I take a look at the new series by the co-creator of Rick and Morty.
Planet Shlorp was a perfect utopia until the asteroid hit. 100 adults and their “replicants,” which is to say children, escaped into space along with a pupa (Liam Cunningham), which will one day destroy the planet they land on and create a new planet Shlorp. Korvo (Justin Roiland) and Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and their children Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack) land on Earth and, after living there for a year, are still having trouble adjusting to Earth life. Also, Yumyulack keeps shrinking people and forcing them to live in a small prison run by the Duke (Alfred Molina).
I can’t help but look at this show as an example of what Rick and Morty would be without Dan Harmon. The answer appears to be “still hilarious, but without structure.” This show is a lot more freeform, similar to the episodes of Rick and Morty that Roiland performed on weed, but that doesn’t change the fact that the show’s off-the-wall nature allows it to produce a lot of unique situations. Since the show feels a little less predictable and formulaic, the jokes tend to be harder to guess and that tends to make more of them land. The animation style is also similar to Rick or Morty, but with less random genital duplication.
The show tends to have an a-plot involving Korvo and Terry as an “odd couple,” a b-plot with Yumyulack and Jesse learning about being children on Earth, and a c-plot involving the shrunken prison. However, it doesn’t have the amazing a-plot and b-plot interplay that Rick and Morty so often excelled in. Instead, we usually see the plots just shifting from one to another and then back, pretty much picking back up where they left off the last time it was featured. Still, the subplots are usually funny and the loose continuity makes the c-plot in the shrunken prison cumulative, which allows for some more serious character development.
Overall, the show’s pretty solid. It doesn’t have, so far, any of the sort of existential commentary and insight of Rick and Morty, but it’s funny and that’s really all you need sometimes.
Rick and Beth journey into an imaginary land while Jerry and the kids discover that Jerry’s rebound is a little too serious.
Beth (Sarah Chalke) learns that the father of her childhood friend, Tommy Lipkip (Thomas Middleditch), is set to be executed for killing and eating Tommy. Beth remarks that she used to think that Tommy disappeared in “Froopyland,” the imaginary land that she used to play in as a child. She mentions that it was a stupid name, which offends Rick (Justin Roiland), who reveals that Froopyland was actually a real pocket universe that he created for her to play in as a child. Beth realizes this means that Tommy might actually be lost in Froopyland, proving his father’s innocence. She forces Rick to take her into the pocket universe, which she points out was just Rick’s way of avoiding spending time with her. He counters that he spent a lot of time making it safe and magical, before a mutated imaginary creature attacks him and he is almost fed to its offspring, losing his arm and being forced to replace it with a metal prosthetic.
Meanwhile, Rick sends Morty (Justin Roiland) and Summer (Spencer Grammer) over to visit Jerry (Chris Parnell) who appears to be doing much better than earlier in the season. He seems more confident and more capable, which is revealed to be because he is dating Kiara (Jennifer Hale), an triple-breasted alien from Krootabulon. Kiara has come to Earth to hunt other aliens called the Varrix, but, upon meeting Jerry through a dating site, quickly soul-bonded with him, something that both Morty and Spencer view as taking a rebound too far. They soon break Jerry down and get him to admit that he doesn’t really like her and that he’s a beta-male sexist, a closet racist, and selfish. They tell Jerry that he now is able to clean up his own mess.
Beth and Rick realize that the Froopyland creatures cannot harm anyone or be harmed by humans, meaning the creature that attacked Rick had to have foreign DNA, which they realize is human DNA. They quickly arrive at the conclusion that Tommy must have had sex with a Froopyland creature and eaten the offspring, so he likely has been procreating with the creatures and eating the offspring, keeping some of them aside to worship him as a god. This is almost immediately verified when they are captured by Froopy-human hybrids and presented to Tommy. However, Tommy puts on a play about his past in Froopyland which says that Beth is actually the one that trapped Tommy in the land out of jealousy for his father spending time with him. Rick grabs Beth and leaves Froopyland, quitting the adventure. Beth points out Rick’s failures as a parent, which he immediately agrees with, before pointing out that Beth was actually a monster as a child, constantly doing things that were disturbing. Froopyland wasn’t just to keep her away from Rick, but to keep her from hurting others, like she did with Tommy. She rejects this, tells Rick that if she did trap Tommy it was only because he never spent time with her, and resolves to save Tommy.
Morty and Summer return to school and are attacked by Kiara, who reveals that Jerry didn’t tell her the truth, instead telling her that they were the reason why he had to break up with her. She chases after them, and eventually Jerry, who flees until they find a cave full of the Varrix, the same aliens which Kiara was hunting. She comes in and Jerry finally mans up and breaks up with her in an honest way. She starts to respond with disdain until it’s revealed that her ex-boyfriend is also hunting Varrix on Earth and she was just using Jerry to get around the territorial issue. Jerry starts to get indignant, but the kids drag him away.
