Rick and Mondays – S2 E4 “Total Rickall”

Rick and Morty deal with an infestation of memory-altering parasites that take the form of wacky sitcom characters.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland) returns home to the family to find Jerry’s (Chris Parnell) goofy older brother “Uncle Steve” (Tony Barbieri) at the table. Rick then shoots Steve, who is revealed to be an alien parasite that manipulates people’s memories. Rick warns that there are probably more of them and that they take on the role of wacky, zany characters. He’s supported by Mr. Poopybutthole (Roiland), a wacky, zany character who is now in the opening credits.

S2E4 - 1Opening
Seamlessly integrated. 

Rick locks the house down, writes down that there are only 6 people in the apartment, and puts the note on the wall, but soon a number of characters start appearing, including a Mr. Belvedere-style butler named Mr. Beauregard (Barbieri), Frankenstein’s Monster (Kevin Michael Richardson), and Summer’s (Spencer Grammer) magical ballerina lamb friend Tinkles (Tara Strong). All of the characters are introduced through “flashbacks” that resemble Family Guy cutaway gags. Rick and the Smith family soon are uncertain who is real, because, although the new characters are wacky and zany, so are the actual members of the Sanchez-Smith family.

S2E4 - 2Tinkles.png
It feels like even Frankenstein, a fellow parasite, thinks Tinkles is too far.

Eventually, Rick is threatening to shoot everyone and the parasites convince Morty (Roiland), Beth (Sarah Chalke), and Summer that Rick is a parasite… while also convincing Jerry that he’s a parasite and in a secret gay relationship with another parasite named Sleepy Gary (Matt Walsh). Morty is selected to execute Rick, but Morty realizes that the parasites cannot implant bad memories into people’s heads and shoots several of the parasites. Together, Rick, Morty, and the family go through the house, killing all of the parasites until only the family and Mr. Poopybutthole are left. Back at dinner, Beth shoots Mr. Poopybutthole who is revealed to not be a parasite. She tries to apologize at the hospital, but he declines to talk to her, saying only that he’s sorry that she doesn’t have any bad memories of him.

S2E4 - 3PoopyGunShot.png
That’s a hell of a gun, btw.

END SUMMARY

This episode is basically a hilarious parody of so many sitcom tropes at the same time that it almost matches the number of wacky characters. The idea that failing shows add off-kilter new characters to try and bring back some energy to the series is so old that The Simpsons did an episode about it featuring Homer (Dan Castellaneta) playing a new Itchy-and-Scratchy character called Poochie while also having a new “rad teen” character living in their house. That was in 1997. For the most part, this trope has been declining quite a bit in the past twenty years specifically because people started mocking it so ruthlessly. Still, this episode takes it and combines it with the “family member that has not previously been referenced” trope, but makes it into a sadistic infiltration plot by these shapeshifting, memory-altering parasites.

S2E4 - 4Poochie
And this was the best way to get rid of such zany add-ons.

It presents each of the parasites in a cutaway style much like Family Guy tends to use, which may be a shot at how modern shows always tend to play loose with continuity for the sake of making gags. Or maybe it was just funnier that way. Also, the characters get progressively more unconventional as the show goes on, following the typical trend on television writing that each character introduced tends to be incrementally crazier or more abnormal than the previous one, similar to “Flanderization.” We start off with the “goofy brother,” move to the stereotype cousin, and slowly continue until we have a Baby Wizard, a photography Raptor, and a Ghost in a Jar. The idea that the only way to find the “real” people is by finding terrible memories might be a shot at other shows for trying to keep sanitized backstories as opposed to Rick and Morty‘s gritty humor.

S2E4 - 5AllOfThem.png
… So EVERYONE is posing for the camera? Fourth wall be damned.

Mr. Poopybutthole being real is one of the best set-ups in television. It’s not the reveal itself. It’s HOW they decided to reveal it. It’s such a perfectly Rick and Morty tone shift that works so well because it’s a subversion of a subversion. The basic joke throughout the whole thing was that Mr. Poopybutthole was clearly an alien shapeshifter that had entered the show, while the twist is that he actually isn’t. This is even foreshadowed by the fact that he’s in the opening sequence, many of which are “bad memories” which the parasites can’t generate or alter. But the show then decides to take the shooting seriously, rather than as a comical error. They blow past any attempt to make a joke out of it and treat it like a REAL SHOOTING, despite the fact that, not 2 minutes beforehand, we’d been laughing at the ways that the Smith-Sanchez family was eliminating all of the wacky shapeshifters. So, even if you saw the twist coming, you almost certainly didn’t see how it would play out. It’s something many shows would never even consider, let alone pull off this well.

S2E4 - 6Dying.png
“Is this what dying feels like?” WHAT THE HELL, SHOW?

Also, can we just acknowledge that so many of the parasites are just inherently funny? Pencilvestyr? Reverse giraffe (voiced by Keith Freakin’ David)? Hamurai? Amish Cyborg? These are such great puns and sight gags. Their quips are also hilarious, including Frankenstein’s Monster’s line “I was on the wrong side of the pitchfork on this one.” The subplot where the Sleepy Gary parasite not only makes himself Beth’s husband and the parents of Morty and Summer but also makes himself Jerry’s secret lover is simultaneously horrifying and hilarious.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Well, I was going to do a theory about what Mr. Poopybutthole is, but unfortunately Dan Harmon has already addressed that issue, saying that Mr. Poopybutthole is just a higher form of the memory parasites, so evolved that he can break the fourth wall and put himself directly into the show’s history when he wants. 

I already declined to address the popular theory that this episode, as well as the majority of “Mortynight Run,” follow a different Rick and Morty, since Dan Harmon also confirmed that the rocks in this episode are the same as the ones seen in that one and that they’re what carried the parasites.

Instead, I’m going to ask: Were the parasites the point?

