The Smith family gets away for it all for a fun Memorial Day weekend free of “sci-fi bullshit.”
Or is it actually Father’s Day? This week’s plots (except for Morty and Summer’s) were all about fatherhood. First we have Rick’s maybe-fatherhood of the clay people – but what Rick’s plot is really all about is his relationship with Beth. I’m a big fan of Beth, and wish she got more screen time; it’s interesting to see someone who splits the difference between Rick and a “normal” person; she’s smart enough to get fed up with the mundane world and yearn for more, but she doesn’t have her father’s ability to just, as he puts it, “put a saddle on the universe.” This isn’t a show that spend much time on flashbacks, unless it’s doing them to tease the audience (as with Rick’s fake-or-so-he-claims ‘origin story’ at the beginning of Season 3) so we may never learn more about what their old relationship was like than we did in The ABCs of Beth – but I’m curious. Rick is a pretty shitty parent overall – he barely even reads as Beth’s father rather than just some weirdo living in the house, most of the time – and maybe that’s why I love any time we see him actually acting parental. I’m aware I’m falling into the same trap Beth herself so often does here, giving him kudos for the few occasions he manages to rise to the bare minimum, but still. I love seeing how happy she is any time they get to spend time together. Take your daughter on more adventures, Rick!
Then we’ve got Jerry. While Beth yearns for recognition from his father, Jerry yearns for it from his kids, and when all he gets is an incredibly mean kiss-off from Summer (she’s been hanging around with Rick too much) he goes looking for it in the ‘reject’ clay people. Jerry is the anti-Rick in a lot of ways, most of them negative: he’s dim where Rick is smart, insecure where Rick is confident, needy where Rick is self-reliant. But there’s one way Jerry gets the long end of the stick: it doesn’t take much to make him happy. Rick can do virtually anything and he’s still miserable and lonely much of the time; Jerry would be perfectly content making s’mores with his kids, if only they’d participate. In The Old Man And The Seat, we got to see Jerry’s drug-induced concept of paradise, and it was working a menial delivery job where he was useful and people thanked him.
Of course, because Jerry is so inept in so many other ways, he often fails to achieve even the low bar he needs for happiness, and that’s what we see play out here. He ‘improves’ things for the clay people, but he can only improve them so much, because if they learn about what’s really out there, they’ll see how small what he has to offer is. And so he ends up as another religious conservative terrified of what’s going to happen when the kids go off to college.
Then we’ve got Morty and Summer’s plot, which is a fun series of reversals – first they only want to play games and do drugs, which Jerry thinks is useless. But then they find a ship that seems tailor-made to be operated by their skills. But then they’re wrong and nearly kill themselves – but they save the day anyway. And then Rick is genuinely impressed – but still sells them out anyway when he gets in trouble and needs to change the subject.
Gotta say, Rick, that was kind of a Jerry move.
- There’s some surface similarities here with Auto-Erotic Assimilation, but this one goes in a totally different direction. Unity was an interesting character in its own right; Gaia is really only here to get the other plots moving.
- This episode is one of a handful that suggest that there really are limits to Rick’s power when it comes to cosmic-level beings. He can hold his own for a while in a fistfight with God, but he can’t actually win, and there are other things out there (like the giant heads from the Schwifty episode) that are beyond his power to just bull his way past. I think this is a more interesting version of the character than the near-omnipotent Rick we get in things like Vindicators III.
- Jerry was really born in the wrong time period; he’s solidly a Millenial (thirty-four or thirty-five years old) but he has the values and tastes of a legacy comic strip boomer dad.
- Since last week, I’ve watched all of Solar Opposites and I’ve got to say, it’s really grown on me a lot; like Family Guy and American Dad, at first it just looks like the same thing again, but you watch a few of them and it quickly becomes apparent that it’s its own thing. I think it was the continuing saga of the wall people that really clued me in that this was something special. Thinking about doing a full-season review/recap.