The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sat May 06, 2017 3:03 am

This will be a very brief (brief as I can make it) take on episode 1 of season 3--The Rickshank Rickdemption.



I have to say, it was sheer genius--way more than I was expecting--and the way Rick got out of prison--well, I could never have imagined that in my wildest dreams. I always thought that somehow someone would have to rescue him... but I should have known--Rick always gets himself out.

So here's the customary disclaimer: spoiler alert!!!

Here's how he gets out. The gromflomites make the fatal mistake of trying to get intel out of him by plugging him into the Series 9000 Brainalizer--a machine that allows people to temporarily transplant their "soul" into another person's brain. One of the gromflomites is visiting Rick in a simulation of Shoney's inside his cerebellum (which, by the way, isn't at all the thinking part of the brain, has to do with hand/eye coordination and learned behaviors). He's trying to get Rick's secret formula for interdimensional travel. After going for a trip down memory lane (in Rick's brain), Rick ends up divulging the secret formula. The gromflomite signals his companions outside the brainalizer and they enter Rick's formula into their computers. That's when Rick informs the gromflomite that it wasn't his formula after all, but a virus giving Rick full control of the system.

Rick transfers over to the gromflomites brain, then begins to hop from one brain to another until he finds a suitable Rick body (not in prison) to settle in. The series goes: Rick C-137 --> Gromflomite --> Rick D-99 --> Commander and Chief Rick --> Quantum Rick (more on Quantum Rick later; suffice it to say, there is discontinuity between Commander and Chief Rick and Quantum Rick). He ends up at the Citadel of Ricks where he finds his way into the teleportation room (a control center responsible for teleporting the entire Citadel to some other place in space, perhaps across dimensions). He teleports the Citadel directly to the location of the prison he just escaped from, effectively blowing it up (well, partially). After killing two birds with one stone (i.e. destroying the two space stations he hates the most), he makes his way to level 9 of the prison.

Earlier, while possessing the Gromflomite's body, Rick is asked by the commanding officer Gromflomite why Rick would turn himself in, to which he responds: "Well, I'm just a dumb as bug, but it's possible Rick knew he'd be interogated at this facility where we not only keep our most wanted but our most sensitive data. Anyone here with level 9 access could-*burp*-I don't know, collapse the government." After rescuing Summer and Morty from a trial run by the Council of Ricks, Rick (the last one he migrates to) leads them into a (now bashed open) level 9, and says: "And that is how you get level 9 access without a password."

Then, making his way into a level 9 control center, he gets on the computer and topples the entire galactic government by converting the value of their currency to zero. Brilliant! And it works. The galactic federation leaves Earth like abandoning a spiralling stock on a crashing market.

All in one foul swoop!

Now, one point I want to dwell on is whether Rick (as the gromflomite) was actually telling the truth when he said: "Well, I'm just a dumb as bug, but it's possible Rick knew he'd be interogated at this facility where we not only keep our most wanted but our most sensitive data. Anyone here with level 9 access could-*burp*-I don't know, collapse the government." <-- It's not that I doubt that Rick had this in mind, but it's a question in my mind whether Rick had this in mind from the beginning. We can recall from the season 2 finally that the incident which prompted Rick to give himself in to the gromflomite government was Morty's speech that he (and at least his sister and mother) love Rick unconditionally (i.e. despite the fact that he brings nothing to their lives but destruction and trauma). In other words, it seemed pretty clear that Rick's motive at the end of season 2 was to do what he painfully came to grips with as the morally right thing to do, not to topple the government. So which is it? To allow his family to "have a normal life" in his words, or to topple the galactic government? But then again, maybe Rick is, yet again, killing two birds with one stone. My theory is that even if Rick knew he could do this all along, he never bothered because of his (well established) nihilistic outlook. We know that he is a self-loathing nihilist and doesn't care about what happens to himself or others. So who cares, from his perspective, whether the gromflomite government survives or is toppled. But I think Morty's words at the end of season 2 gave him a reason to put the plan into effect--not just for himself personally, but for his family. Yes, this theory takes a bit of the altruist wind out of Rick's sale, but killing two birds with one stone is not only typical of Rick but can still redeem his virtue if at least one of those birds is done in the name of his family--that is, a reason to care. In other words, Rick's wish for his family to "live a normal life" was not only sincere, but temporary. As altruistic as this may seem, he had bigger plans. He planned, during the interim, for his family to lead a normal life, but ultimately to free them of the gromflomite government all together, in which case it's a win/win (that is, for Rick and his family, obviously not for the gromflomites). All he needed was a reason to care, and Morty gave that to him.

But all the action and the genius of this episode weren't the only things that impressed me. I was also impressed at how well Roiland and Harmon recapitulated some of the most complex themes and lines of development throughout the series so far. They wrapped them up in a few simple speeches that Morty gives to Summer. They even revisit Cronenberg world in an attempt on Morty's part to show Summer some of the aweful things that Rick does.

Frantically determined to rescue Rick, Summer gets the bright idea to dig up his grave. This is prompted by Morty who delivers a little speech:

"He [Rick] bails on everybody! He bailed on mom when she was a kid! H-he bailed on Tiny Planet! [tying this into the season 2 finally] And in case I never made this clear to you, Summer, he bailed on you! He left you to rot in a world that he ruined! Because he doesn't care! Because nobody's special to him, Summer! Not even himself! So if you really want your grandpa back, grab a shovel. The one who won't let you down is burried in your back yard!"

^ A good way to sum up Rick, not to mention a reminder of the fact that Morty is an imposter in a reality in which he and Rick (the one's who actually belong here) are dead.

Burried with Rick is his portal gun--quite ingenius on Summer's part, I must say. Morty tries to persuade Summer to put it back. She says: "Fine, stay here! I'll rescue grandpa myself." Morty: "And how you gonna do that?" Summer: "I don't know yet. I'll make it up as I go. That's what grandpa Rick does. That's what heroes do." <-- A peek at Rick's personality from a different angle.

In an attempt to convince Summer that Rick is not worth worshiping as a hero, he uses the portal gun to bring her to Cronenberg world where they find Morty's original family, now turned barbaric and, in Summer's words, feral.

A group of Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks pop in for a visit, detecting the portal gun activity. They freeze all but Morty and Summer C-137 (still not sure if this Summer is C-137, or even if this Morty's C-137)--in any case, the Morty and Summer we're following. Morty stops them by announcing that he's C-137. Summer then goes on a speil about how their Rick's been captured by the federation, and out of concern that Citadel secrets might fall into the federations hands, the Ricks decide to dispatch seal team Ricks into the federation to assassinate Rick C-137 (that's how C-137 managed to migrate his mind into Rick D-99).

Morty and Summer are, of course, taken prisoner and put before a trial--the Council of Ricks--where Morty gives Summer this speech:

"I wanted you to have a normal life. That's something you can't have when Rick shows up. Everything real turns fake. Everything right is wrong. All you know is that you know nothing and he knows everything. And, well... well, he's not a villan, Summer, but he shouldn't be your hero. He's more like a demon or a super fucked up god."

^ That's Rick in a nut shell.

And on the way to the trial, Summer is taken aback by the very existence of, in her words, "a city of grandpas". Morty explains to her what the Citadel of Ricks is:

"It's the Citadel of Ricks. All the different Ricks from all the different realities got together to hide here from the government. [Summer: But if every Rick hates the government, why would they hate grandpa?] Because Ricks hate themselves the most, and our Rick is the most... himself."

These few quotes of Morty's do a bang up job of summarizing two whole seasons of Rick.

Then there's the end scene--a.k.a. the szechuan sauce scene / the 97 years scene--which is patently similar to the scene at the end of the Pilot. What is the meaning of this scene? What does the szechuan sauce symbolize?

I have a few ideas of what the szechuan sauce symbolizes, but for the sake of brevity, I'd rather talk about my theory of the imposter Rick. Why does Rick come across as so menacing to Morty in this scene--effectively telling him he doesn't give a shit about him, that the only reason he brought him and Summer back was because Beth wouldn't accept him as the de facto patriarch of the family (and Morty's universe), as he puts it, now that Jerry's out of the picture (well, at least he seems to respect Beth). My theory is that this isn't Rick C-137, not even mentally. When Rick went mind hopping from one body to another, there is a break in the continuity of scenes between Chief and Commander Rick and Quantum Rick (the Rick on the Council with the afro). After Chief and Commander Rick goes to take a shit, the scene cuts outside the Citadel/prison hybrid where a great space war is going on. The next time we see a Rick masquarading as C-137, it's Quantum Rick. He un-ruffles his hair to get the spiky doo that we're all familiar with. This *could* be Rick C-137 occupying the body of Quantum Rick, or it could really be Quantum Rick masquarading as C-137 in an attempt to acquire Morty and Summer for himself (or it could be any arbitrary Rick masquarading as Quantum Rick, then masquarading as C-137).

Point is, we're not given a scene in which C-137 uses the Brainalizer to transfer his mind from Chief and Commander Rick to any other Rick, so we don't actually know if this one is really C-137. But this is the one who ends up bringing Summer and Morty back to the Smith's household and posing as C-137. He even says in the stand-off with Riq IV: "That's not even my original Summer." <-- Now, the stand-off scene is actually quite complex. Rick could be telling the truth here or just bluffing. When Morty points the gun at Rick, Rick says to him: "I wasn't gonna let her die, you fucking moron!" <-- This too is ambiguous. Is he telling the truth or trying to rile Morty up by making him feel stupid, thereby giving him an excuse to really dig into him, which of course compells Morty to shoot him, which is what he wanted all along.

The punchline of the theory is that the reason Rick seems so "dark" (in Morty's words) during the szechuan sauce scene is because this Rick has just now reunited with Beth (at least a different version of Beth) and has not yet had the chance to bond with Morty and Summer. The real Rick C-137 has spent two seasons going on adventures with Morty, bonding with him, feeling like this is his real grandson. But this Rick, at this moment, doesn't give a shit about Morty. His whole modus operandi, the szechuan sauce he's after, that all Ricks are after, is to get his daughter back.

I'll bet episode 2 begins with the real Rick C-137 (albeit in some other Rick's body) showing up through a portal and shooting the imposter Rick.

On this note, it should be addressed that from here on in, not only will we have to deal with doubts that the Rick we're follow in any given episode is really C-137, but even if it is, it will never be Rick C-137's body. Rick C-137's original body got a hole blasted in its head by Rick D-99--presumably never to be resurrected again.

Now speaking of the szechuan sauce, how much truth was revealed in the fabricated origin story that Rick fed to the gromflomite invading his brain? It's true that what we're given in the script is that the origin story was fabricated by Rick (and by this, all that's meant is: Rick felt comfortable--that is, in control--when delivering it to the gromflomite--for it seems clear that "emotionally speaking...Shoney's is [Rick's] home," meaning that so long as he's in his comfort zone, in control of the situation, which he would easily be in contriving some bullshit origin story to a dumb ass bug, or pretty much anybody, he can fabricate anything he wants--hence: "We never left the Shoney's!")--but even fabrications often involve elements of truth. For example, the fact that in the fabricated origin story, Rick has a daughter named Beth is, obviously, true. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to encounter some bullshit story that some con artist makes up in which he didn't borrow elements of truth; the point is, Rick can make up whatever he wants so long as he still feels comfortable, still feels in control. <-- That's the key.

(It's interesting, by the way, that what appears to be "comfortable" to Rick is not just sitting at Shoney's with a cup of coffee, but spending that time with his family, even Jerry <-- This is ultimately where he'd prefer to be).

What I think is true of the (quasi) fabricated origin story is that, somehow, in some way, Rick's original Beth died (or at the very least, he somehow lost her). This is what I think the szechuan sauce represents: Beth. <-- Beth is Rick's "one armed man". Rick's original Beth is lost forever. The best he can do is appropriate some other Rick's Beth--like he did in Rick Potion #9--and even though, like Morty getting used to the reality he and Rick hijacked at the end of episode 6 of season 1, Rick can slip into the pretend roll of being Beth's real father, deep down it doesn't really satisfy--like enjoying only the memory of some delicious szechuan sauce; Rick is always going to be haunt by the (supposed) loss of his daughter. <-- The origin story that Rick feeds the gromflomite may have been fabricated, but I predict at least this much is true.

(After all, it was the gromflomite who drew Rick's attention to his memory of Beth: "Is that your memory of her out there? Between where you were on 9-11 and your favorite sports blooper?" <-- Obviously, he did uncover something in Rick's memory, something tragic, of what happened to Beth.)

Now this theory does deserve some attention drawn to its logical ramifications: strickly speaking, this theory says that the imposter Rick has, as his modus operandi, his szechaun sauce, to get his daughter back and that he's willing to accept a substitute Beth in her place. Is this true of Rick C-137? Is it true of all Rick's? Well, the first logical ramification of this theory is that it can't be true of all Ricks. Beth is alive and well in at least two realities--the Cronenberg reality and the "substitute" reality that Rick dragged Morty into in Rick Potion #9 (nothing comes to mind when I think about season 1 and season 2 that would mandate that Beth is alive in any other reality). In the "substitute" reality, we know that the Rick of that reality died. What we don't know is whether that Rick was Beth's real father (i.e. whether the Rick who died is genetically connected to that Beth) or he too hijacked that reality, on an earlier occasion, in order to acquire a substitute Beth. But in either case, some Rick must have donated his sperm to some woman (presumably some version of Dianne) in order to produce that Beth. Maybe it was the Rick who died in the explosion, maybe not. Point being that at least some Ricks had Beth's who did not die.

Now there is also the logical possibility that some Ricks died leaving their Beth's behind. Obviously, the Rick who C-137 replaced in Rick Potion #9 is a case in point. After all, if all Ricks whose Beth died, and therefore are compell to find a replacement Beth in some other reality, actually succeed, that means there are some Beths who survived and whose Ricks are out of the picture (either dead or exiled or some such). That means that while some Ricks lost their Beth, some Beths lost their Ricks. This also implies the logical possibility that some Ricks and their Beths never lost each other at all! Doesn't mean that other Ricks didn't kill them (or exile them, or drive them out in some way), but it does mean, as in the case of Rick C-137 taking over the reality of the alternate Rick in Rick Potion #9, that Ricks don't have to kill or drive out other Ricks in order to pose as the original Ricks of the reality they hijack. They can just seek out a reality in which the Rick of that reality died or disappeared or some such by way of other causes.

Given the facts of the story, according to the script so far, we are to presume that Rick C-137 was absent from the Smith family for some odd 15 to 20 years. <-- This too is an element that has implications for the logical ramification of this theory (the imposter Rick theory), namely that if all (or some) Ricks are just trying to find substitute Beths, why would Rick C-137 enter into this Beth's life after 20 years (or 15, depending)?

One possibility as that Rick C-137 actually did acquire a Beth at the young age at which she died, but then lost her again at her current age (30, 40, or whatever age she happens to be), and so just repeated his previous "fix". After all, Rick did say at the end of Rick Potion #9: "It's not like we can do this every week anyways, we get, like, 3 or 4 of these tops!" <-- Suggesting that he's done this before. Another logical possibilities is that Rick C-137 at least waits for the Rick of a particular reality he's targeting to die on his own accord (i.e. naturally, from some freak accident, gets murdered, whatever) and it happened that in the reality he was targeting, its Rick died when Beth was at the age of 30 or 40 or whatever, and for the 15 to 20 years before that, he was "predisposed" (i.e. abandoned the family for selfish reasons, got captured by the gromflomites, was trying to protect his family from all his enemies by staying as far away from them as possible, etc.). <-- The only question that arises for this logical possibility is: why would Rick wait so long if there would most likely be so many other realities in which that reality's Rick dies (or moves out of the picture) much earlier? The answer is: because Rick C-137 wants a Beth who comes closest to his original Beth... and if that requires waiting 30 or 40 years, maybe to C-137 it's worth it.

In any case, can't wait to see what season 3 has in store. I'm not even done my analysis on season 2, and I doubt I'll complete it even after season 3 has been fully aired on Adult Swim several months from now (at least at the current pace). This will unquestionably taint my analysis of what's left of season two (at least from the point at which season 3 begins to be aired) and it will be interesting to see whether I'm compelled to go back on some of my past analysis to add certain "updated" insights and to see what comes of all this. As you probably know by now, I have no reservations about spoiling! (Though I'm cautious enough to respect my "spoiler alerts" duties that are unambiguously due). So I'll not only continue to deliver my thoughts on any given episode but let you all know, straight up, when I'm borrowing insights from season 3 and to let you know in detail where those insights come from (again, with all due spoiler alerts). I don't think, however, that I'll ever pursue this (frankly unhealthy) obsession beyond season 2, so once I'm done my analysis on season 2, that's it for me. Not that anyone cares, but if you want a breakdown of season 3 in terms of philosophical messages and character analysis, well... do it yourself.
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It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Tue May 09, 2017 3:26 am

A couple questions:

1) What reality does the Citadel of Ricks reside in? At the end of season 2, when they were on Tiny Planet, Rick and the Smiths were, presumably, in their home reality (C-137 <-- Assuming Rick took on the identity of C-137 at the end of Rick Potion #9.) Then Rick surrendered himself to the galactic federation and was taken to the giant space prison. The opening of The Rickshank Rickdemption has him in the brainalizer 9000 at the prison--so still in reality C-137--then seal team Ricks break in, Rick C-137 zaps himself into D-99's brain, then makes his way across the galaxy to the Citadel of Ricks. There is no indication in the script that he passed through a portal on the way here, so we must conclude that the Citadel of Ricks is in reality C-137 at the time of Rick's Brainalizer interrogation. This also means we have no right to assume the teleportation feature of the Citadel can actually hop dimensions (but I think it's fair to say it can, being based on Rick technology and all), so for all we know, the Citadel always resided in reality C-137. If it can hop dimensions, then what was it currently doing in reality C-137? Either way, are we to presume this is just amazing coincidence? Are are to presume that there are multiple Citadels, perhaps one for every Rick who's a member? But then which Citadel does the Council of Ricks occupy at any given moment. If there are more than one Citadel, it means Rick C-137 hasn't seen the end of the other Ricks.

(Just as an aside, I wonder if the Citadel of Ricks was what the alternate Rick in his "fabricated memory" was talking about: "Dude, you have yourself, your infinite selves. It's a non-stop party where the only guests are the only person we like." Rick C-137's rejection of it is why they ended up calling him "The Rogue").

2) I'm second guessing Rick's motives about turning himself into the galactic federation. Now I'm thinking he toppled the government and the Citadel of Ricks for his family. In other words, Rick's choice to perform a selfless move at the end of season 2 was genuine, except that it wasn't what it looked like. It seemed like a move to turn himself in so that his family could be safe, but it was really a move to topple the government and the Citadel of Ricks so that his family, and the rest of the galaxy, could be safe. <-- That nicely ties together the seeming contradiction between the end of season two and the beginning of season 3. There's still the question of why Rick only did it after Morty's speech. Maybe it's because all this time, Rick held onto some doubts about joining the Citadel. He was torn, in other words, between finding connection with his other selves or with his family. So rather than risk his life trying to topple the government from inside a prison, having to somehow escape the Brainalizer, he could just find refuge at the Citadel completely risk free. But Morty's speech about loving Rick unconditionally, and that unconditional love expects nothing back in return, convinced Rick that his chances of finding connection with his family far out weighed his chances of finding connection at the Citadel. <-- So that made the decision for him--topple both the government for the sake of his family, and the Citadel.
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
User avatar
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:28 am

Rick and Morty - S2E3 - Auto Erotic Assimilation

Sorry folks, I tried. I tried putting this all together in one post, but alas... this part 1 of a 2 part analysis.

This episode touches on a brand new sphere of philosophy, and Rick's life--that of love and lust. It also explores the opposite extreme in how the secondary plot line plays out, the plot line featuring Jerry and Beth really digging into each other, really at each other's throats--you would never think love and lust subsists between these two in this episode. And when it comes to Jerry in particular, he really hits the nail on the head--he delivers a blow of harsh truth to Beth that really hits home--he calls her on her daddy issues, going so far as to say: "Your relationship with your father is psychotic!" <-- I wouldn't exactly call this "manning up" though--more like reaching a breaking point and just saying what he really thinks.

But even in the main plot line--the one featuring Rick rekindling a lost love, a passionate, romantic affair with a girl--there is a sort of third plot line--one featuring Morty and Summer getting wrap up in some precarious affairs that touch on issues of race and prejudice, and here especially, in comparison to most other episodes, we see the folly of the liberal mindset, embodied in Summer and her liberal ideals. Morty, on the other hand, though of course still being somewhat on the liberal side of things, shows how he's been "cultured", or "nurtured" so to speak, by Rick's leveling influence--he kind of stands back and watches, knowingly, Summer's idealistic naivety.

The episode begins with Rick, Morty, and Summer flying through the ring of a planet, like dust, singing "Love!... Connection!... Experience!" <-- Yes, even Rick can let loose when their lives aren't in jeopardy.

Then the distress beacon goes off. It's the S.S. Independence. Rick seems unusually happy about it. Morty questions this. Rick responds:

"The first rule of space travel, kids, is always check out distress beacons. 9 of out 10 times is a ship full of dead aliens and a bunch of free shiiit... [turns directions abruptly]... 1 out of 10 times it's a deadly trap, but I'm willing to roll those dice!"

They arrive at the abandoned space ship--the S.S. Independence--and start exploring its dingy, cobweb covered halls (I guess spiders live on other planets). Rick spray paints the symbol of the Korblocks on the wall:

Rick: "This will makes the cops write it up as a looting by the Korblocks. [Summer: That's horrible.] I hear ya, man. Cops are racist."

Then the crew of the S.S. Independence show up. They look quit similar to humans except for their blue skin and three stubby antennae at the top of their head, looking like three small light bulbs.

Image

They explain their situation of distress: "Can you help us? Our planet was taken over by some kind of... entity. It absorbed the minds of our people." Another one says: "We didn't notice it until it was too late. The people it takes over, they, they look like your friends, your family, your leaders, but they're not... 'themselves' anymore. They're part of... 'it'."

Rick: "And... how do you know it didn't get on the ship with you? Those two ding dongs seem pretty calm about the whole thing."

The two ding dongs point to Rick and let out a deafening screech not unlike that of the victims in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They grab the other members of the crew and start puking neon green/yellow goop into their mouths. Rick pulls out a gun and says, "Hold it." The now completely assimilated crew turns to Rick with a smug look on their faces and says: "Hello Rick, long time no see."

"Unity?!" Rick says.

Summer: "Grandpa?" Morty: "Rick?"

Rick: "Oh boy, uh, these are my grand kids, Summer and Morty. Summer, Morty, this is, uh, Unity. We sort of used to, uh... date."

The next scene pans through another world, the world of the blue light bulb heads, showing scenes of a kind of utopian society. It looks clean, advanced, peaceful, a paradise on Earth (or whatever planet they're on). Music in the background plays not unlike that in the opening scene of Back to the Future III when Marty brings a passed out Emit Brown to his home. We see blue light bulb head fathers pushing their children on swings in a park. We see people watering their lawns in a peaceful neighborhood. We see citizens having lunch in the sun, sitting around tables in the open air, just outside cafes.

They land the SS Independence--now a joke of a name--and Unity (re)introduces herself to Rick--except this time in the body of a mega-hot bombshell of a super voluptuous woman--can't be much older than 30--and note that Unity is not just the one woman, although she is, of course, possessing this woman. Unity gets to choose who she gets to engage with Rick as. And she knows Rick. She knows that Rick just wouldn't have it any other way unless he gets to engage with Unity as a hot brunette with voluptuous curves and huge boobies. At the same time, also note that she engages with Rick as an intellectual, dressed like an aggressive business woman or politician. The glasses say it all: sexy but smart. It's the only way Rick is going to be interested.

She does, however, diversify herself, speaking to Rick through other beings close by. This bombshell of a gorgeous brunette is accompanied by what looks like secret service agents--men in black, so to speak--and they too engage with Rick: "Then I found this world, [switching to another agent:] where I was better able to focus on my passion for unification." <-- So obviously, Unity didn't start as a blue light bulb head (and there's no indication in the episode of what Unity did start out as).

Summer: "You mean stealing people's bodies?"

Rick: "[slapping his forehead] Summer... rude." <-- Wow, Rick standing up for someone other than himself, not to mention Summer having no qualms about being rude, not unlike Rick himself--although it becomes obvious as the episode unfold that Summer is saying this out of moral principles, unlike Rick who would say such a thing out of callous disregard.

Rick sends Morty and Summer off with Unity, while he and Unity do some catching up--that is, a few blue light bulb heads escort Morty and Summer off the scene. But not without some resistance on Morty's part: "Wait, Rick, aren't these people gonna barf into our mouths and absorb us?!" Unity: "You're guests here on my planet. You're free to be yourselves." <-- Oh wow, what a privilege--but it does speak of Unity's respect for Rick.

Beth: "Jerry, what're, what're you doing in here?" She catches him snooping for something in the garage.

Jerry: "Trying to find our weed wacker, 'cause our weeds are wack, yo."

^ This sets the stage for the "lover's quarrel" that Jerry and Beth are going to get into throughout the rest of the secondary plot line. And it's interesting how it starts out: Beth notices Jerry looking for something in the garage--the most mundane, innocuous thing a man can do in his own house--and yet, she reacts with alarm, as though he is trespassing on forbidden grounds. Jerry confirms the innocence of what he's doing by explaining, quite honestly, that he's looking for the weed wacker--the kind of thing you would expect a man to do when he is focused on tending to his property. The idea that this constitutes "trespassing" or something worth being suspicious over, as Beth seems to be, is a little bit off to say the least.

