Review: Rick and Morty – Season 1, Episode 2

Executive Producer(s): Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, Delna Bhesania, keith Crofford
Director: John Rice
Writer(s): Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon Ryan Ridley, Eric Acosta, Tom Kauffman, Wade Randolph
Starring: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke, Melique Berger, Jess Harnell, A.Smith Harrison, Phil Hendrie, Brandon Johnson, Maurice LaMarche, Rob Paulsen, Jesse Mendel.
Distributor: Cartoon Network
Genre: Animation, Science Fiction, Comedy, Adventure
Rating: TV-14
Rick and Morty is an American animated series created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Cartoon Network’s adult swim late night time slot. Inspired by an animated short created by Roiland entitled “The Real Adventures of Doc and Marty” (which in itself is based on the modern classic Back to the Future), Rick and Morty premiered on December 2, 2013 to rave reviews. The series went on to complete three critically acclaimed seasons for Cartoon Network. Rick and Morty has been nominated and won multiple awards including The Prime Time Emmy Awards, BTVA voice acting awards, The Saturn Awards, The Golden Globes, and many others. Rick and Morty’s third season (which concluded in October 2017) was awarded the title of Television’s #1 comedy series for adults 18 to 34. Naturally, with such a cult following and universal critical reception, in May 2018 Cartoon Network ordered an additional 70 episodes of this historic series.
As anticipation grows for new material, Rick and Morty lends itself well to multiple rewatches. Every episode is packed with fast paced humor, thought provoking concepts, and punchy one liners that can easily be missed. Upon rewatching the episodes, I have discovered hidden references, concepts, and quiet jokes that went seemingly unnoticed during my first watch. I invite you to join me in rediscovering and/or introducing you to the series as I dive into and analyze every episode while we try to patiently wait for the new season.

*Content Warning: This show is intended for mature audiences*

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: Overcoming fears. Thematic ideas of free will.
Violence: Mr.Goldenfold dawns two automatic machine guns and attempts to murder Rick and Morty.  Rick takes a hostage. Scary Terry decapitates a dream child, and dismembers multiple people. The dogs take over the planet by violent means.
Language/Crude Humor: Rick and Morty pretend to be radical Islamic terrorists by strapping a fake bomb to Rick’s body in a airplane. Scary Terry constantly uses the word “B****” multiple times throughout the episode. The phrase “G** d***” is used as well as “what the H***”. 
Sexual Content: In the pleasure chamber, there are highly sexual images shown. From bondage, masks, whips, nudity, suggestions of incest, and other excessive sexual imagery. This scene is not suitable for all ages.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Rick drinks throughout the episode. Dogs are seen playing poker and smoking. 
Other Negative Themes: Mental manipulation and brain washing. 
Positive Content: Scary Terry’s domestic argument is resolved with communication. Rick and Morty support Scary Terry and his unique personality, and encourage him to embrace his individuality.  The value of life has priority over wealth. Self identity.

Episode Recap

Jerry and Summer are sitting in the living room as the family dog (Snuffles) urinates on the carpet. Jerry gets angry and shoves Snuffles’ face into his own urine. Morty comes in to investigate the commotion. Rick enters to take Morty away on another adventure. Before they leave, Jerry asks Rick if he has a way to make the family dog smarter. Rick warns Jerry of the  potential out comes. Jerry threatens to ground Morty so he would be unable to join Rick on his adventure. Rick invents a helmet which he places on Snuffles. Rick commands Snuffles to shake and roll over. Snuffles follows direction. Rick orders Snuffles to use the bathroom. Snuffles enters the family bathroom, uses the toilet, and flushes.
Rick and Morty enter the garage as Rick explains how he invented a device which will allow them to enter people’s dreams. He further explains it’s just like the movie Inception, but easier to understand. Rick informs Morty he will plant the idea of giving Morty a passing grade into Mr.Goldenfold’s mind so Morty can continue to join him on his many adventures. They arrive at Mr.Goldenfold’s house and enter his dream. Within Mr.Goldenfold, Rick and Morty find themselves on a commercial air craft. They attempt to hijack the plane when Mr.Goldenfold tries to fights them off.
Jerry and Summer abuse the newfound intelligence of Snuffles by commanding him to do mundane tasks. Snuffles attempts to verbally communicate with them. Snuffles observes his reflection in the window and opens the battery cover of his helmet. Snuffles notices there is only one battery in the helmet, but it can hold more. Snuffles adds more batteries to the helmet increasing its power. 
Rick takes the flight attendant Mrs.Pancakes (Melique Berger) as a hostage. The passengers on the plane panic and open the cabin door. Rick, Morty, and other passengers are sucked out. While falling out of the sky, Rick and Morty notice Mrs.Pankcakes has a parachute. They grab onto her and enter her dreams to avoid being captured and killed by Mr.Goldenfold who is waiting for them on the ground. Within Mrs.Pancakes’ dream, Rick and Morty enter an over-sexualized S&M Club. They are approached by a centaur guard who attempts to capture them. Rick and Morty enter the centaur’s dream. They find themselves in a boiler room  while being chased down by a Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off named Scary Terry. Rick and Morty discover Scary Terry can travel through other people’s dreams as well.
Snuffles enters the Living room with a device that enables him to verbally communicate with Jerry and Summer. Jerry attempts to remove the helmet from Snuffles, but Summer stops him. She tells Jerry endowing a creature with sentience and taking it away is wrong. Snuffles changes the channel on the TV. The TV explains dogs were once fierce predators; however, humans have striped them from their wild animal instincts and domesticated them. Summer is awoken by Snuffles who is in her bedroom inside a fully mechanized robotic suit. He commands her to call him Snowball because Snuffles is his slave name. He asks her about the location of the sexual organs that were removed from him, and if it is humane to breed deformed humans with other deformed humans. Jerry and Beth enter to discover there are more intelligent mechanized dogs trapping them inside.
Rick and Morty successfully escape Scary Terry’s chase by simply hiding. After hours of searching, Scary Terry returns home to his oddly normal domestic life, complete with a wife and small child. After a domestic argument, Scary Terry and his wife sleep for the night. At this time, Rick and Marty enter the dreams of Scary Terry himself. Rick and Morty discover Scary Terry suffers from the same normal anxieties as most people, from being late to class, to being pants-less in public. Rick and Morty come to the defense of Terry after he’s berated by his teacher. After waking up from his dream, Terry, Rick, and Morty travel back through all of the dreams they entered and demand Mr.Goldenfold to give Morty good grades. Mr.Goldenfold wakes up from his sleep with the need to give Morty good grades.

