(Image: Adult Swim)

Has there ever been another show in television history that could feature a tender song about a father and daughter with the lyric “I got a doodoo in my butt” and also produce a sincere conversation about the nature of existence? Seems unlikely, but there is so much TV nowadays it’s hard to keep up. Either way, this week’s Rick And Morty did both of those things, in another stellar episode that was consistently hilarious, while also touching on the show’s biggest theme.

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Did Beth take the clone option or not? That’s the question from this week’s episode, but with this show it’s one we might never get an answer to. But how that option was presented to her says more about Rick’s view on life than Beth’s choice says about her.

Once again the show hit hard on its recurring idea that nothing matters. Rick taught this lesson to Morty, Morty taught this lesson to Summer, and Jerry seems to have picked it up too. This time it was Beth’s turn to face the bleak reality that the universe is “basically an animal that grazes on the ordinary.” Only Beth’s lesson came with the added kicker of learning her father is a “fucking nutcase” and not a great man, and also, undeniably, “the acorn plopped straight down, baby,” after her continued amoral actions in Froopy Land. Rick sucks. Beth sucks. Everything sucks—at least if you’re smart.

But Rick’s speech to Beth about the brutal nature of the universe, and his subsequent offer to free her from her life without worry or guilt, is another big piece to the Rick puzzle. He learned this lesson about life a long time (whether it forced him to abandon his daughter or he learned it after abandoning her we don’t know), and his explanation about it seemed to explain his need for constant adventures. “Smart people get a chance to climb on top, take reality for a ride, but it will never stop trying to throw you, and eventually it will.” He kept saying that about the universe singular, so if you can’t ever tame a universe, just keep hopping among infinite ones to stay on top. Make a world of rainbows, but get the hell out before you have to eat your own monster children to survive.

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“There’s no other way off,” he said. But Rick did decide to get off (“gross’), he came back and grabbed himself a Morty, just like all Ricks do. He continues to go on adventures and tries to get enjoyment from life, but he made the decision that it would be more fun to do it with someone. Even for Rick and his nihilistic view of life, he decided it’s better not to be alone.

There’s definitely something very bleak about all of it. Rick needs to make sure everyone of his family members knows how dark life is, when ignorance would very much be bliss according to his own rational. But Rick views knowledge as the only way to have any control in life, even if it is fleeting and all you can control is which shitty life you choose. He got that freedom once, so he offers it to his daughter, but with the luxury she can go guilt free without her family knowing she abandoned them. That’s something Rick wasn’t able to do. Letting her have an out is as much for him as it is Summer and Morty, because Rick knows how much his absence screwed Beth up, and he cares about his grandkids.

So even if we might never get the answer, we’re all going to ask it, so let’s do this: what option did Beth take? It’s far more interesting being ambiguous, but that ending, when she snuggled her head up to him and said she loved him, felt way too happy for someone who just realized she is possibly a sociopath like her dad. That was an incredibly short amount of time for her to go from having an existential crisis to being totally content with her life. Mark my vote as “clone Beth.”

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And why not? She is exactly like Rick, and he fled once. And while we don’t know the exact situation he was in at the time he left, we know Beth’s life is a complete mess right now. She is separated from her shitty husband (Jerry might be tired of being reminded how pathetic he is, but it is always funny), her two kids are super cynical and just as screwed up as she is, and the father she always held up as her idol, and the man she gave up her marriage for, is anything but.

What is Beth holding on to? I hope she did leave. Not because I want her to abandon her kids, but because if she got to the same point Rick did once, the only thing that might bring her back is to learn the same lesson he did: life sucks, but it sucks less when you experience it with someone else.

Rick promised us the bleakest season yet in this year’s premiere, and he sort of undersold that. This was yet another dark installment, where instead of Beth and Rick’s relationship being healed in anyway it just got worse. But the more horrible things we learn, the more we see that this messed up family has held on to one another despite all of that. I mean, Rick is still killing aliens to protect Jerry. Jerry!

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Either Beth stayed, or, if she really is exactly like her father, she went on a journey that will bring her back. There’s some light there. Well, not in Froopy Land. That was like Jurassic Park meets The Island Of Dr. Moreau meets Silence Of The Lambs meets Craster’s Keep. That place was the most frightening world yet.

Stray observations

  • Kiara...Keearia (I hate trying to guess how to spell alien names and planets for this show) felt like a cross between a Xenomorph, a Na’vi, and that one alien from Total Recall. You know the one. How could Jerry not be into that!
  • “Fake news” might be as intentionally political as the show has been all season, but it was merely a happy coincidence that on the day NFL players across the league took a knee during the national anthem that Rick said, “I’m not taking a knee, suck my dick.”
  • I know “Terryfold” hit the Billboard Top 100, but “Doodoo Butt” should go number one and triple platinum.
  • “Life finds a way” jokes are eternal and always amazing.

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