantasy, and yet we constantly see him doing things that suggest he’s broke. I honestly think it’s a play on the idea that engineers can’t do marketing as they think it’s pointless, so they can’t sell the great things they make. It also would explain why Jerry is in advertising, since, to Rick, that would be the most useless thing in the universe. Second, when Morty tells Rick that it’s TB, Rick just pulls a needle out of his own coat to inject Ruben, as if he has a TB cure on him. This is the kind of thing where Rick would normally lampshade that they’re on a TV show and that’s why he magically has a cure he couldn’t have used a few minutes ago, but it just plays it straight. Third, why the hell can’t Rick cure death? I know this is early on in the show, but I still find it weird when Rick says he “can’t” do something, since he literally lives to do things that are impossible. And he doesn’t even try to save Ruben by normal methods, let alone his superscience.

PickleRickFigurine
He turned himself into a pickle, for goodness’ sake.

On the other side is the B-plot with the Smith family. This is actually the kind of subversion we usually want out of the show, because it’s taking the typical Christmas show message about the importance of family and instead making it about Jerry being freaked out by his mom and dad’s unorthodox sex life until Jerry finally gives everyone back their devices and allows them to ignore each other. Especially since the family is almost immediately on-board with the human holiday once Jerry’s parents are there, meaning that they learned the lesson from a typical Xmas movie, then immediately unlearn it.

I’m also going to say that I found it difficult to research parts of this episode because I ended up seeing the word “cuck” a lot, and I actually had to agree that this is a rare example of the word actually applying. Jerry’s dad Leopold enjoys watching his wife cuckold him, so he is, according to Urban Dictionary, a “cuck.” So, Jerry’s a “Beta Male” who is the son of a “cuck.” Add in that Ethan was molested by his brother (something that is literally just glossed over in an almost careless way) and I’d be shocked if this episode wasn’t listed on the Red Pill Reddit page as proof of the de-virilization of the media. But I wouldn’t even check for less than $200. Also, do NOT Google Image Search the word “cuck” with SafeSearch off.

ImageNotFound

Ultimately, this episode just seems like the crew hadn’t yet hit their stride on the show. Still, it’s got some fun moments in it. I definitely love the moment when Bloom says “Never mind, I wanted to sacrifice myself anyway” after finding out that it was needless and the premise is actually still pretty awesome. But, it definitely got better after this.

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.

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S1 E2 “Lawnmower Dog”

Okay, so, I’m definitely going to keep this series going, because, shortly after publishing the first post, I won a contest from Wisecrack’s “The Squanch” podcast (which you should listen to, as both myself and my Grouchier counterpart have now both stated we like their channel). When I got back home, I found this Pickle Rick figurine waiting for me. I consider this a sign from the universe.

PickleRickFigurine

And yes, it’s on the sofa from which I compose these wonderful works of critical non-fiction.

SUMMARY

Jerry is watching TV when Snuffles, the Smith family dog, comes up and gives him a begging look. Thinking that Snuffles wants to go outside, Jerry opens the door, but Snuffles instead pees on the carpet. Jerry, frustrated that the dog doesn’t understand commands, asks Rick to make the dog smarter. Rick halfheartedly warns against it, but quickly acquiesces so that he can leave with Morty. Rick puts a helmet on Snuffles which appears to make him roughly as intelligent as… I’d say a child.

RickAndMondayS1E2Snuffles1

Rick takes Morty to the home of his math teacher Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson). Morty has been failing math (despite the fact that it is unbelievably low-level), so Rick has decided to go inside Goldenfold’s dreams and plant the idea to give Morty an A even though he doesn’t deserve it. If that sounds like Inception, that’s because it is, and Rick is shameless about ripping it off, then takes shots at the film’s defenders, including Morty.

