27th Jul2015

‘Rick And Morty 2×01: A Rickle in Time’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“If I die in a cage I lose a bet.”

Hearing Justin Roiland’s grotesquely burp-punctuated line delivery after a year of Rick And Morty‘s absence from the air feels like being rebaptized in slime at the world’s worst and most exciting revival church. ‘A Rickle in Time,’ no relation to the beloved series of children’s books by Madeline L’Engle, wastes no time getting back into the crude, conceptually dense chaos that makes this series such a treat. Having spent six months fucking around on an Earth unstuck from time, Rick, Morty, and Summer finally unfreeze the whole mess. It’s a clever sci-fi plot counting on the audience remembering exactly how season 1 ended, with Rick freezing time to prevent Beth and Jerry from seeing all the damage done to their home by his out of control party.

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As it turns out, being unstuck from time leaves you only tenuously connected to your own timeline once things get rolling again. The idea that uncertainty itself can fracture existence is great as both a sci-fi adventure premise and a character exploration, and it’s hardly a surprise when everything goes immediately to shit. Splitting timelines by dividing the screen goes from a neat gag to a kaleidoscopic view of pandemonium as Summer and Morty’s sibling rivalry escalates into the shared paranoia of multiple Ricks convinced that each of his alternate selves is intent on murdering the rest and an interdimensional shoot-out with a quantum laser pistol.

What could easily be an ungainly mess runs smoothly on fuel refined from Rick’s dickish certainty in his own greatness, Morty’s firmly established insecurity and irritation with his grandfather’s constant ribbing, and a refreshing continuation of Summer’s transition from stereotypical nobody to enjoyable character. Beth and Jerry, meanwhile, enjoy a “grounded adventure about their marriage, or something” in which Jerry hits a deer and then he, Beth, and the employees of a local Coldstone Creamery fight tooth and nail to save its life. Somehow, it works. Chris Parnell is dynamite with his fearful delivery of, “We have to tell them you were driving.  This is rum raisin.” and it’s nice to see the show give Beth a turn in the driver’s seat as the definitive wack job with her often hinted-at egomania steamrolling Jerry’s usual wishy-washiness. Sarah Chalke continues her long run of withering brilliance, dropping scorchers like, “As a vet, I’m sure you know that a deer is closer to a horse than you are to a real doctor,” without batting an eye.

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By the time the 4th-dimensional testicle monster appears to take Rick and his grandkids to space jail, sentences like this one seem perfectly normal. The ending, in which the trio beats the tar out of their captor by purposefully fracturing time into 64 separate divisions of the screen and cold-cocking him in every one of those dimensions before causality begins to collapse, is raw madness shot through with a tinge of heart. Rick, or at least one Rick, grudgingly sacrifices himself to save Morty when his grandson’s dimensional collar won’t close. That seconds after he accepts death he begins screaming prayers to God and scrabbling for his ticket home with all the composure of a shithouse rat, and that seconds after he escapes he screams “Fuck God!” and begins crowing in jubilation, doesn’t take away from the moment.

‘A Rickle in Time’ is a smart, irreverent premiere that ends with a bunch of testicle monsters beating up Einstein because they think he’s Rick. What a goddamn show.

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