So, we know that Rick has dealt with these parasites before, because he immediately recognizes what they are. He shoots “Uncle Steve” after only a few seconds, based on Jerry’s claim that he had been living there, but why was “shapeshifting memory-altering parasite” the first thing that Rick thought of? Because Rick had wanted the parasites. Think about it, Rick had brought that specific rock in from the garage, looking disappointed at it as he throws it away. When we first see him in Mortynight Run loading the car with rocks, he has a huge number, but he only throws away the one that had the parasites.

S2E4 - 7SteveShoot.png
Maybe you should have headed to Paris faster, Steve.

I think that Rick had brought the rock back not to harness the rocks (though that might have been a bonus), but because the rocks potentially were going to breed the parasites which he could then use to his advantage. After all, we know from the previous episode that Rick regularly captures and imprisons aliens for the purpose of exploiting them, and the ability to freely manipulate memories would be useful to anyone, particularly Rick. While in the garage, clearly, one or two of them hatched and escaped, with the first becoming “Uncle Steve.” Meanwhile, Rick determines that the rock is defective and throws it away, only to discover that the parasite inside it has escaped.

S2E4 - 8GreenRocks.png
That’s the eyebrow of a man who is done with his rocks.

Am I saying that the only evidence I have for this is that Rick knows what the shapeshifting parasites are and that he looks disappointed when he chucks out the rock? No, it’s that he doesn’t wing Uncle Steve. When Rick shoots Cousin Nicky, the second parasite, he shoots him in the shoulder because he’s unsure he’s a parasite, but when Rick shoots Steve, it’s straight through the temple. Rick is absolutely sure that Steve is a parasite. Could it be that Rick just knows that Jerry doesn’t have a brother? Unlikely, as A) this isn’t Rick’s original Jerry so it could be a possibility even if the original didn’t and B) Rick routinely proves he knows almost nothing about Jerry’s life, including not knowing what decade Jerry was born in (despite him being roughly Beth’s age). Is it that Jerry says Steve has been staying there for a year? Well, that’s likely to be what clinched it, but do you really think that’s enough to make Rick risk executing a potential family member? It’s Rick, so it’s not impossible, but I still think it’s likely that something made him think that parasites were the likely source of the new brother.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Since most of Rick and Morty is based on humor within the framework of nihilism and existential dread, I shouldn’t be surprised that this episode about how memory is the only way to really define our existence that involves wacky characters is one of my favorites.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 14: Auto-Erotic Assimilation

NEXT – 16: Get Schwifty

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

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Rick and Mondays – S2 E3 “Auto Erotic Assimilation”

It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets every sitcom where the main character runs into their “unhealthy ex” on this week’s episode.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland), Summer (Spencer Grammer), and Morty (Roiland) are in space when they pick up a distress beacon. Rick follows it so he can loot the ship, but they find survivors who tell everyone that there is an entity taking over the minds of those it infects. They’re immediately infected themselves. Rick prepares to fight, but it’s revealed that the hive-mind entity is actually Unity (Christina Hendricks), his ex-girlfriend.

S2E3 - 1Unity
It’s weird to be hit on by 6 bodies at once… I imagine. 

They return to the planet that Unity has recently taken over. Summer immediately is put off by the nature of Unity’s expansion by enslaving people to her will, despite the fact that Unity has improved the quality of life massively. Morty and Summer go off to explore the planet while Rick proceeds to rekindle his relationship with Unity. When another hive-mind named Beta-Seven (Patton Oswalt) comes to trade with Unity, Rick mocks him until he leaves, at which point he and Unity use Beta-Seven’s supplies to make mind-altering drugs and alcohol.

S2E3 - 2Beta7.png
Notice that Beta-7 Prime is looking at Unity’s rack(s?).

Back on Earth, Jerry (Chris Parnell) discovers that Rick has a secret basement lab under the garage. He and Beth (Sarah Chalke) get into a fight over her being unable to stand up to Rick until they find a captive alien. The two of them begin fighting more and more about Rick’s behavior until the alien, revealed to be Blim Blam the Korblock (John “I’m the f*cking Cryptkeeper” Kassir), escapes and tells them that they are the “f*cking worst” even by the standards of him, a baby-eating alien murderer with Space AIDS. He tells them that their marriage is terrible because they hate themselves and each other and Rick has nothing to do with that. He then leaves the planet forever just because he hates them too much to stay.

S2E3 - 3BlimBlam.png
Also, he has penis-fingers. 

Back on the Unity Planet, Unity’s alcohol and drug use has reached the point where she’s not able to maintain her control over the population and several people start to gain their freedom back. Unfortunately, this immediately leads to a race war between the people of the planet over the shape of their nipples. Morty and Summer are rescued, barely, by Unity. When they rejoin Unity and Rick, Summer tells Rick to leave with them, because he’s a terrible influence on Unity. He refuses and sends them away, only for Unity to realize that he’s bad for her, even though she loves him, and leave him in a letter.

S2E3 - 4RaceWar.png
Morty has seen this play out before, apparently.

Rick returns home and is confronted by Beth over the basement lab, which he immediately apologizes for and concedes the point to Beth. He then tells her he’s not going to leave and tells the kids that he left Unity. Immediately afterwards, in one of the bleakest sequences in the show, Rick then goes to the lab and attempts to commit suicide. He survives by passing out slightly before the death ray fires. Later, he confronts Beta-Seven in order to see Unity again, but Beta-Seven stops him and Rick leaves.

S2E3 - 5Suicide.png
Rick, mid-suicide attempt. Yeah, this is not a happy show.