Beth heads back into Froopyland and confronts Tommy, telling him he has to come back or his father will be killed. Tommy agrees to go if she apologizes to him, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Tommy’s minions swarm her and Beth starts murdering all of them in self-defense. Eventually, she returns with Tommy’s finger and she and Rick clone a new Tommy to show up at his dad’s execution and save him. Realizing she’s too much like her dad, she asks him what she should do and he gives her two options: She can stay with her family or he can make a perfect clone of her to stay while she goes off on adventures who she can replace if she wants to come back. He points out that in either case, he’ll be better off because at least now she’s choosing her life. Her decision is not shown, but A Beth is still at the house.
This episode again showcases the A-B plot interplay that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland very clearly have mastered to an unbelievable level. Even more than the great dialogue and characterization, I think this is what really sets this show apart. It’s even heightened in this episode by having Rick and Beth actually predict the big twist of the episode and then literally shortcutting the viewers to the conclusion after checking in on the B-Plot.
This episode really gives us a lot of development of Beth who, prior to this, had mostly only been developed in her role as a parent or a wife. In this, she’s advanced as a daughter and also as a person. It’s difficult to reconcile this development, in some ways, because she keeps saying that she’s just like Rick, but she doesn’t seem to show his recklessness or creativity. I understand that she also probably doesn’t quite have his genius, but given that she appeared to be able to keep up with Rick on the adventure, take on a small army of Froopy-Hybrids with little damage, and seemed to be able to at least comprehend cloning a full-grown Tommy, I think she’s probably leagues above the average person. I assume the cost and time-requirements of med school are the only reasons she’s not a real brain surgeon, or I would if another episode hadn’t explicitly told us that. At the end of the episode, we finally see Beth address the elephant in the room and stop just being a miserable sufferer blaming her family, though we probably will never truly know what her decision was unless another Beth shows up. Yes, I know Rick says she isn’t a clone in the next episode, but it’s Rick and he lies a lot.
The A-plot with Froopyland is basically the quintessential Rick and Morty plot, literally taking a wonderful fantasy setting that resembles Rainbow Brite or the Care Bears and having it corrupted by incest and cannibalism. It’s destroying everything that was pure and good in the funniest way possible. Darkest year, indeed.
The B-Plot with Jerry shows off how much Morty and Summer have grown during the show, because they immediately call their father on his crap and his weakness. They no longer have the tolerance for his antics that they previously did. Jerry, however, proves how little he’s grown when he still wimps out on telling Kiara the truth. He does eventually, when pressed, actually do the right thing, but then he gets indignant when he finds out about her hypocrisy, so he still hasn’t really grown as much as everyone wants him to.
This is just a genuinely great episode of this show. I really hope that they follow up on it more directly in future seasons, but even if they don’t, it still holds up as a hilarious and well-crafted half-hour of television.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
I don’t usually try to jump on theories that I know are already out there, but here’s my theory on this episode: Beth didn’t intentionally push Tommy into Froopyland.
I know that Tommy says she did and that Beth doesn’t exactly deny it in a convincing way (even saying “Fake News” which… I’m avoiding any comments about), but I actually think that she might not have done it on purpose. It’s mostly the way that Beth first responds to the news about Tommy’s dad. She seems to completely have forgotten about Froopyland, suppressing all of her time there and choosing to remember it as an imaginary place from her childhood. Later, when confronted by Rick about pushing Tommy in, she says that “if she did it” then it might have been because Rick was a lousy father. She doesn’t treat this like something that she regrets or feels guilty about or even remembers well. The thing is, if Beth had actually pushed him, I don’t think she would have been able to suppress it to the extent of actually believing that Tommy’s dad ate him.
While an exact timeline is never given, we know that Tommy and Beth are playing in Froopyland after Tommy hits puberty, because Rick indicates that Tommy couldn’t eat the Froopy creatures unless he had already hybridized with them. Barring some extraordinary circumstances, puberty in Males in the US tends to start between age 12 and age 14, so Tommy almost certainly had to be above 12. We know that he and Beth are the same age, so Beth would also have to be about 12. That’s an age that most people can remember things from, particularly things that they feel guilty about, and yet Beth acts as if she has no idea what really happened to Tommy. If she’d intentionally pushed him in and felt guilty enough to suppress it, she could just have gone back in and gotten him, and if she didn’t feel guilty, which is completely possible, she wouldn’t have a reason to suppress it. I think it’s more likely that she did it accidentally and didn’t want to admit it, thus giving her motive to try to shift the blame onto someone else.
Either way, she probably kills him in the end, though, so… therapy works?
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.