And as an aside, I'm not sure what game Roiland and Harmon were playing by making Jerry speak in what Beth calls "that hip-hop dialect"--and he does lay it on pretty thick in this early scene--not sure what it's supposed to imply--maybe that Jerry has to switch to this "hip-hop" mindset in order to call it as it is, to hit Beth with the harsh truth:



Now, in Beth's defense, Jerry is acting as the "man of the house"--even though, next to Rick, he rightfully should be--but next to Beth, perhaps he shouldn't be--if in this day and age, both man and woman are supposed to share their assets, including the house, including the garage, then Beth's say in this affair counts as equally relevant to Jerry's. Nonetheless, if there was only one person in this lover's tiff who was right and the other wrong, it would have to be Jerry. It is patently clear, at this point in the series, that Beth is obviously speaking from daddy issues whereas Jerry is peaking more from common sense. Jerry has much to learn about empathizing with his wife's point of view, but even if he were to do so, he's still be right.

But all that is interrupted by a strange alien-like gurgling screech. Jerry pushes away a rug to uncover a hatch (not one of Rick's most brilliant moves, I have to say--it's like hiding incriminating evidence under the bed).

Jerry: "Your father put a hatch in my garage!"

Beth: "You don't know it was him!"

Rick stops by a news paper stand--the headline reads: "world peace achieved"--so simple for a borg like collective, hinting that maybe unifying, against their will, what were once individuals, is on the whole a good thing.

We see the news paper guy accept a few coins from a customer in exchange for a news paper, showing that even though Unity has joined an entire planet in one collective consciousness, she still has to make sure everything runs according to the ordinary agendas of the day, the economic pattern that was in place even before she took over; one might not think this is necessary, one might think that, once unified, what need would there be to exchange cash for goods and services, for a monitory or even a barter system at all. But it makes one think: how would the world run if not through an economic system, a system of give and take, of exchanges of this good or service for that good or service? Couldn't a whole civilization make the world run just out of the sheer appreciation that work has to be done--if not only for others, then at least for the returns that come to one's self? Couldn't Unity provide some good or some service to herself (as another person) simply out of appreciation for the fact that, that person as Unity herself, wants--needs--that good or service just in order to survive, just in order to keep the world--again, as Unity herself--going? To preserve an economic system in this case would be like paying one's self some amount of cash in order to provide to one's self that which one's self wants in the first place. Why?

But perhaps this is the point Rick was making--as sort of self-mockery on the part of Roiland and Harmon--when he said: "Little weird to publish a paper about it for yourself, but hey." <-- Maybe narcissism is something Rick and Unity have in common.

From there, Unity explains to Rick, through a series of different blue light bulb heads, what her ambitions are: she has aspirations to join the galactic federation; she claims that "after I become a 'type 1' civilization, this world will be invited into the galactic federation." From there, she claims, she will have access to countless worlds, world she can unify, thereby becoming, in her words, a god. <-- Here we see one of the features which contrasts Rick and Unity: Unity aspires to become a god, Rick thinks he's already a god (and skipping ahead to episode 1 of season 3, we see this may not be far off from the truth). This theme will tie in to the end scene.

Rick asks where they can get a drink. Unity informs him that she phased out recreational substances. She reasons: "There's no need for escape from the self when your world is one." <-- This is one thing the Citadel of Ricks lacks: even though we see in episode 1 of season 3 that the Ricks seek out the same thing with themselves as Unity seeks out by assimilating herself with other beings (i.e. "Dude, you have yourself, your infinite selves, it's a non-stop party where the only guests are the only person we like. You think it's cool being the smartest man on Earth, but once we give you this technology, you become the smartest thing in every conceivable universe, the infinite Rick, a god.") Obviously, this is not enough to compel Rick to kick his substance abuse problem, and according to Unity, it's because the Ricks can't psychically connect with each other to become a collective. <-- I'm not entirely convinced this logic makes sense, however, unless what Unity means is that the main point of doing alcohol and drugs is to escape from other people who are not part of one's self, or perhaps in order to join others who are not one's self, as in the way alcohol can help a person bond with others, lowering his self-masking inhibitions (but I wouldn't exactly call the drive to bond with others a drive to escape the self). But what Unity has established is a whole planet of beings who are psychically connected right down to the core of their being--there's no hiding here--the catch being that it's not genuine bonding with truly "other" people--for what Unity has done, after all, is replace others with herself.

Rick makes a dumb comment about how Unity used to be more wild. Unity responds that as she's gathered more beings into her collective, she's changed*, she's grown. Rick tries to convince her that he's grown too because he's reconnected with his family. "Why is that, I wonder," says Unity. "Maybe it's part of getting old," Rick says, "Maybe I just miss being with [grabs her hand] a collective." Then he kisses her. He keeps on kissing her. Other blue light bulb heads surrounding them and chant: "Yes, Rick, yes... yes."

(* It's interesting that she ends this speech with "Sorry to disappoint you, I've grown" when just a few minutes earlier, she says to Morty and Summer: "I've never been any good at disappointing Rick." As the episode unfolds, we see that what she means by the latter is that she knows how to sink to Rick's level. Growing, in other words, is what's disappointing to Rick, particularly in this scene where the conversation revolves around growing beyond drugs and alcohol.)

I find the hopping from one body to another throughout this scene very interesting. It really adds a sense of jarring contrast between the romantic reconnection that Rick and Unity are going through and who exactly Unity is, who Rick understands himself to be reconnecting to. This entire conversation starts with Unity as the hot babe she introduced herself as when they landed, and after the scene with Beth and Jerry discovering the hatch in the garage floor, we find Rick talking about achieving world peace with Unity as a newspaper salesman (literally a man), then the customer who buys a newspaper, then a young black woman (who is blue), then an old lady, then a mailman, then a greasy looking homeless man, and finally a sexy looking police officer. <-- This is the one he kisses. What would happen if Unity ended with the homeless man? Would Rick have made the suave move that lead to the kiss? Makes you wonder who's in control.

In any case, this scene raises the larger question: who is Unity really? On a first impression, we get to know her as the hot bombshell we saw near the beginning (when Rick, Morty, and Summer dismounted from the ship), and the writers intend for us to continue with this impress as this woman fills in as the "default" representative of Unity, but really she could just as easily be represented as the old woman who explained how all drugs and alcohol were phased out. It's questionable whether we even have the right to assume Unity is female. I mean, Rick and Unity did have a love affair some time in the past but in Unity's words: "Rick, when we met, I was a young hive mind at the time, with the population of a small town." It's not even clear from this whether Unity had assimilated blue light bulb heads or some other species (probably some other species given that it took so long for Rick to recognize her at the beginning). Either way, Unity was (most likely) a mix of men and women when they first met. What was Unity's original sex? Male or female? Does Rick know? Does the fact that she's sexually attracted to Rick indicate that she was female? Or does she simply become attracted to Rick in virtue of occupying female bodies from time to time (or if she was originally male, was she gay? Would Rick have been informed of this?). Or perhaps she was originally from an asexual species or some kind of asexual life form. In any case, it's a mystery, and it's unclear how much Rick knows about the original Unity.

(For that matter, why would her parents have named her 'Unity'? Did they expect that she was destined to assimilate whole civilizations? Was she born of a species for whom psychic assimilation was perfectly natural, and in that case, why 'Unity'? That would be like naming your newborn baby 'human'.)

Rick's words: "Maybe I just miss being with a collective," needs to be interpreted subtly. At first, it sounds like it echoes Rick's longing to belong to a family again, or just to a community of some kind. But why did Rick say with a collective rather than part of a collective? He wants to be among friends and family, among lovers, among a community, but without being assimilated like a mindless borg. He wants to be accepted but still an individual.

Then Rick breaks from the kissing and says to Unity: "Wait, wait, stop. Ho-hold it. Not like this. We need a hang glider, and a crotchless uncle Sam costume, and I want the entire field of your largest stadium covered end to end with naked redheads, and I want the stands packed with every man who remotely resembles my father." <-- The ultimate pornography. It's interesting that having his father watch him bang a bunch of redheads is important to Rick. What does this say about him? Could it be a glimpse into his past, of his upbringing? What was his father like? How did he treat him? (If the theory that Rick is really an old man version of Morty, then Rick's father is Jerry.) I wonder if Rick's father shamed Rick when he was a kid. Maybe Rick was a nerdy little kid only interested in science, too shy to talk to girls, too awkward for girls to take an interest in him, and maybe his father shamed him for sticking his nose too much into science and not enough into going out and chasing girls. Maybe this is Rick's way of making himself feel redeemed in his father's eyes. Maybe daddy issues run in the family.

Meanwhile, a bunch of blue light bulb heads are carving out a mountain in the image of Morty and Summer, much like Mount Rushmore, while Morty and Summer sit back eating hamburgers, watching the whole thing unfold in a matter of seconds.

Image

Morty is (as usual) quite impressed. Seeing that Summer still looks miffed, he says:

"What's your problem? They're making you into a Mount Rushmore. They made burgers."

Summer: [Sits up as a blue light bulb head fans her with a giant leaf] "Morty, open your eyes. There is no 'they'. These poor people's bodies are being used. They're a planet of puppets."

The man fanning Summer says: "I can hear you."

Morty: "Well, it seems like everybody here's cool with it... except for all those redheads. They seem like they're in a hurry to be somewhere else."

Then the sex scene happens:



Now Rick did say he wanted a crotchless uncle Sam costume, and if you pause the scene right at this shot here, you can see a little something:

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One can only imagine how he landed.

I also take the Uncle Sam outfit to be a sign of right-wing conservatism.

Cutting back to Beth and Jerry, they've somehow managed to open the hatch. They hear gargling, like from an alien creature writhing in pain. Jerry says he's going down there:

"Beth, this is my house, which makes this my garage, my secret hatch, my subterranean lair, and my faceless gargler. Now, are you gonna keep hatin' this player, or are you gonna jack my steez?" Beth responds: "Okay, you're just making stuff up now."

^ Still not sure what this urban dialect is supposed to insinuate.

Rick steps out of the stadium in a yellow house coat (same one he wore in S3E1 in his memory of where he was on 9-11) looking rather exhausted. He leans up against a lamp post and chugs his water. Unity comes out as 3 young redheads also in house coats (and high heels) plus 4 men in white button up shirts and ties who are presumably Sanchez Senior look-a-likes? If this really is what they represent, then we at least get an idea of what Rick's father looked like... except for the one with the goatee--he looks a little off from the others--but Rick did say "every man who remotely resembles my father"--that covers pretty much anyone.

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The lead redhead says:

"Oh Rick, that was so bad."

Rick responds: "What's this 'was' stuff. I just need to rehydrate, then we're doing that again."

Now we all know that Rick excels at everything, but usually that's because of his higher intelligence. Now we see him excelling at sex, able to satisfy a whole stadium of redheads and ready to do it again. Did his intelligence help him here? Did he invent a gadget to give him more stamina, a bigger erection, extra appendages? Maybe intelligence isn't his only virtue.

Then 6 ships land in their vicinity. "Oh damn," says Unity. Rick: "Listen, if this is an invasion, I gotta sit this one out, but I'll-I'll be back to have sex with the survivors." Unity: "It's a neighboring hive mind species, beta-7. Our planets maintain a practical alliance for exchange of vital resources... [whispers] so be nice."

Beta-7 definitely isn't a hot sexy bombshell. In fact, his hive seems more assimilated than Unity--at least the bodies that Unity takes over are all different in appearance--all beta-7's bodies look identical--a race of pale white, sickly, somewhat chubby, cyborg men:

Image

Unity introduces Rick, calling him her "single minded friend". Beta-7 responds that Unity has spoken of him. Jokingly, Rick says in a pompous tone "All bad I hope," and slaps the lead Beta-7 on the shoulder, eliciting the same loud, screechy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers reaction. Rick reacts: "Woaw, Jesus Christ!" Unit gives Beta-7 shit. Beta-7 responds in the manner of what Trixie calls a cuck: "When Beta-7 expresses concern, i-it's only b-because..."

Rick interrupts: "Oh snap! Powdered neutronium?! Amphetetron?! You know what I can make with this stuff?" Unity hesitates, but Rick twists her very rubbery arm, and she gives in--effectively ending years of complete drug abstinence (or however long it was). They walk off together giggling and being flirtatious. Beta-7 walks off looking rather dejected, even a bit miffed. "You know, I think," says Rick before belching, "Beta-7 over there's hoping your alliance can be more than practical." They both laugh it up as Beta-7 leaves.

So Rick almost abandons Unity on the pretense of an impending invasion and says he'll return to have sex with the survivors, while Beta-7 expresses concern for Unity on the pretense that Rick might be a threat to her, and guess who gets the girl. Not the nice guy, that's for sure. Furthermore, one might think that Beta-7, a hive mind like Unity, having assimilated a whole planet like Unity, might be the better match for her. Rick is just a single mind. Yet Unity is far more attracted to Rick than to Beta-7. In fact, it's kind of telling that her reaction to seeing Beta-7's ship landing is: "Oh damn."

Beth and Jerry make their way down into the subterranean lair, which turns out to be a high tech control center of some kind. They discover the faceless gurgler chained to the wall:

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Jerry is not the least bit impressed and starts digging into Beth.

Cutting back to Summer and Morty, Summer is standing atop a box of some kind, shouting into a mega phone to all the blue light bulb heads walking passed: "Wake up people! You have to fight it! You're under the spell of an evil monster!" Meanwhile, Morty is kinda just standing by watching Summer do her thing. One blue light bulb head, Steven Phillips, stops in front of Summer (odd that a member of an alien species would have the name Steven). He tells her: "I can hear you." Unity explains to Summer that the man she is currently engaging Summer with used to be a sex offender before she took over. Unity approaches Summer with a woman's body: "This woman was a drug addict on the verge of suicide, and now she's a marine biologist."

^ This hints at a bit of the liberal vs. conservative controversy, Summer acting as the typical liberal who fights on moral principles but only on the whims of a knee jerk reaction, not really thinking about the alternate possibility in which setting these people free from the hive mind may not be the best course of action after all. Unity nicely explains the other side of the coin, but to no avail. Summer isn't listening. On the other hand, Summer would have an equally powerful point if she had pointed out that real marine biologists and other well-to-dos are also assimilated, and while Unity most likely didn't make their lives worse off (at least on the surface), she cannot use the same excuse for everyone on this planet.

Morty: Listen Unity, I don't think my sister's trying to say that life would be perfect without you, I think she's just saying life would be, you know, life.

A different man approaches them: "I have transformed life here into a paradise. Prostitutes are now scientists, the homeless are now phisosophers." The man tries a few times to pronounce "philosophers" properly, and then ends up puking up that yellowish/green neon goop we saw at the beginning. He passes out on the ground, followed by every other blue light bulb head end-to-end--like a line of dominoes. Obviously something's up. Unity's effect is wearing off.

Why?

Because she's getting drunk with Rick:



This is going inside the massive phallic symbol of a building:

Image

Yes, Unity and Rick are getting drunk and high together, essentially throwing a wild party involving Rick, Unity, and... more Unity. <-- This is Rick's corrupting influence. For years (we are to presume) Unity has done away with all drugs and alcohol, a measure taken to improve life on this planet.

Several things are packed together in this brief scene. Starting with a coked up (or something) Unity saying to Rick: "D'you know what I love about you, Rick? You're the only single mind I've met that really sees the big picture." <-- That's what she likes about Rick? His vision? His intelligence? Well, I'll admit, it probably is an attractive feature to most women (or whatever Unity is), but he's the only one? Well, I guess that depends on what the "big picture" ultimately is. Maybe it's something that can only be understood after years of reality hopping (of which, as far as we know, Rick is the only one to have discovered the technology and to have used extensively). Or, I suppose, being a collective. <-- Would that mean Beta-7 also sees the big picture? I doubt it. Maybe Unity's statement is just a glorified consensus--as in: "I like you because you agree with me."

An ego-stroked Rick responds: "You got that right... but baby, listen, y-y-you're talkin' about taking over plants, and galaxies, you gotta, you gotta just remember to let go sometimes."

^ Uncannily similar to the speech he gave to Morty at the house party back in S1E11.

"I can let go," says a desperate-to-impress Unity hopping off the table, motioning towards the window and watches, with Rick by her side, as a nuclear warhead completely obliterates a nearby town. <-- This is Unity not wanting Rick to think of her as "uptight"--as if that were a problem--and even after Rick understands that no one was hurt, I still don't think that's exactly what he meant. It seems Unity is trying to be wild and crazy in order not to disappoint Rick--breaking her vow to abstain from all drugs and alcohol being a prime example--and now, when Rick hints that maybe he is a bit disappointed in *something* (not what she thinks it is), she hikes it up a notch, goes above and beyond wild and crazy, up to bat-shit insane. I think what Rick meant by "let go" is exactly what he does when he "let's go"--essentially, stops caring, following through with the ultimate nihilism--whereas Unity seems to think of it as "letting go of pursuing her goal," which involves being serious about improving life on this planet, doing business with the galactic federation, as opposed to more spontaneous, chaotic behavior.

And of course, we get another glimpse of Rick's softer side--worried about his grand kids--then dismisses it by asking for a refill on his drink; it's also interesting to see, not only that he cares for his grand kids but for life in general: his reaction, "Woaw! That's not what I meant!" shows that he has enough moral sensibility to at least recognize what counts as crossing the line.

(On a practical note, how did Unity get the town's people to safety so fast?... unless this was planned in advance... or perhaps they were all out on an excursion for some other purpose, and Unity just recognized the opportunity.)

Cutting back to Morty and Summer, they're running around trying to stay safe. A barf-o-rama is going on around them, neon yellow/green puke is being hurled from the mouths of almost every blue light bulb head in the region. They can't really control themselves and seem like they're in a kind of delirious frenzy. Cars run into each other, spaceships crash, and a man controlling a towering crane loses control and drops tons of steel bars onto a port-o-potty just as another blue light bulb head leaves it. It also just barely misses Summer and Morty as they run by. The blue light bulb head who just came out of the port-o-potty happens to be the sex offender whom Unity spoke through earlier informing Summer and Morty of just that fact. He is now free of Unity's influence and asks to take a picture of Morty and Summer's feet.
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:35 am

Part 2

Summer says to the crowd after they've finished purging: "Do all of you remember who you are?"

"Yeah, uh," says one blue light bulb head in particular, "My name is Ron Benson [typical name for a blue light bulb head, I'm sure], I'm an electrical engineer, father of two, and as you can see from my flat concentric nipple rings, I'm a member of this planet's top race!" He rips open his shirt to reveal ringed nipples:

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This is followed by: "I'm Darryl Jefferson [a Jefferson no less!], I'm a landscaper, and I'll be damned if that ripple nipple bitch's race is superior! [Rips off shirt] The cone nipple people will rule this world!"

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Then an all out race war breaks out: ring nipples beating the crap out of cone nipples, and visa-versa. Summer looks around at all the mayhem and shouts: "Why are you fighting?! Can't you see you're all the same?"

Morty: "Oh Summer, ha, ha, first race war, huh?"

^ While Summer is panicking at this completely unexpected turn of events, Morty is kind of just laying back and laughing at it all, laughing at Summer even for goofing up and inadvertently starting a race war. And this again brings us back to the recurring theme we've seen more than once in the series about liberal naivety. Summer, in trying to incite a revolt on the part of innocent, victimized blue light bulb heads against the evil mind-enslaving Unity, ends up making the situation worse by inciting instead a race war. Maybe Unity was right, maybe assimilating the blue light bulb heads was for the better after all. But the liberal mindset, encapsulated in Summer in this scene, doesn't think beyond the assumptions that are ingrained in the psyche by social conditioning and elicited by knee jerk reactions.

^ It kind of reminds me of the naivety of Morty's moral determination in the last episode. Now it's Summer's turn.

This time around, Morty is taking it rather calmly, as if Rick is rubbing off on him; he takes in the whole situation through the same nihilistic, nothing-matters visors that Rick is apt to wearing. And his comment to Summer--"First race war, huh?"--hints at a kind of haughtiness that betrays a bit of experience, like he's watching a novice from the point of view of someone who's been there, done that--and he has been there, done that--he's seen many things, gone through many disturbing trials as Rick's side-kick for the last season and a bit--so it's no surprise that he would take this nonchalant attitude next to Summer who's learning some harsh lessons about irony for the first time.

The race war carries on all day and into the night. There are flipped cars, fires ablaze, broken windows, and the blue light bulb heads are still at it. Morty and Summer hide behind a vehicle (a ship?) watching in fear as the violence unfolds.

Morty: "Way to go Summer, you started a race war."

Summer: "I didn't start it, they're the racists. I-I merely empowered them to follow their apparently misguided dreams." <-- Apparently not quite having learned the lesson.

Morty: "Okay, thanks for clarifying. I'll have a super accurate headstone now." <-- Kind of a Rick comment if you ask me.

Then they're discovered. A blue light bulb points to them and asks what race they are. Morty lifts up his shirt to show they're neither. The blue light bulb head says: "Hey, these two freaks have no race!" and starts chasing them, the crowd following. Nothing like a common enemy to bring people together.

As an aside, it seems the animators got a bit lazy in this scene. Watch the crowd in the background:



Also, who knew they had Sikhs on other planets?

Image

Summer and Morty are backed into a corner as the angry mob encroach on them. Suddenly, ropes drop. Heavily armed law enforcement officers come down the ropes, protecting Morty and Summer. They get reeled back up to a low flying hover-copter, bringing Morty and Summer with them. They take off.

Officer #1: "Hello, Summer. Hello, Morty."

Officer #2: "It's OK, you're safe now."

Morty: "U-U-Unity?"

Unity confirms that it's her. They breathe a sigh of relief. Summer apologizes to Unity for ever questioning her: "Unity, I am so sorry. I didn't know that freedom meant people doing stuff that sucks. I was thinking more of a choose your own cell phone carrier thing." <-- Maybe she has learned her lesson after all. If Summer really means this--that she believes now that freedom means people doing stuff that sucks--she, like Morty, has grown one step closer to being Rick-like. And I think this is more than a statement about Summer's character on the part of the writers, more than a development in her growth as a character, but a statement about the nature of political freedom itself. History, especially the history of free nations, has shown that giving people freedom is one thing, watching what they do with that freedom is quite another. If things like racism, violence, civil war, mob mentality, is what comes out of people acting freely in a world that allows them such freedom, then the problems of the world cannot be solely blamed on tyrants and totalitarian governments; it's within human nature itself. And this raises the question of whether freedom is always a virtue worth fighting for, of whether sometimes a strong central ruling power that preserves law and order, and peace amongst a people, is better than freedom.

Officer #2 continues: "Ah, Summer, you did nothing wrong. I'm having fun with your grandpa. Lost a little control. Probably shouldn't be piloting a hover-copter, nor should I be running 200,000 pediatric hospitals and 12,000,000 deep fryers, but hey, it's not like this planet can take its business elsewhere." Morty suggests stopping somewhere to get Unity a coffee or splash water on her face. Officer #2 continues: "No, no, if I wanted to be sober, I wouldn't have gotten drunk." <-- Well, at least she owns her decisions.

We get a lot of insight from this scene into the nature of how Unity's mind control works. If this officer, having not touched a single drop of booze that night, is drunk flying the hover-copter, then it says Unity's influence over the minds of the assimilated does indeed stem from a central point of control, namely the bombshell blue light bulb head whose brain actually is doused in alcohol. It seems Unity--the voluptuous woman Rick is in love with--is at the top of a hierarchy--as opposed to being diversified equally among each individual blue light bulb head. If the latter were the case, there would be no need to pass on the intoxicating influence from Unity the bombshell to Unity the law enforcement officer. This is not to say carbon copies of Unity for each blue light bulb head would isolate each one off from each other--there can still be a psychic network that connects each of them instantly to any other of them; furthermore, as we don't quite know for certain what Unity is really, it could still have been hierarchical, only that Unity as the top level node in the hierarchy wouldn't be one of the blue light bulb heads but maybe an immaterial force or bodiless intelligence ruling over this planet. But since the alcohol chemicals in the brain of Unity the bombshell are having these kinds of catastrophic effects, we can say for certain that Unity the bombshell is indeed at the top of some hierarchy (not necessarily the top of the entire hierarchy, but for sure over enough blue light bulb heads to cover 200,000 pediatric hospitals and 12,000,000 deep fryers). Damn, can this girl multitask!

Furthermore, what does Unity's devil may care attitude about the whole thing say about her motives in taking over the minds of an entire planet of blue light bulb heads? People are dying because of her careless choices, getting seriously injure, and at the very least being put at great risk. It would seem that to Unity, the life of one blue light bulb head is peanuts. They're a dime a dozen to her. As they fly away from a burning town in the background, we get the idea that a whole town of people have come to ruin. And while taking full accountability for this outcome, she still reasserts her decision to get drunk and have fun with the kids' grandpa. Obviously, losing a few blue light bulb heads is like shedding a few cells from one's body--no big loss. It's ironic then that this becomes patently obvious right after Summer offers Unity a heartfelt apology for doubting her. Maybe Summer was right after all.

This scene also reinforces the point that even though Unity has assimilated an entire planet, business as usual must go on. Pediatric hospitals must still run, restaurants utilizing deep fryers must still run, law enforcement must still run. Her statement that "it's not like this planet can take its business elsewhere" implies that business must happen somewhere. It's still a bit of a mystery why all this would be necessary, but I'm forming an idea of why this is: it's all for show. She intends to join the galactic federation; this will be quite a challenge if she just introduced herself as Unity--as she does with Rick--for then the federation would probably see her as a threat; better to keep her real identity under raps and present herself merely as a representative of a whole planet of blue light bulb heads going about their daily business, just as any other planet hosting intelligent life with advanced civilizations.

Back at the Smith's house, Jerry is livid about finding the Korblock in his subterranean lair. He says: "Oh man, I cannot wait. I cannot wait to hear Rick explain his way around this. He is gone!" Beth pleads with him: "Jerry, stop, please, ok? We weren't even supposed to be down here. If we confront him about this..." "Oh my GOD!!!" replies Jerry, "I love this! I love that this is how far you would go for him. You wanna go upstairs, and cut carrots, and watch a lifetime original about the f$%@ing alien dungeon! Your relationship with your father is psychotic!" <-- Not sure what Jerry means by "watch a lifetime original about the f$%@ing alien dungeon"--I suppose he means Beth wants to treat this whole thing like some kind of fantasy, like she was just watching it on TV.

