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RICK AND MORTY Just Gave Us a Glimpse of Morty Becoming Rick

RICK AND MORTY Just Gave Us a Glimpse of Morty Becoming Rick

Most every superhero goes through a series of phases along the journey of discovering their new identity. Emptiness before gaining their new powers, unadulterated joy over their new strengths and abilities, and finally the recognition (sometimes painful or deadly) of the unintended changes those powers will bring to their lives. “Too much of a good thing” is the principle that’s meant to keep even the godlike grounded. It’s the same for Superman and Tony Montana and the kid from Blank Check.

For Rick, the costs of his superintelligence are obvious: alcoholism, inability to emotionally connect, addiction to greater and greater conquests. But with “Rest and Ricklaxation,” we finally got a chance to see Morty imbued with a superpower–freedom from his self-consciousness. And since that led to him becoming a veritable sociopath, the consequences were all on Rick.

The most striking part of the episode was hidden at the beginning, when a wild, six-day suicide mission was so intense that Rick broke down alongside Morty. Both of them wailed and screamed as equals before deciding they needed a vacation. Even before we got to the detox machine that would suck out both of their “unhealthy” characteristics, the catalyst for going was revolutionary in and of itself. If admitting you have a problem is the first step to getting help, Rick just took that step. He essentially said, “I am in great pain,” instead of “Wubba lubba dub dub.”

It was even Rick’s idea to try out the detox machine… even though he did it while yelling at an employee about phlegm.

Over the course of the episode, we watched the series work out psychological problems it has danced around for years. This is the kind of breakthrough that may mean the darkest season yet may have some light at the end of its tunnel.

This was one of the most manic episodes of Rick and Morty yet, giving us some breathing room only when Healthy Morty took his Peter Parker walk through school, living that initial, gleeful perfection of a newly minted superhero. His powers of confidence (which led to powers of smooth talk and charm) are exactly the kind of powers a 14-year-old boy would wish for. Hell, they’re really the powers almost all of us would wish for. The power to ask that out-of-our-league attractive person out. The power to disarm a room with a single line. The power to make the bully stop bullying.

All of it was born from a superpower of apathy.

Morty has gone from worrying about everything to worrying about nothing, and it was fascinating to see that the “healthiest” version of the character–one without neuroses and limitations–turned him into a champion of domestic pursuits. It’s not just that he doesn’t use his powers for good, it’s that he uses them for an incredibly banal brand of low-calorie evil. He becomes a wildly successful stock broker. He has a really nice apartment. His pursuit is a pedestrian American dream of money and workplace recognition. Even free to do anything, there’s a prescribed normalcy and stability to what Morty desires. Nothing like the universe-dominating goals of his grandpa.

Yet the superpowers also gave us a look at what Morty would be like if he cared about things as little as Rick does. He echoes a nonchalance about danger that he must have learned from Rick, breaking cell phones and laughing off the threat of the toxins’ return. If it’s that uncaring that fuels Rick’s ability to be the Rickest Rick, it’s kind of sad that all it took Morty to was a high rise apartment, a relationship that seems stable for the few minutes we get with it, and a bowl of organic carrots.

But maybe that’s being judgmental in a way Healthy Morty wouldn’t appreciate. He’s got his hopes, and they’re his, so why worry if he doesn’t want to be the universe’s martyr?

Speaking of which, the more subtle, yet greater transition this episode was Rick, who opened the door to changing himself and ran right through it without hesitation. From the initial unseen adventure, to his fear of his worst aspects returning, to his claim of becoming master of both domains (*fart!* “Excuse me!”), Rick appears to genuinely learn along the way. Plus, he’s still fantastically smart and tough enough to take on Nega-Rick when the going gets rough.

Like last week, this was another episode that didn’t cushion itself with a ton of gags. Its target was the psychologically and emotional growth of two deeply stunted main characters, and it hit the bullseye. It’s the kind of episode that will require a half-dozen rewatches before we really grasp the intricacies of all the mental foibles at play (Morty didn’t hang up the call on purpose, right?), but it’s also a potential start to seeing a Rick and a Morty that we’ve never seen before.

A Morty who is a little more Rick, and Rick who’s at least capable of showing he cares.

Images: Cartoon Network/Adult Swim

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