Synopsis of 2×05: An enormous floating head appears orbiting Earth, causing natural disasters. While the townspeople begin to worship the head, Rick performs music for it and inadvertently enters Earth into an intergalactic talent show.
Rick and Morty is a show decisively written with a central understanding of the way that most television writing works, which means they have and embrace the opportunity to subvert those expectations. On a surface level, they do this by tossing out ideas so completely wacky that no other show would dare to introduce them, let alone totally pull them off.
“Get Schwifty” begins with an enormous yellow head levitating close enough to Earth to throw off its gravitational balance, causing myriad natural disasters and threatening to destroy the world entirely, all while yelling to Earth “SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT.” It’s certainly enough of a premise to support a full episode, especially when Rick tries to satisfy it by singing a song about “getting schwifty,” which apparently means shitting on the floor. So it’s a surprise when the song actually does work, and then an even bigger one when the head transports Earth to another dimension so it can compete in an American Idol-style talent contest.
Rick and Morty, along with Ice-T (who’s apparently the lone remaining musician left alive), have to compose a new song to impress the heads or their planet will be permanently destroyed. But Rick won’t stop goofing off, and Morty panics to the point where he steals Rick’s portal gun and starts transporting between dimensions at random trying to find his family. He winds up running into Birdperson from the season 1 finale, who offers hospice to Morty and his family should Earth be destroyed, but insists that Morty trust in Rick. Inspired, Morty joins Rick onstage and the two win the contest together.
Meanwhile, when the head first appears, Summer, Beth and Jerry initially turn to religion for salvation. When Earth is transported to the new dimension surrounded by hundreds of giant floating heads, they and the rest of the townspeople immediately start worshiping them as Gods. The shift actually transforms Summer into a pious, wholesome and hardworking girl, but it also concerns Beth and Jerry that she’s no longer really Summer. Even when the new religious leaders offer them high-end positions in their new utopia, they turn them down in favor of their marriage and their family, and ultimately the religion collapses as soon as Earth returns to its normal place in the galaxy.
This is a pretty ridiculous episode even by Rick and Morty standards, throughout emitting randomness seemingly just for the sake of randomness, a common trend among other Adult Swim shows but usually avoided by this one. Small touches to this effect appear throughout – is it really necessary to use a fart sound effect with the interplanetary teleportation? – but this mostly manifests in a C-plot focusing on Ice-T, who reveals himself to be an alien entity literally made out of ice from a planet where everyone is a letter.
After flying away during the practice sessions, he reappears during the climax to save Earth from destruction, and having demonstrated the ability to care about anything, he returns to his homeland to be transformed back into his original form, Water-T. Then a rival race of number aliens attacks, prompting Water-T to pull out a pair of pistols and say, “I better crunch the numbers” before the screen reads “This summer: Water-T and the Rise of the Numbericons.” All of this actually happens.
Additionally, why do the heads suddenly decide to eternally end their competition after Rick’s performance when they’ve been repeating it annually for nearly a thousand years? And what exactly is the religion subplot trying to say? It’s hard to come up with an explanation that isn’t intensely nihilistic and even rather ignorant to the way that religious people see the world.
Still, the humorous moments largely make up for this: for instance, when Rick tells Morty that they’re going to the Pentagon, then adds, “Well, not THE Pentagon, the lame one, on Earth.” It adds up to a solid episode overall, and yet still probably the weakest episode in the show’s history thus far, which only goes to show how goddamn excellent it usually is.