An even bigger point is that even though Jerry is bang on about Beth's daddy issues and that she's off in la-la-land about how she wants to deal with this, he's not quite listening to her. At the utterance "He is gone!" Beth's expression becomes one of dread:

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She switches gears at this point; she stops bickering and starts pleading. That Rick leaves again is one of her deepest fears. But this flies right passed Jerry. He still sees this as a confrontation, and reacts in quite the opposite way of what might otherwise have lead to a quasi-reconciliation.

The fighting continues:



Beth tells Jerry to step out of his ego. On this score, she might be right (given what I said above), but she too is missing the point: that Jerry ought to consider that maybe Rick has the Korblock chained up in order to protect the planet is not what Jerry ought to be focusing on here. This is just Beth feeding herself another dose of her own self-denial.

In any case, they have officially passed the point of no return in their bickering. They are on a course of shouting right passed each other and any opportunity to talk seriously or to truly listen is now gone. Also, I don't recall in any passed episode Jerry calling it as it is as directly and loudly as he does here. This seems to be a breaking point for Jerry.

The next scene opens with another animator goof:

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They really dropped the ball in this episode... anyway, Morty and Summer are ushered to Unity, who's half passed out on a desk.

Summer: "Unity, this place is a mess."

Unity: "Oh, it's cool. The part of me that's the cleaning lady is coming on Friday. [Looks at her watch] *GASP!* Oh my God, I have a meeting at the galactic federation in an hour. [Rests boobs on desk] Oh, I'll never make it. I'll push it to next week."

^ I would think that one doesn't just push a meeting with the galactic federation, the purpose of which is to join, to next week, especially on such short notice. If she cancels this meeting, what are the chances that the galactic federation would take her seriously enough to grant her another one? Rick really proved himself a bad influence on Unity here, and Unity an absolute push over for Rick, all too eager to please.

When the kids ask to see Rick, Unity reacts with a bit of haste: "He's... unavailable... he's--" "Having sex with you, we get it, gross, get him out here now!" replies Summer. They begin shouting for him. He comes out stumbling drunk, a bottle in his hand, dressed like a drunken Mexican:

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^ With a name like Sanchez, maybe Rick is living out his ancestry.

"Grandpa, we need to go home, now!" demands Summer. "Fine! Sheesh!" says Rick before picking up the portal gun and shooting it at the wall. "See ya," he dismisses them. When the kids insist that Rick come with them, he scoffs them off:

Rick: "You guys, I get it, you're afraid the big bad hive mind's gonna steel your grandpa away."

Summer: "Actually, no! I think Unity's great and you're a horrible influence on it! [...] You and Unity are like... like leggings and mid-calf boots. You think you're great together, but you're just bringing out the worst in each other." <-- Acute observation on Summer's part.

Rick: "Oh, gee! Boy, Summer, well put. Uh, why don't we see what Unity thinks. Unity?"

Unity [as man]: "I'm jus' takin' a lil' break from stuff... you know? I need to relax."

Rick: "Oh hey... what's this on the news, guys? Le-le-lemme turn it up."

Rick turns up the volume on a remote. Reporters on a TV speak on behalf of Unity:

Todd: "In the news today, this looks a lot worse than it is. We're really just having a good time. Karen?"

Karen: "Thanks Todd. Up next: are you a concerned grandchild or just a buzz kill. We'll tell you how you can know for sure."

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Rick: "I think you too are a little out numbered."

Summer: "Okay, well, what if you did it for me? What if you came with us as a favor to us? Cause you love us?"

Rick: "What? Dumb! Bye!"

Morty: "But Rick, Summer's just say--"

Rick: "Summer's just a hyper-emotional needy little... what's the word I'm looking for here? Uh, human. It runs in the family. I can tolerate it but I can't give a crap about it. Take a hike."

Even Unity looks a little shocked at these words. Summer tells Unity to take care of herself and then leaves through the portal with Morty. Neither Unity nor Rick see things from Summer and Morty's point of view, but Unity seems a bit in denial about how far she's digressed under Rick's corrupting influence. She too partook in the mockery of Rick's grandkids as, for example, when she called them a "buzz kill" on the news. We know that this is just Rick--he doesn't need denial to be an asshole or to not care how badly things have fallen apart--but I don't think Unity fully appreciates the gravity of what she has succumb to--part of this is being drunk, of course, but also how much she longs to impress Rick. Given the look on her face, however, the way Rick spoke about Summer in this scene seems to mark a breaking point for Unity, possibly snapping her out of her denial.

Back at the Smith's household, Jerry and Beth are in the heat of a screaming match, neither one listening to the other:

Jerry: "You don't support this family! All you care about is yourself! You've got two children being dragged across the cosmos by your dangerously ill father! And you force me to watch it happen because you'd rather lose them and lose me than lose him?! Why?! Because you're the child, Beth! You, not me! You!"

Beth [at the same time]: "It's not about supporting the family, it's about supporting you emotionally, but you're unsupportable because it's never enough, Jerry! There will never be enough support to satisfy you! And you don't even know what it's like to be afraid of losing anything because you cling and you cling and you cling!"

I wonder if there's any truth to Beth's rant. She nailed it by calling Jerry "clingy", and maybe this incessant clinging to the things he's afraid of losing is what's holding him back from "growing up" (or "manning up")--maybe if he were forced to lose something, something precious to him, he'd grow out of his child-like naivety and become more cynical and dark, like Beth, like Rick (maybe even like the "orphaned" Jerries at the Jerryboree).

Anyway, the Korblock breaks free, slithers like a slug right passed Jerry and Beth, leaving a slimy trail, breaks the glass door on one of Rick's highly sophisticated closets, grabs what looks like a gun, points it at Jerry and Beth, then sticks it in his own neck and begins to speak. The device pressed into his neck is (apparently) a translator. He speaks in his native tongue and the device translates. He says:

"Um... first of all, hello... um, my name is Blim Blam the Korblock. Second of all, cards on the table, I'm a murderer that eats babies, and I came to this planet to eat babies [Jerry gives Beth the I-told-you-so-look]... however, I am also carrying a highly infectious disease that I suppose you *could* call space aids, as you put it, and Rick did chain me up so that he could attempt to cure it. [Beth returns the look] At the same time, Rick's motivation to cure my disease was not to save my life or anyone else's, but to patent and sell the cure for billions of blemflarks. [Jerry repeats the look] But you know the reason why I ripped the chains out of the wall? And do you know why I'm never coming back to this planet? Because the two of you are the f@#$ing worst! You both hate yourselves and each other, and the idea that it has anything to do with Rick is laughable! I'd laugh, but I'm biologically incapable! That's how alien I am! And even I'm sitting here listening to the two of you, being like 'What the f%&k!!!' So, good luck with your shitty marriage, and tell Rick I'm sorry he has to deal with either of you. Blim Blam out!

I'm not sure what a blemflark will buy you, but Rick's motive for curing Blim Blam's space aids seems counter to what we learned of Rick in Something Ricked, namely that he doesn't seem the least bit interested in making money. Maybe blemflarks aren't money.

Rick is sitting on a couch with three instances of Unity--a middle aged scruffy looking blue light bulb head with a bear gut and wearing a bra and looks to be sleeping, another middle-aged blue light bulb head (a redhead with big knockers) looking a bit aged and worn out and hanging over the couch from the back, and the gorgeous bombshell we all know and love. She's sitting, legs curled up on the couch, next to Rick who's smoking a bong. (If the one blue light bulb head is sleeping, what does that say about the unification of Unity's consciousness with others on this planet? They all certainly seemed to have to be unified when she was drunk, all sharing in the same intoxication. But then again, maybe Unity chooses to "release" some blue light bulb heads when needed--as in when they need to sleep.) Rick is watching a program on TV which Unity is, in that very moment, putting on for him. She sits on the couch looking at him rather unimpressed.

"Ok, ok," Rick says, "Now make him cry--but happy cry. Now make them all make fun of the blond one. Now make them all do it on the table. Can't believe you created a whole show for me. Now cancel it! Okay, now put it back on! Ha! Ha!.. all right, I'm bored."

Unity: "Rick, is there a way for you to call Summer and Morty? I feel bad that they--"

Rick brushes her off. It's questionable whether this sentiment for Morty and Summer on the part of Unity betrays a conscience. I think it goes without saying that Unity is more "feeling" than Rick, more caring, but this has to be considered in contrast to the total disregard she seems to have for the people she has taken over. It may be true that, in a sense, she made life on this planet into a paradise, but we have also seen that she thinks of the people whose bodies she's taken over as expendable and usable like tools. To her, losing a small town of racists is like a drop in the bucket when considered on the scale of a whole planet, and making them into puppets for Rick's entertainment is harmless when seen from a nihilist's point of view--the "big picture" so to speak--in that no one is getting hurt. But of course, her feelings of guilt over how they treated Morty and Summer are highly dependent on the fact that she respects them for Rick's sake, and maybe when standing in Rick's light, then things matter to her morally speaking.

The look she gives Rick when he smokes up and watches mindless television also speaks volumes. It's almost as if she's having a "wake up" moment, realizing this man's not all he's cracked up to be, that far from disappointing Rick (who seems to be quite impressed with the TV show), she's finding that she's disappointed in him.

Rick goes on about Summer and Morty: "Don't waste your brain on those weirdos Unity. They're no different from any of the aimless chumps that you occupy. They just put you at the center of their lives because you're powerful and then because they put you there, they want you to be less powerful."

It's hard to say what to make of this little speech. Do Summer and Morty really put Rick at the center of their lives? Or is it just as it seems? Rick is the one dragging Morty along on all his adventures? If that's the case, then this is just ego talking. Rick tells himself that the reason they end up on all these crazy, chaotic adventures is because Morty wants to go along with him, but then complains when Rick gets them into a mess. The irony is, we've seen some truth to this. The moments are rare, but we do get glimpses of Morty relishing the idea of being Rick's sidekick (in Close Rickcounters for example). And we know that Summer can sometimes be jealous of Morty and all the attention he gets from Rick. Certainly Beth puts him at the center of her life, but she never complains, and maybe should complain more (which is what the secondary plot line is getting at). But I think the reality is more that Rick simply takes control of their lives, which does make him powerful, but also gives them more of a right to complain and to demand he relinquish some of his power. In the end, I think this little speech is more fiction than truth, more his own self-talk in order to slough off responsibility as he's in the habit of doing--not like Unity who simply allows herself to feel a bit guilty.

It's also interesting how he seems to think Unity should completely understand. Summer and Morty are "no different from any of the aimless chumps" that she occupies. In Unity's case, we definitely get a glaring contrast between Rick's words and the reality. The reality is that the blue light bulb heads certainly did not put Unity at the center of their lives (regardless of whether or not it was because she was powerful); Unity, or so we're lead to assume, simply took over, like Rick taking over the family.

Rick goes to the bathroom to freshen up. Looking at himself in the mirror as he washes his hands, he says to himself: "Best weekend ever, Rick. I agree Rick. Let's see how long we can go." <-- I'm surprised how much energy Rick seems to have. Presumably, he's been up all night partying, getting drunk and high. Unity definitely seems worn out at this point, but Rick's like the energizer bunny. He can keep going 'til the cows come home. It's true that he was probably doing a lot of drugs, and many of those were probably stimulants, but if we are to presume this about Rick, we ought to presume it about Unity as well (we did see her snort something off the table). So why isn't she full of energy too?

Rick walks out of the bathroom to find Unity has left--and by Unity I mean everyone, the entire planet (or so it seems). He walks out to the empty room to find notes strewn all over the place, notes to him. He reads one:

"Rick, forgive me for doing this in notes. I'm not strong enough to do it in persons. [outside, Rick picks up another note, in the voice of a man] I realize now that I'm attracted to you for the same reason I can't be with you. You can't change. [grabs a note taped to a wall] And I have no problem with that, but it clearly means, I have a problem with myself. I'm sure there's no perfect version of me. [reads a note taped to the newspaper stand from earlier] I'm sure I'll just unify species after species and never really be complete. [sitting on the steps reading another note, in a woman's voice] I know how it goes with us. I lose who I am and become part of you. Because in a strange way, you're better at what I do without even trying. Yours, and nobody else. Unity."

^ A very gentle way of being let down.

What Unity has come to realize here is that she's grown beyond Rick. Rick stays the same because, out of all people we've come across in the series, he's best at being himself. People change, the message would seem to be, because they are unsatisfied or feel incomplete with who they are. Unity admits in these letters that she is chasing something that she fears she will never attain. Earlier in the episode, we heard her express her ambitions to be a god. It seems Rick attains god-hood (in his mind at least) just by accepting himself as he is now. However, Unity's letter does seem like a rosy euphamistic way of saying what could otherwise come across as a harsh blow. She's essentially saying that she's grown whereas Rick has not, and now that she realizes this, she must move beyond him. Rick tried to plea a case for his own personal growth by stating that "I've reconnected with my family," but the display he exhibited in front of Unity when he called Summer a "hyper-emotional, needy little [...] human," is what set off doubts in her mind, eventually culminating in that look of disappointment on her face as she put on a television show for him. <-- It was at that point when she realized he hasn't changed at all, and that she's grown beyond him.

Yet there is a strange allure to Rick's personality that not only draws Unity in, but Morty and Summer too as evinced by their occasional longing to be his sidekick. And us too, I might say. We know that Rick is an insensitive prick who puts his own family at great risk, and can be extremely insulting at times, yet we find ourselves liking him for some strange reason, wanting to be like him (I go into detail about this phenomenon, which can be seen in other fictional characters in film and literature, here). What's being suggested here is that Rick's seeming security in being himself (openly, without shame) is what draws people in, and makes them want to sink to his level, abandoning whatever growth they've achieve up to that point. Why? Is it because we too would like to feel secure in being ourselves? Take a break from all this self-improvement we strive for, or wish we could strive for? To feel complete, if only vicariously? Unity, in her letters, expresses that she knows this is true of herself, and that while the enchanting allure that Rick exudes makes her feel free, she realizes this is, on the whole, not good, and constitutes a step back for her. Missing the appointment with the galactic federation wasn't just letting go, it may have cost her her deepest ambition--to become a god over countless planets. Rick, of course, was trying to get her to realize this was the whole point anyway--"you're talking about taking over planets and galaxies--you gotta, you gotta just remember to let go sometimes, you know"--but we know from her reaction that she missed the point. No, Unity has come too far, worked too hard, to let that go.

And that Rick does what she does better than she can without even trying, that in his presence, she becomes a part of him rather than the other way around. Does this hint at why she never bothered to assimilate him? That he's the only person she's met whom she would rather become a part of rather than make a part of her? And is the message: one can assimilate others best if one just doesn't try--that is, if one simply exudes confidence in being one's self--whereas trying, if obvious, puts people off, thereby requiring, in Unity's case, forced assimilation.

Maybe the greater message here is that while we may remain satisfied in who we are at any given point in our lives--thereby relinquishing the need to care about anything else, or anyone--growth only happens by connecting with others. One reaches beyond one's self and tries to connect with the experiences, personalities, desires and needs of others. This not only fosters change through learning from others, but adds to one's self--to one's experiences, personality, desires and needs--by acquiring a sort of "extension" of one's self--not just different but more--which is just what growth is.

In effect, if this is indeed the central message of this episode, then I think we can read between the lines and infer that Unity's notes were more of a blow to Rick than to Unity herself. "I have a problem with myself," was most likely a gentle way of saying "you're bad for me." <-- It's not you, it's me.

Rick gets back to the Smith's household where everyone's watching TV in the living room. Everyone's got a look of concern on their face except Jerry. Rick enters the room. Beth stands up to confront him:

Beth: "Dad... [*cough*]... I--um--Jerry and I were looking for our weed wacker and found your subterranean lair, and your alien prisoner, and he got away. And I know I sound like mom but I can't sacrifice this whole family's safety just because I'm afraid you'll leave again... so... [steps closer and puts on a look of sternness] no more alien prisoners and no more subterranean excavation without consulting us."

It appears Beth was listening and took Jerry's words seriously, not to mention courageous enough to confront Rick despite her fears. I wonder how much of Beth's words sunk in with Jerry. Tying this in with the theme of growth, could we say that Beth here demonstrates her ability to grow whereas Jerry does not?

But to Beth's utter surprise, Rick answers: "Ok."

Beth: "Ok? eh, uh, er, Ok like you're gonna quietly teleport somewhere and never come back?"

Rick: "No, it's your house."

Summer: "Grandpa Rick, what happened with Unity?"

Rick: "Who? Oh, Unity. Yeah, well... I mean, honestly, we're talking about an entity that thrives on enslavement, you know. It's not cool. Fun's fun, but who needs it. I'll be in the garage."

A complete 180, taking Summer's point of view only now that it suits him.

Then this happens:



When I watched this for the first time, I thought Rick chickened out in the end, that he dropped his head on purpose 'cause he didn't really want to kill himself. Then someone else online suggested that Rick was too drunk to keep his head up and inadvertently passed out before the device could nuke him. <-- Not sure which is more accurate.

I'm not sure what was with Rick downing that vat of yellow chemicals (did he need that for his device to work on him?), but I see some symbolism in the poor creature he vaporizes: he hurts the ones he loves. I think that's why the creators had him gently stroking the creature he gave life to, as if soothing the creature before submitting it to a grim fate--he seems to genuinely feel for the creature--just a little maybe--enough to say: I'm not doing this to hurt you. Rick, in this scene, is playing out what he probably knows quite painfully: that he brought harm to Unity, and that he continues to bring harm to his family.

Was Rick really in love? He was certainly depressed about being dumped, but this can happen even with infatuation or lust (as people call it). If he was in love, it means his nihilistic outlook which is usually the basis for refusal to care about anything was never quite complete--not when he knew Unity was out there--for then he had a reason to live. But without her, it seems like he has no reason to live.

This is also an example of a loss much like Beth's fears. It's even ironic that he would attempt to commit suicide just after telling Beth he wasn't going to leave her for standing up to him.

Unity may not have been able to assimilate Rick, but she certainly captured his heart. Which leads one to wonder: was that intentional? I mean, who knows if there was an initial attempt on Unity's part to assimilate Rick (the attempt would first and foremost require barfing into his mouth, which means a failure would amount to Rick merely overpowering Unity physically, but even if she managed to get passed that step, how would Rick have resisted assimilation? We saw in the last episode that he managed to block Fart out of his mind in that one scene--maybe he's got a knack for fighting psychic control), but permitting Rick the independence of his mind may not have been free. It may have come at the cost of a surreptitious and cunning ploy on Unity's part to assimilate his heart. It is often assumed by young women that if she is able to win a man's heart, she will be able to change him; in extreme cases, to control him, making him into a slave who will do whatever her will desires. Unity's realization, then, that Rick will never change constitutes her coming to grips with the fact that Rick cannot be assimilated at all, thus she gives up on him.

We all know why Rick fell for Unity--what heterosexual man wouldn't fall for a hot brunette with huge boobies and a smooth, curvy body--and it's understandable why any woman would fall for Rick--he has that "take charge" personality, that "asshole" attitude that makes him the polar opposite of the "nice guy"--but that Unity is a woman is a question that hasn't been settled. The party scene in which the booze in Unity's brain (the hot bombshell) cause everyone else on the planet to get drunk suggests that the hot bombshell is at the top of a hierarchy, a node in the psychic network from which control is issued out to other blue light bulb heads, making the bombshell more "Unity" than the others in a certain sense. But we've also seen that this couldn't have been the original Unity. The opening scene in which Unity and Rick reunite suggests that Unity didn't start out as a blue light bulb head. It takes Rick a while to recognize that the escapees on the SS Independence are Unity. If Rick remembers Unity as a blue light bulb head, surely all their talk about an entity that "absorbed the minds of [their] people," and "the people it takes over, they, they look like your friends, your family, your leaders, but they're not... 'themselves' anymore," coupled with the fact that Rick obviously sees that they're blue light bulb heads, would mostly likely tip him off that it's Unity they're talking about. But it's only when the members of the SS Independence get re-assimilated by Unity and when Unity turns to look at Rick in that seductive way, saying "Hello Rick, long time no see," that he realizes it's Unity. This obviously means that when they first met, when Unity was a "young hive mind with a population of a small town," she was a different species, which means that this Unity, the hot bombshell, is unlikely to be at the top of the entire hierarchy (maybe the planet, but not all of Unity). Which returns us to the question: who is Unity really? Male? Female? Something else? And her interest in Rick, is this really love? Sexual passion? Or is the real Unity interested in Rick for the same reason as she's interested in all her victims--assimilation pure and simple, a stepping stone on the way to god-hood--and the hot bombshell is just the means by which to attract Rick? If her first attempt to assimilate him through the usual means failed (assuming there was a first attempt), then perhaps appealing to his libido was a second attempt.

PHILOSOPHICAL INSIGHTS

* Race and prejudice: While Summer was definitely depicted as the naive liberal type, I think, in the end, there was a bit of an anti-racist sentiment written into the script. The fact that these blue light bulb heads are going to war with each other over the shape of their nipples is a parody. Roiland and Harmon are saying differences in outward appearance are a silly thing to fight over, exactly the message that Summer was trying to convey--a clever move on the writer's part as it allows them to poke fun at liberal naivety and at the same time distance themselves from convservative prejudice and bigotry.

* Love and lust: Was Rick really in love? Or was it just lust? What's the difference? While these questions could be asked of Unity as well, Rick is an easier (simpler) target. The passionate, romantic frenzy that overtakes one in moments of intimate connection with another is what most people call "falling in love". Others would like to distinguish this from "true love", saying that the former is only infatuation and the latter is dispassionate. They say that the former is selfish, that you want to possess the person like a prized object, whereas the latter is selfless, treating the other like a human being, putting their needs ahead of your own. I'm not so sure this thing we call "falling in love" isn't a form of love. In all my experiences with it, I know I would have done anything for the girl, sacrificed a great deal of what's in my self-interest. True, I lust after that feeling, and I need the girl in my life in order to get it, and for her to feel the same way (<-- that's important), but these selfless acts I want to perform for her are driven by the emotion. You could say it's a form of "automatic" love, whereas what they call dispassionate "true" love, maybe Platonic love, is driven by something else--maybe moral principles, maybe impartial compassion, maybe guilt--it's more "deliberate," hard work. But when it comes to Rick, there isn't much in the way of giving or selflessness. "I gotta sit this one out, but I'll be back to have sex with the survivors," doesn't sound like love. Rick may be so cut off from love that all he can feel for Unity is lust. Wanting to be "with" a collective, not "part of," is Rick's way of having his cake and eating it too, to be accepted and integrated with others without having to pay the price of a bit of selflessness, without having to love. Rick doesn't even have to sacrifice promiscuity with Unity, he doesn't even have to care who Unity really is so long as she engages with him through hot bombshells. In fact, Rick doesn't even seem to care that Unity has cleaned herself up (at least this planet) as he deliberately drags her down to his level and convinces her to splurge on drugs and alcohol. The fact that being dumped lead him to attempt suicide might be construed as the kind of loss one feels when one loses a prized possession, like a car that gets stolen or a house that burns down. Or it might be construed as losing the comfort and security of being loved, despite that he never had to give it. Or if Rick really did feel something for Unity over and above lust but repressed so far down that not even he could feel it, could it be that he was depressed that he lost the chance to tell Unity that he loved her, or maybe that he lost the chance to give something of himself to Unity, the only act that truly satisfies love?

* The economy and human connected: This episode of Rick and Morty does parody the idea of a world economy continuing to turn even though Unity has assimilated the entire planet. "Little weird to publish a paper about it for yourself, but hey," Rick says. And we know that Unity has ambitions to join the federation, which means it's in her best interest to keep the planet running as if everyone were disconnected and dependent on an economy in order to live. But this raises the question: what would happen if we were all connected? It seems one would be hard pressed to imagine why an economy would be needed at all if we were all psychically connected, the way Unity is, but one can imagine even lesser situations in which an economy--a exchange of goods and services--doesn't seem necessary. For example, in a family, or a Hutterite community. <-- These are examples in which the people are so close together, so connected, that they all pitch in to get things done for the sake of the whole. They don't need to be motivated by money, by promises of something in return. They don't ask "what's in it for me"? Though not joined through a psychic connection, they do seem driven to take care of the greater community because of the feeling of belonging to it, the feeling of love that subsists between its members.

I guess the question this leaves us is: how connected would humans have to be with each other to no longer need an economy for subsistence?

* Personal growth: How does one grow beyond one's current state? Growth connotes more than just change, it connotes becoming more, becoming better, than one is currently. In that sense, it wouldn't seem that growth requires sacrificing much of one's self, except perhaps for bad habits and character flaws. But then how does one acquire additional gifts, virtues, character strength, etc. without changing? This episode seems to suggest: by connecting with others. Not just connecting with others but allowing others to become a part of you. Then you, figuratively speaking, absorb them into yourself, acquire all their gifts, virtues, and strengths. As a part of you, it become natural to love others. This was Rick's Achilles heel--he's closed off to love, and so doesn't want others to become a part of himself--he wants to remain independent, he wants to remain himself; consequently the connection he seeks results more in others absorbing aspects of him into themselves, none of it going the other way. <-- This is Rick's strategy for becoming a God. Those around him end up growing while he remains the same--Morty for sure as we've seen how being Rick's sidekick has definitely lead to growth through the series, particularly in the way Rick's personality rubs off on Morty. To a lesser degree, Summer too (especially the way she "makes it up as she goes" in episode 1 of season 3, how she thinks "that's what heroes do"); Unity certainly went through a learning experience in this episode, thus growing a bit more in the end.

