Synopsis of 2×10: The family attends Birdperson’s wedding to Tammy, but things go haywire and they have to escape to a new planet.
And so here we are.
Every week, Rick bends the boundaries of what should be possible in our universe. Every week, Rick steals, cheats, manipulates, often murders. Every week, Rick doesn’t give a fuck about what anyone else thinks of him and crushes everyone who stands in his way. And every week, Rick manages to get away with it. Until now.
The episode begins with a message from Birdperson inviting the family to his wedding to Tammy (remember from Season 1’s finale?). Rick has no interest in going, but when the delivery drone accidentally flies off with Jerry, they have no choice but to follow it. And at the start, everything’s going great. Summer gets to see her old friend Tammy for the first time in forever, Beth gets a rare glimpse into her father’s second life, the mostly friendless Jerry seems to get along pretty well with the other guests, and after Rick has some time to drown himself in alcohol, he manages to accept his best friend’s choices and support Birdperson’s choice to spend the rest of his life with Tammy.
Who turns out to be a deep cover Galactic Federation spy and who staged the entire relationship to catch Rick and the other outlaws all at once and who guns down Birdperson without hesitation.
Luckily the family escapes, but Rick knows they can never live on Earth again. They can only find another planet that’s as close to Earth as possible and live there instead. Of the three available options, one is an entire planet on-the-cob, from fruit-on-the-cob to mountains-on-the-cob to atoms-on-the-cob, and according to Rick, that seems to apparently be about the worst possible thing ever. Another has a sun that never stops screaming. Yes, literally screaming.
So they end up with the third choice, a planet with Earth’s basic design but at a fraction of the size, such that you can walk the circumference in only a few minutes. Trapped there, alone for what appears to be an eternity, the family starts getting desperate. Rick overhears them talking about what they can’t help but talk about: the only way they can return to Earth is if Rick turns himself in to the Federation.
Which he does. Wubba lubba dub dub, am I right?
Between the first deaths of recurring characters in the series and Rick’s ultimate decision, this may be the darkest episode of Rick and Morty thus far and their biggest break from the monster-of-the-week format. Typically Rick has enough science at his disposal to fix just about any issue (even if he sometimes has to transport himself and Morty into alternate dimensions to do it – and by the way, it’s amazing that the writers still make these sorts of developments feel so important when that option’s available). This time, Rick’s decision to turn himself in has the most consequence as a character advancement, a true embracing of the self-sacrificial thoughts he’s entertained all season. Still, since the show can’t really advance with him in that position, we know he’ll break out or get rescued or something within an episode or two next season.
Even more significantly, now Earth has joined the Galactic Federation in the wake of Rick’s arrest. Alien tourists visit the planet to take pictures, and the same vaguely totalitarian government that ruled over the rest of space now controls Earth as well. Any semblance of life on Rick and Morty‘s Earth that reflected our own has disappeared. It’s a whole other kind of science fiction show now, potentially permanently, and I can’t wait to see how humans react to these new conditions. (By the way, great use of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt through this whole sequence. This show really knows how to deliver the right song at the right time.)
Also, did I mention that through all this deep, depressing stuff, this episode was absolutely hilarious? The final and best “Jerry, get a job.” Birdperson’s continuously entertaining deadpan honesty. Rick’s toast notes that simply say, “You know, when I first met Birdperson, he was (trail off) (crumple up notes) (ad lib).” All three of the potential alternative Earths. The Mr. Poopybutthole post-credits cameo. I’m amazed at how this show manages to juggle its darkness with its humor without the tone being conflicted, particularly so in this episode, which takes both aspects to the extreme.
It’s been an honor watching this season of Rick and Morty with you all. Given the season 3 won’t be for “a year and a half… or longer” (seriously? With Community over, what else is Harmon doing?), who knows if I’ll get to repeat the pleasure next time around. But in the meanwhile, sounds like the perfect time to head back to “A Rickle in Time” and start a second viewing…