Rick and Morty is becoming more intricate and developed with every episode this season, as well as creating a new slew of iconic phrases and memes. It’s also becoming heavier with (too?) relatable content each week, in its own unique way. This week’s episode, “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” is no exception—in fact, it may be the heaviest episode in the series so far.
The episode opens with Rick bursting into Jerry’s abhorrent roach motel, dragging Jerry out to his ship with “no time to put on pants” (or underwear. Gross, Jerry.). Although Rick initially tells Jerry that they’re going on a galaxy saving adventure, he soon admits that this is more of a pity adventure to ease Morty’s concerns about Jerry’s mental wellbeing. Naturally, Jerry becomes indignant and wants to go home. But Rick is determined to make Morty happy, so he continues on their journey. Careful, Rick. Your okayest-grandfather tendencies are showing.
What pity adventure could be better than an alien resort covered with an immortality field? At first glance, nothing. Rick brought Jerry to the resort because Morty was concerned about his father becoming suicidal, and there is no possible way that Jerry could (permanently) take his own life under an immortality field. So, he gets drinks for himself and Jerry, and they begin to concoct a heroic adventure story to tell Morty when they return home. But even in an immortal paradise, things can go wrong.
Jerry is sucked into a hand dryer in the bathroom and spat out into a janitorial room elsewhere in the building. After his body regenerates, he is confronted by a group of furry aliens who ask him to help them murder Rick by taking him on a popular ride at the resort called the Whirly Dirly. There is a point on the ride that crosses the edge of the immortality field, and it is there that they will be able to strike a fatal blow to Rick. The group’s leader, Risotto, says he wants Rick dead because he is responsible for turning his kingdom into the resort. Jerry relates to the story because he feels that Rick upturned his marriage, but he is still hesitant. He tells Risotto, that he cannot help them.
When he returns to the bar, Jerry talks to Rick about his marriage with Beth and weakly attempts to convince Rick that it was never that bad. He states that things between him and Beth were fine until a few years prior, around the time Rick moved in. Of course, Rick deflects the accusation and forcefully suggests that Jerry and Beth’s marriage was tainted from the beginning. That sparks the flame of revenge in Jerry’s heart, and he decides to take Rick for a ride on the Whirly Dirly. But just as they get on the ride, Rick apologizes for ruining Jerry’s marriage, making Jerry frantically try to find a way off the ride while they are being shot at by the assassins. Rick manages to fight off the aliens, but he and Jerry go flying into a nearby forest due to the action.
After they land, Rick confronts Jerry about what happened on the ride. Jerry confesses that he knew what would happen on the ride as he is being slowly devoured by a giant worm-like creature. Before he is entirely swallowed, he goes off on Rick for taking his family and ruining his life. 10 points to Jerry for finally not being a Jerry!
Rick blows up and angrily tells Jerry that before she’d gotten pregnant, Beth had “had options”. But most importantly, she was his daughter. Not Jerry’s wife, not Summer and Morty’s mother, just Rick’s daughter. He continues to berate Jerry by pointing out that Jerry is manipulative and only survives by making people feel sorry for him. Jerry is completely swallowed by the worm as he begins to tear up, but Rick soon cuts him out of the monster’s belly so he can use him as bait to lure another alien creature over as part of an escape plan.
The two make it to a space station where they can begin their journey home. While passing through security, Rick’s abundance of alien implants and enhancements trigger the metal detector, and he is deemed a danger to the ship. He is unwillingly injected with a “synaptic dampener” that pretty much gives him the personality of a 6-year-old child and makes him too docile to cause any harm. Jerry, of course, takes advantage of this during the trip by taunting and bullying Rick knowing that there will be no consequences for his actions.
However, Jerry readily defends him when Risotto shows up again ready to kill Rick. During the scuffle, the ship enters a wormhole and Jerry is plunged into a psychedelic hallucination that is, frankly, pretty disturbing. (Roiland admitted to getting plastered to record a drunk Rick scene. I’m not sure I want to know what was going on while writing this one). The hallucination melds all three of their minds together for a minute, creating peace among them for a few seconds when they come to. Rick quickly kills Risotto because his synaptic dampener has worn off, and he and Jerry take off in an escape pod. After they arrive home, Jerry decides that he should just go back to his motel because he does not want to look like a loser in front of his family any more. But he still must see Rick run into the house and incite smiles on his family’s faces. My heart kind of broke, y’all.
Back on Earth, a different, but no less adventurous situation has been taking place. Summer runs into the living room asking her mother if she’s attractive, and after Beth gives her a standard mom answer, she bursts into tears and runs to Rick’s garage. Her boyfriend, Ethan, dumped her for another girl with bigger boobs, so she digs out a machine called the Morphizer-XE that will enlarge her breasts. The machine is tricky though, and she has difficulty evening them out. Eventually her entire body becomes enlarged, growing to the point where the garage is decimated from the strain. Morty wants to call Rick for help, but Beth insists that she can fix the problem because she is highly qualified with her medical degree. And also, she “needs this”. Adequacy issues much, Beth?
Unsurprisingly, Beth ends up making the situation worse by accidentally turning her daughter’s skin inside out. Rejecting Morty’s plea to call Rick once more, Beth call the customer service number on the machine and ends up releasing the miniature aliens who had been held captive as customer service specialists inside the machine. Morty goes off on her, pointing out her flaws and telling her she is “arrogant” and “irresponsible” just like Rick. It’s fascinating to see the mother-son dynamic flip so readily, and this scene really shows how much Morty has matured in the past few years. It’s also kind of frightening how short-tempered he’s becoming.
After Morty tells off their nosy neighbor (“MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS, GENE!”), Morty and Beth realize that Summer has taken off. They rush to the campsite that Summer was supposed to be her (ex) boyfriend at before the breakup, and Beth has to idea to turn herself into a giant with inside out skin as well so she can relate to her daughter in such a traumatic moment and ease her body image anxieties. Morty takes advantage of the situation and threatens Ethan. Again, this behavior is a little unnerving to see in Morty and demonstrates his character development.
Each episode of season 3 has gotten progressively heavier. I don’t think it was always supposed to end up like this, but the years between seasons seem to have inspired some darker and relatable plot lines for the show. The theme of psychological trauma was underlaid in the previous seasons, but now it is front and center and is working well to even out the ridiculousness of each episode. The idea of an immortality resort on an alien planet is ludicrous, but the fight between Jerry and Rick is relatable. Summer turning into a giant inside out monster is ridiculous, but her issues, as well as the actions of Morty and Beth, are realistic. This season, we’re seeing development from everyone: Rick is demonstrating his humanity, Jerry is confronting his faults and self-consciousness, Beth is struggling with her need for her father’s approval, Summer is riding the line of badass adulthood and teenage years, and Morty is quite obviously picking up some Rick-like personality traits. Now that each character has been given an opportunity to show their growth, it will be interesting to see how they interact with each other to further interpersonal development through the rest of the season!