* Badass vs. nice guy: What kind of guy do girls really like? Does a guy have to be more like Rick or more like Beta-7? I mean, imagine Beta-7 as a single minded heart throb, not the cyborg he's depicted as in this episode. Something like this:

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Imagine this is Beta-7. He's still a nice guy. He'd still express concern for Unity, almost in a desperate pleading way, willing to do anything but displease her. Would Unity still reject him? I think so. There's no way Unity would go for a guy like that when she could have Rick. But what about women in general? Is Unity a good representative of women in general, at least with respect to her taste in men? Would the average woman reject the young heart throb in the picture if he were a "nice guy"? They say women like a jerk (Ecmandu says a woman would fuck a guy in a parking lot if that's where she saw him massacre another man into a bloody pulp). They say this is an evolutionary inheritance, that women, on an instinctual level, know that assholes make better protectors and providers because they display their ability to dominate over others and destroy enemies. Not to mention that she wants her offspring (again, on an instinctual level acquired through evolution) to have the best genes, and the asshole, again, displays this by his ability to dominate and destroy. Some even say this goes so far as to attract women to men who abuse them. Is the average woman so attracted to big strong alpha genes that she would sacrifice her own well-being if only to get some of those genes for her offspring? Mothers would do a lot for their children.

In my personal opinion, which is informed by what women tell me, women like assertive men, take charge men, which is subtly different from assholes. Being an asshole is often correlated with assertiveness and a take charge personality, and so it probably seems a lot of the time like women like assholes, but I think more often than not, the asshole aspect is something women are sometimes willing to tolerate rather than the primary aspect they're attracted to. Everyone's different, of course, and I have no doubt women exist who actually like the asshole aspect for its own sake (I think what social groups one hangs out with has a huge effect on this), but I don't think this is the norm. In my personal opinion (again), I think the ideal man for the typical woman is a take charge kind of guy, but not one who takes his aggressions out on her, not one who abuses her, but one who takes control of the situation (which might involve aggression against others) for her sake, or for the family's sake. But when he's alone with her in the bedroom, he's gentle and compassionate (he can still be take charge in this situation, but not insensitive to her needs and desires).

A girl once told me that I'm too nice, and that I should be more assertive. <-- The assertive part makes sense, but I can't imagine a girl being turned off by a guy who goes out of his way to perform incredible acts of kindness, like taking care of a wounded bird, or feeding the homeless, or calling paramedics if he sees an old woman having a heart attack. That's not to say I go around doing things like this on a daily basis, just that I don't think being "nice" is necessarily incompatible with assertiveness. A guy can certainly do all these things assertively. He can decide to do it for principles he believes in, not because he was told to, or thinks he's supposed to. Not just to impress her. Would women seriously get turned off by this?

It's interesting that the post-credit scene involves Rick in his spaceship just outside Beta-7's space station thingy trying to get Unity on the line. He only gets Beta-7 who tells him Unity's not interested in talking to him and that he's classified as a hostile entity. On the surface, this makes Beta-7 out to be the fall back guy, the "on deck, in the wings, shoulder to cry on," in Rick's words. But if you think of this in the context of the lesson Unity learned at the end of the episode, it makes perfect sense that Unity would turn to Beta-7. Unlike Rick, being a hive mind might mean Beta-7 is capable of growth, maybe even beyond Rick's level. When Beta-7 reacted with hostility to Rick when they first met, and when he told Unity he was only expressing concern for Unity, Unity may have realized near the end that Beta-7 saw in Rick what she only saw much later--that Rick was a threat to her, at least in the sense that he brings her down. It's the same thing Summer and Morty saw in Rick, that he's a bad influence on her. If this is the case, it means that Unity is taking Beta-7 seriously, that she's really giving him a chance, and that she now thinks Beta-7 knows what's good for her and what's bad for her before she does herself--a real protector and provider. Maybe. Possibly. But I still think it couldn't last. Even if Beta-7 is better for her than Rick, even if she knows that now, they're not right for each other. She'll eventually want more.

And of course, it's always possible that Unity was using both. Seducing Rick with her sexual charms so as to keep him around for the opportunity to assimilate him and Beta-7 too as an on deck, in the wings, shoulder to cry on. The games women play sometimes are all about that--keeping the guy interested enough to stay close, but never enough to seal the deal--there when she needs him, but free enough from him to switch to others when she doesn't need him.

* The ethics of mind control and slavery: Is Unity evil? Is what she is doing to whole planets--taking over bodies and obliterating people's individuality--a monstrous violation of her victim's rights? On the one hand, she does seem to improve life on blue light bulb head planet, but whose life? The individuals each blue light bulb head used to enjoy being are gone, wiped away, and so it's not easy to say life's been improved for them. Only Unity herself can reap the benefits of her work. Then again, is being wiped away, if done painlessly and harmlessly, necessarily a bad thing? Is there something intrinsically valuable about a being's freedom to be an individual? To have a choice? We see at the beginning that the crew of the SS Independence are, to put it mildly, disconcerted with what Unity is doing to their species. Is that perspective, even if it disappears from their minds once assimilated, still valid in and of itself? And suppose that there is nothing wrong with this ethically speaking--does Unity still have the moral obligation to treat her victims as though each individual mattered? We saw how all the destruction and mayhem that was caused to the small town in which the race war broke out, caused by Unity's drunken shenanigans, was really no biggy to Unity--presumably because a small town of blue light bulb heads is like pennies to a billionaire. If this fills us with outrage, would we be okay with it if Unity took more care to treat each individual as sacrosanct? That is, if she continued to occupy their bodies despite their prior resistance and lack of consent but took better care of them like they were her precious children? Would this be the same question as: is slavery ok so long as the slave is treated with respect? Slavery might not be the best comparison to make because the slave still has to suffer the indignity and fear of being a slave whereas Unity's victims (presumably) aren't even there to feel anything. But this may be a moot point if the question is: is it ever morally permissible to take away a man's freedom and his individuality?

* Drugs: escape from the self? Is the point of doing rugs really to escape the self as Unity says? Is it a way of connecting with others, as alcohol can help us with? Is it merely a mode of entertainment, a means to pass the time when the alternative would be boring and dull? I still don't think it makes much sense to say "there's no need for escape from the self when your world is one," as Unity says, but I think it does makes sense to do away with drugs and alcohol if one feels they are standing in the way of self-improvement. And that seems to be the kick Unity is on. She seemed to do away with all drugs and alcohol as a step towards improving life on blue light bulb head planet, maybe even as something positive to put on her resume when applying to the galactic federation. It's just that unifying the whole planet makes the decision incredibly easy. Rick, on the other hand, is not on a path of self-improvement. Rather, he sticks with his nihilistic outlook on life, an outlook that underscores apathy and "letting go" as he puts it--it doesn't matter, in other words, whether you do drugs or not, so might as well do what your cravings call for.

But why does Rick crave the drugs? Is he trying to escape himself? It seems silly to me to dismiss the reinforcing effects of drugs, the urge for effortless and immediate pleasure that drugs can provide, so that has to be counted as one reason, maybe the primary reason. But I think most people who look for other reasons, like escaping from the self, are questioning why one would do such things if one knows how destructive it can be. Sure, it brings effortless and immediate pleasure, but surely one would care enough about one's self to recognize the long-term harm that drugs and alcohol can do, and to do something about it. <-- That I think is where most anti-drug proponents are coming from. What would they say about Rick? Is the cravings for effortless and immediate pleasure coupled with the conviction that nothing matters the only thing driving Rick? Or does he mean it when he says he wants connection? And drugs and alcohol are one way to find that connection? So it may not be so much an escape from the self, but an escape from being only the self.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The sexy blue light bulb head girl on the SS Independence:

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Rick got to ride with her all the way back to blue light bulb head planet. She'd already revealed to Rick at this point that she was Unity, so what do you think they did all the way home?

The screech that Beta-7 emits (and Rick freaks out over) is the same screech emitted by Unity at the beginning when the two "ding dongs," as Rick puts it, re-assimilate the crew of the SS Independence. Which goes to show she's a lot more alien than she lets on to Rick, bringing into question, once again, what her motives are when selecting Rick or Beta-7 as lovers.

About the blue light bulb heads passed out in this scene here:

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Why were they aligned perfectly in a circle? Okay, so they were all gathering around Summer and Morty, but perfectly aligned so as to topple over like dominoes? Moreover, they're almost perfectly aligned with the circle sketched on the ground. And why the domino effect? If this is Unity losing control of a certain branch of blue light bulb heads, why wouldn't they pass out in a more random fashion? And what does it say that Unity can say "I'm fine," while the bodies she occupies are passed out?

Being at the center of attention: this may not be Summer and Morty's motive in filling the role of Rick's sidekick, but does it describe Unity's? She definitely puts Rick at the center of her universe, and probably because he's powerful (intelligence-wise), but then expects Rick to grow, which, as the message of this episode seems to be, amounts to connecting with others, thereby causing one to lose one's self in others and have less control. Could Rick have inadvertently insulted Unity, at least indirectly? Is this the final straw that compelled Unity to leave, as in it made her realize that's exactly what she's doing?

And where did Unity go after Rick came out of the bathroom? I mean, we don't see how long Rick was in there for, but I would think it takes time to write out a thoughtful letter and post on stuff, then abruptly disappear without leaving a trace. We can surmise that she went to Beta-7 but to evacuate the planet in what would have to be legions of spaceships before Rick even had the chance to spot them in the distant sky?

Anyway, one last thought: the theory of Jerry's "urban batoi". Yes, I actually think I know what the writers were doing with this. This isn't the original Jerry. We're actually following the Jerry that got swapped at the Jerry day care in the last episode. <-- That's the way he ALWAYS talks. I still wonder if this "urban batoi" allows Jerry to call it like it is, as he so harshly did to Beth. Or maybe this Jerry is just used to it, as in they've had plenty of yelling matches like this in his original reality. Maybe.

Oh, and what nipple shape is Unity the bombshell? Ring or Cone?
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It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
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Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Wed Jul 05, 2017 6:23 am

One more thought: is Rick a rapist?

There's no doubt that Unity was more than willing to have sex with Rick, but we have to remember, she had to use bodies which weren't rightfully hers. If Unity is guilty of enslavement, would that make Rick culpable of rape?

I'm reminded of the scene featuring Rick gliding down to the stadium in his hang glider. I said "one can only imagine how he landed." One way I've imagined it, and it's pretty horrid, is that one redhead in particular had her ass in the air in the middle of the stadium, and Rick landed his cock right into her. Now thinking about that for a second, that would not only hurt, it would split you in two. What if that's what happened? Would Unity have done that for Rick? Remember, she treats her victims as expendable, and one redhead split in two by Rick's cock might feel, on a planetary scale, like a gentle bite on the neck in the heat of passion. If that's how it would feel to Unity, why not let Rick fulfill some of his sickest fantasies?
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
User avatar
gib
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Posts: 8506
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 10:25 pm
Location: lost (don't try to find me)

Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:54 pm

Rick and Morty - S2E4 - Total Rickall

Again, went over in this one. I might as well accept it: each episode is *probably* going to be split into 2 parts from here on it. (How'd I ever get this obsessed?)

This is part 1.

This episode of Rick and Morty is, TBH, somewhat dry of juicy philosophical content (IMHO), and in rich character development. In fact, at least in the latter half of the episode, it's more like a shoot 'em up, gory slasher flick that anything else. That's not to say it doesn't make you think. In this episode, we'll see the Smith family get lost in false memories, memories implanted in their heads by what Rick calls "alien parasites". These are creatures that infect one's world like a bacteria. They start by planting false memories in your head of an old time family friend, or a lover, or a close acquaintance, and then slip into your life disguised as that friend, lover, or acquaintance--in reality they are an alien parasite whom you accept in your life because you are under the impression that you've always known them. Now if you're like the Smith family--lucky enough to have a patriarch who not only knows about these parasites, but knows they've infested the household--this can lead to a lot of confusion and paranoia. In this episode, we'll see how well the Smith family can hold it together and tease truth apart from deception.

It begins with the Smith family (sans Rick) gathered around the dinner table having a meal. Jerry's brother Steve is with them. Jerry, on his iPad, gets a strange email hinting that Steve bought the family airline tickets. When asked about this, he says he wanted it to be a surprise, and that it was a gesture of thanks for letting him live with them "all this time" <-- however long that is.

Rick comes in and dumps green glowing rocks in the garbage. When he asks who the hell this new guy is, Jerry responds:

Jerry: "My goofy brother Steve? [chuckle] He's been living here almost a year now? Are you losing your mind?"

Steve: "Hey, someone's been spending too much time around glowing rocks, am I right?"

Rick pulls out a gun and shoots Steve's brains out. The blood is pink, not red. Rick calms the family down from their panic: "Everybody just relax for a second. There's no such thing as an 'uncle Steve'. That is an alien parasite." Uncle Steve suddenly transforms into a parasite right in Jerry's arms:

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"But I've known him my whole life," says Jerry. "No, you haven't, Jerry," Rick explains, "These telepathic little bastards, they embed themselves in memories, and t-t-then they use those to multiply and spread out and take over planets. It's-it's-it's disgusting... this is a big one. Somebody probably tracked it in last week on the bottom of their shoe or on a piece of alien fruit." "Someone?" Summer questions skeptically. "Get off the high road, Summer," Rick continues, "We all got pink eye because you won't stop texting on the toilet."

Summer's suspicions that Rick is the guilty party are most likely truer than you might think. There is a subtle hint that Rick did it right when he walks in the room:

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These rocks, with those pink worms, are uncannily similar to the rocks Rick was loading up into his ship at the end of Mortynight Run:

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In fact, it's no coincidence that episode two ended with this and the current episode begins with it. Many on the internet speculate that this ties into the theory of the alternate Rick and Morty that we were following in episode two. As you might recall, the theory is that in episode two, we weren't following Rick and Morty C-137, but a Rick and Morty from a different timeline. The only appearance of the C-137's is at the beginning when Rick fills out the Jerryboree form, writing "C-137" in the dimension field, and Morty takes the ticket marked "#5126", and at the end when, picking up their Jerries at the Jerryboree, Rick C-137 asks the Rick we were following: "Hey, wait, uh, do you have 5126?" <-- Indicating that the Rick asking the question wasn't the one we were following. And now, with Rick coming into the kitchen with glowing rocks and some (possibly) parasites, it's as if Harmon and Roiland are saying: we now pick up exactly where we left of episode 2. It's convenient that Urban Batoi Jerry was featured in the last episode, for if my theory is right that this is the Jerry they swapped at the end of episode 2, it means we were getting a glimpse of what happened in timeline C-137 after episode 2, and now we're getting a glimpse of what happened in the timeline of the other Rick and Morty after episode 2--almost as if episode 3 and 4 happen in parallel. In this timeline, we don't get to hear any more urban batoi from Jerry, indicating that this Jerry actually is a C-137.

In any case, Rick continues his explanations in response to Morty protesting that "uncle Steve taught me how to ride a bike." He says: "No, 'Steve' put that memory in your brain so he could live in your house, eat your food, and multiply. We could be infested with these things. *burp* So, we gotta keep an eye out for any zany, wacky characters that pop up." That's when Mr. Poopy Butthole shows up:

Image

"Oo-wee," he says, "Whatever you want Rick. We're here to help."

Rick: "Thanks Mr. Poopy Butthole, I always could count on you."

I have to apologize for the name--Mr. Poopy Butthole--when I try to argue that the Rick and Morty series is above juvenile potty humor, this doesn't help.

Obviously, we're being setup to expect that Mr. Poopy Butthole is one of these "zany, wacky characters" that Rick warned about, and Rick's acceptance of him, betraying long held memories of how he could always count on Mr. Poopy Butthole, indicates that Rick himself has already been infected. Despite that this is exactly how the zany wacky characters of this episode will show up, don't assume too quickly that Mr. Poopy Butthole is one of them. The reason for this will be made clear at the end of this episode. In fact, the opening credits that follow this scene feature Mr. Poopy Butthole tagging along with Rick and Morty on their misadventures, unlike in all the other episode opening credits. This has been taken by some on the internet to mean that we are indeed following a different Rick and Morty in this episode than the C-137's, the same Rick and Morty from episode two if the theory of the parasite infested glowing rocks is right. Even though there was no mention of Mr. Poopy Butthole in episode two, it implies that the Rick and Morty of that episode did have memories of Mr. Poopy Butthole.

(A drawback to this theory is that it would seem to imply that Mr. Poopy Butthole should also have been in the opening credits of episode two, but he wasn't.)

The Smith family, and Mr. Poopy Butthole, are in the living room searching for parasites under couches, in bookshelves, in the carpet, all except for Rick who is writing the number 6 in big bold font on a sheet of paper. "All right," he says, "There's 6 of us and that's it. [tapes it to the wall] Me, Morty, Jerry, Beth, Mr. Poopy Butthole, and Summer." He then presses a button on his watch which activates the blast shields around the house--highly sophisticated shields that come down on all sides of the house on the outside, like an extra layer of armor worn by the house.

Then the first parasite attack hits (after Steve, that is). It hits Mr. Poopy Butthole right in the memory:



This is typically the way these characters will be introduced. Someone goes on a flashback, inciting everyone to reflect with him or her, and when they come out of it, the zany, wacky character they were reminiscing is suddenly there in the room.

We know Steve, Mr. Poopy Butthole, and now cousin Nicky. I feel like laying out a list like I did for the characters in Ricksy Business or the TV shows in Rixty Minutes. It wouldn't be feasible to list them all as there are way too many. In fact, this was one of motives on the part of the creators--to swamp the Smith family. Instead, I'll compile a list of what I take to be the most significant characters, at least enough to give the impress of what a wacky bunch of zany characters they indeed are.

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Mr. Beauregard: the family butler. Always there for the Smith family, getting them out of trouble, rescuing them from nazis, freeing Jerry's head from the stair railing with marmalade, having pillow fights with Summer, subbing as Morty's date to the high school dance (dressed like a girl), and so on. What would the Smith family do without Mr. Beauregard?

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Frankenstein's Monster: Not much background to this guy (except that he and Rick spent some time in Nam). Maybe a family friend?

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Sleepy Gary: Beth's husband. Yes, Jerry is still married to her, but this parasite has them both convinced that Beth married Sleepy Gary and that Jerry and him are best friends. Except for the PJs, there really isn't anything "sleepy" about him.

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Photography Raptor: Likes to take picture.

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Pencilvestyr: A close friend of Rick's. Always there to help Rick erase his mistakes. He and Rick are so close, in fact, that Rick can't bring himself to shoot him near the end, and has Morty do it instead.

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Tinkles: Tinkles is a "magic ballerina lamb," in Frank's words, who visits Summer in the middle of the night, coming through her window leaving a trail of rainbow behind her. She wakes Summer and whisks her away to "Never Past Bedtime Land"--a magical place full of colors, happiness, sunshine, and rainbows.

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Hamurai and Amish Cyborg: Hamurai is a Samurai warrior who wears ham for armor. Amish Cyborg is an Amish man who is also a cyborg. These two are instrumental in getting Rick to remember a fake barbecue.

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Ghost in a Jar: Not much to this guy. Kind of a weird form for a parasite to take.

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Reverse Giraffe: In his words, "I have a short neck and legs," but an extremely long body. Leads the group (the parasites and the Smiths) in a revolt against Rick, casting him as the real parasite.

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Baby Wizard and Big Rubber Ducky: The only role these two play are to hold Rick down in the garage while Morty interrogates him at gun point.

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Mrs. Refrigerator: a "perfect companion" to Beth all her life, the first to get shot when the alien blood bath begins.

Although the list seems long, it's not even half the parasites that end up swamping the Smith family. And that's not to mention the collection of flashbacks I could post videos of, or the counter-flashbacks we'll see near the end.

Getting back to the plot line, Rick does a quick count and finds there are 7 people. He shoots cousin Nicky in the shoulder. Cousin Nicky morphs into the form of a parasite and dies agonizingly on the couch. Not sure why he died given Rick's rationale behind shooting people in the shoulder--when asked by Beth how he knew it was cousin Nicky, Rick says: "I guessed. That's why I aimed for his shoulder." I guess parasites die no matter where you shoot them.

Next: Mr. Beauregard. Beth is responsible for this one. She flashes back to a time when the Smith family, plus cousin Nicky, were trapped in an old submarine by a Nazi intent on destroying America with the staff of rah-gubaba. In perfect timing, Mr. Beauregard appears out of nowhere and knocks the Nazi out with his umbrella. "After due consideration," he says, "I have decided not to retire." Next thing you know, he's walking around the living room offering hors d'oeuvres to the family, no one being the wiser.

Now, I may be missing something here, but didn't Beth say this flashback featured cousin Nicky? And didn't cousin Nicky die just before the flashback, revealing his true parasite form? So Beth knows he's a parasite, yet she seems to believe in a memory with him in it. To be fair, however, the flashback is preceded by Beth questioning its authenticity precisely because it featured cousin Nicky, but then she comes out of it, along with Mr. Beauregard who says "Perhaps I'm biased, but if that story never happened, I wouldn't still be the family butler," and everyone, including Beth, seems to go along with it. So the evidence that it was a false memory seems to get put by the way side.

Then more flashbacks of Mr. Beauregard--he gets Jerry's head unstuck from the stair rails with marmalade, he has a pillow fight with Summer and Rick, and he even dresses up as a female because Morty has no one to take to the school dance, Morty all too willingly accepting the offer. In these flashbacks, three other parasites surreptitiously sneak in. Just after freeing Jerry's head with marmalade, Frankenstein's Monster (whom I'll just call Franky from here on in) comes in the room making a dumb comment about British cuisine. When Rick, Summer, and Mr. Beauregard have a pillow fight in Summer's room, sleepy Gary barges in saying "We're trying to sleep!" And right before Morty takes Mr. Beauregard to the dance, Photography Raptor takes their picture. After the flashbacks are over, all four parasites are in the room: Mr. Beauregard, Franky, Sleepy Gary, and Photography Raptor--everyone having a good laugh.

One question I have at this point is: whose memories are these? Beth seemed to spur the flashback of being trapped on the submarine, so we're lead to presume that this was at least Beth's memory. And then Summer was the one who seemed to spur the other flashbacks of Mr. Beauregard, so we're lead to presume these are at least Summer's. But in all cases, everyone seems to laugh fondly at these memories once they come out of their flashback. Are they all having the same flashbacks together? Do they have different flashbacks all featuring the same parasite? After all, the one with the pillow fight didn't feature Beth, Jerry, or Morty. How could they remember something in which they weren't even there? They may have been reminiscing over their own memories of Mr. Beauregard or Sleepy Gary while Summer was reminiscing over this one. However, there is evidence that not everyone partakes in the memories as they're happening, not even different versions of them. Rick had no memories of uncle Steve. He walks in the room and says: "Who the fuck are you?" Uncle Steve the parasite may not have known about Rick's existence, so didn't think to implant a memory in his brain. But whatever the case, it isn't a hard and fast rule that everyone gets the same memory or even different versions of the same memory.

Another point to bring up: notice that the memories get more and more absurd. Starting with uncle Steve, the Smith family reports a life time of memories of him. And what would be so strange about that? Even we as the audience are taken by it until Rick blasts a hole through his head and he turns to a parasite. Uncle Steve is a perfectly normal persona. Then comes cousin Nicky--a little more wacky, a little more zany, but still somewhat believable. Then Mr. Beauregard--nothing incredibly outlandish about this character, but things start to take a turn at this point--things start seeming unrealistic. Would the Smith family really have a butler working for them? Could they afford it? Are they the type to have a butler? Does it not seem kinda strange to the Smiths that they were somehow trapped on a submarine by a vicious Nazi wielding the magical staff of rah-gubaba? How on Earth would they get into such a situation (mind you, I probably shouldn't be saying this in a cartoon series featuring Rick and Morty getting into way more bizarre situations than that.) It gets worse in the last flashback. Mr. Beauregard dresses up like a girl so that Morty would have someone to go to the high school dance with. Is that something that a grown man would do? Is that something Morty would accept? This is all not to mention the other parasites that enter the picture during these flashbacks. Franky is patently the Frankenstein monster! Photography Raptor is, well, a raptor! But no one, not even Rick, question these things. They just go along with the memories.

The fact that the memories get progressively weirder as the episode unfolds, peeking with Tinkles whisking Summer off to Never Past Bedtime Land, is intentional, I think. It is Harmon and Roiland making a commentary about how easily people would be swayed by false memories, or any form of psychological suggestion, no matter how bizarre or absurd. Even Rick has great difficulty in this episode teasing apart fact from fiction.

This also makes me wonder how the parasites decide on a form. The parasite who posed as uncle Steve seemed to know what he was doing. Why would anyone be suspicious of old uncle Steve? But then what was Photography Raptor thinking? I suppose that given what we just said--that the Smiths will believe anything no matter how absurd--the parasites probably know that form doesn't matter so long as the memories are securely implanted. Though it might be that the parasites gradually learned how easy it is to fool the Smiths after the first few tries, and eventually threw caution to the wind with characters like Pencilvestyr or Tinkles.

Again, Rick is onto them--counting 10 people but with 6 written on the sheet of paper--but still without being able to tell the parasites from the real people. He tries to bring everyone's feet back down to the ground:

Rick: Everyone stop remembering! The parasites are like bedbugs and every flashback is another mattress! Look! [rips off sheet with 6 on it] There's only supposed to be 6 people in this house!

Beth: But there's always been 10.

Rick: NO!!! Er, uh, the fact that I wrote this number down means that there are four parasites.

Franky: Are you sure about that, Rick?

Mr. Beauregard: Begging your pardon, master Rick, but I seem to recall a great deal of confusion surrounding that number.

^ The parasites will do this from time to time, play on people's confusions and uncertainty. Exploiting everyone's inability to tell parasite from real person, the parasites are eventually able to overpower Rick in terms of persuasion and winning the Smith's over, ultimately culminating in everyone turning on Rick, holding him suspect as the real parasite. But that's later in the episode.

For now, the Smiths along with the parasites give the living room a one over, once again looking under couches, behind pictures, in the bookshelf, before Rick says:

"All right, that's six of us-*burp*-and that's it. Me, Morty, Jerry, Beth, Mr. Poopy Butthole, Frankenstein, Sleepy Gary, Photography Raptor, Mr. Beauregard, and Summer."

Beth: Uh, dad, that's like 10 people.

Rick: Six, ten, what's the difference?! I just love the number six for no reason! Where's my pencil at!

^ Is this Rick going crazy?

Pencilvestyr: Right here, Rick. Use me! [jumps into Rick's hand.]