Inside Mr. Goldenfold’s dream, Rick and Morty find themselves on a plane, similar to the original set-up in Inception. Rick and Morty pretend to be terrorists hijacking the plane to increase Morty’s grades, but Goldenfold actually fights back, controlling the dream. The pair end up grabbing one of Goldenfold’s fantasy women, Mrs. Pancakes, (Melique Berger) from the show everyone in the Rick and Morty multiverse seems to watch, and being sucked out of the plane. Unfortunately, Goldenfold has landed the plane and built a device which will save Pancakes while killing them. To buy time, Rick and Morty enter Mrs. Pancakes’s dreams.

RickAndMondayS1E2GoldenfoldGuns

At the next dream level, Rick and Morty are in an S&M dungeon filled with strange creatures, as well as a heavily sexualized version of Summer. Despite Rick being immediately willing to join the interspecies orgy, he draws the line at incest (note: somehow no Game of Thrones references are made here). Unfortunately, refusing to have sex with Summer alerts the sub-subconscious that Rick and Morty don’t belong, so they knock out a Centaur and go into his dreams.

RickAndMondaysS1E2Centaur.png
I wish they’d put him in a gimp mask so I could call him Gimp-taur. But, it’s not to be.

At this dream level, the pair are in a boiler room which looks really familiar if you love Robert Englund. It’s red, rusty, and contains a small, creepy, child chanting a rhyme about its chief inhabitant. The two are quickly attacked by Scary Terry (Jess Harnell), who is described as a “legally safe knock-off of an ’80s horror character with miniature swords for fingers instead of knives” who calls people “bitch” all the time. Rick and Morty flee to another dream level by knocking out the creepy little girl, but they find out that Scary Terry can travel between dream levels to keep chasing them. Eventually, they hide for hours until Scary Terry gives up looking for them and goes back to his house.

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Meanwhile, Snuffles has been slowly gaining intelligence over the night. First, he attempts to talk to the Smiths, but can’t vocalize properly. After failing, he finds a panel in the front of the helmet which opens to reveal that only 1 of the 5 battery slots are full. Snuffles goes to the junk drawer and puts more batteries in. A little while later, Snuffles now has a mechanical arm and the helmet is able to interpret his thoughts, allowing him to speak (using Rob Paulsen’s voice). Jerry starts to take off the helmet but is stopped by Summer. Snuffles then watches a documentary on the history of dogs, builds several exo-suits and other intelligence-boosting helmets, recruits other dogs, and then confronts Summer and the Smiths over the treatment of dogs by humans… specifically their taking of his testicles. Snuffles, now calling himself Snowball, reveals that he plans to turn the tables on humanity.

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(Sigourney Weaver Voice) GET AWAY FROM MY TESTICLES, YOU BITCH!!!

Back in the sub-sub-sub-subconscious of Mr. Goldenfold, Rick and Morty follow Scary Terry back home where he lives with his wife Scary Melissa (Berger) and infant son Scary Brandon. That night, they go into Scary Terry’s dream… only to find that it’s just Scary Terry being mocked at school for not knowing the answers to pop quiz questions and forgetting to wear pants to class. Rick and Morty stand up for him in his dream, befriending him. When Scary Terry awakens, he has been incepted into being friends with them, resulting in him carrying them back through all the dream levels as a favor, finally incepting Goldenfold to give Morty an A in math.

Rick and Morty return home to find that there is a small army of dogs planning to take over humanity stockpiling weapons at the house. When Morty asks what happened, Rick casually outlines what we saw happen, while still saying he doesn’t know for sure. The two rescue the Smiths, but Jerry gets everyone captured again by thinking that he could pee on the weapons to make them his property. This is a plan so unbelievably dumb that it actually justifies how Morty could fail math despite being Rick’s grandson.

The dogs are shown conquering the world and reducing humanity to secondary status with the exception of Morty, who is treated as Snowball’s prized pet and given women and luxury. Rick reappears, supposedly a year later, and reveals that this is all a dream from the first night. Rick has gone into Snowball’s head with Morty, and dream time combined with dog time has allowed a night to become a year (though, if you do the math, it should actually be about 6 months). Rick poisons Morty, which leads to Snowball realizing that doing to humanity what humanity did to dogs makes them just as bad. Snowball awakens and leads the dogs off planet to form a Dog World.

