Rick and Morty is always a show that’s gone really, really big along at least one axis; this season alone the show’s destroyed the Earth, killed one of the protagonists’ entire families, and tossed him into five billion other lives for fifty years, and that’s just in the first two episodes. Even the episode about shrinking down gave us a beyond-comprehension nesting doll of ever-tinier universes. This week, the show goes for something different with a small-scale story set almost entirely in the Smith house, over a single long weekend, with a cast of only the main family and nobody else (save for a brief appearance of the Jerryboree employee and an extra Jerry in the stinger.) It’s technically a Thanksgiving episode, but it’s the polar opposite of last year’s crazy turkey extravaganza, telling a small-scale story about a relationship getting messy and complicated.
Space Beth is in town for the holiday and she and Earth Beth are enjoying spending time together – a lot. So much that, floating in space and looking down on the Earth, they admit that their mutual feelings have moved beyond friendship to romantic attraction, and they have a fling. Now they’ve got to sort out their feelings about the possibilities of this relationship – and how Jerry will react if he finds out.
Meanwhile, Beth and Morty pick up on what’s going on and just try to block it out by playing the most “realistic” video games ever – not in the sense of having immersive graphics or anything, they just lack all of what TVTropes called “acceptable breaks from reality.”
I’m a big fan of Beth, and I loved seeing her get a starring role. I’m also a fan of how relatively grounded this one was – the sci-fi stuff was mostly window dressing, and a lot of the lines aren’t punchlines, they’re just a couple of intelligent women in love and trying to navigate a very unusual relationship. It was like a really good Ao3 story come to life. Even Jerry manages to handle things in a halfway mature way in the end; this is a far cry from the grating, repetitive family conflicts of Season 2 that were lampshaded in this season’s opener. I wouldn’t want this every week – I like when the show goes big and crazy – but once in a while, it’s refreshing. I can also really buy Beth falling in love with herself; the poor woman has too much Rick in her to relate to most people and too much humanity to be comfortable being alone. Just having someone she could talk with must have been such a relief.
- Space Beth keeps a picture of her family by her bed. Awwww!
- Favorite subtle joke: the Visi-Sonor vape pens.
- One thing I’ve noticed about this season is that it would be really freaking impenetrable if you didn’t come in knowing several seasons’ worth of backstory which is on you to pick up if you came in late. But nobody has to come in late anymore, viva la age of streaming!
- In the similar vein, the show has been around long enough that we’re beginning to see some sliding timescale weirdness. Morty mentions that they’ve had a lot of Thanksgivings (though we’ve only seen two on the show) and some background details in Jerry’s high school flashback set it specifically in 2004, instead of the late 90’s.
Next week: the Smiths get people to inhabit their bodies and do stuff for them while they’re asleep in “Night Family.” I don’t see anything going wrong with that.