Snuffles, now known as Snowball, traps Jerry, Beth, and Summer in a small dog cage. Rick and Morty return home to discover their home has been taken over by self-aware mechanized dogs. After Jerry attempts to reclaim their home by urinating on the dogs’ weapons, Snowball (Snuffles) takes Morty as a pet and continues  the plan to successfully take over the world resulting in total global domination. Now as Snowball’s pet, Morty is woken up by Rick and is informed he is in Snowball’s dream. Rick feeds Morty pills to shut down his kidneys. Snowball risks the financial ruin of his kingdom for the medical care of his pet Morty. Snowball realizes the importance of humanity and wakes up from his dream with this new revelation. Snowball decides to gather up his kind to leave the planet to the humans in order to find and establish their own peaceful world.

Review

Rick and Morty successfully achieves a parody episode with this second installment of the series. Just as the short “The Real Adventures of Doc and Marty” by Roiland heavily parodies a cinema classic, Rick and Morty unapologetically borrows themes from some of the most popular films in modern times. Rick and Morty avoids the pit falls of just replicating other works of fiction and achieves paying homage to these films by refreshingly mentioning the inspired films by name. The show also finds a hysterical and thought-provoking way to build upon them.
Rick and Morty uses these ideas to dive deep into themes of existentialism, self awareness, intelligence, and free will. In spite of the heavy intellectual topics, Rick and Morty manages to maintain a level of humor other animated and live action shows fail to. The three obvious films Rick and Morty borrow from are Inception, Lawnmower Man, and Nightmare on Elm Street.
Inception is heavily borrowed from in this episode. Rick and Morty dive deep into the subconscious of Morty’s teacher to plant an unoriginal idea in order to manipulate him for his needs. By entering dreams within dreams, Rick and Morty successfully convince a subconscious, domestic Freddy Kruger-like monster. Mr.Goldenfold then awakens with the thought that was planted by Rick, raising the question of free will. Is free will free, or can free will be manipulated, thus nullifying freedom? With Snuffles newly found level of intelligence, he reaches a level of identity and belonging. Just as in the film Lawnmower Man where a dimwitted man is gifted with intelligence by technology, Snuffles is endowed with intelligence by the request of Jerry. This leads to Snuffles questioning his existence, which then leads to his world domination. Jerry’s actions without thought of consequence brought on the events of Snuffles conquest.
Rick and Morty once again rides high on high brow intellectual themes coupled with crude humor. With its second episode, this series looks to establish itself as one of the smartest and self-aware shows on television. Lawnmower Dog is one of the highlights of the series thus far.

The Bottom Line

 

Rick and Morty continues to take parody story telling to the next level. By exploring topics of fear, free will, and self awareness through the reimagining of memorable pop culture films, Rick and Morty proves animation and comedy can be just as deep and profound as any science fiction story to date.

 

Noel Davila

Noel is a writer, performer, and Podcaster based out of the New York City area. With a background in acting, theater arts, years of stage and screen writing, composing and scoring utilizing his skills as a singer song writer, Noel looks to be an all around creator in the arts. Many of the films Noel has written have been selected and featured at a number of Film Festivals including The New York International Film Festival, The Hudson Valley Film Festival, The Art is Alive Film Festival, ect and have gone on to be nominated and awarded for multiple awards including "Best Comedy Short" ,"Best Of", "Best make up", ect. Noel continues to perform live original music all across New York City

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