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I guess all the animal shelters are for cats now.

END SUMMARY

No matter how many times I see this episode, it just never sticks out in my mind, but every time I re-watch it, I find myself laughing my ass off.

First, the references. The title’s a reference to The Lawnmower Man, about a scientist who increases a mentally handicapped man’s intellect to the point that he becomes cruel and ambitious, which is basically the plot of Snuffles’s story. They openly state the dream-jumping is from Inception and all-but-state that Scary Terry is Freddy Krueger. Snuffles’s new name of Snowball is a reference to Animal Farm, a story about animals overthrowing humans and something covered on this site before.

Scary Terry is one of my favorite parts of this episode. First, I love his design, since, rather than the burn-victim look of Freddy Krueger, Scary Terry appears to be made of purple testicle skin, which is somehow more off-putting. Second, the fact that he has a very boring and typical homelife when he isn’t terrifying and murdering people in their dreams is hilarious. Third, after watching this, whenever you watch the later Nightmare on Elm Street movies, it becomes so much more obvious HOW OFTEN Freddy says Bitch. It’s interesting that it seems to increase as the series got more ridiculous, almost like “Bitch” just provides an easy thing to call someone… which is why that’s Terry’s answer when caught off-guard in his nightmare. Which brings me to the last reason I love him: Scary Terry’s nightmares are the things that everyone has a nightmare of at some point, getting embarrassed in school, even years after you’ve graduated in real life. Compared to the kind of over-the-top craziness that usually defines the nightmares in the Elm Street franchise, this is just a freaking hilarious juxtaposition.

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I also love that they parodied Krueger’s signature “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you” song, but this one goes way past the 5 verses that Freddy uses. We see it getting to Q and R with no sign of it stopping.

One of my other favorite parts of the episode is that none of the Smiths actually consider the implications of granting Snuffles intelligence, even though Rick warns them about it. The closest we come is Summer saying that it’s wrong to “endow a creature with sentience and then rip it away,” but when pressed about why, she just says it’s “Indian giving.” Beth actually points out that it’s not going to go well but does nothing about it. Despite all of the media about this exact situation, including the film that gives this episode its title, not one of them bothers to consider it. As someone who writes about pop-culture, this is a frustrating accuracy about people: Despite a concept being addressed in fiction repeatedly, no one ever actually relates it to their situation… which massively undermines the entire point of good fiction. Still, it was funny for the warning signs to be so over-the-top and yet completely ignored here.

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Yeah, this is the point where you stop giving the dog batteries, guys.

JOKER’S CRAZY THEORY CORNER

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I have a weird theory that Rick actually planned for everything with Snuffles to play out pretty much as it did. See, when Jerry confronts Rick about the dog, Rick goes to the garage and comes back with the helmet. It seems like it was specifically made by Rick in that 30 seconds or so, rather than something that Rick just had sitting around. I say that because Jerry suggests that Rick “whip up” something and Rick doesn’t correct him, as well as because the helmet perfectly fits Snuffles.

If Rick made the helmet for this situation, though, why did he put 5 battery slots in it? And why put them in a place that the dog could put the batteries in? He clearly knew how smart Jerry would want Snuffles to be and Rick already stated that making Snuffles smarter than that would be a thread Jerry wouldn’t want to pull. It seems like a weird flaw to over-design the helmet like that, especially for someone of Rick’s intelligence who was in a hurry.

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And it already had a output ports for thought to voice transmissions.

Well, that’s because Rick wanted Snuffles to find the extra battery slots. Rick knew that the Smiths would abuse Snuffles’s new intelligence (such as Summer making him her footstool) and wouldn’t try to figure out what he wanted when he tried to talk to them. So, Rick figured that Snuffles would try to increase the helmet’s power and gave him a simple way to do it. After that, it was basically inevitable that Snuffles would realize that dogs have been mistreated by humanity (he doesn’t have testicles, after all), and stage a revolt that would result in the imprisonment of the Smiths. That’s why he immediately and dispassionately recites a summary of what happened in the episode when they return: Because he set the events in motion that led to it.

