Hey now! This is a fantastic episode that takes Rick and Morty’s established tropes and plays with them in really fun ways. Additionally, it brings in the new premise of Rick going toe-to-toe with someone who’s his intellectual equal. Finally, it’s got a simple yet brilliant B-plot that’s just as entertaining as (and maybe actually even funnier than) the A-plot.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” does a lot of cool twisting of the series’ usual approach. It’s got that old standby of Morty attempting to challenge Rick’s horribleness by retaining a moral code. In last week’s “Get Schwifty,” the same concept came off like a boring retread. Here, it’s turned on its head as Rick later ends up parroting Morty’s morals word for word to serve his own selfish needs. It’s hardly the effect Morty hoped to have on his grandfather, but—in a hypocritical, awful sort of way—Rick is acknowledging Morty’s wisdom.
Plus, Morty eventually drops all the moralistic sermonizing and leaves Rick to his own devices, having a mostly off-screen adventure becoming a tribal chief of the Tree People. Really, Morty’s entire arc in this episode is absolutely hilarious. He goes from being the moral one to learning the simple ways of the Tree People to just not giving a fuck and wanting to get back home, culminating in his brilliant outburst: “You guys are the fucking worst, your gods are a lie! Fuck you, fuck nature, and fuck trees!”
It’s also great how this episode more than fulfills the quota for dark shit that makes Rick and Morty what it is, but it doesn’t do it the same way an episode like, for example, “Auto Erotic Assimilation” did. It’s not suddenly dark and somber at the end. Don’t get me wrong; I love it when they do that. However, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” handles its darkness in a fresh, smart way. The two core concepts—a micro society Rick has created just to run his ship’s battery and the ridiculously advanced Siri-type AI on Rick’s ship willing to do deeply unsettling things to keep Summer safe—are tragic and disturbing from the get-go. But it presents all of this while still moving at a breakneck pace and packing jokes in throughout. It’s an episode that’s inherently twisted at its core, but laughing about it the whole way through.
As mentioned, the B-plot about Summer trapped inside Rick’s ship by herself as it tries to protect her by any means necessary is incredible. After the ship is forced to alter its protocol when Summer insists it doesn’t kill or hurt anyone, we get probably one of the single most fucked-up scenes in Rick and Morty history (and also one of the funniest). Summer and the ship have essentially the same dynamic as John Connor and the Terminator in T2, but a ship programmed by Rick is more clever and sociopathic than a T-800 could ever be.
“The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is seriously packed to the gills with just… stuff. I haven’t even touched on the fact that this is the episode with Stephen Colbert, who does a great job as Zan (or is it Xan?) Zeepflorp (or is it Xeepflorp?), though honestly Nathan Fielder’s brief role made me laugh harder. In addition, the jokes come so fast and furiously it’s pretty much impossible to comprehensively list everything that made me laugh. But some jokes that come to mind are “That was my daughter’s pediatrician!” and “Old lady science, she’s a real… you gotta hang on tight, y’know, because she… she—she bucks pretty hard.” I also liked “Go, go Sanchez skis!” though it was the most willfully dumb part of the whole episode. I love that Summer managed to ruin the best ice cream in the multiverse. And, finally, there’s the tag, which is one of the funniest the show’s ever done.
For my money, this is the best episode of season two yet. “Total Rickall” was wildly clever, but “The Ricks Must Be Crazy” is more solidly funny throughout and I’m happy to see Morty with a bigger role than he’s had lately. The only thing a little weird is that—with the concept of worlds within worlds where time passes more slowly in each one—this seems to be another episode that references Inception, but this time with no blatant reference that makes clear it knows that it’s doing so.
But I’m being a nitpicking geek. Ooh la la, someone’s gonna get laid in college.