RICK AND MORTY Season 3 Episode 9 [Review]

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RICK AND MORTY Season 3, Episode 9 “The ABC’s of Beth”/ Directed by JUAN MEZA-LEON/ Written by MIKE MCMAHAN/ Starring JUSTIN ROILAND, CHRIS PARNELL, SARAH CHALKE & SPENCER GRAMMER/ Produced by HARMONIUS CLAPTRAP, JUSTIN ROILAND’S SOLO VANITY CARD PRODUCTIONS, STARBURNS INDUSTRIES & WILLIAMS STREET

Froopyland was the magical realm that Beth imagined for herself back when she was a child. With rivers made of rainbows and the Muppet-like Froopy Folk, it was paradise for an imaginative toddler with an ever-absent dad. At least, that’s what Beth thought Froopyland was.

Rick reveals that Froopyland was a playground world that he built to keep Beth safe and out of his hair (mostly the latter) when Rick’s wife wasn’t around. It also turns out that Froopyland is more Terabithia than Oz, as Beth’s best friend as a child, Tommy, may have been lost inside of it.

This barely concerns Rick because he does have a reputation to uphold. How can anyone take his super-science seriously when he can’t even make a truly child-safe pocket-dimension, with breathable water and bouncy-ground? In order to save Tommy’s father from being executed for his murder and to prove Rick right (again, mostly the latter, probably), father and daughter must… Return To Froopyland!

Speaking of childhood trauma, Summer and Morty have been sent to spend the weekend with Jerry. This would be disturbing enough, but the teens also have to deal with Jerry’s new girlfriend – Kiara, Warrior-Priestess of Krootabulan. It’s obvious why Jerry would be interested in a triple-breasted, blue-skinned huntress but is he truly ready for the responsibility of soul-bonding with an alien amazon?

Of course not. This is freaking Jerry we’re talking about. We’ll be lucky if the planet doesn’t get blown up within a week.

The ABC’s Of Beth may be the laziest episode of Rick and Morty to date. The script by Mike McMahan never progresses past its one big shock joke regarding Tommy’s ultimate fate in Froopyland. There’s two versions on the same meta-gag regarding archaic technology being used as a cheap means of exposition in a story. Even the Jerry subplot is ended in a ham-fisted manner, with Morty noting, “Dad, you just got handed an Ex Machina. You’re taking it.” The fact that Morty knows what an Ex Machina is or that Rick cares enough to take the initiative in telling Beth the truth about her “imaginary play-land” point to the larger problem with The ABC’s Of Beth – the characters are bent to the story, rather than the other way around.

McMahan was apparently trying to make some deep philosophical point about Beth truly being her father’s daughter because of her sense of intellectual detachment (“Am I evil?” asks Beth. “Worse. You’re smart,” says Rick.), contrasting this with Jerry’s honest admission that “I’m not an evil person. I’m lazy, I’m cowardly and I do not know what I’m doing.” The irony is that this runs counter to Season Three’s continuing theme of embracing nihilism and Rick’s insistence back in the first episode of the season that there was no deeper motivation to anything he did beyond simple greed.

This doesn’t make The ABC’s Of Beth a bad episode. The lack of humor and the laziness of its execution merely make it lackluster and flat. Somehow, that seems even more offensive than the prospect of a bad episode of Rick and Morty. At least that might have shown some passion. Hopefully the series will find a way to pull out of this tailspin with the Season Three finale next week.

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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