END SUMMARY

We actually learn quite a bit about Rick in this episode. First, we learn that he has actually had relationships other than his failed marriage to Beth’s mother. Well, one relationship, at least. Given how much Rick continually disdains marriage and the idea of love, it makes sense that he might seek out relationships which, by their nature, almost certainly can’t lead to marriage. As for love, Rick certainly doesn’t seem to actually care about Unity in any loving manner and he very much uses her love of him to manipulate her into doing what he wants. However, at the end of the episode, Rick’s reaction to Unity’s break-up and the accompanying note leads him to be so depressed that he cries and attempts to kill himself, suggesting that he either actually did have feelings for her, or at least realizes that she didn’t deserve to be treated the way that he treated her. Literally any of those reasons would be a revelation about Rick’s character.

S2E3 - 6Stumble.png
Look at that anguish.

Second, we learn that Rick really has a thing for redheads, is pansexual, and has daddy issues. Given that Beth is a blonde, Rick has blue-grey hair (and, since his 14-year-old clone did, too, apparently always has), Jerry has brown hair, and Jerry’s mother has blonde hair, this means that Summer’s red hair is likely a recessive trait inherited from her grandmother, Rick’s ex-wife. As such, Rick’s insane lust over redheads, telling Unity to get all of them naked in a stadium, could be a sign that he still has repressed feelings for his wife, or maybe that’s part of the reason he fell for her in the first place. Additionally, we get a sign that Rick has some father issues when he tells Unity that he wants to have sex with her in front of any man that even remotely resembles his father. We even, disturbingly, get to hear this later when the stadium chants “go, son, go!” The idea of Rick, who is borderline amoral and an admittedly terrible father, being the product of another terrible parent is believable, but sadly common and mundane. Still, this is a revelation about Rick.

S2E3 - 7Fathers.png
Apparently his dad had short hair, glasses, and dressed business semi-casually.

Unity is a reference to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and other such films where a single hive-mind takes over. The difference is, with Unity, the episode actually makes the case that individual will is overrated when compared to societal progress. Unity might not allow the people to act according to their own desires, but the planet improves massively under her rule. Part of that is that people, especially the ones on this planet, suck. The minute they’re free, rather than trying to fight Unity or rebuild, they immediately start a race war. It’s hard to go downhill from that. It reminds me a little of a line from Alan Moore’s Miracleman: “If you see a kid about to drink bleach, you take the bleach out of his hand. There’s no discussion of ‘free will’ about it.” That same line of thinking is used in that series to justify taking complete control of humanity, but the result is a utopia, much like with Unity.

S2E3 - 8Miracleman.jpg
Admittedly, both Utopias involve a lot of statues.

Jerry’s and Beth’s plotline is basically just a continuation of their constant marital strife. In this, though, Blim Blam says something that often get overlooked: Rick is just the catalyst, he is not the cause. Beth hates herself for not living up to her own image of success, Jerry hates himself for his weakness and insecurity, and both of them hate the other for constantly keeping them from fixing those problems. In Unity’s letter, she actually acknowledges that she’s okay with Rick being Rick, but that her being okay with it means that she has problems with herself that she needs to address. The difference is, by leaving, Unity figures out how to address her problem, because she can’t separate from Rick enough while he’s present to ever work on herself.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Alright, so, there are a few theories about the creature that Rick kills before he tries to kill himself. Sadly, a few were destroyed by Ryan Ridley and Justin Roiland, who stated that the creature is in unstoppable pain and therefore was being freed by death and that was its purpose in the narrative. One theory said that it was a creature possessed by Unity that Rick had saved to always be close to her, but the eyes are the wrong color for someone possessed by Unity. Instead, I think that the creature, which seems to be a Cronenberg, was the last thing Rick saved from his previous universe and, not to be dark, I think it was a mutated baby.

S2E3 - 9Creature.png
I hate myself for this theory already.

Hear me out, we witness a lot of people dying in the process of everyone becoming Cronenbergs and Rick and Morty were on the planet for a while after the mutations started. I think that Rick found an abandoned mutant baby that was suffering due to all of the changes and froze it, not to try and give it comfort, but to have a test subject. See, if you’re amoral or have… alternate morality… as Rick does, then a baby is likely going to be the best test subject for any genetic treatment since their cells are still changing, there are fewer of them, the test subject is easier to transport, and the subject’s metabolism is higher. I believe that Rick took the baby with them and planned on using it as a test subject to cure the Cronenberg-ism in case he and Morty ever needed to find another dimension. That way, they could just go back to their regular dimension, cure everyone, and resume life as usual.

S2E3 - ACronenberg.png
Russia has yet to notice.

This means that Rick’s killing of the creature is akin to murder, but is also probably an act of mercy in his opinion, since the baby would just die if it was sent back to C-137. However, what it mostly indicates is that Rick has completely given up on ever going back and he wanted to grant it a quick death rather than allow it to thaw and die slowly or get discarded by the Smith family. He also wanted to test that the death ray worked, of course, but it makes sense that Rick would want to double check that his suicide method is effective. After all, what if he just crippled himself or removed his ability to drink alcohol? That’d just make his life harder.

S2E3 - BComfort.png
He even tries to comfort it. 

So, yeah, that’s Rick killing a baby he mutated through his own incompetence which he planned on experimenting on so that he could have another escape option available. It’s Rick, he’s a monster. This shouldn’t shock you.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, this is one of the darkest episodes of Rick and Morty and also one of the most subversive in its message. Since those things are what the show calls “The Wheelhouse,” that also makes it one of the best.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 13: Mortynight Run

NEXT – 15: Total Rickall

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 – S2 E1 “A Rickle in Time”

Rick and Morty is back for a second season that they probably didn’t think they were gonna get. AND WE ARE SO LUCKY FOR IT.

SUMMARY

Rick (Justin Roiland), Morty (Roiland), and Summer (Spencer Grammer) have been taking advantage of time being frozen for the last six months and are finally cleaning everything up from the epic party at the end of last season. Rick unfreezes time, but reveals that their time is “unstable,” so they can’t interact with Beth and Jerry (Sarah Chalke and Chris Parnell). Rick sends the parents to Cold Stone for ice cream so as to avoid any issues.

