After last week’s somewhat disappointing episode, this week’s episode of Rick and Morty, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” reminds us why we fell in love with the show in the first place. It retreads some old ground for the series, but it does so with enough wit and gravitas to make up for it. For this episode, we are back to a tight, well-paced story featuring the titular duo, with a classically disturbing backup story about Summer. While visiting a parallel dimension that has a Ball Fondlers movie franchise (think A-Team but way weirder), Rick, Morty, and Summer discover that Rick’s space car is out of power. Investigating the problem leads Rick and Morty on an adventure inside the “microverse battery,” while Summer is left to sit in the car and wait.
In the main story, Rick and Morty descend into the microverse Rick created solely for the purpose of powering his car. There, they meet genius scientist Zeep Zanflorp (voiced by Stephen Colbert) who, surprise, surprise, has invented his own “miniverse” with similar diabolical intentions. Since Zeep’s plans interfere with Rick’s plans, Rick sets out to put a stop to them. Zeep, Rick, and Morty descend another level into Zeep’s miniverse, and things just get wackier from there.
Morty fills his usual role of moral foil to Rick in this episode, but it resonates particularly well here because Rick ends up using Morty’s logic when he’s trying to convince Zeep to give up his plans. More than ever, Rick demonstrates that he truly does not care about anything. He is out purely for his own gain, and Morty’s arguments completely fail to deter him. Rick is not the hero of this story. By the end of the episode, his cynicism has even rubbed off on Morty, who abandons his moral code in favor of “getting the f**ck out of here.”
The science fiction concept explored in this episode is an interesting take on a familiar idea. As usually happens in Rick and Morty, a science fiction trope is pushed to its logical conclusion, with dire and hilarious results. The show is not afraid to go places most shows wouldn’t, and the audience profits from it.
In our backup story, Summer sits in the car, which has been ordered by Rick to protect her. We quickly find out how far the car is willing to go when it slices the first person to walk up to it into cubes. And that is not even the most disturbing thing the car does. A mortified Summer begs the car not to kill or hurt anyone with each new defense, and the car replies with increasing sarcasm. It obeys each of Summer’s requests, only to find more grotesque and disturbing ways of deterring intruders. Before the plot is resolved, an entire army has shown up to attempt to stop the car.
Summer’s horror at the events unfolding around her paints a picture that is both deeply disturbing and totally hilarious. The episode manages to depict revolting violence in a way that gives us pause and makes us laugh, which is not a new trick for the show, but it still hits just as hard. By the time Rick and Morty return to the car at the end of the episode none the wiser, Summer has already internalized her psychological trauma. This moment is rendered somewhat inert by the fact that we have already seen the exact same thing in earlier episodes – most recently in the second episode of this season, “Mortynight Run,” when Morty is faced with the unfortunate nature of his new friend, Fart (voice by Jemaine Clement), and is forced to kill him.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is an excellent episode of Rick and Morty. It did retread a few familiar ideas that previous episodes have already explored, but overall it hit the right notes. There were a handful of clever references thrown in, both to previous episodes and to other shows (including a particularly fun Go-Go Gadget bit). It isn’t the best episode of Rick and Morty, or even of this season – that honor almost certainly belongs to “Total Rickall” – but it still makes for fantastic television. It is hard to say that any episode of Rick and Morty is bad, because every single episode is so incredibly outstanding. Even last week’s episode, “Get Schwifty,” which was something of a low bar for the series, was top quality TV.
The draw of Rick and Morty seems it be its ability to entertain us, while at the same time making us question everything we’ve ever known. Despite how weird and uncomfortable it makes us feel, we just keep coming back for more. It is like Dan Harmon is standing next to a creepy back alley holding a sign with the words “Welcome to my twisted mind” on it, and we just can’t resist going in.