One of the main things I love about Rick and Morty is that it can be a wildly complicated show. Rick’s actions, whilst highly entertaining, are often not that of the sort of anti-hero we’ve come to enjoy in pop culture. He usually acts in a purely selfish manner, a lot of the good he does is either purely accidental or in direct relation to something he wants, and sometimes, as was the case in this episode, he can be a completely narcissistic egomaniac. The show presents these actions as neither really right or wrong, and takes a look at how our perceptions of such can be far too narrow. There’s a ton of different ways a person can react in any given situation, and many consequences of any decision made. It’s a fantastic approach to take because it means that greyer areas than we are usually used to are explored, and we can always be surprised by a character’s reaction to a situation. It’s what keeps Rick and Morty fresh, and what makes it so unpredictable.
The episode opens with Summer, Rick and Morty exiting a cinema in a dimension in which ‘Ball Fondlers: The Movie’ exists (don’t try to tell me you don’t want to see this movie, because I won’t believe you). The main story follows Rick and Morty into the Micro-verse Rick created as a battery to power his spaceship (see what I mean regarding the narcissism?) after the ship breaks down, whilst the side story features the ships attempt to follow Rick’s order to keep Summer safe. At first, I wondered why Rick hadn’t just taken Summer into the Micro-verse too, but the pay-off to her story was well worth the confusion. But we’ll get to that…
Upon entering the battery, after a lot of talk with Morty about whether it was ethical to create an entire civilisation just to power your car, Rick and Morty are introduced to Zeep Xanflorp (voiced flawlessly by Stephen Colbert), the Micro-verse’s premier scientist and creator of the Mini-verse; a universe Zeep has created to power his own, and the reason power to Rick’s ship has been interrupted. Rick uses Morty’s protestations to try to convince Zeep that the battery is unethical, and upon travelling into Zeep’s battery, the trio happen upon a third scientist who is in the process of creating a Teeny-verse to power their world… It’s fantastic to see Rick have to interact with characters just as smart and morally grey as he is, and the discovery that it’s not just his genius-level intellect that sets him apart, but also his apathetic nature and general not-caring attitude. Nathan Fielder’s turn as the Mini-verses scientist, Kyle, was just wonderful. Although Rick and Zeep are very much alike, Kyle realises the truth of the situation and promptly steals their transporter and uses it to kill himself, thus stranding Zeep, Rick and Morty in the Mini-verse. Leaving Zeep and Rick to their competitive and petty arguments, Morty has a mostly off-screen adventure in which he becomes the leader of a tribe of tree people. This was a particular highlight of the episode for me; in Get Schwifty, Morty’s lectures to Rick about his morals and behaviour didn’t quite sit right with me, but they play a whole lot better here. Rick using Morty’s words to try to get a Zeep is a lovely touch, and Morty’s willingness to come down off his high horse when things get tough was rather priceless (there’s a quote I could put here from Morty’s speech about getting them back home that had me doubled over laughing, but I won’t ruin the impact for you!)
Meanwhile, back in the ship, Summer is being traumatised by it’s attempts to keep her safe, which include lasering a drunken man into cubes, creating a clone of a policeman’s dead child and then melting it in his arms, and brokering peace between this dimensions human and spider populations. The ship becomes a character in and of itself, and, whilst it has a relatively deadpan robotic voice, clearly gets cross with the restrictions Summer imposes to stop it from killing and psychologically scarring people in the name of protecting her. It’s the kind of dark and twisted idea we’ve come to appreciate of Rick and Morty, but unlike other episodes, it’s not just dark and disturbing at the end. Both stories are deeply unsettling and tragic from the offset, but the show delivers them alongside a heap of amazing jokes, which stops it from veering into just being a hugely depressing mess. The episode ends in a depressing and yet somehow satisfying manner, as the children reflect on their rather traumatising experiences and Rick basks in the knowledge that the Micro-verse’s population must continue to provide him power to avoid being destroyed.
The Ricks Must Be Crazy is an almost perfect episode, with the laughs coming thick and fast but serving not to downplay the death, or the dark and disturbing sequences, but more to compliment them. The post credits tag is brilliant, and getting Colbert and Fielder involved was a stroke of genius. Knowing that we’re over halfway through this series now is making me pretty sad, but hot damn if they haven’t delivered a flipping brilliant series so far. I can’t imagine where this season is going to end up, but I am so along for the ride.
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)