S2E1 - 1Fight
How power and water work while time is frozen, I don’t know.

Summer and Morty start fighting over who Rick will treat as his new sidekick, which results in them being uncertain about their actions, splitting the universe into two separate timelines and sending the trio (or sextet, now) off of the traditional time-axis and putting them in a void dimension surrounded (and not surrounded) by Schrödinger’s cats. Rick tries to use a Time Crystal to fuse the timelines back together and re-enter the timestream, but it doesn’t work because Summer and Morty aren’t completely synchronized. Both Ricks become paranoid that the other Rick is trying to kill them to eliminate one timeline and each tries to kill the other, but this results in Rick becoming uncertain and splitting the timelines yet again, creating four simultaneous timelines. Morty knocks Rick unconscious.

S2E1 - 2Shooting.png
I hope neither of them hit one of Schrodinger’s cats.

Beth and Jerry hit a deer on the way home from ice cream. Jerry accidentally implies that Beth, a horse surgeon, can’t heal the deer, leading her to burst into a veterinary OR and take over. However, they discover that the animal was already wounded by a hunter, who shows up with his attorney claiming that he is legally entitled to the deer as the first person who injured it, based on “Brad’s Law.” The hunter is not stated to be Brad, but he looks like a Brad, and he admits that he’s not a very good hunter so he might have had this situation before. Undeterred, Beth continues to save the deer, but Jerry finds out that the only way they can save the deer is for Beth to admit she can’t save the animal and have it transferred out of the state. Beth is furious at having to say she can’t do the surgery, but agrees. However, Jerry reveals that this was a ruse and he, along with Cold Stone, arrange for Beth to finish the surgery successfully, releasing the deer back into the wild.

S2E1 - 3Lawyer.png
A lawyer walks into a vet’s OR… I forget the punchline.

Back at Schrödinger’s House, all 4 Ricks apologize to each other, when a testicle-headed Fourth Dimensional being named Schleemypants (Keegan-Michael Key) arrives and gives the team collars that re-synchronize the timelines. However, Schleemypants tries to arrest the three for Rick’s possession of a stolen Time Crystal, which Rick admits he IS guilty of. Rick then tricks Schleemypants into looking away and destroys Rick’s gun “Chris.” He then takes the collars off and splits time across 32 different timelines, resulting in him being able to attack Schleemypants from every direction without him being able to respond, due to his 4-D nature. Rick wins, but accidentally splits time again, resulting in them only having a short time to bring the 64 timelines back to 1. All of the versions of Rick fix the collars and Summer’s works immediately. One of the 64 Mortys, however, is not able to close their collar. The floor collapses, so that Morty’s Rick jumps after him into the void and gives his own collar to Morty, saving his life. Rick prepares to die, saying he’s okay with this, but then sees the broken collar, changes his mind, fixes it, and survives.

S2E1 - 4Testicle.png
He’s a timecop, but not the one you think of when you hear that.

Beth and Jerry, unusually happy thanks to Jerry’s actions earlier, arrive home and start mocking the collars, annoying the three. Meanwhile… or not meanwhile since it’s outside of time, but whatever the equivalent of meanwhile is in that case, Schleemypants is joined by another testicle monster (Jordan Peele) who tries to help him take revenge, but they mistake Albert Einstein (Roiland) for Rick, beat him up, and inspire him to formulate Mass-Energy Equivalence and, implicitly, special relativity as revenge.

END SUMMARY

This is another Rick and Morty episode that demonstrates how efficiently the show can use the transitions between A and B plots, but in a different way than in “Meeseeks and Destroy.” In the former episode, the cuts allowed each plot to skip all the boring stuff and just go to the next interesting thing. In this episode, the cuts serve to heighten the tension between each of the storylines by basically forming a series of cliffhangers. It also makes it less obvious when both stories have sudden left turns, like the entrance of the testicle monster or the hunter’s attorney.

The multiple timeline aspect of the A-plot is unbelievably well done, given that the audience has to be able to watch several things happening at once in order to really get the effect of the structure. By having them mostly synchronized but slightly offset or altered, the viewer is able to follow the differences between the two despite the speed with which some of them are appearing. The overlaid dialogue manages to sound simultaneous while still being discernable independently. That’s impressive.

S2E1 - 5Multiscreen.png
I mean, it still can be followed at 64 timelines pretty well. 

The fourth-dimensional being who simultaneously interacts with all of the timelines is a brilliant idea, even if it’s very difficult to really conceive of without thinking about it. However, Rick is able to quickly determine what’s happening, despite not being able to see through the fourth dimension, and manages to actually beat him. Since fourth dimensional beings generally are considered almost incomprehensible to three dimensional beings and nearly godlike, this would be akin to a stick figure outsmarting you and beating the hell out of you. It’s tough to envision, but that’s the best thing I can compare it to.

S2E1 - 6Chris.png
His “gun” turns you into a fetus, which is a hilarious attack method.

Beth and Jerry’s B-Plot is so ridiculous that it really perfectly balances the seriousness of the A-Plot. It even starts with insanity by revealing that Jerry managed to tip the Cold Stone staff over $400. Actually, this episode really highlights Jerry’s incessant need for approval from others, from his tipping the Cold Stone crew enough to merit them transporting a deer for him to his asking Beth about putting the deer out of its misery despite being unable to do it. However, it equally highlights Beth’s own massive insecurities, represented by her going to unbelievable lengths to save the deer just because people consider a horse surgeon to be incapable of working on cervine. At the end, Jerry plays into Beth’s fantasy, which apparently makes her willing to overlook his flaws more than usual.

