On this week's Rick and Morty, TV, balls, ants, and love. Spoilers to follow!
The episode starts with the family sitting on the couch watching the end of the season finale of a bachelor-like show. Rick loudly complains about the show, and Jerry sarcastically asks what his idea of good TV is. "I'm glad you asked," says Rick, before smashing the cable box apart and fiddling with its insides. He fixes it up to receive channels from every possible dimension… And what follows is, in large part, Rick and Morty watching random crazy TV shows from other dimensions.
That might not sound like the formula for a good episode, but it's actually a really great one. The weird commercials, movies, and tv shows they watch are all hilarious and sometimes even meta ("Huh, seems like TV from other dimensions has a somewhat looser feel to it." "Yeah, it's got an almost improvisational tone."). Obviously, they're really hard to talk about without just outright repeating the jokes, but I found a lot of them really funny and bizarre, especially the commercials ("Ants-In-My-Eyes-Johnson" and "Real Fake Doors" are probably my favorite of the lot).
The "plot" of the episode mainly unfolds from what would normally amount to the B-plot of the episode, with Summer, Beth, and Jerry. At the beginning of the episode, Rick is flipping channels, and he comes across one dimension where Jerry is being interviewed by David Letterman. After a few moments of Rick hi-jinks, he flips back, and finds that in one dimension, Jerry is a movie star who was in (presumably among other things) Cloud Atlas.
After explaining the concept of infinite dimensions to Jerry, Summer, and Beth, Rick pulls out a visor (the same one he used at the end of "Rick Potion #9" to scout for the current dimension they're in) and gives it to the rest of the family so he and Morty can watch crazy TV shows in peace.
In the kitchen, Jerry, Beth, and Summer take turns seeing what their alternate lives could have been like. Jerry and Beth find one where Jerry is doing cocaine with his best friend, Johnny Depp, and where Beth is a heart surgeon (on humans). Summer, meanwhile, was never born.
The family continues flipping through other dimensions, where Jerry and Beth are rich and successful, and Summer is never born. Any time Summer does find a dimension where she's alive, things there are super boring. This leads to a fight about how boring Beth and Jerry's lives become in worlds where they stay together after Beth's unwanted pregnancy, and Jerry accidentally lets it slip that Beth almost got an abortion. Summer doesn't take this well, and loudly proclaims that she's running away to do "something with turquoise."
Jerry and Beth realize that they've screwed up their kids so much that their choice to stay together for the kids hasn't really been panning out. So it's either stay together for each other, or… Don't.
Jerry comes and tells Morty that he and Beth will be taking some time apart, and that Summer found out she was an unwanted pregnancy and freaked out. Morty runs off, and finds Summer in her room, packing. He tells her he knows how she feels, and she says he can't possibly understand. "Can I show you something… That, out there, is my grave."
OH MY GOD THIS SHOW HAS CONTINUITY NOW
I cannot tell you how happy I am that this show has continuity, beyond just joke callbacks, now. Don't get me wrong, I really love Rick and Morty so far, and having continuity isn't required to have a good show, but as someone who is an absolute sucker for continuity in my TV series, and as someone who will often lose interest in shows, even ones I like, that don't have any, I'm just really glad to know that there are actually references to the events of previous episodes. I don't expect a sprawling epic or anything any time soon, but I'm glad to see the beginnings of continuity.
After Morty tells Summer (who takes it all surprisingly well) about how he and Rick destroyed their own reality and jumped to this one, the two of them go back downstairs, and sit on the couch to watch more TV with Rick and Jerry. As Rick flips channels though, he happens to flip to one of the dimensions where Rick is a movie star, and is leading the police on a low-speed chase after having a mental break of some sort. Beth is in the kitchen, drinking heavily, and viewing what her life could have been like, feeding the exotic birds she keeps in her apartment.
Other!Jerry rides up on his scooter to a house, and rings the doorbell. Other!Beth hears the doorbell ring and heads to the door to answer it. Surprise, surprise, it's Other!Jerry, who proclaims his love for her, and how tortured he's been all these years that he wished she had never gotten that abortion. In a surprisingly poignant scene, (our) Jerry and Beth run to each other, and embrace.
And then during the post credits scene, the family takes a vacation to a universe where sentient hamsters live inside of human butts.
Even considering how much I've been enjoying Rick and Morty so far, this is probably my favorite episode yet (which is good, because I didn't really like half of the last episode, "Raising Gazorpazorp"). Like I said, I found most if not all of the TV skits to be really funny, and the B-plot was really well done.
I think one of Rick and Morty's biggest successes has to do with the fact that it isn't just going for laughs, and I really did think that, jokes aside, the Jerry and Beth plot was really well handled this episode. There were some really sad moments, and some really poignant ones. While the characters of this show (obviously) do feel like cartoons, there's some surprisingly grounded stuff going on behind the sci-fi antics. The thing sci-fi, even extremely soft sci-fi like Rick and Morty, does best is using fantastic scenarios to set up very human dilemmas. This episode does exactly that. Wondering what your life could have been like, and whether you made the right decisions, is at its core a very relatable idea, and while this is a comedy, it's not played for laughs here when Jerry and Beth talk about whether their lives would have been better if they had gotten an abortion. Respect, Rick and Morty. Respect.
The fact that they actually mention the dimension jump at the end of "Rick Potion #9" makes me really happy, and I'm glad such a major event seems to actually be panning out to some degree. "Rick Potion #9" was my previous favorite episode in large part because of the insane ending, so I'm really hoping that the implications of that (and the effects we see it's having on Morty at the end) are brought up again.
I also felt like we got hints that Morty might, in fact, be getting smarter from his adventures with Rick after all. He knew what that crystal at the beginning which Rick used to upgrade the TV was, although Rick did say he was only "20% right, as usual."
If you're not in for watching what basically amounts to a series of bizarre, unrelated tangents, this one will probably get on your nerves. Although the B-plot was there, the episode had much less structure than usual. Still, it worked for me.
Also, while it hasn't reached a point of annoyance yet, I'm starting to get a little worried about the ongoing plot about Beth and Jerry's failing marriage. This is the third episode out of eight ("Pilot," "Rick Potion #9," and now "Rixty Minutes") where the B-plot has tread very similar ground with Beth and Jerry's failing marriage, and while it's worked each time in it's own right ("You could call me Ernest Hemingway" remains one of my favorite jokes in the whole show), I hope they either resolve this in some way, or figure out a way to make it continue to stay fresh.