Synopsis of 2×07: The family travels to an alien hospital to save Jerry, where Rick sets up interdimensional television in the waiting room. Jerry must decide if he’s willing to donate his penis to save an alien diplomat.

Rating: ★★1/2☆☆

Alien: “What are you doing?”
Rick: “A sequel.”
Alien: “A sequel? I don’t understand.”
Rick: “Neither do I. We pretty much nailed it the first time.”

And thus Rick best sums up “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate” himself in a particularly shameless fourth-wall break near the beginning of the episode. It always baffles me that in all the high standards Dan Harmon sets for himself as an artist, he still has a habit of going back and rehashing his old ideas to less successful results. It was his only consistent mistake in producing Community (do we really need five paintball episodes?), and now he’s done the same for Rick and Morty, repeating the premise of Season 1’s spectacular “Rixty Minutes.”

When Jerry accidentally drinks mutant bacteria, everyone has to travel to a faraway alien hospital to save him. While he’s in recovery, the rest of the family goes to the waiting room to kill time. Rick immediately unplugs the cable box there and sets it up to view infinite television from infinite dimensions. And for the main plotline this week, that’s about it.

This kind of premise doesn’t need anything else going on, as the infinite television premise is basically just a free ticket for the writers to run with whatever ridiculous premise comes to mind. So why did they seem to have so few ideas this time around? Infinite television allows them to do anything, and yet almost every TV show featured this time only goes about as far as the “Mr. Sneezy” bit from “Rixty Minutes,” only taking the weirdness – and with it, the humor – to the slightest degree.

Instead of the hilarious no-holds-barred strangeness of “Two Brothers,” “Babylegs,” “Gazorpazorpfield,” and the alternate-reality SNL cast, we get… well, a show called “Funny Songs” where the cast improvises funny songs based on audience professions and the joke is that they’re not funny, a show about a man who’s obsessed with his personal space, and, um, Octopus Man? It’s just not very memorable, plain and simple. I enjoyed the commercial for Li’l Bits, a restaurant that only serves tiny food for people with tiny mouths, but everything else simply didn’t land, and when there’s nothing going on except the attempts to be funny, it just got boring, an adjective I’ve never used to describe this show before.

The episode makes up for it to some extent with the Jerry subplot, in which he recovers in full only to find out that the hospital would like to use his penis as a substitute for a famous alien diplomat’s heart. Jerry agrees to the surgery, trying to look brave, but continuously attempts to weasel his way out of it. This subplot has strong moments – particularly when Beth insists Jerry does the surgery on moral grounds, but clearly because she just wants Jerry to get one of the various potential prosthetic penises – but this one isn’t particularly funny either. Its flaws are also far too glaring – how could even a goof like Jerry possibly think he’d redeem himself at the end by insisting they remove his penis at gunpoint?

I was hesitant going into the show this week, but only somewhat; after all, generally a not-so-good episode of Rick and Morty is still a pretty solid episode of television. “Interdimensional Cable 2” doesn’t even live up to those expectations. Season 2 has been strong enough so far that it can afford one proper bomb, but this is unquestionably the worst episode of Rick and Morty so far.

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