Summer and Morty are also dealing with their own insecurities over the future of their relationships with Rick, which Rick responds to not by indulging, but by attempting to devastate and mock, including his famous claim to be able to prove mathematically that both of them are pieces of shit.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

It’s no secret that Rick’s appearance is a reference to Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Hell, he originally was Doc in Justin Roiland’s Doc and Mharti. But Doc Brown’s appearance was modeled, at least somewhat, on the image of Albert Einstein. In this episode, we see this come full circle when the fourth-dimensional testicle monsters confuse Einstein with Rick. But what if that’s not an accident?

S2E1 - 7Doc.jpg
Roiland’s art style was… unique

Rick stole a time crystal from somewhere or somewhen, that much is obvious. He immediately shows that he is aware of the fact that this is a crime when confronted. Given that fourth-dimensional creatures by default can find you at any time, I think that Rick has made himself resemble a famous scientist so that, in the event that the testicle monsters are hunting for him, they might end up finding someone else in a different time. After all, hairstyles are one of the things that Ricks are most willing to vary, and Rick used to have different hair, so it makes sense that he might have had a motive for his current “look.”

S2E1 - 8Einstein.png
Granted, Einstein clearly was more sedentary.

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 –  11: Rick-sy Business

NEXT – 13: Mortynight Run

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 E11 “Rick-sy Business”

We’re at the end of season one; time to get wriggedity wriggedity wrecked, son!

SUMMARY

Jerry (Chris Parnell) and Beth (Sarah Chalke) are heading away to take a cruise on Titanic 2, a ship that reenacts the James Cameron movie Titanic. Jerry threatens Rick (Justin Roiland) with no more trips with Morty (Roiland) if the house suffers any damage. However, the minute they’re gone, Summer (Spencer Grammer) announces that she’s having a party. Rick tells her that she can’t, however, because HE is going to have a party. Morty worries that this is going to be the end of the adventure and objects, but they ignore him.

S1EB - 1JerryAndBeth.png
Jerry doesn’t exactly scream “authority” dressed like a drowned broke artist.

On Titanic 2, Jerry is super enthusiastic about reenacting parts of his favorite movie, but Beth mostly just wants to relax and read. She suggests that Jerry use a maid, Lucy (Alejandra Gollas), as a stand-in. Jerry’s a little disappointed, but Lucy is a huge Titanic fan and they begin to have a good time. However, the ship’s planned collision with an iceberg goes awry, resulting in the ship not sinking. This upsets Jerry, but Beth doesn’t care. Lucy takes Jerry below decks and shows him a version of the car in which Jack and Rose bang in Titanic, then reveals herself to be nude and desperate to reenact a love story like she’s watched so many people do before. Jerry refuses, but she pulls a gun on him and forces him to draw her nude, before threatening to rape him. Fortunately, Beth saves him. Lucy attempts to follow them home, but ends up being run over by their car.

S1EB - 2LucyDraw.png
Yes, just like one of his French Girls.

Back at the ranch, Rick invites a ton of alien friends to his party, including Squanchy (Tom Kenny), Bird Person (Dan Harmon), and Revolio “Gear Head” Clockberg, Jr. (Scott Chernoff), three of his friends from his past travels. Unwilling to pass up her own party opportunity, Summer still invites most of her class over in an attempt to increase her own popularity. The party is interrupted at first by Abradolf Lincler (Maurice LaMarche), a former experiment of Rick’s to combine Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. Morty initially tries to dissuade them from wrecking the house, but ends up trying to hit on Jessica (Kari Wahlgren). Eventually, he shows her the garage, where the pair accidentally activate an invention that sends the house into another dimension.

S1EB - 3SlowMobius.png
Slow Mobius adds the “Can’t Hardly Wait” effect.

On the new planet, Rick tells Morty he needs to find Collaxion crystals to get them back. Morty, Lincler, and Summer’s uncool friend Nancy (Aislinn Paul) venture out into the planet’s wilderness, eventually recovering the crystals at the cost of Lincler. However, it’s revealed that Rick just wanted to snort the crystals as a drug, before showing that he can take them back at any point. Morty, angry at being deceived, throws the crystals out. However, a talk with Bird Person reveals that Rick is actually a miserable person who is asking for help but is too proud to really ask. Morty ends up deciding he still wants to travel with Rick.

S1EB - 4Lincler.png
Technically, he should die by a bullet to the head, either way.

Jerry and Beth return, but Rick freezes time so that they can clean up the house. They goof around in the frozen world and watch Titanic. Morty remarks that Rick seems to be less tortured while spending time with him and Summer. Rick responds by undercutting it and turning on some music while celebrating the end of Season One.

END SUMMARY

Now, one of my favorite things about the episode is that Rick’s party is basically the same as most “wild” parties depicted in media, except filled with insane aliens instead of humans. My favorite is probably Gear Head, who is the epitome of that guy that people don’t want to actually talk to at parties, because they just drone on and on about crap no one wants to hear. Then, later, he’s also the guy who busts out the guitar to play a folk song. If you haven’t been to a party with those guys… well, you’re probably those guys.

S1EB - 5GearHead.png
This is his go-to move. Along with betrayal.

Some of the jokes in this are the most random and also funny in the season. I love most of Abradolf Lincler’s lines, particularly “Prepare to be emancipated from your own inferior genes!” It’s such a crazy line that it fits perfectly for a character who is, explicitly, the result of an insane concept. I also like that Rick takes the high road on Summer for trying to throw a party to get popular, with Rick stating that, like a mature adult, he parties to get wrecked because he doesn’t care about the other people’s opinions.

Beth and Jerry’s B-plot is entertaining, even though it gets a little dark towards the end. The idea that Jerry idolizes the romance of Jack and Rose from Titanic perfectly makes sense of the character, because that’s the kind of relationship that he wants without realizing the inherent flaw there: Jack and Rose only work because Jack dies. Jack and Rose were fiercely in love because Rose hated her life and Jack provided a release from that, while Jack loved Rose for being adventurous. That works for a short time, obviously, but how does a couple like that work when married for 20 years? People change, first of all, but also life has a way of eroding passion like that, which is why marriages and long-term relationships usually have to have something more at their core to sustain them. Jerry and Beth were clearly passionate (enough to get Summer, at least), but much of their story arc so far is them trying to determine if they actually do have something between them that merits keeping their marriage going. It’s like watching Titanic if Jack got his own plank.

