I should have known.
I should have known and I should have been prepared.
Last week’s episode of Rick and Morty left me wanting but they never miss the mark twice.
Rick Sanchez and his painfully (but hilariously) dysfunctional family returned Sunday with episode five of their third season, The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy.
Teasers of the episode promised that this episode would break the usual structure and instead focus on a Rick and Jerry adventure.
Jerry has been missing, for the most part, from the season, after his schism from the family in episode one. The implications of the impending divorce between Beth and Jerry have had rippling consequences throughout the family. While the show has forced the characters and viewers to question their role in an uncaring multiverse, this season has forced them to question their very identities and, somehow, that hits heavier.
Vindicators 3 showed us a Morty who was finally ready to take charge of his life, taking the lessons learned from Rick and molding them to fit his own worldview. Using this newfound confidence, Morty requests that Rick take Jerry on an adventure to help enliven his spirits.
Fearing that Jerry would be unable to survive even the lightest of Rick’s usual haunts, he takes the most fragile man in existence to the safest place he can think of, a resort destination complete with an immortality field. But even in the safest of places, Jerry can’t help but get into some trouble.
Patrons of the resort, adults and children alike, leisurely kill one another, then laugh and embrace when the victim is revived. After a hand-dryer malfunction (which is SO Jerry), Jerry finds himself pulled into an underground resistance intent on killing Rick for having taken over the resort from its previous leader. But how?
It turns out, a popular ride called The Whirly Dirly (a rollercoaster so homicidal it could only exist in this location) dips just outside of the immortality field on its way around its track. All Jerry has to do is get Rick to ride it and the assassins will do the rest.
Jerry is, at first, reticent about killing his soon to be ex-father-in-law but, Rick being Rick, it doesn’t take long for the ire to build and the machinations of murder to sprout.
Despite Jerry’s best laid plans, Rick survives the assassination attempt (as if there was any doubt), completely destroying The Whirly Dirly and the immortality field in the process.
Jerry and Rick are left in a dangerous alien wilderness and it doesn’t take long for Rick to put the pieces together and plant the finger firmly at Jerry.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Summer is dealing with the abandonment of her boyfriend for a more well-endowed classmate and uses one of Rick’s many inventions in an attempt to enhance her own features.
Of course it goes terribly wrong and Summer is transformed into a hideously grotesque version of herself. Morty wants to call Rick, commenting that this type of scenario seems firmly within Rick’s wheelhouse, but Beth won’t let him. She seems more determined than ever to prove herself on an equal playing field with her father. In her attempt to prove her own intelligence she makes the situation much worse, all the while proving that her own psychological failings are more important to her than the physical and emotional well being of her children.
The best moment of the episode finds Jerry waste deep in an alien snake, being quickly devoured, and begging Rick to save him. “You took my family,” he screams. And that’s when Rick unleashes the full force of his hatred.
We’re treated to a devastating and fully convincing argument from Rick about Jerry’s true motives and his uncanny ability to suck the life and potential out of everyone around him, simply by existing and being so completely pathetic. We see the light leave Jerry’s eyes as he realizes the truth of what Rick is saying, all while being swallowed.
Never fear, though, Jerry and Rick make it off planet alive and Beth comes through for Summer in the end. Everyone seems to have gained some appreciation for each other. However short lived it might be remains to be seen, but by the time the credits roll, everyone has learned a lesson and has been made the better for it.
That is, except for Morty.
The final post-credits clip implies some dastardly activity from Morty off-camera. While he seems to be the only character taking control of their situation, Morty seems to be heading in a particularly dark direction.
The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy continues down the path set up at the beginning of the season, that simply being in proximity to Rick brings the worst out of everyone. While being around Jerry might arrest your development, being around Rick mutates you into a shadow of your former self, sometimes literally, always figuratively.
We’re still waiting for Rick to have to confront the demons he’s created.
Episode six of Rick and Morty airs this coming Sunday on Cartoon Network.