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First and foremost, there are not enough people who watch – or even know about – Dan Harmon and Josh Roiland’s incredible and comedic take on science fiction. The particularly crude and sarcastic humor makes this series a favorite of the 18-40 year old demographic, however, because it’s a cartoon it does not get the praise it rightfully deserves. Although it’s only in it’s second season, Rick and Morty deserves the high acclaim of Bob’s Burgers, South Park, and even The Simpsons.
Centered around a classic intermediate family of a mom, Beth (Sarah Chalk), a father, Jerry (Chris Parnell), a daughter, Summer (Spencer Grammer), and a son, Morty (Josh Roiland) they become reunited with Beth’s scientific mastermind/genius/alcoholic father, Rick (Also, Josh Roiland). The basic premise is that Rick is, potentially, the smartest man in the universe, using numerous science fiction tropes and narratives that allow Rick and his little and naive companion, Morty, to enter different universes, timelines, etc. The show may appear over-the-top at times, however, the brilliant writers never get too carried away and become self-reflexive at most points in order to prevent Rick and Morty from jumping the shark, so to speak.
Now onto season two. “A Rickle In Time” starts where the season finale of season one left off – Summer, Morty, and Rick suspended in time in order to clean up the raging house party that they hosted, before Beth and Jerry come home. Harmon and Roiland rely on the notion that Rick and Morty fans clearly remember what happened in last season so that they do not have to spoon-feed the audience any explanations. Once the house is cleaned, and Morty finally calms himself down, Rick unfreezes the universe allowing everything to appear normal on the surface. However, as Rick explains, because they were frozen for so long, they cannot come into physical contact with anyone for a long time, or else the universe will split.
Here’s where the fun begins.
In a classical family cliche, there’s a sibling shoving match between Morty and Summer, and – oh shit – there’s two timelines. This is the epitome of this show’s genius. There is a horizontal split screen for the two timelines, with every character having two voices, but slightly altered dialogue. The visualization and personification of these universes are impeccably hilarious.
As Dan Harmon explained to the A.V. Club, “There’s going to be two panels on the screen, and in one of them Morty’s going to walk to the left and eat a doughnut, and in the lower one he’s also going to walk to the left and eat a doughnut—but a different doughnut!”
Along side the A-story, Jerry and Beth – on their way home from getting ice cream – hit a deer. The B-story then becomes Beth – a horse surgeon – trying to heal this wounded deer, including rushing it to the closest veterinarian office, and going all doctor Frankenstein on everyone’s asses. The entire B-story enables the audience to identify the perfect imperfections of their marriage, while the relate-ability of characters creates surface humor. Mostly, those in long term relationships will find this sub-plot hilarious.
Back to story A. The remaining conflict becomes a question of can they put their timeline back together? However, because of their missteps, a space policeman/testicle monster (Jordan Peele) notices them and attempts to bring them to space jail. To save themselves, Rick creates up to 64 more timelines to create havoc and kill the, there’s only one way to describe him, testicle monster.
As the universe begins crumbling, Rick invents a collar that, if they all put it on at the same time, will create a single timeline once again. But, guess what? In 1/64th of the timelines a collar is broken! The dysfunction between the three enables a sense of fearful anxiety as Rick and Morty try to fix the collars. Without spoiling the ending, this episode, unlike those in season one, displays the emotional and relate-able side of Rick for, probably, the first time ever.
There are so many tropes and genres expressed in this one episode that the only word to describe it is “genius.” Again, if you have not started this show yet, do yourself a favor and start watching.