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See, he does end up letting go. It’s a metaphor.

This is a solid end to the season because it does show some of the growth that the characters have undergone through the series. Rick is slightly less miserable and self-loathing, having found some value in the time with his family. Morty is more assertive, being willing to stand up to Rick when Rick manipulates him. Is it a huge amount? Not really. But it’s something. Even in a show famous for trying to avert most typical character arcs, some amount of growth is naturally going to occur, if only because the writers themselves have grown during the course of making the show.

Probably the biggest change is Bird Person’s revelation of the real meaning of Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub as “I am in great pain, please help me.” Morty insists that Rick is only saying it ironically, but Bird Person seems confident that Rick is, in fact, in a state of internal agony and begging for help. The end of the episode seems to reinforce that, although the show itself sometimes goes back and forth on it.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

One question which seems to come up on the message boards (and the Rick and Morty Wiki) about this episode is why Rick would invite two members of the council of Ricks to the party. They’re only seen in the background throughout the episode, but, given Rick’s general disdain for the council, why would he invite them to his party in the first place? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s because Rick is proud of making it to the end of his first season of television.

S1EB - 7Ricks.png
He’s right next to Daria.

Yes, Rick wanted characters from throughout the season to appear at his party, allowing him to use it as a surrogate celebration of getting through the first 10 episodes despite being an animated show based primarily around nihilism and alcohol. That’s also why he ends the episode by putting on “Shake that Ass Bitch” by Slack Pack and telling everyone that Season One is over. Even better, he ends the season with time frozen so we don’t really have to worry about any changes to the world between the seasons.

LEAVING THE CORNER

While this isn’t quite the level of some of the episodes leading into it, this was still a solid way to end the season. Everything is kind of wrapped up, but we still want more.

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 –  10: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind

NEXT – 12: A Rickle in Time

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 E10 “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”

If one Rick and Morty is good, then an entire planet filled with Ricks and Mortys should be great, right?

SUMMARY

The Smith-Sanchez family is having breakfast when a portal opens and a Rick (Justin Roiland) appears, kills Rick, and steals Morty (Roiland). It then shows breakfast the next day featuring another Rick and Morty, revealing that the previous scenario happened in another dimension. Another portal opens and several Ricks enter, this time in uniforms. They freeze Jerry (Chris Parnell), but Rick and Morty (of C-137) agree to go with them.

S1EA-1EvilRick.png
He’s evil because he wears black and has a scar.

They are transported to the CITADEL OF RICKS, a trans-dimensional organization of Ricks which has created a form of government overseeing Rick behavior across the multiverse. They bring in Rick C-137 to accuse him of murdering other Ricks across the multiverse, as he is one of the only Ricks who isn’t part of the Citadel. He denies it, but his portal gun is traced to all the murders. Rick and Morty escape the Citadel troops while Rick manages to identify the real murderous Rick. They follow his signature to a building composed of hundreds of Mortys that are being tortured, which apparently shields Evil Rick from detection. Meanwhile, a group of Ricks stays at the Smith house while searching for Rick C-137, including Doofus Rick, who bonds with Jerry.

S1EA-2Cronenberg.png
Cronenberg Rick and Morty are still kickin’ it.

Rick and Morty get captured by Evil Rick and his Morty. Rick finds out that Evil Rick plans to steal his memories and then kill him. Morty is taken to a room filled with Mortys who worship the coming of the “One True Morty,” which apparently will free them from their bonds. Morty leads them into an uprising to escape and rescue Rick, resulting in Evil Rick being killed by a mob of Mortys.

S1EA-3MortyArmy.png
Never underestimate the power of a mob of stupid, angry people.

Back on the Citadel, Rick C-137, now exonerated, is given an apology and a coupon for a free Morty. Morty, who has been angry at Rick for the entire episode after Rick told him that Ricks keep Mortys around because Mortys are so stupid they act as psychic barriers, tries to get Rick to show some emotional growth, but Rick refuses. However, he immediately manages to get some in by pointing out that he’s the Rickest Rick, therefore Morty is the Mortyest Morty. It’s then revealed to the audience, but not Rick and Morty C-137, that Evil Rick was actually being controlled by another source… EVIL MORTY!!!

S1EA-4EvilMorty.png
Dun dun duuuuuuuun. But seriously, this was a great twist.

END SUMMARY

We already knew from “Rick Potion #9” that there were parallel Ricks and Mortys but this episode really drives that idea home. The Citadel of Ricks and the Council of Ricks appears to be derived from the “Council of Reeds” from the Fantastic Four comics, where Mr. Fantastic finds out that there are a ton of versions of him that work together and are mostly evil. Well, not so much evil as just dicks, which I guess makes the parallel a little closer. However, while the Council of Reeds works to, ostensibly, make the multiverse a better place, the Citadel of Ricks appears to just be a place where Ricks are thrown back into mediocrity and ruled over by a group of Ricks that are likely no more qualified to rule than they are. But, we’ll get into that more in Season 3.

S1EA-5Council.png
Clearly, position is assigned based on hair.

The multiverse, too, is more thoroughly explored in this episode by showing the viewers, in a very short montage, a man ordering pizza using a phone while sitting on a chair, then essentially every version of that same situation with the nouns swapped, culminating in a chair ordering phones using a pizza while sitting on a man. It drives home the fact that, in a truly infinite multiverse, anything is possible.

S1EA-6PhoneCalls.png
But lamps are always lamps.