Rick: Aw, thanks Pencilvestyr! [writes 6 with Pencilvestyr] Yeah, I-I-I gu-I guess that is what happened, but I-I-I don't get why I would do that."

^ We see here how persuasive a memory can be, even a false one. Even Rick is more convinced that the 10 people present in the living room (plus Pencilvestyr) are real than he is that he wrote 6 for an actual reason. <-- His own methodology failed. He nevertheless writes 6 anyway (as if unconsciously he knows 6 is right). He even does it with Pencilvestyr, especially ironic since he's the eleventh character to show up right after Rick establishes that there are 10 people, using his little pencil friend to record 6 as though establishing the fact. Now, whether that "established fact" is that there are 6 real people or 10 real people, both of which are wrong thanks to Pencilvestyr's appearance, has me intrigued. I really wonder what kind of insanity Rick seemed to briefly go through in his response to Beth: "Six, ten, what's the difference?! I just love the number six for no reason!" <-- So unscientific of Rick. It's almost as if he couldn't bring himself to get into a heated argument with his daughter (he was getting frustrated with her), much like he does with Summer and Morty, for that would be too cruel (yes, he does have a glimmer of a conscience, at least with Beth). So instead he (unconsciously) fakes insanity. That way, he can get away with whatever he wants--sans rationality--and what he wants in this moment is simply to write the number 6 down, because unconsciously (or maybe consciously) he knows that's the right number.

Yet, at the close of this sequence, Rick hints at one of the few means by which they should all be making calculated guesses as to who's a parasite and who isn't: questioning why he would write a number down even though it doesn't match the number of people in the house. He'll do this again later in the episode, question why he remembers doing something he'd never do. Morty could have done this upon reminiscing over going to the high school dance with Mr. Beauregard as his date: why would I do that, he should be asking. Beth could have done this when she and the rest of the family posed for one of Photography Raptor's pictures: why would we have a raptor taking professional photographs as a family friend? But only Rick comes somewhat close to using this method.

Beth, on the other hand, comes up with her own clever method: photos. She looks through her iPhone and says: "You're not in any of my photos, Mr. Poopy Butthole." Mr. Poopy Butthole responds: "Well, whadya know about this. You're not in any of mine." A bit of tension flares up between them. I don't mind dropping the occasional spoiler alert, and at this point, I think it's no secret that Mr. Poopy Butthole is indeed real. Nonetheless, for a viewer seeing this episode for the first time, it would be natural to back Beth on this one (this is incidentally why I skipped Mr. Poopy Butthole in the sequence from most normal to most outrageous; he's definitely quite outrageous from the very start).

But Summer quickly reveals the flaws in this method: "All I have are pictures of me and my friends from school... What? What teenage girl has pictures of her family? It's not like we're Mormon or dying." <-- She's got a point. Maybe pictures aren't the best method.

Then Franky ushers in the memory of Tinkles: "I will admit it's suspicious that Summer's only friend is a magic ballerina lamb that we've never seen."



Summer has no problem fully believing this happened to her.

So far, Frank and Mr. Poopy Butthole play a move in this game that constitutes a typical strategy on the part of the parasites--to turn the suspicions onto the real people, hinting that maybe they are the real parasites. We'll have to forgive Mr. Poopy Butthole since technically he's not a parasite, but he does contribute to this turning of tables in pointing out to Beth that she's not in any of his photos.

However, I should point out that this scene in particular--starting with Franky casting suspicion upon Summer and ending with Frankly apologizing with "I was on the wrong side of the pitchfork on this one"--is not an example of casting suspicion, though it looks like it on the surface. This is Franky using suspicion casting as a mechanism to usher in Tinkles. Once Tinkles shows up, he admits to being wrong. <-- Why would he do this if he knew the introduction of Tinkles would mean having to apologize, and in fact bolster everyone's trust in Summer. Nonetheless, casting suspicion is in general an obviously well practiced method with the parasites.

Before Tinkles shows up, however, Rick says something quite revealing: "That is-*burp*-suspicious. We're always hearing about this Tinkles character but we never get to--" "Hi everybody!" Tinkles suddenly says popping out from behind the couch. I find this interesting because it seems to be one of the few exceptions to the rule about shared memories. Whereas with every other character, the Smiths reflect on shared, or at least closely related, memories of that character, in Tinkles' case, it's the opposite. Only Summer gets to reminisce over her adventures to Never Past Bedtime Land with Tinkles, while the rest get to reminisce over Summer's hearsay about Tinkles but no actual memory of the magic ballerina lamb herself--OTW, everyone but Summer inherit memories of a lack of Tinkles. <-- Just thought that was curious.

I'm also puzzled by the way Summer snapped out of her little "trip" to Never Past Bedtime Land. She ends up bouncing on her bed, eyes closed, flailing her arms in the air with flash lights in her hands, shouting "Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!" when Beth and Sleepy Gary come in and sternly say "We're trying to sleep!" "It was Tinkles!" she snaps back, pointing out the window with one of the flash lights. "Tinkles?" she finally questions. <-- But this is still part of the memory. Why did the parasite implant that? This would only make Summer doubt her own memory, prompting her to wonder whether it was just a dream and she happened to be "dream dancing" (or something like that). One would think the most plausible memory to lay down (well, as plausible as you can make a memory about being whisked away by a magic ballerina lamb to Never Past Bedtime Land) would be for Tinkles to fly Summer back to her room after the party's over and tuck her into bed, perhaps kissing her good night on the forehead before disappearing out the window. Then at least Summer can be at her most certain about the reality of Tinkles. Well, maybe that's the whole catch of Never Past Bedtime Land--no one ever has to go to bed, it's a non-stop party. Or more likely: Harmon and Roiland just wanted not only a memory of Tinkles but a memory of Summer claiming it was Tinkles without anyone believing her. But as far as the parasites are concerned, not a very good strategy.

Then Jerry adds his two cents: "Ok, look, we shouldn't need evidence or logic to know who's family and who isn't. I know who the Smiths are. [puts hands on Beth's shoulders] I've known Beth since high school. And her husband [pulls Sleepy Gary into the scene], Sleepy Gary, is hands down my best friend." <-- The irony being, of course, that he's got it completely wrong. Jerry betrays here a common expectation of most simple minded people: that tricks of the mind--hallucinations, delusions, false memories--will feel "fake" whereas real experiences can be taken at face value. Jerry thinks that if his memories of Beth and Sleepy Gary feel certain and real, he can trust them; that if they weren't trustworthy, they would somehow feel untrustworthy. Jerry doesn't get it. He doesn't get that you can't distinguish the real memories from the false based on how they feel subjectively. They are designed to fool you, to feel as real as any other memory.

Rick dismisses Jerry's comment: "Look, I'm not used to being this unsure for so long. I'm just gonna aim for shoulders starting with the weird girl [Summer]." He fires at her and hits the TV behind her. Sleepy Gary jumps between her and Rick: "Rick, that is my daughter!" He tries to reason with Rick, tries to convince him this is insane given that these are friends and family. He tries to stir sentimental feelings by urging on memories of "the barbecue". He is joined by Hamurai and Amish Cyborg who also urge him to remember the barbecue. Then everyone joins in: "Remember the barbecue... Remember the barbecue... Remember the barbecue..." Even the Smiths are caught up in the rally. <-- Why would the Smiths want Rick to remember the barbecue, unless they've got the memory already implanted, and for sentimental reasons, want Rick to be convinced that these are family and friends.

It would be a bit complicated to describe the barbecue flashback; suffice it to say, this is what happened once Rick came out of it:

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Sleepy Gary and Pencilvestyr try to urge Rick to take down the blast shields. Pencilvestyr argues that keeping them up is an overreaction and suggests that he's had a tendency to overreact in the past. This brings on a memory of Rick going nuts over a sale on Nintendo 3ds systems at Walmart for $149.99, cracking open a safe on the wall filled with stacks of money. When he comes to, he says "Ok, yes, I definitely remember doing that, but also I would never do that." <-- Again, the approach of questioning whether one would do the things one remembers doing. Rick seems to be the only one to recognize this as a sign of a false memory.

Jerry requests a private moment with Sleepy Gary. They go into the hallway. Jerry opens up to Sleepy Gary, expressing a near existential crisis: "How do we know I'm real?" he questions, tears welling up in his eyes. <-- This is going beyond suspicions of false memories and parasites. Doubting one's own existence is definitely a different matter than doubting the authenticity of a character in the room whom you have fond memories of, the reality of which is in question. The parasites may be able to pull off disguising themselves as some wacked out character and implanting false memories in your brain, but to trick you into think you exist when you really don't is just paradoxical.

But Sleepy Gary consoles Jerry by spurring on memories of a homoerotic love affair they had on a yacht while on vacation somewhere:



"You and I," reassures Sleepy Gary, "are going to survive this." "Ok," says Jerry before Sleepy Gary leans in for a kiss. Jerry pushes him away and says "Hey, we agreed: never in the house."

^ Seems like the parasites aren't the only ones who can fabricate false memories. This inability to question the rationality of these memories now has Jerry convinced that he's gay. What's more, as this scene shows, is that the implanting of false memories does a lot more than convince the victim that the memories in fact happened, but ties them together with feelings and sentimental attachments. Think of the trauma the Smith family had to deal with over the death of uncle Steve, trauma they still had to suffer through even when they were shown that uncle Steve was a parasite and didn't have a history with the Smith family. Think of Rick and his inability to kill Pencilvestyr even when he knows he's a parasite. Jerry may not be gay, and he may have no history or prior feelings for Sleepy Gary, but now that the memory is implanted, he's wrapped up in a love affair that means the world to him (as we'll see near the end).

I also question why the parasite Sleepy Gary chose this memory. Was it just to fortify a stronger bond between himself and Jerry? So that Jerry would be aligned with him more than with Rick or the rest of the Smith family? The parasite himself isn't gay, is he? It certainly doesn't seem to address Jerry's existential crisis, providing no better reason for Jerry to believe that he's real.

I also wonder if the parasites have the ability to erase memories. Otherwise, how would Jerry reconcile the fact that he has two conflicting sets of memories: one set featuring not only his romantic love affair with Sleepy Gary but the fact that Sleepy Gary married Beth, and the other set featuring him and Beth meeting in high school, knocking Beth up with Summer, getting married to her, and living with her under this roof raising both Summer and Morty for years. Did the false memories of Sleepy Gary push the authentic memories out? Or is Jerry going along with this despite different memories not making sense with respect to each other?

For that matter, what about the memories just prior to each character showing up? When the parasites plant their memories, they would have to not only plant the specific flashback we see in the episode, but at least a few memories of why they're there in the room. I mean, if I flashed back to a time I had with my aunt, and then all of a sudden, she was here in my living room, I'd still be take aback my it--unless in addition to the flashback, I also had a memory of my aunt saying she'd be over for dinner (or something), a memory of her ringing the door bell and me answering it, a memory of her being there in the living room just before I flashed back, etc. It would be impractical for the writers to overtly reflect each and every memory the parasites would have to plant in order to be convincing, so I think we're supposed to assume the memories are more than just the one we see in the flashback. But if the parasites are planting memories of how each one got there in the room, do those memories conflict with the real memories of the parasite not being in the room before the flashback? And if so, are the Smiths ignoring it? Confused about it? Fabricating some kind of rationnel?

Back in the living room, Frank is checking out Rick's watch. "Trying to figure out how to lower the blast shields, huh?" says Rick. Frank accuses him of being paranoid: "You've been paranoid since 'nam," leading him into another flashback. Rick snaps himself out of it (much like he did with Fart) at the same moment when Frank tries to grab the gun from him. They wrestle for it. The crowd eggs on the fight. They roll across the table and onto the floor. Frank wins. He gets the gun from Rick leaving him with a nice shiner. Two parasites (a big robot and the sun) grab Rick by the arms and throw him into a chair. Then he gets interrogated by Reverse Giraffe:

"You know me. I'm Reverse Giraffe. I have a short neck and legs. I went to college with Hamurai. [Hamurai: Hai!] I saved Ghost in a Jar's life in Vietnam. [Ghost in a Jar: Hurrah!] And Beth, how many times have I been a shoulder for you to cry on? [Beth: *sigh* Too many.] Ok, so maybe, we're just all fake. [crowd murmurs] Or maybe, there's only one deceiver here, the person who keeps telling us the path to salvation is being held prisoner and mistrusting each other... I know we all have beloved memories of Rick, but are we really supposed to believe that a mad scientist inventor with a flying car just showed up on our door step after being gone for years?"

Morty concurs with this: "Yeah, you know, he does have a lot of really weird, made up sounding catch phrases."



If this scene seems out of place, it's probably because Roiland and Harmon were looking for a place to insert it. My guess is they wanted a montage of scenes that made the audience question their own memories. For my own part, I remember watching each scene fly by and wondering: did I see that before in a previous episode? Or is it fake? Are Roiland and Harmon playing with my memory, making me feel confused about whether my sense of deja vu is real or artificially induced? Although it does seem out of place with respect to catch phrases, it fits perfectly well with respect to the suspicions Reverse Giraffe is trying to raise--namely, that Rick is the real parasite and any memories the Smith family has of him since he moved in after years of absence are fake. The uncertainty we feel about our memories during this montage are what the Smiths are supposed to feel upon reflecting on their own memories of Rick over the last year or so, and Reverse Giraffe spurs this on.

In fact, Beth is the first to bite:

Beth: "And don't forget his incredibly vague back story."

Rick: "Beth, I'm your father!"

Beth: "Oh, are you dad? Are you?"

Morty steps between them and beckons Rick to lower the blast shield. After being called an "implausible naive pubescent boy with an old Jewish comedy writer's name," Morty takes the gun from Frank and, getting Big Rubber Ducky and Baby Wizard to help him, drags Rick off to the garage:



Putting aside Rick's umpteenth display of total disinterest in his own life, I really think Morty's "take charge" display comes through here, and it is no doubt thanks to Rick's influence. Despite the obvious signs of anxiety (the sweat, the shaking hands), Morty here is acting very Rick-like. "All right, you listen to me you son of a bitch parasite scum. We could either do this the easy way or the hard way," is exactly something Rick would say. No doubt, a lot of it is motivated by Morty's repressed anger towards Rick, but it's still quite a display of Rick-like control over the situation.

Rick's response: "Well, I remember you as a winy piece of shit, Morty... I've got about a thousand memories of your dumb little ass and about six of them are pleasant. The rest is annoying garbage..." gets Morty thinking. He suddenly realizes who the real parasites are: Big Rubber Ducky and Baby Wizard. He shoots them both, guessing correctly on both accounts. He explains to Rick: "The parasites can only create pleasant memories! I know you're real because I have a ton of bad memories of you!" A montage follows of bad times Morty's supposedly had with Rick (again, none of them from previous episodes).

^ Morty's quick thinking in this scene, to see through the immediate distractions straight to the solution, is again very Rick-like--showing that not only is Rick's take charge propensity rubbing off on Morty, but his genius too (though I wonder how much of that has "rubbed off" and how much is innate--Rick is Morty's grandpa, after all). In fact, Rick himself seems quite impress: "Holy crap, Morty, you're right!"

Rick then proceeds to the washer and dryer against the back wall, turns the nob on the washer (or dryer?), and suddenly the washer and dryer lower into the ground on mechanical platform while a sliding door on the wall opens to reveal a rack full of hi-tech gun (if all it takes is turning the nob on the washer, I wonder how Beth never discovered this--actually, she probably did and just excused Rick).

"Now let's go, Morty," Rick says, "We've got a lot of friends and family to exterminate."

Rick and Morty storm into the house shooting their guns in the air. "We need to kill everyone that we can only remember fondly," says Rick, "Who's got a bad memory about Mrs. Refrigerator?" In a panic, Mrs. Refrigerator conjures up the memory of her and Beth on a roller-coaster. "Oo-hoo-hoo, man, we couldn't stop screamin'," she says with her hand on Beth's shoulder. Beth removes her hand and says: "Uh, roller-coasters aren't bad Mrs. Refrigerator, they're thrilling. And you've been a perfect companion to me my entire my life." That's when Mrs. Refrigerator starts to panic and runs around the room. She ends at the patio door, breaking the glass, and tries to get by the blast shield when Rick shoots her. She transforms back into parasite form and dies.

Rick next targets Summer: "What about Summer?" Morty ponders over a bad memory: while watering the lawn, drinking a soda, Morty gets canned from behind by Summer. "Never go in my room again," she says. "I didn't!" says a squirming on the ground in the fetal position Morty. He snaps out of it and says: "She's real. She's my bitch of a sister," and throws her a gun.

Each member of the Smith family goes through a brief moment of recollecting bad memories of each other, each one in a moment when they're about to shoot the other, then realizes they're not a parasite (these are the "counter-flashbacks" I mentioned earlier).

Summer vs. Beth: Summer remembers having to wake her drunk mother because she wasn't sure whether she was driving her to school for picture day. Bottle of wine still in hand, Beth swings around and accidentally hits Summer in the eye with it, giving her a nice shiner. While Beth puts a half-ass job into masking the bruise with makeup, Summer cries "I want the police to take me!"

^ A bit of commentary on Beth's alcoholism is in order but there will be a more appropriate time for that near the end.

Summer vs. Morty: She remembers catching Morty jerking off in the kitchen. They were all out at a consert but returned because they forgot the tickets. Neither expected that.

Beth vs. Jerry: Beth remembers being chased by a homeless guy while Jerry hides in the car leaving her to fend for herself. It begins with Jerry, carrying a dozen eggs, running past Beth, carrying two heavy loads of groceries, because a crazy homeless person is chasing them ready to use a broken bottle as a weapon. Jerry gets in the car and locks it. "Look out for that homeless guy!" he yells through the closed window. That's when Beth notices. She runs to the car. Jerry won't open the door, claiming "There isn't time! Just run!" She drops the groceries and fends the homeless guy off with a shopping cart. "Get out here and help me!" she beckons. "They say you shouldn't do that!" Jerry excuses himself, "Just run!"

^ So like Jerry to follow the rules, and for all the wrong reasons. So like the rule makers to make up a dumb rule like that. It's like they say: if you see someone injured, possibly bleeding to death, for heaven's sake, don't help them. Call 911 and wait for the professionals to get there. Meanwhile, as they take their time getting there, the man dies because you did nothing. <-- Sorry, pet peeve.

Anyway, getting back to where we left off, the duo is now a trio--Rick, Morty, and Summer. Next: Beth. That's when Summer reflects on the shiner incident. "Morty, give a gun to the lady who got pregnant with me way to earlier and constantly makes it our problem." Morty throws her a gun. She catches it and says in such an appreciative tone: "Thank you, sweety." She turns around and aims the gun at "Disco Bear" (for lack of a better name). "I thought it was too good to be true that we'd have compatible kidneys," she says before shooting him. She steps back and joins the other three in a classic Rick and Morty pose:

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Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:59 pm

Part 2

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^ Jerry's not in there for a reason. And it's more than just because he's too much of a coward to pick up a gun, or because he lacks the ability to think outside the box that is his naive impressionable simple mind (naive enough to be totally convinced by false but perfectly happy memories despite knowing now that such happiness means they're false). There's a symbolic reason as well which I'l explain later.

The blood path begins! The Smiths start shooting the place up. Parasites are getting holes blasted through them left and right. The only thing sealing their doom is the blast shields. If any of them had convinced Rick to open the blast shields, they could run outside for safety, and from there, escape and infect the world. But they're trapped in the house and the Smiths have the guns.

It's always struck me as unrealistic that the Smiths could just start shooting at the parasites in a shoot-em-up video game style while they'd always pause to think for a bit, search their memories banks, when confronted with actual Smiths. It's like they already know who's a parasite and who isn't. Oh well, you can't always make sense during actions scenes in an adult cartoon, but "life is made of little concessions" as Rick put it. The one exception to this is Pencilvestyr. Rick pauses here: "Come on, man, haven't we ever had an uncomfortable silence or an awkward fart on a road trip? Come on, Pencilvestyr, give me anything." But Pencilvestyr comes up short. All he can say for himself is: "Rick, I'm Pencilvestyr! Listen to that name! You can't kill me!" to which Rick responds: "You're right," then, with tears in his eyes, to Morty standing beside: "Kill Pencilvestyr." Morty blasts him without hesitation.

^ I find this scene interesting because it's one of the few occasions when Rick doesn't seem ashamed to show his true feelings. He wells up with tears right in front of Morty, almost sobbing, and yet walks away from the deed he knows must be done. We can compare this with the scene from Close Rickcounters when he wells up with tears over the memories flashing before his eyes on the screen (Ha! look at that! Both involving memories!). In that case, he tried to deny his emotionality (with the rather pathetic excuse: I'm allergic to dip shits) whereas in this case, he seems fine with being up front about it. Mind you, in Close Rickcounters, he was dealing with an enemy, an enemy against whom he had to keep up his defenses. It wasn't a moment to show weakness. But in the present case, showing his true feelings is more or less harmless as long as the job gets done. Sure the parasites are enemies, but they're at the mercy of the Smiths in this case. The point is, it's a mistake to think Rick isn't in touch with his feelings. He knows how he feels, when he feels it, and if the environment is non-threatening enough, he will express it. There are multiple examples of this throughout the series. One for example, is in The Wedding Squanchers when he says: "To my greatest adventure yet: opening myself up to others." Or in episode 1 of season 3: "That's the three lines of math that separates my life as a man from my life as an unfeeling ghost." And now that S3E2 is out, we get the very revealing line: "My daughter's going through a divorce and I am not dealing with it in a health way at all." Rick may mask his feelings at times, but he's not in denial about himself.

This scene also shows that Rick is willing to do some horrible things if it's necessary, and not just horrible to someone else. The experience is literally that of exterminating friends and family, as Rick puts it, but Rick is able to keep his better judgement and follow through with some extremely hard decisions (well, vicariously through Morty, in this case). It *sort of* vindicates his actions from earlier--shooting uncle Steve--in the sense that as insensitive as it may have seemed at the time (what with the rest of the Smith family suddenly undergoing the experience of seeing a close relative getting his brains shot out, Jerry in particular), he proves in this scene that he's willing to undergo the same.

Summer kills Tinkles and all her friends. "Summer, I've always loved you!" Tinkles says desperately. "Yep." says Summer smugly before shoot her.

(^ Personally, I would have Summer say: "That's the problem.")

^ It's funny how sometimes the killing of these parasites is the hardest thing they can do, while other times it seems so simple. For example, Mr. Beauregard, keeping low to the ground, tries to crawl towards his escape only to be blocked by Rick's feet. He looks up and says: "Ah, master Rick, remember when you weren't going to shoot me?" Rick shoots him then and there, and says "I guess I did the butler! Ha! Ha!" <-- So welling up over the idea of shooting Pencilvestyr but cracking a bad joke after unreluctantly shooting Mr. Beauregard. I guess it all depends on the quality of the memory. Pencilvestyr obviously implant extremely fond memories of the times he and Rick spent together, but Mr. Beauregard was just the family butler. It doesn't necessarily follow that they were close. But then again, why would a parasite ever not implant fond memories? Wouldn't they want to do everything they could to ensure that the people who's lives they infest want to keep them around? But Rick behaves here as if he had absolutely no ties, not even false ones, to Mr Beauregard.

But probably the biggest example of having to sever the bonds of strong family connection and love comes in the scene when Beth kills Sleepy Gary right when he and Jerry are holding each other close while the blood bath is going on around them. It had to be Beth to shoot Sleepy Gary because there'd be no way Jerry could do it himself (he can't even convince himself that Sleepy Gary is a parasite). "You gotta hide me, Sleepy Gary!" Jerry pleads trembling in fear. "Don't worry," says Sleepy Gary, "I have a plan. If we can get to my boat, there's a--" and then gets shot my Beth. Jerry grabs Beth's gun and points it to his head. "Send me to Gary. I wanna be with Gary," he says with tears in his eyes. That's when Beth recalls the time when he left her to fend for herself against a crazed homeless man.

Beth: "*Eugh* Sorry Jerry, we're real. [helps him to his feet]"

Jerry: "[sobbing] I'm a parasite."

Beth: "Yeah, but your real. [Jerry leans in for a kiss, now apparently remembering that she's his wife] Ah, ah, I need time... to forget about Sleepy Gary." Beth backs off.

Jerry: "Me too."

^ This is the symbolism I was talking about. Beth's response that Jerry is a parasite obviously isn't meant to be taken literally but it sure as hell can be taken metaphorically. Jerry is a leach. He depends on everyone around him for emotional support and approval, only able to feel good about himself when everyone lambastes his attention starved ego with praise and affection. His very act of cowardice when in the arms of Sleepy Gary--"You gotta hide me, Sleepy Gary"--shows that his nature is to leach off others--in this case, asking a (supposed) loved one to put himself in harms way in order to save his hide. Like Rick, Jerry brings very little to the Smith family, not much in the way of contributing something positive, or something that can help them grow, but instead drains those around him of patience and love. In fact, in the episode Looks Who's Purging Now--Jerry, still unemployed, literally begs Summer for money. This is why he was excluded from the Smith family pose (with the guns looking all bad ass). He's one of the parasites (metaphorically).

And while we're on the topic, Sleepy Gary stands in contrast to Jerry as the least parasitic of the parasites. Despite the gay love affair, he represents the husband Beth should have had. He stands between Rick's gun and Summer, standing up to him with the words "Rick, that is my daughter." <-- Really playing the part well for someone who's intention is to leach off Summer and the rest of the Smith family. Would it really be worth risking your life, provoking Rick to pull the trigger, if you were only there to exploit them? Probably not, but that's what makes Sleepy Gary stand out. While Jerry is guaranteed to find a closet to cower in, Sleepy Gary defends a daughter who isn't even his. Then when Jerry begs him to hide him, Sleepy Gary displays that take charge attitude, devising a plan for how to get them both to safety. He allows himself to be leached rather than to leach. What would Sleepy Gary have done in the case of the crazed homeless man? For a moment, Beth had it made. She had a man who had all Jerry's strength and none of his weaknesses (again, notwithstanding the gay love affair, but Jerry had to have the experience of a perfect relationship too).

