05th Oct2015

‘Rick And Morty 2×10: The Wedding Squanchers’ Review

by Gretchen Felker-Martin

“How long will you be visiting Earth?”

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The obscene, the banal, and the beloved are the three misshapen legs on which Rick and Morty lurches through life. ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ starts with a wedding invitation and Rick accidentally mailing Jerry across the galaxy and ends with Rick in prison and Earth assimilated by the Federation. It’s a punch to the status quo’s dick that gives us new insight into Rick, Beth, and Morty while delivering bizarre twists, jokes about cyborg photographers just leaning in close to people and squinting, and a protracted reference to Antone de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince.

It comes as no surprise that Rick hates weddings. What does raise eyebrows is the knowledge that he fought in a war, for a principle, and that his return to his family on Earth was less touching reunion and more going to ground in a safehouse. This backstory emerges drink by drink alongside Beth’s deep abandonment issues at the wedding reception for Tammy and Bird Person, and for a while it looks like ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ will merely be an enormously charming and decompressed episode of television. Then Tammy outs herself as a deep cover federal agent with Terminator parents, shoots Bird Person dead, and most or all of Hell breaks loose. The portal gun even gets busted.

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Bird Person’s death and the shootout at the wedding reception, coupled with the sudden arrival of a bureaucratic evil long alluded to and seldom seen, are chaotic and horrible. Rick’s crack about weddings being “basically funerals with cake” rings ugly once there’s actual blood on the floor. Even while it lays the bricks for future villainy, though, the show flatly refuses to cave to the idea that fighting an evil government makes Rick a good person. Bird Person’s monotonous and fruitless attempts to inform Beth of his and Rick’s shared past as blood-drenched criminals of war is a biting commentary on what we want out of fiction versus what it’s offering us and the depths we’ll go to in order to square the two. Rick’s human pain has always been unrelentingly ugly, and even as ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ fleshes out his past, it offers no overriding reason or excuse for his corrosive worldview.

The wedding and reception are a roller coaster both visually and emotionally, but it’s after the family escapes Squanch World and goes on the run that things really start to sink in. They can’t go home. As in never. Earth is lost, and however much Rick crows about their cup runneth-ing over, they have three measly planets to choose from when it comes time to pick a place to crash. A tiny planet, a planet where everything is “on the cob” in the corn sense right down to the molecular level(Rick flees this one in horror and flatly refuses to live on it), and a third planet with 42-hour days and a screaming sun with a hideous human face. Life is absurd, often more so in extremity.

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The episode slows down again after the family settles on a planet about the size of a spacious yard. Watching Rick hike through biomes in the space of twenty seconds to “discover” the South Pole is a deft visual metaphor for the character’s way of moving through life. He can only exist in a thoughtless state and as a constant explorer, gorging himself on new sensations to avoid being engulfed in either his crushing ennui or his past traumas. In traversing an arctic ice cave he winds up right under the family’s feet as Jerry floats the idea of turning him in to secure a safe return to Earth, now swallowed up by the Confederation. It isn’t Jerry’s predictable cowardice that moves Rick, though, but Beth’s wounded willingness to suffer through a whole life of Rick’s impositions and selfishness if it means keeping him around. His absence from her childhood hurt her so badly that he has an effective license to keep doing so forever, as long as he doesn’t leave again.

Rick’s sacrifice is as much an act of self-destruction as it is an act of selflessness. He chooses martyrdom over ingenuity not because he couldn’t conceive of other lives or solutions but because he hates himself and believes his suffering will balance the equation opened by his misdeeds as a person and a parent. It’s hard to watch to say the least. The Smiths returning to Earth is impersonal and unsettling, a revelation that the shaky but long-standing bastion of semi-normalcy has crumbled at last and become just another alien hell like the one Jerry wandered in, lost, way back in ‘Mortynight Run.’ Or hell, its most overt references are to the customs station Rick and Morty shot their way through in the series’ pilot. The gelid, headless chickens have wafted home to roost.

We’ll be waiting a while for season 3, as Mr. Poopy Butthole was kind enough to inform us, so until then: stand in the corner and face the corner and talk to no one.

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