The relationship between Rick and Morty is given some more significance as we’re told that Rick actually uses Morty to prevent himself from being found by some of the more threatening intergalactic authorities. Whether these are present in every dimension isn’t mentioned, but apparently the Galactic Federation exists in multiple dimensions, given that their agent Tammy was found in both the original dimension of the show (where she got Cronenberged) and also the new one featured in this episode. They also are revealed to have some level of interdimensional capabilities in the pilot, explaining why Rick can’t just go to another dimension to escape them. So, every Rick needs a Morty to give them peace, even the Rickest Rick.

S1EA-7Cards.png
The audience wins with three pairs. GET IT? *Applause*

So, why is our Rick the Rickest? Well, he tells us himself: he’s the only one who is completely unafraid to risk himself to maintain his individuality. Or, at least he is now that the Artist Formerly Known as Rick is dead (and, let’s be honest, the Prince version of Rick probably gave zero f*cks). Granted, in the future, this will become obviously untrue, since there are at least one or two other Ricks who also don’t seem to belong to the Citadel (as far as we know). Still, the point is that C-137 Rick’s enough of a rebel to rebel against the rebellion. Most “nonconformists” just buy a Che Guevara shirt and ignore the irony that counterculture tends to directly resemble culture; Rick Sanchez burns down the Hot Topic and the Gap at the same time and makes his own clothes out of the ashes. How does he make clothing from ashes? He’s Rick f*cking Sanchez.

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Granted, he is also the Rickest by virtue of killing the most Ricks. 

I also have to give credit to this episode for having three of my favorite pop-culture references in the show so far: “The Machine of Unspeakable Doom” is a reference to the Asimov story “The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use” but with the very Rick and Morty addition that the machine stabs your balls, the comic promoting Mortyism called “The Good Morty” is a reference to Jack Chick’s famously zealous Chick Tracts, and, my favorite, where a pen, notebook, and coffee cup fly through a portal, having come from a completely different show, Gravity Falls. The latter three objects get lost through an interdimensional portal by “Grunkle” Stan Pines in the Gravity Falls episode “Society of the Blind Eye.”

S1EA-9GravityFalls.png
The mug even has the Mystery Shack question mark on it!

Doofus Rick and Jerry is also a great B-plot, because Doofus Rick is the only Rick who can empathize with Jerry’s constant feelings of being put down, unimportant, and incompetent. Of course, Doofus Rick is only those things in comparison with other Ricks, whereas Jerry is… well, Jerry. However, Doofus Rick seems to compensate by being nicer to people, while Jerry is usually just kind of a jerk. Regular Rick later says that “being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets,” which suggests that maybe that’s why Doofus Rick does it, realizing that even if he is picked on, by being nice to people he sometimes gets positive connections, like with Jerry. Perhaps the most notable example is when Doofus Rick is shown Jerry’s coin collection and tells him that what matters is that the coins have value to him. Jerry is used to having people crap on all of his stupid ideas, so being told that his actions can be valid just because they made him feel better is a positive reinforcement that Jerry clearly doesn’t get much, and which Doofus Rick probably craves for similar reasons.

S1EA-ADoofusJerry.png
But he can make brownies, so he probably has friends.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, people had a lot of theories on this episode. Since Evil Morty later comes back, several of them are still very much up in the air. A big one is that Evil Morty is actually Rick C-137’s original Morty, explaining why he wanted to absorb Rick’s memories rather than just killing him like the other Ricks. Rick’s statement about a Morty getting too smart for their own good also indicates that he has dealt with a “smart Morty” before. Also, Rick has been gone for a decade, has only just been back for one year, but apparently needed a Morty to help cloak him during the time which is unaccounted, suggesting he had one previously. But, if you wanted those theories you could just read another Rick and Morty blog. Instead, here’s one of mine on “The Morty Shield.”

S1EA-BMortyShield
This dome of pain. 

The reason why the “Morty Shield” that Evil Morty was using to hide from the Council of Ricks is so poorly constructed is not because Evil Morty couldn’t have come up with Rick’s idea for producing the same effect with five Mortys and a car battery. In fact, the Morty Shield wasn’t actually used for creating a cloaking effect at all (you can’t track Evil Rick’s brainwaves since he was already braindead), but was instead a ruse to get the Council of Ricks to ignore the question of why a Rick would stockpile so many Mortys. If “Evil Rick” had just been capturing a ton of Mortys for no discernable reason, then the Council might have investigated before re-integrating all of those Mortys, which might have exposed Evil Morty. As it happened, Evil Morty was able to blend in and, as we now know, create a massive Morty surplus that caused dissent within the Citadel, allowing him to seize power. I think he originally was planning on doing it through rebellion and sedition, but Rick’s actions in the beginning of Season 3 gave him an easier path through election.

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Instead of drawing attention, he just becomes a face in a crowd.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Yet another great episode in a row. This part of the season is really a hell of a high point.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 9: Something Rick-ed This Way Comes

NEXT – 11: Ricksy Business

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 E9 “Something Ricked This Way Comes”

Starring a prick who has two thumbs, here’s “Something Ricked This Way Comes.”

S1E9-1TwoThumbs
Wait, those aren’t thumbs…

SUMMARY

Summer (Spencer Grammer) asks Rick (Justin Roiland) for a ride to work at her new job at the store “Needful Things.” It turns out Summer’s boss, Mr. Needful (Alfred Molina), is the Devil and the store “sells” cursed objects to people for no money. Needful tries to give Rick a microscope that would make him mentally handicapped, but Rick turns the tables and develops a device that can determine the curse on any object. Deciding to f*ck with the Devil, Rick starts a store called “Curse Purge Plus,” where he removes parts of the curses on the items to make them incredibly valuable. The Devil, realizing Rick is better at evil than he is, tries to kill himself, but Summer saves him and gets him to re-make the store into an internet site, before he double crosses her. To get revenge, she and Rick work out, become muscled giants, then beat the hell out of the Devil, as well as some neo-nazi and a member of the Westboro Baptist church.

