22nd Sep2015

‘Rick And Morty 2×08: Interdimensional Cable 2 – Tempting Fate’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“The car always wins.”

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‘Rixty Minutes’ was one of season 1′s strongest episodes, a twenty-minute reel of Justin Roiland shouting at himself and improvising with every halt and hesitation left in for the hell of it as the cast of Rick and Morty binged on bizarre interdimensional cable. ‘Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate’ pitches itself as a conceptual sequel to that original lightning-in-a-bottle installment, and it goes in with its eyes wide open about the potential for failure. “I don’t understand,” a hapless hospital staffer says to Rick when he tells her he’s “doing a sequel” as he plugs in the interdimensional cable box. “Yeah, me either,” he belches laconically. “We pretty much nailed it the first time.” It may not have an ice-water-to-the-tits moment like Morty’s “Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV,” but what it does have is a truly gonzo defense of television as skull-cracking, laugh-screaming, ice-cream-shitting entertainment.

The episode abandons its predecessor’s domestic setting, swapping the Smiths’ living room for the waiting room of an intergalactic hospital where Jerry writhes in the grip of an illness contracted from alien super-bacteria Rick left lying around in an empty tub of Cherry Garcia. The disconnect from family life gives ‘Interdimensional Cable’ a meandering, free-form feel reinforced by cutaways to a sub-plot in which Jerry dithers over whether or not to give his penis (as a heart transplant; it’s complicated) to a beloved galactic activist voiced by Werner Herzog. At first blush the two halves, one of which is simply Rick and the kids watching television, don’t have much to do with each other, but what emerges is a crabby, amoral treatise on making art (and decisions) for your own selfish self. It’s good stuff, a thumbing of the nose to the idea that art must serve a predetermined purpose. A message against the necessity of messages.

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Summarizing the smorgasbord of wonders and horrors Rick, Morty, and Summer watch together is a mug’s game. Even the weaker material is well worth watching, and the entire slate of shows-within-a-show is breathlessly, thoughlessly, bloodily hilarious. Men fighting cars in gladiatorial arena, a half-octopus “superhero” who chuckles uneasily while stabbing strangers, an apparent member of Mr. Poopy Butthole’s species who chloroforms strangers and drags them to his lair along with their office supplies, and other bizarre interludes make up the bulk of the episode’s running time. It’s good, self-reflexively amusing in a pie-to-the-face kind of way, and that’s the only justification it indulges in giving itself.

Jerry’s pitiful whining about losing his penis to help the ailing Shrimply Pibbles really takes the character to the edge. Jerry is so torn between his essential cowardice and his wish to be seen as a good person that he ends up trying to drive his penis into Pibbles’ heart during a surgical procedure, at which point he is gunned down in a hail of plasma. His immediate resurrection, owed to getting shredded by gunfire being roughly equivalent to “getting a splinter” in an alien hospital, is one of the episode’s weaker beats. That kind of chain-yanking doesn’t really suit a show like Rick and Morty that has made so much out of its willingness to murder entire universes at the drop of a hat. Still, ‘Interdimensional Cable’ is a worthy successor to ‘Rixty Minutes’ and a crude, achingly funny twenty minutes in which a spandex-wearing alien assaults strangers with tooth-gritting intensity over cereal that looks like puckered eye-anuses.

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