*Spoilers Ahead* After the subdued, self-contained sci-fi escapades of Episode One, Rick and Morty returns with a colourfully violent clone extravaganza that will most certainly melt a few minds.
The episode opens with the family being killed by alien “squids”, which alerts the real Rick that somebody has killed his “decoy family”. Rick then reveals that he has made identical copies of the entire family and dotted them around the country as a precaution. After investigating the decoy family’s death Rick discovers that they have been making clones of their own, meaning nobody can know if they are real or a clone.
This premise, as interesting as it sounds, is nothing new for Rick and Morty. In fact this might be the first instance of the show intentionally treading on familiar ground outside of interdimensional cable. There are frequent references to previous clone-based storylines, compounded by a brief cameo by Space Beth. The show definitely isn’t hiding the fact that we’ve been here before, it’s owning it.
In spite of this familiar taste, the execution of the concept is incredible, doing things in the way that only Rick and Morty can. As we delve further into the episode it almost feels like trying to grasp water, as we jump from one delightfully mind blowing twist to the next. There is an impressive amount of ideas packed into the short runtime, yet the episode still gives every idea enough room to breathe. Each introduction of a new iteration of a Smith family member feels fresh and inventive, namely Wooden Jerry, who might have the best post-credit adventure in the show’s history.
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The episode doesn’t follow the traditional A and B story structure of other episodes, with Rick even vocally refusing to allow the episode to go down that route. We instead follow the entire family in a loose anthology based structure with a central plot. This is a nice change of pace as episodes which follow the entire family in one storyline are rather rare, though this episode does seem to mainly focus on Rick and Beth. Unfortunately, the handling of Beth’s character was fairly disappointing albeit in a way that is understandable. In an attempt to avoid rehashing the themes explored in season four’s Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri, Beth ends up missing out on an opportunity for emotional catharsis. This is especially disappointing because when Rick and Morty allows itself to explore its character’s sensitive sides, it usually nails it.
Potential issues arise as the episode progresses, when it becomes apparent that it doesn’t actually matter if the Smith family we are following is “real”. Though this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that the story is lacking any actual stakes, potentially making it harder for some to get truly invested. The episode does also occasionally crumble under the weight of its own premise; at one point Rick literally pulls out a whiteboard to explain what on earth is going on.
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