Rick and Morty Injects New Life into an Old Trope

first_imgStay on target Toy Tuesday: The Schwiftiest ‘Rick & Morty’ ToysTop Movie and TV Trailers to Watch From SDCC 2019 Having your main characters face an evil version of themselves is nothing new. Star Trek did it. Buffy did it. Hell, Rick and Morty has done it a couple of times. This week, they went back to that formula, but gave it a new twist. As a result, while the plot felt like something out of season one or two, its tone and character work was right at home in season three. The episode opened like any classic Rick and Morty adventure. Morty’s at school, trying to talk to Jessica (it’s been a while since we’ve seen her), when Rick drags him away for an adventure.We only get to see the very end of the adventure, as the show cuts to six days later with Rick and Morty fleeing for their lives. It’s a visually complex, beautifully animated sequence that only lasts a few short seconds. That’s part of why we love this show: Its willingness to put a whole lot of time, effort and money behind a joke that lasts less than a minute. Then, the show takes a minute to address what effect these constant adventures would have on two people. For all its high-concept sci-fi, the funniest moments are when real life intrudes on the adventure. Like when Rick and Morty spend a solid minute freaking out about how they nearly died.All this is to get the pair to a futuristic spa for a detox. That includes a psychological detox which removes toxic elements from a person’s psyche. If you’ve been watching Rick and Morty long enough, you can guess that Rick’s toxins manifest as an extra-unstable mad scientist who tries to replace Rick. He nearly does too. Even pieces of Rick are just as frighteningly capable as the real thing. At first, it just looks like we’re dealing with Rick and Morty facing their evil/toxic counterparts. That’s where the episode gets interesting. The machine can’t actually tell which parts of the psyche are truly toxic. It only removes what the individual person thinks are the toxic parts. That adds a deep layer of character exploration to what was already a decent parody of a classic sci-fi plot.(Via Adult Swim)It works best with Morty, who gets rid of all his insecurities and subservience. His confidence makes him incredibly popular at school, and he even gets a date with Jessica. Of course, his fast-talking confidence means they get bored with each other before the food even gets there, and Morty picks up an adult woman at the bar instead. Morty becomes the person he thinks he needs to be, which turns out to be an insufferable douche. He’s selfish to the point where he feels no need to take responsibility for his toxic self. He cares about maintaining the new life he’s created for himself.Morty’s selfishness continues when Toxin Rick and Morty escape their chamber and build a machine to make the whole world toxic. Rick uses Toxin Morty as bait to force Toxin Rick to recombine with him. That gives us the interesting twist that Rick considers his caring about Morty to be toxic. For as much of a jerk Toxic Rick is (really only slightly more than normal), he cares about Morty a lot more. When a machine removes only what the user considers toxic, what it really removes are personality traits the person thinks is holding them back. Rick believes he’s held back from scientific greatness by his ego, need to be a jerk to everyone, and the fact that he cares for Morty. Take all those away, and he’s a generally nicer person, and could be a more successful scientist. But his attachment to Morty is what makes the show work. It’s what makes us like Rick even though he’s a terrible human being. And hey, even if he’s a lot nicer without the ego and rudeness, it’s still messed up that he considers familial attachment toxic.(Via Adult Swim)Morty’s “toxic” qualities were also what made us like him. Yes, he’s more capable now that he’s less insecure and agreeable, but he’s also corny, selfish and creepy. When it comes time to save the world by recombining with his toxin self, he runs away. His newfound ruthlessness allows him to become a high-powered stockbroker, which is a funny and very believable explanation for why Wall Street people are they way they are. Without his insecurities, Morty has no conscience. Apparently, he saw that as holding him back too and became, as Rick put it “tiny American Psycho.” The show ends like any sitcom, with things being put back to normal. It does leave us with a hopeful note, as Jessica admits that she likes having the real Morty back.Last night’s Rick and Morty gave us a solid episode that also served as a deep examination of its characters. For the last couple weeks, the show has celebrated the kind of person Morty’s adventures are turning him into. He’s so familiar with Rick’s antics that he fixes them out of habit. As capable as his experiences have made him, they’ve also had a less healthy effect. He and Rick are both right about certain aspects of themselves being toxic, namely Rick’s ego and verbal abuse, and Morty’s crippling insecurity. But they both also see good human traits as holding them back. For Rick, that’s his affection for his grandson, and for Morty, that’s his sense of right and wrong.(Via Adult Swim)I wish the episode explored Rick’s ideal self a little more. With the focus largely on Morty, we didn’t get an idea of who Rick is without all his awfulness and affection for Morty. In fact, that last part being considered toxic came out of nowhere and wasn’t really dealt with. It felt like a plot convenience and nothing more, especially because Morty didn’t have any kind of reaction to that reveal. You’d think he’d have something to say about finding out that Rick considers his attachment to him a toxic burden. But hey, that was just one small problem in an ultimately funny, and surprisingly meaningful episode. Also, that Terry Flap song Justin Roiland sings over the end credits is a hilarious, gross bit of drunken improv. If we don’t get another Inter-dimensional Cable episode this season, that song is a fine substitute.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img

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