So, why would Rick do this? Well, because A) he’s Rick and B) Jerry was annoying him. Jerry was basically threatening Rick into using his god-like science wizardry, so Rick decided to go ahead and cut that off by satisfying Jerry’s wish in such a way that he would never ask him to do it again. And I’m pretty sure it works, since I can’t think of another time Jerry asks Rick to make something in the series.

On the Meta-level, I think it’s also possible Rick did this just so he could end the episode with a pitch for Justin Roiland’s failed series idea “Dog World,” which is why Rick even calls Snuffles “Ruffles,” the name of the Dog World lead character, at the beginning of the episode. He was setting this up even then as a fallback for if the show gets cancelled. After all, this was only episode 2.

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.

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S1 E1 “Pilot”

Welcome to Rick and Mondays. This will be bi-weekly for now, until I get a bigger buffer built up next month (hopefully). Rick and Morty and Futurama ended up tying in the vote for the next series to do, then Futurama won the run-off, so Futurama Fridays will commence after Firefly Fridays ends, and Rick and Mondays will run in the meantime. If I keep it at bi-weekly, it should end about the time that there are finally new episodes of Rick and Morty.

SUMMARY

RickAndMondaysS1E1Car

This is where it all began and, fittingly for a show that exists to subvert sci-fi and television tropes, it starts off with a massive subversion with introducing us to Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) as our pretty much ultimate anti-hero by having him break into his sleeping grandson’s, Morty Smith’s (Roiland), room and abduct him. Rick, who is super hammered, shows Morty his new flying car that he built with stuff from the garage and tells him that he has decided that the Earth needs a “fresh start.” So, he built a neutrino bomb which will kill off all of humanity, leaving Morty and the girl he likes from math class, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), to repopulate humanity. Morty takes the wheel and forces the car down. Rick, upon landing, tells Morty what appears to be an obvious lie that the whole thing was just a test to make Morty more assertive, then passes out… as the neutrino bomb starts to arm itself. The title sequence prevents us from finding out if the bomb actually goes off, since, in retrospect, this could just be a completely different Rick and Morty than Rick and Morty C-137, who most of the series follows.

RickAndMondayS1E1Title

The next morning, or just a morning in a completely different universe, Morty passes out in his breakfast. His sister, Summer (Spencer Grammer), immediately rats him out for spending his nights out with Rick. His parents, Jerry and Beth (Chris Parnell and Sarah “The First Becky of our hearts” Chalke), both are angry about this, which Rick tries to ignore while claiming that school’s not a place for smart people. Jerry blames Rick for hurting Morty’s chances of advancement and wants him to move out, but Beth’s anger is quickly suppressed when Rick pays her a minor compliment about the breakfast. This pretty much leads to the subject being dropped.

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At school, Morty falls asleep during a math test (and molests his teacher while unconscious), before being assaulted by a bully. Rick appears out of nowhere and freezes the bully, pulling Morty through a portal to help him run an errand in another dimension. After they leave, Summer accidentally causes the bully to fall over and shatter, killing him.

Rick and Morty end up in Dimension 35-C which is home to the Mega Trees which produce Mega Fruits that have Mega Seeds that Rick needs “for his research,” which he consistently refuses to clarify further. Rick and Morty get chased by monsters, cross phallic, testicular, and yonic landscapes, and finally arrive at a cliff above a valley of the Mega Trees. Rick gives Morty a set of grappling shoes to get down the cliff, but doesn’t tell Morty that he has to turn them on, causing Morty to fall down the cliff and break both of his legs. Rick goes through the portal to another dimension that has instant broken-leg-fixing serum. Morty gets the Mega Fruit, but Rick explains that the dimension with the serum had stopped the aging process, so Rick, being old, was basically a celebrity, resulting in him spending a lot of time there getting laid. So much time that his portal gun is now out of charge and they’ll have to return through interdimensional customs.