Now this symbolism works perfectly in a near symmetrical symbolism on the side of Rick. Rick too could be construed as a parasite. What does he do but crash rent free at the Smith's house, eating them out of house and home, and doing nothing in return but bringing them hardship and trauma (and parasites). Of course, this isn't reflected very well in the family pose. If Jerry is excluded because he's a parasite, why isn't Rick? And all I can think of is that Rick is the parasite who defends the Smith family against all other parasites. And this echoes a common theme in the series that we've pointed out before. Rick is both the man who gets the Smiths into hot water and the man who gets them out. He may have brought the parasite infestation into the Smith's house but he's also the one who gets them out (to be fair, Morty's the one who figured out the parasites' secret, but Rick quickly took over--right about when he gave a succinct one-line explanation of what Morty said would "take some explaining"; not to mention the fact that Rick is the reason the Smiths kept up their suspicions throughout the entire episode, suspicions without which the parasites would have had them in the palms of their hands from the get-go). This is pretty typical of almost every one of their adventures--Rick is the one to get them into trouble but also the one to swoop in to save the day when they need some way out. In the moment of the pose, Rick is swooping in.

The more general point, however, is that, once again, Rick and Jerry can be juxtaposed against each other as mirror images of polar opposites. Ego and alter-ego. Both parasites but in completely opposite ways.

In fact, if we stick with this symbolism one step further, we might question whether it can be taken as more than a symbol. The question does arise--in fact, it spills from Beth's lips--is Rick a parasite? Beth mentions how odd it is that Rick suddenly shows up on their doorstep after a vague back story about where he's been all these years. In fact, there's a whole list of things about Rick that are characteristic of parasites:

  • Crashing rent free, eating their food: in Rick's words, "'Steve' put that memory in your brain so he could live in your house, eat your food, and multiply" <-- With the exception of multiplying, Rick fits the profile.
  • Wacky, zany character: I'd say Rick is a pretty wacky zany character. Wears a lab coat at all times, is a mad scientist constantly making new inventions, travels to strange alien worlds with a portal gun, gets the Smiths caught in all sorts of crazy sci-fi adventures. He fits right among all the other parasites.
  • Is extremely intelligent: the parasites definitely seem intelligent, just as you would expect an alien species who takes over other planets. Most likely part of an advanced civilization in which most of Rick's gadgets would seem commonplace.
  • Knows how to space travel and hop to different dimensions: again, alien species that takes over other planets, would know how to space travel, *maybe* even dimension hop.
  • Shows complete disregard for his family: with the occasional exception of showing feelings, 90% of the time, Rick makes no secret of the fact that he doesn't give a damn about anyone, not even his family. This would make total sense if he were really a parasite intent on sucking the life out of the Smiths as a small stepping stone towards taking over the planet.

We might even speculate upon the exact moment when Rick showed up in their lives. It wasn't when he showed up at their doorstep after being gone for so many years--that's just the back story, the false memory--it was at the very beginning, in the Pilot. When Rick stumbles into Morty's room drunk, it's not unthinkable that he planted a memory in Morty's brain during a dream... then showed up. As with all the other false memory implants, similar memories were probably induced in the other Smiths' brains (probably while they were asleep too) and so the next morning, Beth makes eggs for her father as if he's been here for a while now.

That is, if it weren't for the one snag in this theory: everyone's got tons of bad memories of Rick... except for Beth, which is why I went with this theory for a good while. I questioned this tendency of the parasites--to only plant happy memories--and I asked myself: did Morty say they can't plant unhappy memories or just that they don't. Well, turns out he said they "can't", but before verifying this, I thought it was pretty reasonable to assume the implantation of pleasant memories was just a sales tactic. If you wanted to invade someone's home, live there rent free, eat their food, invite all your friends, why would you ever give them a single bad experience? So it wasn't so much that the parasites couldn't create bad memories, just that it would be stupid to do so. I thought maybe this allows for the possibility of Rick doing so. Why? Well, my thought was that when he stumbled upon Beth, scanning her memories and learning that she'd do anything to get her father back, he realized this was a golden opportunity: here's a person who makes the sale for him. He can do anything, take her son out of school to go one precariously dangerous adventures to get drugs (I mean, seeds) that he forces Morty to shove up his ass and try to get through galactic federal customs, and think of it as "grandpa/grandson bonding time". He could implant the worst memory imaginable and rely on Beth to turn it into sunshine and rainbows. She does all the work for him. What better gig could a salesman get than one in which the customer makes the sale for him? But alas, that theory false through the cracks. Upon watching the scene with Mrs. Refrigerator, I realized the parasite literally can't form negative memories: she tries her damnedest and only comes up with a thrilling roller-coaster ride. <-- That pretty much settled it for. Rick can't be a parasite (in the literal sense) since parasites can't create bad memories, and Rick is an overflowing fountain of bad memories just waiting to be laid.

(This is not to mention the fact that Rick is against all the other parasite, and partakes with the Smith family in obliterating them in the end; how would that be explained if he were one of them; but it's easy to come up with all manner of explanation; maybe Rick is trying to hide here on Earth from the "Parasite Federation" as it might be called, and uncle Steve is a spy who discovers him--it would certainly explain why Rick had no memory of uncle Steve; once Rick killed him, that signaled to the others that Rick was found and they came flooding in; or another explanation might be that Rick simply doesn't want to share the Smith family with the others; all others don't seem to mind sharing with each other, but maybe Rick is the selfish one; but none of that matters because I don't think the Rick-is-a-parasite theory holds.)

Anyway, the blood bath ends, and they're all sitting around the dining room table. Pink blood is still splattered all over the walls, laser blast holes are everywhere and the damage to the house can't be missed.

"This is depressing," says Jerry, "We killed every good person in the house. We're what's left? What a family."

Rick puts a different spin on it: "At least we're really, Jerry, we're real! Ricky Ticky Tavy!!!"

^ This *might* be the theme of the episode: better the have a flawed reality than a perfect fantasy. <-- This definitely belongs in the philosophical questions I'll pose at the end, but I'd like to focus on Jerry's comment. To say "this is depressing," is quite the understatement. It's not just that they didn't get to keep all the pleasant people in their lives around, it's that they had to undergo the excruciating experience of killing tons of their family and loved ones. I think to myself: what if I learned my daughter was a parasite? How could I kill her? How can you just do that and then sit down at the dinner table to enjoy a nice stake with mashed potatoes and peas? This is like a genocidal massacre. If uncle Steve was a traumatizing experience, imagine what the blood bath they just went through must be like. It's not unlike Rick to be so insensitive, pulling out the silver line from a dark somber experience, but it's completely unlike anyone to simply "brewed" over the situation, hoping to get over it in a few days; you'd be more likely to be rocking back and forth in a dark corner crying your eye balls out. But I've never been in that psychological situation before--killing people that, though you have fond memories of and feel a strong attachment too, nevertheless know they are parasites and need to die. <-- Maybe knowing that makes it not so bad.

But this isn't quite the thing Jerry finds depressing. He isn't depressed about the sheer number of virtual loved ones who they had to killed but the people who are still alive. He's depressed because real people are flawed. So in this sense, maybe Rick's sentiment is appropriate. Despite how out of place his comment about being real is, it does carry an interesting point philosophically speaking: knowing that a person has character flaws, and being able to recollect a series of bad memories of that person, definitely reminds us that they aren't faking it around us. We know people are real when they don't hide their flaws. It's always the fake ones who give off a veneer of perfection. Ironically, this can convince us to appreciate the former type of person more than the latter--that is, if we can get by the superficial sweetness of the latter, which, as the Smiths have experienced first hand, can be spell binding.

Mr. Poopy Butthole comes to the table. Beth eyes him stuffing his face with a pork chop, a look of suspicion on her face. "Is something wrong Beth?" She pulls out a gun and shoots him. He gets propelled against the wall, red blood splattering against it. He falls to the ground with red blood pouring from the gun shot wound. He doesn't transform into a parasite.



So Beth mistakenly assumes Mr. Poopy Butthole is a parasite and finds out the hard way that he is not. She used the same old tactic (as we'll see in the post-credit scene) of trying to think of any negative memories she's had of Mr. Poopy Butthole but comes up short. So naturally, she concludes that he must be a parasite and shoots him. <-- Obviously not a hard and fast rule, more like a rule of thumb.

I made the video clip above because I want to close this analysis on Beth's growing alcoholism. We saw it once before in Rixty Minutes and now we see it twice in this episode: once in Summer's memory of getting welted in the eye, and again here. Just look at Beth poor that wine into the glass, how she shakes, how she spills wine everywhere, and how she chugs it down. On both previous occasions, it could be excused on the same account that we all get drunk sometimes--we sometimes decide to drink for bad reasons, sometimes for acceptable reason but we take it too far, sometimes just for a bit of fun--but in this scene she chugs it like shooting up morphine to kill some unbearable pain. Definitely using it as an escape. And of course, going down the same path as her father.

Anyway, yes, Mr. Poopy Butthole is real and has (apparently) been a long time family friend of the Smiths. Like I pointed out near the beginning, this is a dimension featuring Mr. Poopy Butthole, as his presence in the opening credits symbolizes, and we are to presume that whenever an episode of Rick and Morty takes place in this dimension (however that would be determined), Mr. Poopy Butthole is somewhere about, somewhere hanging around this universe. He won't necessarily be featured in the episode, but we are to presume he exists and that Rick and Morty carry fond memories of him wherever they go.

The post-credit scene has the Smith family watching Mr. Poopy Butthole through a hospital window as he learns to walk again with the aid of a nurse and some support bars. Rick's pocketing random pills he find, some of which he downs right then and there. Beth is carrying a bouquet of yellow roses.

Rick: "Listen, Beth, don't torture yourself. I made a similar mistake years ago but, you know, on a planetary scale." <-- Rick trying to console his daughter. Unless you're listening to Rick say something like this for the first time, it really does pull on the ol' heart strings.

Beth: "Is, um, is he mad at me?"

Rick: "He's not pressing charges. I mean, that's gotta be the you-shot-me equivalent of not being mad."

The nurse comes out. Beth asks if Mr. Poopy Butthole can have visitors. The nurse says: "He'd like to be alone. He told me to tell you... he's sorry you didn't have bad memories of him... If you love him, you should leave." Beth just drops the flower and covers her eyes. The family walks away (Rick uttering one of his stupid catch phrases: and that's the waaay the news goes <-- Yeah, one of the one's in the montage.)

I guess Beth now does have a bad memory of Mr. Poopy Butthole, as Mr. Poopy Butthole does of Beth. Real life! <-- Could this be used to reconcile their differences? Dunno. Nothing more to do with this incident is explored in season 2. We see Mr. Poopy Butthole once again in the post-credit scene of the season 2 finally, but it's in such a removed context that it's questionable whether there is a Beth for Mr. Poopy Butthole to make amends with (you'll see when we get there).

PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHTS:

* Reality and perception: In this case, "perception" refers more to memory than to the senses, but the defining mark between it and reality remains the same--it's the feature of reliability? Can we rely on our experiences? Can we trust them? This one goes back to Descartes (or the Greeks if you want to go back that far). Descartes, in my opinion, lays down the definitive case for radical skepticism, going so far as to (like Jerry) question his own existence. By "definitive", I mean a skepticism so thorough that there is no way out of it. When you argue, like Descartes did, that anything you perceive or believe, or experience in any way, could, in principle, be a dream, tricks of an evil demon, or raw insanity--questioning even the tenets of basic geometry (like all circles being round)--then there is nothing that is exempt from doubt. In practice, however, the Smiths cleverly figure out a few methods by which to tease apart fact from fiction: recording the number of real people in the room, questioning whether they would do the things they remember doing, looking through photos, trying to recall bad memories, and so on. The Smiths *could* have employed a few other approaches--questioning the absurdity of the characters themselves (a magic ballerina lamb), or juxtaposing contradictory memories (Beth recalling both that she's married to Sleepy Gary and to Jerry)--and probably other approaches that I've failed to mention, but whether the Smiths employed these approaches or not, they represent means by which to distinguish reality from mere perception. In practice, these are very practical approaches, but the reason Descartes' skepticism holds in principle, as far as I'm concerned, is that in order to use these approaches, or any approach to sifting fact from fiction, one must depend on rationality--that is, we trust these approaches because they seem to entail, logically, that anything that passes the test must be real and anything that fails the test must be fake--but that is to take logic and rationality, things which are just as mental as perceptions and memories, at face value. What test is there to test the validity of one's own logic? More logic? If the illusions and tricks of perception are embedded in our logic, as opposed to our perceptions or memories, then any approach one devises to tease apart fact from fiction is useless, and Descartes' radical skepticism seems inescapable. One might as well go with the flow, trusting any perception or experience one is given. <-- This, in my opinion, is a problem that will plague epistemological philosophy forever.

* The power of suggestion: Are human beings really as gullible as the Smiths? If a character like Amish Cyborg was hanging out in your living room, would you just accept him because you have fond memories of him? For most of us, the scary answer might just be yes. But why would we be that gullible, especially given the patent absurdity of characters like Amish Cyborg or Big Rubber Dukcy? The answer is that because the memories that would be planted in our brains, like those planted in the Smiths' brains, would have bypassed the normal psychological processes by which we normally scrutinize our experiences and the things we are told. In other words, the instances during which we question our experiences or the information we get is before such experiences or information are established. When we are told information from a source we don't fully trust, or have experiences which we don't know we can simply take at face value, we question its authenticity before we secure it in our minds to be relied upon going forward. But if such information or experiences are established in memory directly, or by other means, they are established in a place or state in the mind that is taken for granted as trustworthy. It's like the difference between showing a passport to security in an airport vs. applying for a passport through the usual channels. It's only in the latter case that one's authenticity and credibility is scrutinized. But if one presents a legitimate looking passport to airport security, they will most likely take it at face value (not that they won't do any scrutinizing but they will hardly take the time to go into such depth in their scrutiny as to thoroughly investigate your identity and trace your passport to the sources which validated it). Airport security will usually assume that, upon a quick inspection, the passport, if it looks valid, has already gone through the necessary scrutiny for legitimizing it, and can therefore be, to an extent, taken for granted. When one reflects on one's memories, IOW, one is reflecting on an element in one's own mind which is, by default, taken to be legitimate, to have already passed all necessary tests for authenticity. The mind simply isn't conditioned to scrutinize one's own memories for any absurdities or inconsistencies--the mind is conditioned to scrutinize only during the stage when such memories are being laid down (i.e. before they become memories proper). This isn't to say the mind can't scrutinize its memories for signs of inauthenticity, just that it doesn't come naturally. I think this is true for any form of psychological suggestion. During hypnosis, when the hypnotist brainwashes his subject to believe he is a famous rock star, for example, he is establishing ideas or memories through psychological channels other than the ones through which such ideas or memories ordinarily pass through; he bypasses the usual screening process and implants those ideas or memories directly at a spot in the mind that is conditioned to be taken for granted as holding legitimate ideas or memories. Now, this explanation comes from a slightly different angle than that of criticizing human stupidity. Not that this is what Roiland and Harmon were necessarily getting at (the fact that Rick fell for false memories almost as much as the rest of the Smith family suggests this is not what they were getting at), but it is often raised as a point for philosophical consideration. There's no shortage of posters here at ILP who love to bitch and moan about the stupidity of the "sheeple" who believe everything they are told and conform to everything their peers do. And the events in this episode could be brought in as perfect examples of this human tendency. While I don't think this is quite what Roiland and Harmon were getting at, the instances in this episode of succumbing to suggestion count as overlapping examples of the "sheeple" statement that some no doubt will glean from this episode and the "bypassing scrutinity" statement that I'm gleaning (and which I think is closer to what Harmon and Roiland were getting at). In either case, it requires extraordinary intelligence and critical thinking (thinking against one's natural instincts, going against the flow) to avoid being fooled, something people don't usually do on an regular basis. This is why suggestion works so well--it bypasses the usual psychological channels through which incoming information is scrutinized and questioned, thereby establishes itself with a "get in free" card.

* Flawed reality vs. perfect fantasy: reality is flawed. It's a fact. The expression "too good to be true," is not just pessimism but realism. It's the wisedom to recognize that if there are no flaws, it's highly unlikely to be real. But is there really anything wrong with living in a fantasy if it means being truly happy? The most intuitive answer to this question is that even the most pleasant of fantasies can only last so long, after which one will inevitably crash into reality or seriously harm one's self. It would be much like taking drugs--sure the initial experience is pleasant, sometimes even enough to create a whole new world for one's self, but one can only do this for so long before one begins to crash or incur serious harm. The pains an adversities of reality can at least be dealt with in such a way as to resolve them or overcome them, unlike the case of escaping into fantasy which is just to put the pains and adversities of reality aside only to have to face them later on (usually exacerbating their unpleasant effects). But then again, one can question this: are the pains in life always inevitable? Is there no such thing as a fantasy that can endure through the entirety of one's life? Taking tylonal to get rid of a headache, for example, doesn't typically bring the headache on with more intensity later on. It just works! If the parasites are intent on living with the Smith family, or on living amongst Earthlings at large, why would they ever make the experience of Earthlings unpleasant? Not only would we be living in a temporarily pleasant fantasy but, through the efforts of the parasites, most likely a permanent one (I'm assuming, of course, that the pleasant memories and the likability of the parasite characters is not just an initial measure, after which point their numbers on Earth would allow them to take over militarily or by force, but an ongoing effort that the parasites have to keep up just to keep living on Earth). What would be so terribly wrong, in that case, with living in a fantasy despite how wrong it might be? Take religion, for example--the opiate of the people in Marx's words--short of expecting miracles and divine intervention, as some do, religion is often useful for easing the pains of life and giving hope to what would otherwise be a surrendering to a depressing nihilism. Religion need not be the superstitious expectation that with enough prayer or diligent practicing of ritual, one can walk on water or overcome things like cancer, but simply furnishing the heart with hope of reconciliation in the afterlife or with the peace of mind that there is a God out there who loves you and will be there with you through all your trials and tribulations. Religion can serve, in others words, as a way of making the troubles and the pains of life a little easier, and therefore equip one with the ability to handle such troubles and pains more effectively--this despite the fact that the beliefs of such religions might be nothing more than unfounded fantasy. Given these two perspectives--that at least a flawed reality forces one to deal with the adversity and hardship of life more effectively than escaping that adversity and hardship through fantasy, and that, on the other hand, a fantasy that helps one cope with life can actually make the handling of the adversity and hardship of life more effective--a third perspective emerges: that of the value of real life itself, worts and all, is better than that of fantasy for its own sake--that is to say, we can ask the question: is real life inherently more valuable than fantasy despite all the hardship and adversity that it comes with, despite that given the opportunity to overcome such hardship and adversity, we may not always succeed? In other words, is real life more valuable than fantasy just because it's real life? This, in my opinion, is the morality of the gods. Human beings, being mere animals at the end of the day, are stuck with instincts and intuitions to view pain and adversity as bad, with a hardwired perspective that leads to a morality based on pleasure and happiness (if not for one's self, then at least for others). Consequently, there are things in life to be attained and there are things in life to be avoided. But the gods are above such base depravity as blind animal instincts. Being free from the hardwiring of biological nature, the gods are free to see the value in existence itself, and to appreciate that the ultimate evil is just pure nothingness. In this sense, even the most horrible atrocities, the most cruel inflictions at the hands of tyrants and psychopaths, are seen as better than no atrocities at all, no inflictions of cruelty whatsoever. To the gods, the most benevolent and the most sadistic of treatments are on equal footing. What matters is not that benevolence and happiness reign over cruelty and suffering, but just that there is something, no matter what its character, rather than nothing. If this is at the heart of Rick's sentiment--"at least we're real, Jerry, we're real!"--and it just might given that, as we see in episode 1 of season 3, Rick aspires to be a god, and in a twisted way, may already see himself as a god--then it means the Smith family, even Jerry, is worth more, morally speaking, than the parasites, for the Smiths are real and never once, at least not in this episode, took the path of falsehood and deception whereas the parasites never veered from that path.

* Killing loved ones--easier when you know they're fake? I brought up the question earlier of whether I'd be able to bring myself to kill my daughter if I knew she was really a parasite? I even feel horrible just for asking the question in a merely hypothetical conext. This episode touches on the philosophical and psychological implication of not only having to deal with false memories, but of how those memories tie into and stir deeply emotional and sentimental affections for those featured in the memories. So even though Rick knows that Pencilvestyr is a parasite, he still can't bring himself to shoot him. And I think this would be true in real life. Knowing that a loved one is fake--that is, not really the loved one you took him or her to be--won't always be enough to overcome any resistance to killing them, or harming them in any way, or even just severing one's ties with them. But the question still remains: would it help? Suppose that instead of having to kill Pencilvestyr because he's really a parasite, Rick was forced to kill him because Pencilvestyr was in a temporary state of insanity and was about to kill Rick (or better yet, Beth). Would Rick, in that case, even be able to muster the courage to ask Morty to kill him? Mind you, this might not be the best example, because having your life threatened as a motive for killing a loved one might just substitute for the motive of knowing that loved one is fake, but at least in this case, Rick might have hope that Pencilvestyr will eventually snap out of his state of insanity, and therefore might be tempted to find ways of non-violently defending himself against Pencilvestyr rather than kill him outright. Considerations like this shed light on the question of how much knowing loved ones are fake really helps us in killing them (or in general, going against them in some way)? Then again, we can imagine cases in which it would be incredibly easy. How many of us have experienced being betrayed by a lover--someone who cheated on us, or turned out to be using us in some way, or one day sprung the news on us that they never loved us? In those cases, we are often filled with so much rage that we actually want to kill them. Not that we would kill them, but it certainly doesn't feel hard to act upon desires for revenge. The love they expressed for us is suddenly seen as fake, and therefore the love we gave them in return seems groundless. It not only becomes easier to withhold that love, but is replaced by an insatiable rage. We want to get back at the person, we want to harm them. Not that we wouldn't grieve or fall into a prolonged depression over the loss of love and the feeling of betrayal, but this is usually more about the hurt the person caused us rather than the void left behind after a false love fanishes like a chimera. Experiences like this suggest that not only would it help knowing the person was fake, or didn't really feel towards us the way they said or acted, but it might skew our feelings in exactly the opposite direction. Would this be true in all such cases? Maybe there would be a distinction between cases in which we feel betrayed by lies and cheating versus cases in which the person turned out to be fake but not necessarily in a way that made us feel betrayed or hurt. For example, perhaps someone who, in virtue of being part of the witness protection program, was legally bound to not reveal their true identity or their past. Maybe only after a long time of gaining your trust could they feel comfortable in revealing the truth about themselves. In that case, would you feel so betrayed by such lies and deception as to have your love for the person replaced by rage and the desire for revenge? Probably not. Mind you, it wouldn't be a case of having to kill the person, but you could imagine that hearing the news about being in the witness protection program might entail having to sever all ties with the person. If, for example, the whole reason the person was in the witness protection program was they testified against a notorious and powerful mafia boss, a mafia boss who, though he went to jail, is tightly connected with a whole network of other mafia members who would seek out and take revenge on not only this person but anyone whom he is associated with, including you. For the safety of your own life, in other words, you might have to sever your ties with the person, and in this case, knowing the person you thought they were is really fake doesn't seem to help in the slightest. In any case, it seems that there are many scenarios we can consider, the outcomes of which have very different implications on how easy it would be to kill, or harm, or in some way go against, former loved ones or close friends whom you now see as fake or bertayers of your trust.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I have to remind myself that we're living in the Rick and Morty universe(s): the strangeness of the characters maybe ought not to raise any alarms in the Smiths' heads. After all, it's established that this is a reality in which Mr. Poopy Butthole is a real character. Who's to say that the Smiths we're following in this episode don't live in a universe filled with odd and strange characters like Mr. Poopy Butthole. Maybe this is a reality in which raptors and talking pencils are commonplacer. <-- That's one of the central tenets in the whole Rick and Morty series--that there is such a reality out there. That one nearly slipped by me.

^ If this is true, it adds to our knowledge of the universe the "alternate" Rick and Morty are living in--the one we were following in episode 2--it's really a weird universe.

Uncle Steve buying plane tickets: not a bad price to pay for allowing a parasite to live at your place rent free eating all your food. Where uncle Steve got the money to pay for a vacation to Paris is beyond me, but if this is typical of all parasites, it's more like a symbiotic relation rather than one in which the parasites leach off the humans.

A small theory on how Jerry came to the conclusion he may not exist: Jerry wonders if he's a parasite. He thinks, well that just can't be. If I were a parasite, I would know I'm a parasite... unless, I implanted a false memory in my own head convincing me that I was always human.
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It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
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gib
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:41 am

Man, there's been way too much excitement over at youtube on the Rick and Morty front. I can't keep up with all the new stuff that keeps coming out (which is probably a good thing). Everyone's theories and interpretations and plot summaries on not only the Rick and Morty series, but season 3 in particular as it continues to blow fans like myself away, are all over youtube. I'm going to deliberately try not to get caught up in all the hype, largely for the sake of my own sanity, as this Rick and Morty obsession of mine is probably already gone way too far off the deep end.

But I did come across this video which I absolutely had to post:



If you want some decent epitomized coverage of season 3 and how it's going, I recommend: GameSpot Universe.

Still working on Get Schwifty... stay tuned.
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
User avatar
gib
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:17 pm

My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
User avatar
gib
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Posts: 8506
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 10:25 pm
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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:07 am

Rick and Morty - S2E5 - Get Schwifty

Out of all episodes in the Rick and Morty series, I think this is my least favorite. Not sure why. I guess because it seems the most "stupid"--like Roiland and Harmon had a heavy night of drinking and wrote this one the next morning while trying to get over a couple hangovers. No offense to these genius writers--they've proven over and over again that they can easily blow fans away with their creativity, humor, and philosophical intelligence--just not so much in this case (at least that's my opinion).

