This episode is divided into two plots: one about Rick putting his consciousness into a teenage version of his body to help Morty and Summer be more popular at school and another about Jerry and Beth going to off-world couples therapy. What I’m surprised and impressed by is that I found the Jerry and Beth plot to be the more engaging one.
Lately, I had been getting worried that Jerry and Beth having their own stories without any of the rest of the family was unsustainable, just like their insanely bad marriage. Sometimes Jerry and Beth plots degenerate into two people screaming at each other for, like, a while. I know that’s how a really dysfunctional marriage actually looks, but after a point it’s just not fun to keep seeing. Am I right or what, people who were the product of a dysfunctional union? High five!
This couples therapy plot works because, though their bitter feelings toward one another certainly come out, mostly they’re in the form of material projections of their worst perceptions of each other called mythologizations rather than loads of shouted dialogue (though there’s still a bit of that). And when the mythologizations start wreaking havoc, there’s an actual conflict for the two of them to deal with, so that shuts ‘em up pretty good.
I should clarify it’s not that I think the only way to make Jerry and Beth work (in their storylines and in their marriage) is if they don’t talk. I’m fine with them arguing sometimes, but in “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” for example, the entire plot really was just them shouting and there simply has to be some variation in portraying their fucked-up marriage. “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” comes up with a great way to do that.
One of the best results of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s powers combined is that grounded sitcom relationship stories get expressed through high-concept sci-fi gimmicks. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” put a spin on unhealthy relationships by having one between Rick and a hive mind. “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” does a fantastic job of presenting Jerry and Beth’s codependency by creating physical manifestations of it and then really squeezing all it can out of the idea. There are a lot of clever moments here, like when Beth is hooked up to the projection-making thingy, starts seeing Jerry as heroic, and then out pop loads of muscular Jerrys. And the way they defeat the giant Beth-projection-bug-monster is a smart resolution of the premise. It also feels a little like a big deal that Jerry gets to be something of a badass here, at least briefly. I don’t think he’s come out this heroic since “Rick Potion No. 9” and that Jerry has been lost to another dimension.
The Rick-Summer-Morty plot feels a little more half-baked. The majority of it is little teenage Rick running around shouting “Tiny Rick!” (not that that isn’t funny) and making the whole school like him and, by association, Morty and Summer. Tiny Rick is adorable but the premise is a little one-note: Tiny Rick makes everything better but it’s not who Rick really is and it’s killing him to stay a teenager. The plot is basically just Summer and Morty taking their time to recognize this as a problem.
It is nice to see the high school again; I like when the show occasionally remembers to ground itself in normal-ish earth stuff. Also, I know Justin Roiland is all about Summer but I’m a Jessica man myself, so it’s nice to see she isn’t forgotten. (Yeah, I know she has no real character, still. Maybe some day.) But this storyline feels mostly like an excuse to have fun with the novelty premise of Tiny Rick. The plot even resolves through a throwaway gag of forcing Tiny Rick to listen to Elliot Smith. Though I did like how messed up it was that Tiny Rick totally destroyed Summer’s rep before leaving.
Overall, the plotting is still pretty solid, if a little uninspired in the case of the Tiny Rick story, and it’s chiefly what I like about the episode. On the comedy side of things, I didn’t laugh so much. There are some good one-liners like Rick’s assessment of the couples therapy he’s sending Jerry and Beth to: “They can save the marriage of a dog and a bar of dark chocolate. They can save the marriage of a porn star and a porn star.” Tiny Rick shouting “Tiny Rick!” is inherently charming and made me chuckle a little. And the even though it wasn’t my favorite of the two storylines, the culmination of the Tiny Rick story, with Rick brutally bludgeoning clones of himself in front of Morty and Summer, might be one of the all-time great Rick and Morty scenes. (In general, I admired this episode’s gleeful use of fairly gnarly violence.) Oh gosh, and I almost forgot about Worm Jerry repeatedly offering up its butt to real Jerry. Amazing stuff.
In conclusion: Quite satisfying story, not too many laugh-out-loud jokes. Oh, and Jim Rash was in it! He did a good job! He sounded just like Jim Rash.