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Meanwhile, Jerry and Beth have been arguing about Jerry’s desire to put Rick in a retirement home. Jerry says that Morty is failing school, but Beth counters that Morty was always failing, but at least now he has a friend. The idea that, maybe, either of his parents should help him work on school is never addressed, because these two are the f*cking worst. The two are called into the school by Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie), who informs them that Morty has been absent frequently (only attending school for a few hours a month), almost always signed out by Rick, who also has been hiding the messages from the school to the Smith family. Jerry uses this as evidence that Rick is negatively impacting Morty’s life, seemingly winning the argument.

At interdimensional customs, Morty has to hide the seeds way up in his butt so that they won’t be confiscated. Rick’s anus, through years of smuggling and experimentation, has lost its elasticity, rendering him unable to carry the goods (or so he says, at least). This is quickly rendered pointless by a new machine at customs that can detect stuff way up people’s butts. Rick grabs Morty and makes a break for it, eventually finding a portal. While Rick enters the coordinates, Morty defends them from security, killing a guard. Rick and Morty jump through the portal, landing right in front of Jessica, but immediately running into Beth, Jerry, and Principal Vagina.

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WAAAY up the butt. Like, a colonoscopy turns to dentistry far.

Jerry and Beth confront Rick, telling him he has to move out, but Rick has Morty demonstrate an aptitude towards math and science which Rick claims can only be expanded through adventuring together. Beth and Jerry agree to let them go together, believing it to be the only way that Morty will have a successful future. However, it turns out that the entire demonstration was just a side-effect of the seeds up Morty’s ass dissolving, leading to the second side effect where Morty’s motor skills and brain functions become uncontrollable. Rick ends the episode saying that there will be 100 years of Rick and Morty.

RickAndMondayS1E1Ending
Let’s hope they’re right. 100 Episodes is a good start, though.

END SUMMARY

Well, that’s the first episode. This was our first glimpse into the world of Rick and Morty, and it’s not half bad. Since I’ve got an entire series worth of episodes to address themes, I’m just going to cover the one that I think is most represented in this episode: Rick’s rampant hatred of bureaucracy/government.

First, the episode literally starts with Rick, or at least A Rick, deciding that Earth civilization is now so messed up that killing everyone is the best solution. Granted, he’s drunk, but that’s a pretty strong statement on Rick’s opinion on society that omnicide is preferable to dealing with it. His plan isn’t so great, either, since he only wants to save Morty and Jessica, which would lead to a lot of awkwardness and a lot more inbreeding.

Next, we have Rick’s statement that school isn’t a place for smart people. He basically says that the problem with school is that, while you’re in school, you’re essentially controlled by the rules of the school and all to learn only what the school wants you to, in exchange for a “piece of paper that says you can go take a dump or something.” This is actually justified a little more when we see Morty’s math class, where he’s literally being taught addition in high school. If you look at the sheet, there are only 6 questions, the answer to 4 of which are just 10. And this doesn’t appear to be a remedial class. And it’s not like the staff actually appears to care a ton about education. Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson) literally teaches the same lessons over and over again and the principal of the school doesn’t seem to care enough about a student only attending class 7 hours a month to make sure his parents are aware of it. Also, the principal appears to be trying to invoke a race riot by spontaneously stating that the frozen bully wasn’t killed by a “Latino” student (although, Rick’s name is Sanchez, so, maybe the kid was).

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The math on the blackboard isn’t even right.