That's not to say there isn't a fair share of philosophical material to sieve through--we touch on religion, superstition, the ethics of an alien species, and we even get some further insight into the nature of Rick and Morty's relationship--but this all seems to constitute either the secondary plot line only or is subsidiary to the central theme or the climax of this episode--namely, a song called "Get Schwifty" about shitting on the floor and somehow being deemed brilliant enough to win a game show competition against other song writing alien species. It's like all the decently intelligent and creative material in this episode is eclipsed by something incredibly juvenile and retarded (I mean, really retarded--Get Schwifty isn't even funny).

So the episode begins with a ginormous orange head careening through the cosmos and arriving at Earth:

Image

It comes within the vicinity of Earth and causes great fires and hurricanes and earthquakes (all triggered by the head's massive gravitational influence). The head can be seen in the background of a news report. The report captures the head's thunderous utterance: "Show me what you got!!!" Watching the report from the comfort of the living room sofa is Rick and Morty. Rick takes it upon himself (and Morty) to save the day: "Oh boy, time to go Morty." When asked where, Rick responds after putting on some shades: "The Pentagon... I mean, not the Pentagon--*burp*--the lame one, here on Earth." <-- Then the opening credits roll.

^ A typical Roiland and Harmon style intro--not that it happens for every episode, but there's more than just a few that begin with an almost blatant statement going along the lines of: okay, so in this episode, the theme of the adventure is X--in this case, giant head invades Earth's personal space, causing whole lota disasters and chaos, demanding that Earth "show it what it's got," and Rick and Morty have to save the day--all wrapped up in a nice little bow--oh, and something new this time: the US government will be involved, Rick of course being their only hope. <-- That about sums up the intro.

Beth, Jerry, and Summer are standing outside their home looking up into the night sky at the giant head while winds and rain hit with great force. Summer asks if the giant head is God. Beth responds in the negative while Jerry defends Summer's right to think it's God (which Beth wasn't really violating, just answering Summer's question--which, by the way, seems rather groundless--if not God, what would you say of a giant head in the sky causing hurricanes and Earthquakes?).

Rick and Morty pull out of the garage in their spaceship. They tell the rest of the Smiths they're going to look into it before flying away. Then Mr. Goldenfold pulls up in his moped and invites the Smiths to the local church where they'll pray. "How is praying going to help?" Beth asks. "Ma'am," says Goldenfold, "a giant head in the sky's controlling the weather. Did you wanna play checkers? Let's be rational." On any other day, a staunch atheism like that which Beth is now displaying would seem the most rational position to take, but on this day, Goldenfold makes a really good point: a giant head in the sky is controlling the weather. <-- In this case, praying to God doesn't seem that irrational. This is going to be pitted against Beth throughout this episode--Beth will be the doubting Thomas going against the grain while everyone else, including Jerry, will go along with the herd.

At the Pentagon: a bunch of high officials, including the President of the United States (who happens to look a lot like Barack Obama, but a bit stockier), are sitting around a pentagon shaped table. One official (Simon) stands up and announces that broadcasters all around the world are attempting to show the giant head what humanity's got--everything from string theory to world history to the human genome. Another official, a military general, stands up and says "What America's got is 70 thousand megatons of ka-boom-boom."

Amidst all the commotion that this stirs, Rick and Morty enter the room through a portal. Rick removes the shades (why he put them on in the first place goes unexplained). In reaction to the security guards who surround Rick and Morty pointing guns at them, Rick threatens to use his snake converting watch on them (a watch that turns people into snakes). The military general nods his head to the guards, signaling to open fire, which provokes Rick into transforming the security guards into snakes. He then introduces himself and Morty to the group (taking a swig from his flask). "I've seen enough of the galaxy," Rick continues, "to know what we've got here is a Cromulon from the Cygnus-5 expanse. So you can forget about nukes and you can forget about math. This head won't go away until--*burp*--Earth's shows them it's got... a hit song."

Talk about telling the US government where it's at. Rick here introduces himself to the President of the United States as the only man for the job, the expert in matters of giant heads from space disrupting Earth's environment and demanding that Earth "show it what it's got." The hit song he speaks of must be new, Rick explains, so classics like Vivaldi won't cut it. The President laps up this sales pitch wholeheartedly, investing all his trust in Rick and Morty. You can't get any more VIP than that.

The President orders his staff to get America's top musical talents: Pharrell, Randy Newman, Billy Corgan, and The Dream. Unfortunately, as reported by one official after getting off the phone, all mentioned musical artists, plus "all the famous ones," died in a horrible Earthquake at the Grammies. Pretty convenient for Rick and Morty--guess who that leaves us--that's right: Rick and Morty. The same man who reported the death of all the famous musicians updates everyone with the news that Ice-T survived and is on an inbound flight due to arrive in 2 hours. So it's gonna be Rick, Morty, and Ice-T. But this trio is not sealed together until after the President asks Rick before he jumps back through the portal: "Sanchez, are you a musician?" Rick responds: "I've dabbled, Mr. President." The President orders a black hawk to take Rick and his grandson to area 51 where a giant stage with giant speakers is setup--now they, with Ice-T, are officially part of the band.

Cutting back to the secondary plot line: everyone's gathered in the church. They're all in a bit of a panic. The preacher tries to encourage them to calm down, to have faith. Then principle Vagina from Morty and Summer's school gets up and addresses the crowd:

"Hi, Principal Vagina. The name’s real, possibly Scandinavian. I’m just gonna come out and make this pitch. The old gods are dead. Fuck all previous existing religions. All hail the one true god, the giant head in the sky. [crowd and preacher start rabbling] De-de-de-de, Bob, Bob [the preacher], I get it. But unless this [pulls out a cross on a necklace] can beat that [points outside], what have you done for me lately? [Throws necklace to Bob; people start surrounding him.] So if you wanna excuse me, I’m going out on the sidewalk and dropping to my knees and pledging my eternal soul to the thing that literally controls the fucking weather!"

^ A bit of seeing-is-believing. All's well in faith and belief, but when an awesome force of nature (or supernature, as it were) hits you like a sledge hammer, the latter always wins out over the former. That's why the scientific revolution so easily overthrew the old religious institutions of Europe and North America over the last few centuries. I suppose it's also a statement about our true motives in worshiping this or that deity over another: it's not about piety or doing good or self-improvement, it's about survival and personal gain; in this scene, principle Vagina makes no secret about that; he abandons the Christian God whom he presumably remained faithful to up until now in order to save his own ass--or rather that of his eternal soul--and the decision is made so easily: based on the sheer demonstration of which god has the greater power and might.

And Bob's reaction: carrying on with business as usual--getting sally to pass the tip basket in order to repair the organ--is a testament to what faith in a provident God does--it makes you ignore the real problem as if it isn't there, as if you just can carry on with business as usual, because (you believe) God will take care of all your problems. At least principle Vagina was thinking practically (as terrible at logic as he is).

Back in the black hawk, Rick and Morty are being transported to area 51. Morty expresses his doubts that he's got any musical talent. Rick responds: "Yeah, not with that attitude." <-- Morty's attitude about his musical talents will receive a lot of development in this episode, tying into themes of relaxation and going with the flow. <-- This is an idea Rick will try more than once to hammer into Morty, and Bird Person will hammer home (yes, Bird Person appears in this episode)--that one can only perform at their best when they relax and go with the flow--a real challenge to a worry wort like Morty. And we'll even see how difficult this challenge is for Rick when he doesn't have his trusty sidekick by his side, almost as if to say Morty is the source of Rick's confidence. But I'll let that unfold as the episode carries on.

They cling to ropes as they are lowered from the chopper to the sound stage. Morty bitches that they don't yet have a hit song as the jump master yells to them "Go! Go! Go!" Morty follows Rick out of the chopper to the ground. This scene is intercut with principle Vagina praying outside the church to the giant head in the sky, even asking forgiveness for ignoring the amber alerts he gets on his phone (is this a real thing with you Americans?). Rick with Morty, on stage in the middle of the desert, dust blowing in the wind all around them, the big head in the sky watching in anticipation, grabs the mic and, with a big grin on his face, utters into it "All right Morty, let's give-let's do it. Why don't you, uh, find a button on one of those keyboards and lay down some kind of beat." Morty reacts in his usual panicky way, grabbing Rick's lab coat instead of the keyboard: "Rick! I think we need to cut our losses--w-we get our family and then portal out of here!" "Morty!" Rick responds, "Good music comes from people who are relaxed! Just hit a button, Morty, give me a beat!"

^ This is odd coming from Rick--Morty just gave him the perfect excuse to bail, an excuse that Rick himself has used time and time again--just open a portal and escape. This was the same excuse Rick used in Potion #9--he bailed on the Cronenburg reality and hijacked another--now it's Morty urging Rick to use the same escape tactic, letting the world be blown to smithereens in their absence. So why does Rick reject this option? It makes you think: Rick doesn't just bail on the first sign of trouble--his response that good music comes from people who relax indicates that he's a seasoned veteran--to the point at which he doesn't panic as easily as Morty does--he's gotten to the point where he feels more confident with his ability to resolve the situation as it stands than with bailing on the situation for one that doesn't involve the precarious situation they're in. He trusts in his abilities way more than Morty does, which allows him to invest more concern for the reality he finds himself in than Morty at this point. Despite the precarious situation they find themselves in, he's still willing to give his talents and his genius a shot, even if he could very easily save his own and Morty's asses just by portaling out of there.

Morty obliges Rick--he hits a key on the keyboard which starts a hip hop beat, and then Rick starts "rapping" (if you can call it that):



So yeah, this is supposed to be Earth's "best effort"--a rap song whose lyrics go: "take a shit on the floor"--but I gotta say, after watching this in depth and trying extremely hard to find meaning or something insightful, I did find this: I think the message here is that even though the song sucks, it really does come through to the giant heads in the sky as sheer brilliance. Why? Because, taking a page right out of Rick's philosophy, he and Morty are relax (as relaxed as they can be). We will see later in the episode that all the other planets in the universe who have undergone the same ordeal have been put under equal pressure, equal stress, and for the most part, this is their undoing. High stress degrades performance. This gives Rick and Morty a certain leverage--that is, so long as they understand that the key is to relax, thereby giving themselves an edge over their competition--thus, even though their musical talent sucks, being the most relaxed out of their competition lands them in a winning spot in the eyes of the giant heads. <-- As I say, I think this *might* be why Roiland and Harmon deliberately invented the most base and shitty lyrics, sung to the most awful tune, they could imagine. It was to put forward the message: even if you suck, you will perform at your best, and therefore stand the greatest chances of success, if you just relax and have some fun with it. <-- Maybe. (It's just... you know... even I could do better than that).

And just to note: Rick says "Mr. Bulldops" not "Mr. Bulldog." My guess is Roiland, adlibing as he probably does most of the time, originally said "Mr. Bulldog," but some no name rap star probably owns the rights to that name so Roiland was forced to dub that over with "Mr. Bulldops." <-- Just a guess.

You might also note that in this scene, the giant head withdraws the floods and the earthquake induced crevices and the storms, and that Summer was the first to notice this in Church, and that principle Vagina is still on his knees in prayer outside the Church when this happens. It doesn't take much to guess what Vagina, Summer, and the rest of the congregation are going to conclude from this... but we'll touch on this when the time comes.

After Get Schwifty wraps up, principle Vagina, still on his knees outside the Church, wraps up his prayer with: "Please be kind to us for we are but tiny things with entire bodies stuck to your ground." <-- Might be interesting to note (or it may not) that Vagina is appealing to humbleness, sympathy, and truth... I could think of worse things.

Before leaving, the giant head response: "I LIKE WHAT YOU GOT!!! GOOD JOB!!!" Rick and Morty hi-five each other, the area 51 control center, including Nathan (the trigger happy general) and the President, unanimously cheer, and cutting over to the Church, so does the congregation, lifting principle Vagina up on their shoulders like a hero sent from the gods. Summer is quite center stage in this scene, clearly in focus from the camera's point of view. Beth, meanwhile is standing quite a ways back, a few feet outside the open doors of the Church, but several feet away from the crowd hoisting principle Vagina upon their shoulders (I looked but I don't see Jerry at all in this scene).

Beth, at the risk of sounding like a party pooper, serves as the voice of reason: "Now, hold on a second, let's be rational about this... [crowd looks at her as if she just blasphemed]... no, I'm, I'm just saying we don't know there's a cause/effect relationship-" but before she can even finish her sentence, she's knock onto her ass on the Church steps by an Earth tremor (making her look bad in the eyes of the cause inferrers). They feel it in area 51 too--both Rick and Morty and the control center. Next scene: the Earth pops out of existence and teleports to an entirely different region in space (not clear whether they teleported to a different dimension, but if it's not explicitly mentioned or hinted, I think it's safe to assume it's in the same universe). It's a region in space with a huge multicolored planet looking like a disco ball, and several smaller looking planets, some with rings, some without, some gaseous looking, some Earthy looking, and with giant heads, each a different color, floating about everywhere.

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Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Principle Vagina: "The head has left and sent its children."

Beth: "Holy crap!!!" [drops to her knees along with everyone else.]

[Jerry is now in the scene.]

Summer: "Oh dear giant head, we apologize for that discussion. It will never happen again."

The crowd murmurs in prayer. So again, they form causal connections where it is only a correlation. Beth is of course right, but because of an unfortunate series of coincidental events, she is made out to be a trouble maker and Summer voices her repentance on her mother's behalf. It's funny how even Beth drops to her knees in this scene with a look of serious self-doubt on her face, as if even she is questioning her own skepticism (I guess that's why she bellowed out "Holy crap!!!"). Correlation may not imply causation, but when the coincidences are this undeniable, the idea of causation is hard to ignore.

Back at the area 51 control center, they decrypt a signal coming from the giant heads which turns out to be the intro to a presumably popular alien reality show called "Planet Music":



First up to bat are the Greebybobes from planet Parblesnops, a froggy looking bunch who appear to live on giant lily pads. The lead singer of the band says this: "Hold it, hold it, stop! Music isn’t about competition or captivity! If you love music, you love freedom. Let these worlds be free, please!!!" <-- Sounding almost like a modern day Bob Marley (and I'm thinking the same voice as that who did Mr. President).

"DISQUALIFIED!!!" announced the Cromulon giant head in the sky, before Parblesnops gets blown to smithereens.

Next is the planet Arbolez Meterosos, featuring some pink amoeba looking creatures with four arms, two legs, and one eye: they proceed with a rather pathetic but soothingly catchy techno-sounding tune. They all look petrified as they play their simple song (one actually feels really sorry for them).

The scene cuts abruptly, opening the next scene with Rick, Morty--and Ice-T--tuning their instruments in something like a recording studio. We're not shown the fate of the Meterosians throughout the episode, but we can presume they get blown to smithereens at the end of the competition (I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say Earth wins). Rick is tuning an electric guitar while Morty is tuning a keyboard. Ice-T looks to be checking his text messages.

One of the military personnel (the guy who reported that all the famous musician died) comes into the room. He comes in to inform the group that their time has just been shortened to six hours (however much time they had before notwithstanding, six hours is quite a bit considering there's only two acts that could possibly be ahead of them after the Meterosians; Cromulonian commercial breaks must be terribly long). Morty, frustrated from the pressure they're already under, flips a bowl of peanuts at the officer shouting "Like we’re not already under enough pressure!" The officer leaves the room as Rick and Ice-T laugh at Morty's antics. "Geez, Morty. The guy’s just doing his job. Take it easy," Rick says. <-- This seems to be a kind of contrast between Morty's high stress approach to the situation and the more relaxed/go-with-the-flow attitude that Rick and Ice-T seem to exhibit. Really, Morty's outburst at the military officer does no good but to potentially worsen relations, whereas Rick's observation that he's "just doing his job" is not only more accurate but highlights the fact that the officer is, if anything, helping them with their situation by keeping them informed. Again, being relaxed allows for better performance. Rick and Ice-T are even relaxed enough to laugh the whole incident off, thereby reinforcing (as best they can) a relaxed atmosphere.

Morty: "Rick! Ice-T! Could you guys take it less easy?! We’ve got six hours to come up with a song!"

Rick: "Genius happens in the moment, Morty." [hits a few notes on the keyboard.]

Morty: "Well, can we at least go get our family? You know, so we can take them with-with-with us if we lose?" <-- Again, Morty is seriously contemplating a Cronenberg style escape from the world (or its destruction). But still, at least he's still thinking about his family (which again, if you recall, isn't actually his family considering the real Cronenberg bail they performed back in episode 6 of season 1).

Rick: "That’s planning for failure, Morty. Even dumber than regular planning."

^ I'm not sure how significant this line of Rick's is. I've never thought of him as an optimist, thinking of success, thinking of the best possible outcome at all times, but I have to admit, he does think in terms of having control over the situation more often than not, and may have an ego sizable enough to think he can never lose, so I wouldn't put it past him to say this, but like I said: don't know if this is something worth dwelling over. The most we can say, I think, is that if this is his ego talking, it's only because he's relaxed in this situation.

His comment that "genius happens in the moment," however, is a bit more revealing. It suggests that Rick's extremely nonchalant, devil may care, nihilist attitude towards everything is at least one of the reasons why he is such a genius. Apparently, according to Rick, one can only be a genius if such genius is allowed to arise in the moment, and it can only arise in the moment when one is relaxed. This point isn't overwhelmingly emphasized in this episode, but it does tie into the major themes of this episode, so it's worth keeping in mind.

Morty goes for Rick's portal gun. Rick stops him: "Morty, Morty, stop. Listen. There’s only so much charge left in this thing. If we portal home from here and back, we’re not gonna have enough charge left to get off-world. Get it?" Morty questions this: "What?!" Rick: "Yeah-*burp*-you see, I try to shelter you from certain realities-*burp*-Morty. Cause if I let you make me nervous, then we can’t get schwifty [does a little dance move with his hands]." <-- So apparently, Morty's nervousness, his high sensitivity to stress, is contagious, at least to Rick. But what reality is Rick hiding from Morty? At first it seems like he's saying that the reason he never informed Morty about the low charge on the portal gun is because that would make Morty too nervous, but we're gonna see that Rick is hiding something else from Morty in this moment.

Mr. President and general Nathan are watching the group behind a one-way mirror. General Nathan expresses his lack of confidence: "I’ve seen enough. These guys are one hit wonders." Mr. President counters that with his own confidence in the group: "And what’s your plan, General?" General Nathan pushes for his idea of nuclear warheads, targeting each Cromulon head in the sector. "Our planet’s held captive on a live game show," replies Mr. President, "and your solution is to shoot the audience?" <-- It sounds like the voice of reason against the voice of madness. It also sounds like a counterpart duo to that of Rick and Morty. General Nathan is the "stressed out" or "uptight" character here who, like Morty, focuses on the negative, whereas Mr. President is the "calm and collected" or "in control" character who, like Rick, focuses on the positive--at least, it's being made out to seem that way.

(Just a note: as Mr. President and General Nathan are having their quarrel, you can hear Rick saying to a bitchy Morty: "Everything is music, Morty, everything is music.")

Cutting back to principle Vagina and the rest of the Church congregation, they are all gathered out in a park or a field of some sort--an open grassy space--in which principle Vagina, now dressed like a Church bishop, with a funny hat with giant eyes presumably meant to mimic the giant Cromulon heads in the sky, is "communing" with the gods (the Cromulons) with a make-shift radio dish on a stick, looking like a grade 5 science project made of tape and paper mache, and a set of attached headphones plugged into his ears, and translating what he's receiving from them to his "flock". Of course, it seems obvious from his tone that he's making up complete bullshit but nonetheless has the crowd convinced that he's the medium between man and the gods, and therefore can be trusted as the authority in this context. We should expect nothing less from a pragmatic opportunist like principle Vagina--if he had no sense of community loyalty back in the Church when the giant heads caused so much disruption in terms of the weather and the Earthquakes and such, abandoning father Bob and the rest of the congregation at the first sign of trouble, why should we trust that he's going to have any loyalty to the community now just because (or especially because) he's in a position of authority in their eyes? We should keep this in mind: while principle Vagina might have been a faithful believer in the beginning, drawing a connection (falsely) between his praying in the wind and rain outside the Church and the clearing of the storm as a sign of the giant head's appeasement, he is now exploiting the faith of his newly converted followers for the sake of his own power and authority.

"He says he's proud of what we're doing," reports principle Vagina, "and hopes we have a great Ascension Festival! Happy Ascension!" The crowd echoes back, "Happy Ascension!"--all except Beth who says to Jerry eating a triple layer ice cream in a cone: "We should pack up and leave town... now."

Jerry: "I think it's inspiring that our community is coping with fear in a way that involves a festival and homemade ice cream. If you'd stop being such an evangelical atheist, you might start enjoying yourself." <-- Good old Jerry, always following the herd. The contrast between Jerry and Beth in this scene as that of an unthinking follower and that of a critical thinker. It's important to stress here that Jerry's "go with the flow" attitude is an unthinking go with the flow attitude--not like Rick's nihilistic go with the flow--Jerry only goes with the flow because he is too lazy or incapable of thinking critically beforehand, whereas Rick goes with the flow because he has thought beforehand, and experienced extensively, the nihilistic ramifications of going with vs. resisting the flow.

Summer shows up with head hats--the same as that worn by principle Vagina, the one that makes him look like a bishop--she is wearing one and holding two more. Jerry looks impressed. Beth just rubs her eyes, looking annoyed.

Jerry: "Woa-hoaw! Look at you! [to Summer] You’re wearing the hat and everything!"

Summer: "Here's yours! [Puts hat on Jerry) Mom, do you mind if I cook dinner tonight?"

Beth: "Yeah, sure [in exhausted tone]. Wait, what?"

Summer: "I love you guys. You gave me life. And it's the will of the many heads that all children honor their parents." <-- Summer is really soaking this up.

Beth: "Dinner sounds nice." <-- Suddenly not so annoyed.

Then Ethan, Summer's boyfriend, shows up and asks Summer if she's coming to the Ascension. She asks her parents' permission. They decide to all go (Jerry questioning what the Ascension is only as an afterthought <-- thus reinforcing my take on Jerry's style of go-with-the-flow vs. Rick's).

The Ascension turns out to be Headism's (the name of their new religion) equivalent of a crucifixion, or a trial, or a gladiator spectacle--a public gathering around which some kind of justice is served to a person or small group of people for some kind of crime or wrongful act. Three such people are on display on this occasion--looking very much like Jesus on the cross with the two thieves on each side. They are being held down by ropes tied to steaks in the ground while balloons tied to their arms and backs pull them above the ground. Hanging from their necks are signs that say: "THiEF," "GOTH," and "MOVIE TALKER." The one in the middle is patently goth, and the "THiEF" looks remarkably similar to Justin Roiland:

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^ Shows you where their principles lie.

The idea is, as principle Vagina makes clear, that as soon as he snips the chord anchoring them to the ground, they will rise up to be "inhaled by the many heads" and then sneezed out as "better babies". He goes through each one and, like a doctor, cuts their chords and utters: "Headward, free now to rise."

^ It's an interesting look at the way religion can work wonders at reconciling our need as a social species to rid ourselves of criminals and those who just don't fit in without disturbing the tranquility of our conscience. I've explained this concept before here on ILP thus: it doesn't matter what our religious convictions are--our brains will always find a way to allow us to behave according to our biology's demands--with our basic needs for food, shelter, sex, freedom from harm, etc.--without feeling any cognitive dissonance or guilt over the prospect that we are going against our religious convictions. For example, in Christianity, it is preached that we ought to turn the other cheek, that we ought to lay down our lives for those who would harm us--yet in the middle ages, there is no question that the religious authorities sanctioned the use of torture and punishment upon those who would defy the law and all that was sacred (i.e. those who would harm us). How is this possible? How is it that a religious people could go from one extreme--the sanctification of martyrdom for one's enemies and the forgiveness of their sins--to the polar opposite--the torture and persecution of those whose crime was no less innocent than doubting? The answer is: the brain is just that capable. It is capable of staying fully committed to certain moral principles and belief while allowing one's behavior to go in the exact opposite direction. How? Simply by forming excuses--that is, reasons that, in principle, conform to one's beliefs and values, while in practice permit those actions and practical consequences that allow for one's basic biological needs (in this case, to deter and remove criminal and socially harmful behaviors) to be fulfilled. So long as such excuses make sense in one's mind, one can allow one's self to engage in any behavior regardless of one's principles, beliefs, and values. In this episode of Rick and Morty, we see the cult of Headism finding a way to removing "troublemakers" from their community without having to consider it actual "removal"--they've convinced themselves that they are actually doing these criminals a favor--much like the torture, persecution, and killing of heretics in the middle ages was seen as a vindication of their sins in the eyes of God, thereby balancing their "check book" of sins and righteousness so as to give them the opportunity to get into Heaven. In Headism, letting an identified criminal to float away under the levitating force of a few hundred balloons (thereby getting rid of him) is seen as giving them the privileged opportunity to be reborn as "better babies" once the heads "inhale" them. <-- Aren't they just a bunch of saints?!

The Smiths watch as each one of them rise into the air. Summer, with jubilant vigor bellows out: "Oh yes, yes, rise to the giant head! You are free to be free!" while Beth and Jerry stare in stupefaction, Jerry's ice cream falling off the cone--so much for Jerry's going with the flow (<-- ice cream is often a motif in the Rick and Morty series; here it seems obvious what it represents: the creature comforts of pleasant falsehoods, for as soon as Jerry's comfortable illusion of going-with-the-flow shatters before his eyes, the ice cream drops).

Back at the recording studio, Ice-T and Rick are cracking each other up with stories about lobsters and squeegees. Ice-T notices they're out of fig newtons. "I should get going anyway," he says. Rick encourages him to stay by temporarily portaling into another dimension and then returning with loads of snack (including fig newtons). "Daaamn," says Ice-T, "You didn't tell me you fucked around with portals and shit."

This pisses Morty off. How can Rick, in one instance, insist that he and Morty preserve the already-low charge on his portal gun so as to give them the best chances of portaling out of there when the need arises, and in another instance, so recklessly use up charge portaling into a different dimension just to get snacks and encourage Ice-T to stay. It seems the gig is up. Morty grabs the portal gun. Morty calls Rick on his bluff. There was plenty of charge left after all. Rick essentially lied to Morty.