S1E9-2Stop.png
Summer, parting a being of pure evil and a being of pure dontgiveaf*ck.

In the B-Plot, Morty (Roiland) asks Jerry (Chris Parnell) to help him with his science fair project, a model of the solar system. Jerry becomes irate when Morty mentions that Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. He refuses to accept this, something that leads a group of Plutonians to use him as a source of propaganda to fight against accusations that Pluto has been shrinking. Despite the fact that he has absolutely no scientific credibility and is being bankrolled by the people that would most benefit from what he’s saying, Jerry becomes a star scientist and is beloved by the population. A real scientist, Scroopy Noopers (Nolan North), tells Morty that the Plutonian corporations have actually mined the planet so much it shrank, which Morty tries to tell Jerry. Jerry refuses to listen, but eventually realizes he’s an idiot and tries to tell the truth to Pluto before reconciling with Morty.

S1E9-3FlippyNips.png
King Flippy Nips (Rich Fulcher) is not the most utilitarian leader.

END SUMMARY

This makes the second episode where Rick and Morty are in separate plots, after “Raising Gazorpazorp,” but the plots in this one are a huge improvement over that episode.

S1E9-4ButterBot
Even ButterBot is a massive step-up.

Rick and Summer’s plot is a subversion of the traditional “Deal with the Devil” trope right from the beginning, because Rick immediately recognizes who Needful really is. Usually, finding out that the mystery salesman is the Devil is a major plot point, but to Rick it’s just an observation to make in passing. He even lists all the shows (including Friday the 13th: The Series) that the Devil is ripping off (though Rick avoids pointing out that Needful Things is itself a Steven King book and movie about this exact plot). After the Devil tries to outsmart Rick, which fails miserably, Rick decides to mess with the Devil by using science to render him powerless. The Devil even says of Rick:

People like Rick are making me obsolete. I mean seriously, I may be the Devil but your grandpa is the Devil! I just want to go back to hell where everybody thinks I’m smart and funny.

That’s the beauty of Rick Sanchez. Since he believes that everything is meaningless, even good and evil can be rendered pointless. In this episode, the Devil’s items’ punishments, while cruel, teach people lessons about their own personal faults. Rick doesn’t give a crap about human morality or ethics, believing that science is more powerful. Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson), the first victim we see, even has the traditional breakdown from the end of a normal story, only for Rick to give him an injection which removes any consequence and causes Goldenfold to shout “I haven’t learned a thing!” Even at the end of the episode, after Summer has been betrayed by the Devil, she and Rick ponder whether or not there’s something they could learn from this experience, but then instead decide to beat the Devil up.

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Devil plays a good fiddle, but he should’ve learned MMA.

Meanwhile, Jerry and Morty basically go through a thinly-veiled metaphor for how companies can manipulate science reporting. Jerry is reported by the media to be a scientist and is even awarded the Plutobel Prize, despite the fact that all he does is say that all of the other scientists are wrong. He never provides a case for why they’re wrong, nor does he actually listen to the explanations for why Pluto isn’t a planet. He just stubbornly states his opinion over and over again, but because the opinion is profitable to the wealthy, they promote it as a fact. Most people seem to say this episode is a metaphor for Climate Change, but it could just as easily be one for smoking causing cancer or heliocentricity, if you replace “company” with “church.” The Plutonians could easily be a metaphor for any kind of group that’s easily manipulated by the media.

S1E9-6MasterScience
Jerry Smith: Master of All Science. That’s what big companies want.

So, the episode’s about how science can be abused. Rick abuses it to eliminate people having to learn from their mistakes while Jerry and the Plutonian elite abuse it to promote an agenda that they can benefit from. These might seem to be connected, but the message from each one is actually pretty different. As Rick says in another episode, it’s just a “cosmetic connection our mind mistakes for thematic.”

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

I think Rick particularly has it out for the Devil, because the existence of a Devil suggests, although it does not necessarily require, the existence of a God. In other words, this would make Rick wrong about his grand pronouncement that “there is no God” and call into question his belief that everything is meaningless. After all, if there is a higher power that created the multiverse, then it’s probable that life actually inherently does have meaning.

While Rick usually dispatches people who try to one-up him fairly quickly, he goes to extraordinary lengths to make the Devil suffer, lengths that even he later realizes he didn’t really want to reach. So, Rick got insecure about maybe being completely wrong about one of his bigger postulates, and overreacted, causing the Devil to almost kill himself.

S1E9-7Hanging
Keep hanging in there, Beelzebub.

See, it’s sentences like that that remind me how much I love this show.

LEAVING THE CORNER

This is a great episode, even by Rick and Morty standards. It’s right up at the top of my list of best episodes, particularly because listening to Alfred Molina say “I’m the Devil, beeyotch!” is basically crack for my ears.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 8: Rixty Minutes

NEXT – 10: Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind

Rick and Mondays – S1 E8 “Rixty Minutes”

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

SUMMARY

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

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And Game of Thrones where Tyrion is the tall one.

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

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C-500A Jerry does coke with Johnny Depp

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

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

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

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

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

S1E8-4Hamsters.png
Then they visit Butt-Hamster world!

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

S1E8-6Summer.png
“You’re the little brother. You’re not the cause of your parents’ misery. You’re just a symptom of it.” Dang.

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

S1E8-7TheLine.png

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

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

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You lose again, Immanuel Kant!

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

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Even if it’s just watching Ball Fondlers

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

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

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

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

S1E8-ALetterman.png

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

S1E8-BBethAlone.png
And successful Beth is still an alcoholic, just now one with birds.

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

LEAVING THE CORNER

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

Overall, I give this episode an

A+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 7: Raising Gazorpazorp

NEXT – 9: Something Ricked This Way Comes