Last, we have the less justified opinion of Rick’s when he tells Morty to kill the guards at customs because “they’re just robots.” When Morty shoots one of them, he screams in pain, one of the other guards yells that he’s bleeding to death, and that someone needs to call his wife and children. Rick then explains that “it’s a figure of speech,” and that they’re bureaucrats, so he doesn’t respect them. This is probably one of the more horrifying positions that Rick takes in the episode, even compared to his attempt to eliminate all of humanity: Bureaucrats aren’t people. It’s not just Rick’s normal nihilism speaking, this is almost a hyper-objectivist viewpoint that a person isn’t a person unless they’re fully flexing their individual rights and respecting the supreme individuality of others. Rick’s conflicts with the massively bureaucratic Federation throughout the series is summarized by Rick as “they think they control the Galaxy, [Rick] disagree[s].” In contrast, Jerry is amazingly successful when the Federation controls Earth, despite the fact that he never actually knows what his job is.

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This later gets re-enforced with Rick C-137’s opinion on the Council of Ricks, since they’re a group that formed to fight the government by becoming a government. When the Citadel gets re-addressed in season 3, we find out the citadel’s structure is even more bizarrely anti-Rick, because it has a massive class divide that suppresses some Ricks and Mortys despite the fact that the lower-class Ricks are LITERALLY EXACTLY AS SMART AS THEIR BOSSES.

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Something that leads a group of geniuses to elect an evil sociopath president.

The show puts forth an interesting position on this by not really making a strong case either for or against Rick’s viewpoint. On the one hand, the schools do suck, the Federation basically just takes over planets and tries to steal whatever relevant technology has been developed rather than developing their own, and the Citadel of Ricks literally markets freedom as a wafer rather than, you know, having freedom. On the other hand, Rick is a mass-murderer who contributes nothing of value to society and abuses or mentally breaks everyone he comes in contact with, often for his own amusement. He’s literally all of the things that society is formed to prevent, and he only is able to continue to do any of it because he’s the smartest being in an infinite multiverse. So, he’s Andrew Ryan from BioShock with access to even crazier levels of technology and less concern for the welfare of others. Morty even says that Rick’s like Hitler, but at least Hitler cared about “Germany or something.”  So, yeah, Rick’s freedom is pretty awesome, assuming that you’re Rick. If you’re an occupant of one of the planets he destroys while drunk, not so much. And you’re not Rick, I guaran-f*cking-tee it.

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BONUS: JOKER’S “QUIT EXPLAINING THINGS” SCIENCE CORNER

So, for the record, I think the Neutrino Bomb is an interesting concept. A neutrino is a subatomic particle that only interacts with the weak nuclear force and gravity (here’s a Ted-Ed on Neutrinos). Since gravity doesn’t really mean anything at that scale (smaller than a proton), the weak interaction has to be how Rick plans on killing everyone. I’m not the only one to speculate on this, I’m sure, but the main way that a neutrino could probably kill someone is by having the neutrino hit a neutron, causing beta decay turning it into a proton, and causing it to eject an electron which can cause radiation damage to most living beings.

RickAndMondayS1E1BetaDecay

The problem is that neutrinos don’t like to do this, and it’s only because the sun is putting out a sh*t ton (technical term) of them that we ever get a single reaction we can measure. So, for Rick to kill everything on Earth, he’d need many orders of magnitude more than the sun puts out. I don’t want to do the math, but I’m gonna guess it’s in the quintillions to septillions of suns. Now, at this point, you might think that this makes this just a sci-fi term that you can add to a regular word to make it sound Star Trek enough to get by, but I refuse to accept that, because this is Rick F*cking Sanchez, and Rick isn’t going to play that. Rick probably knows that neutrinos are more likely to interact with matter when they have a higher energy. So, my proposal is that Rick has somehow figured out how to put more energy into Neutrinos than even a supernova burst, increasing the odds that they’ll interact with matter to the point that he can reliably kill an entire planet… or a solar system if he just “eyeballs” it. He claimed to be able to turn a black hole into a sun, so I doubt this is beyond him. It’s a pretty good way to get rid of life without ruining the planet itself, honestly, if there was any way to do it that didn’t require producing a solar-system sized fusion reaction. But Rick made a universe on his own just to power his car, so, again, Rick probably can pull it off.

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.

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

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