Morty begins to act rashly. Rick tries, speaking calmly and rationally, to encourage Morty to put the portal gun down: "You don't know what you're doing," he warns. Whether Rick is in the right or wrong here, he's at least right about that. But Morty isn't having any of it. He opens a portal and before jumping through, yells: "I'm going to go find mom and dad." Then it closes, leaving Rick and Ice-T behind... and no portal gun.

This begins a sort of quasi-mini-adventure on Morty's part as he jumps in and out of worlds he's completely unfamiliar with and hasn't the faintest idea how to make heads or tails of:



Morty clearly had no clue what he was doing.

Cutting back to the rest of the Smiths, the residential streets have been transformed to a potato farm. Principle Vagina rides down the street on his bike and announces into a megaphone: "Hi folks, head priest Vagina. Thanks for farming all those potatoes. It's 6:00 PM so if you're a parent, you're now entitled to adoration from your children." Summer, a little too eager, offers to make dinner. Beth and Jerry are more than happy to let her do this. They agree that Summer's recent happiness, attributed to the influence of headism on her, is a healthy thing. "She's aced every test in potato class," says Jerry, "and look how important potatoes have become."

^ Beth is being won over to headism, the selling point being Summer's happiness. And just to drive the point home, another man hanging from balloons floats by asking for help. Beth says: "That's not our business as long as Summer's thriving." So whereas before, Beth and Jerry were shocked at witnessing the ascension, prompting them to question the appropriateness of headism, now they simply ignore it so long as it is helping their daughter.

Summer makes tacos. Jerry expresses his appreciation and also that Summer doesn't have to do this, to which she replies: "Of course I do, silly!" <-- Then she goes on a major guilt trip apologizing profusely for calling her dad "silly," and falls to her knees in prayer begging the heads for forgiveness: "Heavenly head and cranial creator, forgive my transgressions against family and community! May my chores complete me as I complete them!" She then scurries up stairs as Beth and Jerry watch in stupefaction. <-- What at first appeared to be good for their daughter suddenly appears to be terrible.

Morty finally emerges into Bird Person's reality. We don't know this at first, only that there appear to be tree dwellings in the distance, something an aviational creature might appreciate. Morty looks badly beaten, weak and exhausted. He flops to the ground immediately after coming through the portal. A shadow of a winged figure falls over him. He pokes Morty with a stick, then flips him over. Then we see that it's Bird Person. "You appear to be dying," says Bird Person, "I will make efforts to prevent this, but can promise nothing."

(It can't just be coincidence that Morty happened to stumble into Bird Person's world (even if there are multiple versions of Bird Person), which leads me to believe that Rick's portal gun has certain "pre-set" realities programmed into it--like how there's typically 6 slots on a car stereo to which you can set specific stations--and Morty probably happened to hit the "Bird Person world" setting.)

Back at the studio, Rick is slapping together a mediocre song on the keyboard. Ice-T is sitting in the corner texting. Rick turns around to ask his opinion. "A bad song's a bad song," he says. Rick asks for some help. Ice-T responds: "Ah, hell no man, you do your thing, but I can't afford to get my pride wrapped up in your shame, you know what I'm saying?" Rick responds: "Ice, I don't want to be a negative Nelly or anything, but-*burp*-if Morty doesn't come back with my portal gun and I eat it out there, it's, uh, kinda your problem too." Ice-T expresses that he doesn't care about the Earth getting blown up. When asked why, he says: "Yo, this is why," and then transforms into this:



This almost seems to hint at a parallel between Rick and Ice-T, like Ice-T represents an earlier version of Rick, aimlessly travelling through the cosmos not caring about anything. Rick even seems to speak from personal experience when he says: "Take it from me, Ice, y-*burp*-ou can't just-*burp*-float around space not caring about stuff forever." Like he's been there, done that. <-- Perhaps he hearkens back to the days before he reunited with the Smith family.

I'm also unsure why Ice-T's ice form lacks arms. In the post-credit scene, where we get to see him transformed back into his true water form (he's really Water-T), he at least had arms which formed the horizontal line at the top of the T. So along with being turned to ice, he apparently lost his arms.

Still dedicated to helping Rick "get schwifty", the president expresses his intention to get Rick everything he needs. This is the last straw for Nathan, an aggravated general, as he pulls out a gun and points it at the president. He expresses his intention to launch nuclear missiles at the heads one minute into Rick's performance, and then knocks the president out by wacking his gun into his head.

Bird Person places a bowl of little bits and crumbs on the table in front of Morty who digs into it with a spoon. Bird Person, sitting beside him on the couch with the portal gun, says: "I believe I can access the history of Rick’s gun and help you get back to him." Morty asks him if he can help him get back to his family. Bird Person questions this: "Is your intention to abandon Rick using his own portal gun? In bird culture, this is considered a dick move," to which Morty snaps back: "All of Rick's moves are dick moves!" He then questions what he's eating. Bird Person answers: "It is random debris. I found it in my carpet. I don’t know what humans eat." Then Tammy comes in wearing a robe and says: "You know what this person eats," and then whispers to Morty: "Bird dick."

Brushing aside Tammy's lewd comment, Morty digs into Bird Person for standing up for Rick: "Bird Person, you always stick up for Rick, but he doesn't care about anyone but himself. He doesn't think about the consequences of anything he does," to which Bird Person responds: "And as a result, he has the power to save or destroy entire worlds. And he is the reason you and I know each other. And the reason I'm alive at all." Bird Person points to the wall where Morty sees a series of pictures featuring Rick and Bird Person. There's one with a younger version of Rick putting his arm across Bird Person's shoulders with what looks like one of Da Vinci's airplane models behind them (not sure what the gag is here: the irony of Bird Person inventing a flying machine?). Another has Bird Person, Rick (again much younger, blond hair), and Squanchy rocking out in a band called "The Flesh Curtains". And then there's one with Rick holding what looks like a baby Morty about to cry as he looks at his grandpa (almost as if looking into his future and seeing the horror).

I suppose Bird Person's point is that one ought not to think of a person who doesn't care about anything or think about the consequences as guaranteed to bring nothing but disaster and hardship to those around him. A person who truly doesn't care can be expected to make much more random decisions, just as likely to bring good to the world as bad (I now think about season 3 episode 6: Rest and Ricklaxation; Rick is healthiest, at his most likable, and has the most positive influence over those around him when he utterly doesn't care about anything). A person who doesn't care wouldn't care what consequences he brings to the world. And this certainly seems to play out in the theme of performing at one's best when completely relaxed. Rick is relaxed because he doesn't care, and because this allows him to perform at his best, he is in the best state possible to save the world from the Cromulon's death ray. Morty's insistence that Rick care more (to the point of stressing out) is therefore ironic since it would potentially bring about their destruction.

"What's that? Who's that baby?" Morty asks. Dismissing the question, Bird Person drives his point home: "Morty, suppose you could retrieve your family from Earth but had to abandon Rick. I could give your loved ones shelter on Bird World, even jobs, possibly as worm ranchers. How often do you think you might look up at the stars and wonder what might have been had you just put your faith in Rick?" Morty thinks for moment.

^ Adding to his previous point, Bird Person seems to be saying that though it may not make sense to Morty why Rick is so relaxed, that doesn't mean Morty is right. Faith is what we must fall back on when we don't have reason. Bird Person seems to be saying that perhaps Morty needs a bit of faith in Rick. Given that, in the past, Rick has always gotten himself and Morty out of every sticky situation they've gotten themselves into (though it's usually Rick who gets them into those situations), and given that Rick is a super-genius, Morty doesn't have to understand the methods behind Rick's madness in order to keep faith that Rick will save the day in the end... and if Rick seems relaxed about the whole thing, maybe that means Morty can relax too. Up until this point, Morty has been fighting Rick, mistaking his relaxed attitude for not caring enough to try, and therefore approaching the problem as if he's the only one who can do anything about it. Morty, lacking faith in his musical talents, is stoked to bail on the situation, preferring instead to get to his family and portal out of there. But there is a lesson he hasn't learned yet: Rick always saves the day, all the more smoothly the more Morty just goes along with it.

Tammy has the TV tuned into Planet Music. Earth is next up. Despite Bird Person's recent lesson, Morty panics: "We're up?!?!"

Principle Vagina, in a church with others in the "priestly cast" are commending Jerry and Beth on being upstanding examples of good headists. Vagina informs them that they want to make headism a world religion, and would like Jerry to be the head of advertising, and Beth, head of medicine. Beth jumps up: "That's my dream!!! That's my dream."

Before they even have a chance to respond, the priestly cast are shaking each other's hands. Then Jerry and Beth drop the bomb: they reject the offer. Beth explains that even though they are thrilled that Summer is thriving because of headism, they would rather see her thrive as the person she really is, not what headism has made her into. Summer's display of being overwhelmed with guilt over calling her father "silly" obviously made an impression on Beth and Jerry. Though happy to see Summer doing so well, they don't want it at the cost of her psychological well-being. This is especially admirable on Beth's part given that she is giving up what she just admitted was her dream. And though he didn't say it, I think the same would go for Jerry as well--I mean, if winning an award for Hungry for Apples made him feel complete, imagine what being promoted to head of advertising would mean to him (incidentally, the way the priestly cast shake each others' hands reminds me of the way the simulated suits shake each others' hands after listening to Jerry's Hungry for Apples pitch; I wonder if this is one purpose). But they both give up their dreams for Summer's sake. Maybe there's hope for them as parents after all.

To top it off, Jerry then turns to Beth and says: "I'm sick of pretending that we're together because of the kids in the first place. I married you because you’re the love of my life!" Beth responds: "And I'm lucky to have you and I never tell you that! You know, we will come out of this stronger as a family!" <-- As touching as this moment is, I wonder what the connection is between it and their rejection of the headists' offer. Jerry does tell them right before expressing his undying love for Beth: "We'll take our chances raising her without fancy new jobs outside of a potato-based religion." <-- It's almost as if they are relocating their faith. If at first, they placed their faith in headism, then after renouncing headism (which I suppose is what their rejection of the headists' offer amounts to), they must place their faith in something else: each other. <-- If this is the case, it makes me wonder if Jerry's words are actually true, or he just all of a sudden feels this way about Beth because he just put his faith into her (and Beth him).

^ And on this point, is it just coincidence that the topic of faith comes up again? We didn't have to search for any hidden meaning in Bird Person's speech to Morty in order to understand it was all about faith--where Morty places his--and there is no question that the secondary plot line centers around faith--religious faith in this case. Maybe this is really what this episode is all about.

But the next scene has Beth and Jerry tied to balloons about to ascend to the many heads. Beth pleads with Summer to do something as Summer fills another balloon with helium. Summer's faith in headism still runs strong as she reassures her parents, and seems to fully believe, that they will come back as babies. She is completely okay with this, not seeing any potential harm that could come of this at all (reinforcing the point I made earlier: that the mind always finds a way to be okay with doing what our biology compels us to do as a means to survive). Jerry cries out: "I am a baby! I'm a baby now!!!" <-- Anything to get out of a sticky situation.

Morty portals back into the studio. He finds the president on the floor with his arms and legs tied and a rag around his mouth. Morty sets the president free. The president informs Morty of the general's plan to nuke the giant heads mid-way through Rick's performance. Morty asks him if he can fly a black hawk. The president responds: "Can the pope's dick fit through a donut?" Morty says: "Uh... I'm not sure?" "Exactly!" says the president.

Rick's on. All the heads are watching him. The head head utters his signature line: "Show me what you got!!!" Rick, with a huge pair of shades on, starts playing something pathetically amateurish (worse than the Meterosians). The look his face betrays a lack of confidence. He starts chanting some meaningless garbage: "Uh... Labu, labu, labu, nups. Labu, labu, labu, dups."

^ It's obvious that Rick is not comfortable, as if to say that he needs Morty by his side to feel confident. We might glean from this that Rick's talent and his genius depend to a certain degree on Morty. Or it might just mean that Rick is nervous because he knows that without his portal gun, he can't just bail on the situation should the Cromulons disapprove of his performance. Or perhaps Rick just feels compelled to act dumb because without Morty by his side, there's nothing to shield his brain waves from being detected by his enemies (why he would risk his own life and that of the Earth just so as not to be detected is not entirely explained, but perhaps he figures that if his brain waves are discovered, he's dead anyway). In any case, it's obvious that without Morty by his side, his performance suffers.

While this is happening, Vagina is about the cut the chord on Beth and Jerry: "Free now to rise," he says. Mr. Goldenfold interrupts: "Hey! Look at the heads! Looks like the heads are gettin' angry!" <-- They still seem to be drawing causal connections where it is only a correlation. The angry look upon the heads are obviously in response to Rick's poor performance. But it is nonetheless a fortuitous connection as it suggests that the heads disapprove of what they are about to do to Jerry and Beth, which will lead to their salvation from floating away.

Meanwhile, the president is flying a chopper (badly) to Area 51. Morty is in the passenger seat. "I'm really bad at this, Morty," says the president, "There are way too many buttons in this thing." "Mr. President," says Morty with a fed up expression on his face, "if I've learned one thing today, it's that sometimes, you have to not give a fuck!" <-- Imagine that, Morty telling the president of the United States where it's at.

Back to principle Vagina: he counters Goldenfold's statement with "I'm sure that has… that has nothing to do with this." <-- Only now that it inconveniences him does Vagina refrain from making a causal connection. And this is so true of human thinking in general. We only think rationally when it serves our purpose. When it doesn't, what's the point of using logic and rationality? Vagina snips the rope. The heads start booing. Summer, having an ulterior motive to just getting rid of Jerry and Beth, takes the causal connection more seriously. "The heads are displeased!" she yells, and tries to pull her parents back down by clinging to their legs and hanging on. Ethan, Summer's boyfriend, helps.

Then Rick looks up to see the black hawk hover over the stage. Morty and the president slide down on ropes and onto the stage. The heads stop booing and start cheering "Hooray!!!" The headists take this as a sign that the heads approve of Summer and Ethan pulling Jerry and Beth back to the ground. Goldenfold exclaims: "The heads love this! They love it when we don't kill the Smith family!" "No! Stop that!" counters Vagina, "You're not allowed to interpret the will of the heads!" <-- Again, motive is everything: Vagina is losing credibility here, and thus his authority and power too.

Despite the president speaking into the microphone and the cameras, saying "Call off the nuclear strike! This is the President! Stop the nuclear missile launch!" Nathan personally overrides the order and launches a couple missiles. The missiles hit the main head on the chin, making only a fart noise, hardly causing a dent. (Though the point is obviously to show how meager the damage done to the giant head, these are supposed to be nuclear missiles; at least the explosion should have been colossal, but that wouldn't have had the cinematic effect Roiland and Harmon intended.) So short of destroying the heads, thereby saving Earth, Nathan did nothing but piss the heads off, thereby endangering the Earth.

The heads start booing again. Back to principle Vagina, who attempts to assert his authority with "I'm the only one that speaks to the heads!" the main head moves closer to the Earth and utters: "Disqualified!!!" The headists, of course, interpret this to mean principle Vagina's authority has just been revoked. The group storms Vagina and takes him down to the ground.

The heads repeats: "Disqualified!!! Disqualified!!!" as Rick, Morty, and the president watch. The giant planet destroying gun turns to the Earth and starts charging up. Just as it fires a giant laser, Ice-T, still in ice form, intercepts the laser. The laser is effectively blocked, Ice-T's ice body taking the impact, cracking and breaking apart. "That's right," he says, "it's me, Ice-T! I care now! You made me care more! With all due respect [to the giant heads], I'd like to hear what Rick and Morty have to play." <-- He must be made of an amazingly solid block of ice given that the laser is meant to destroy entire planets within milliseconds!

Morty with all his faith in Rick, and Rick with his confidence restored, suddenly get their second wind. They begin to play "Head Bent Over":



^ You'll note in that scene that the headists place principle Vagina in the position of being raised by balloons. Also that, whether due to Rick and Morty's stellar performance or because it was pre-planned, the Cromulons decide that Earth is the final winner after 988 seasons, after which point Planet Music will be discontinued. Earth is teleported back to the solar system.

Overhearing the announcement about Planet Music the reality TV show, Mr. Goldenfold asks "Did he just say... musical reality show?" "Yeah," Jerry replies, "It's possible that we may have been correlating some things that weren't actually related... at all." <-- So that's it, they become disillusioned and Headism falls.

Back at the stage, the president is thanking Morty for saving the world: "I hope I can call on you and Rick again if I need you, Morty." "Sure thing," says Morty pulling out his phone, "And I was kinda hoping that I could get a selfie with you." "Actually," says the president ushering in a few of his men-in-black, "if you try to tell anyone what happened here, we'll deny it and probably worse." The men in black take Morty's phone and break it. <-- Now, it isn't obvious unless you've seen the season 3 finally, but the president's request to call on Rick and Morty again, plus the selfie Morty wants, will come up again and be a pivotal mechanism in The Rickchurian Mortydate, the last episode of season 3.

Then, like a mad man, Nathan comes charging in with a gun screaming. Before he does any damage, Rick zaps him with his snake transforming watch. We don't immediately see a snake though, just a puff of clouds and Nathan's gone. When the president questions why Nathan didn't turn into a snake, Rick says: "Trade secret, Mr. President: Particle beam in a wrist watch, snake holster on the leg." He lifts his pant leg up to reveal a holster from which a snake (previously Nathan) slips out and slithers away. The president laughs a hardy laugh, hugs Rick, and shouts out: "I love this man!!!"

Credits roll and then we get the post-credit scene:

Ice-T is reuniting with his own kind. He is greeted in a giant hall by Magnesium-J, Hydrogen-F, and Fire-Q. Ice-T greets Fire-Q as his father. News of his nearly self-sacrificial act back on Earth has arrived here. They declare his exile terminated and transform him back into water, both his arms fully restored, allow him to take the form of a capital T. Then the "Numericons" attack. Pieces of the hall begin to fall from the ceiling. Fire-Q, his father, gets crushed by one. In a brave act to avenge his father, Water-T pulls out a couple guns, one in each hand, and moves towards the door. When told there are too many of the Numericons, he simply says "Then I'd better crunch the numbers."

He steps out the door, yelling and firing his guns in both directions, get a few numerals. <-- The scene freezes and that's the end.

Image

WOW!!! All in one post! Well, except for the PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHTS and FINAL THOUGHTS, but still, that's saying something. I guess it's because this episode, save for the rich religious material it dishes up, is rather dry of philosophical insight. Maybe there's a reason for that: maybe Harmon and Roiland weren't even trying for a reason. They wanted Get Schwifty to suck so bad they couldn't fill it with anything worth writing about. Shitting on the floor will do. If there's a moral to this episode, it might be that even if you suck, so long as you're relaxed in your suckhood, everyone else around you will suck even worse. <-- And this remains true for me: even though this is *probably* my least favorite episode, it still blows its competition out of the water (ex. Family Guy).
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It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

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Re: The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Postby gib » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:08 am

PHILOSOPHICAL VISTAS:

* The Paradox of Trying: Like in other episodes of Rick and Morty, the irony of trying reveals itself again in this episode--that irony being the counter-intuitive backfiring effect--the harder you try, the less you succeed. Trying too hard only results in too much tension and stress, and too much stress degrades performance. This is why Rick knew that the key to winning Planet Music was to relax. He knew that he and Morty were most likely up against some amazing musical talent, but that in a game show in which the stakes were death and the destruction of the contestant's own planet, everyone would be under pressure. Rick knew, in other words, that the stress levels were going to be too high for anyone to perform well, and thus the secret to winning was to just not stress. That's why, despite that the lack of trying on Rick and Morty's part resulting in possibly the shittiest song ever produced in the history of the universe, it was still better than all the other contestants'. This is why Rick wasn't nearly as eager as Morty to portal out of there--effectively pulling a Cronenberg on their reality--he knew he had it in the bag, the only challenge being to convince Morty of that. So it's not only a question of whether trying too hard degrades performance, but also of whether not trying can ever be an advantage when you know that everyone else is so nervous or stressed out that for sure they're going to perform poorly, and so the simple trick to coming out on top is to just no worry. How true is this philosophy? When does it apply? How do we know when to apply it and when not to? And to what extent do we apply it? Is it all or nothing--either stress out over it or don't care at all, or maybe stress out a little (so you don't get completely lazy) but not as much as everyone else? To know the answers to these question would be an incredible advantage in a competitive struggle to, not only come out on top, but to survive.

* Religion: Mistaking Correlation for Causation: Is this all religion really is? In ancient times, it could be said that this fallacy of logic--confusing correlation for causation--was really the overriding principle that determined all religious convictions and practices. You prayed to a certain god, your crops got rain, you drew the conclusion that this god was the one to pay homage to. You're on the brink of war, you sacrifice to some deity, you win the war. The conclusion naturally is that the deity you sacrificed to is the one to worship going forward. It wasn't typical for the average person in ancient times to take seriously the possibility that these connections are just coincidence. Shamans and medicine men in tribal societies would perform healing rituals to cure the sick and debilitated. There is a well-known psychological effect whereby the recovery of the patient from such sickness or debilitation is always attributed to the healing ritual, not so much because a causal connection was identified, but simply because the shaman or medicine man performed the ritual persistently and relentlessly until natural causes, like the patients immune system, brought about a recovery. The members of the tribe naturally assume the patient recovered because of the persistence and relentlessness of the shaman or medicine man, thus attributing a cause to what is really only a correlation. Yet it can get more complicated. There is a tendency to attribute causation when only correlation is established only when it suits our needs, but when it doesn't, we suddenly become very much aware that only a correlation has been established, and that to attribute causation would be to go beyond what we have grounds to conclude. Principle Vagina, for example, has no problem attributing causation to the connection between his praying on the sidewalk and the cessation of rain and earthquakes and such, but the minute the heads become angry at the prospect of releasing Beth and Jerry from the rope anchoring them to the ground while balloons lift them into the air, he is sure to point out that "I'm sure that has nothing to do with this," as if all of a sudden gaining a keen sense of when a causal connection has been established and when it can be doubted. Given that if a causal connection can be established at all, it means that we are dealing with phenomena within the purview of science (Humean skepticism over causation notwithstanding), then anything else--namely metaphysics, spirituality, and religion--must be a case of confusing correlation for causation. Can it really be said, then, that all religion is based on this fundamental mistake of logic? That religion is really the consequence of drawing causal connections between things that are only correlated? If not, then it seems true that this common fallacy counts at least as a major pillar uphold almost all religious convictions and practices.

* Relative Ethics: This philosophy wasn't highlighted so much in this episode, but it sure could be. The Cromulons are responsible for orchestrating a form of entertainment that involves blowing up entire life sustaining planets, and they obviously have not a single qualm about it. Now, I think ethical concerns can be brought up for almost any reality show--the way Simon Cowell completely destroys contestants on American Idol when he thinks they suck could easily be seen as a form of abuse--crushing people who are already highly insecure and quite possibly might commit suicide in reaction to such harsh judgements--all because of how entertaining it is to the fans. But what the Cromulons are doing is on a whole other level of ethical concern--destroying entire planets, entire species, entire civilization, rather than just crushing an individual's dreams and self-esteem, which one can (though wouldn't be forced to) get over. The contestants perform, not because they're ok with it, but because they have to. Can we bring in moral relativism here? If we want to accuse the Cromulons of unethical behavior, do we have to look at our own behavior in the same light? For example, stepping on ants? And when it comes to moral relativism, do we always have to defend the morals of the other person? The person doing what appears to be, from our perspective, a horrible atrocity? Why can't we stick with out own perspective--that what the Cromulons are doing is evil? Why would moral relativism preclude our own morality?

FINAL THOUGHTS

* Why snakes? If Rick's snake transforming watching is supposed to neutralize a threat, why not bunny rabbits or white doves?

* Rick acting like he's not confident at the last performance: genuine or just an act to hide his intelligence now that Morty can't shield him. We brought this up already, but since then I wanted to bring up this supporting point: we can recall the scene at Bird Person's house where Morty is looking at all the photos of Rick that Bird Person has on the wall. One of them is of Rick, Bird Person, and Squanchy in a rock band together. Now, it seems hard to believe that a former rock star would have that much difficulty coming up with a decent song, so I think we can place our bets on the fact that Rick was faking it. And don't let his pleading to Ice-T to help him fool you: he had to act dumb even then as well. But why would he risk his life, allowing the Earth to be blown up, because of a shitty performance? Most likely because to reveal his genius brain waves is sure to get him killed whereas despite a shitty performance he still stands a small chance of winning the competition (remember, everyone sucks in this performance; while Rick may not be able to relax anymore, or perform above the grade, being reduced to the equal of everyone else is not a guaranteed loss).

* This episode reminds me of M. Night Shaym-aliens: having to perform in a concert. <-- There's something about Roiland and Harmon wanting to make Rick "cool"--maybe trying to live out a missed experience from their adolescence through a fictional character they invented?

* The point about correlation vs. causation that this episode emphasizes is not even about that: it's more like coincidence vs. causation. Correlation at least implies some causal connection--it's just confused which is the cause and which is the effect. In any statistically established correlation, the causal connection may be that variable 1 causes effects in variable 2, or that variable 2 causes effects in variable 1, or there is a third extraneous variable causing effects in both variable 1 and variable 2. But all this still assumes a relatively consistent correlation. In the case of the giant heads, however, we don't even have that. That the head appears to be angered by the ascension of Beth and Jerry isn't a pattern per se--it's not like the heads are angered every time an ascension happens--just this once. Yet the headists connect Beth and Jerry's ascension with the anger of the heads as a causal relation. This is not confusing correlation with causation, but rather coincidence with causation. This seems to go with pretty much all such false connections in this episode. <-- Just thought I'd point that out.
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

It is impossible for a human being to go through life not thinking irrationally even if they think of themselves as rational
Also just as irrational decisions are not always bad then rational ones are not always good no matter what the intention
- surreptitious75

The rating of rationality can be higher and always is higher than the person trying to be rational. Rationality is less emotional than the person delivering it.
- encode_decode

Is that a demon slug in your stomach or are you just happy to see me?
- Rick Sanchez
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