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Rick and Morty Review: "Auto Erotic Assimilation" (2.03)

Comedy Reviews Rick And Morty
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<i>Rick and Morty</i> Review: "Auto Erotic Assimilation" (2.03)

I always wondered how Beth “happened.” It seems unlikely that Rick had ever been a normal guy—someone who’s so deep into being an absolute monster probably had scrubbed himself of his morals long ago. While we don’t get the answers to that in “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” the show does start to address some lingering questions I’d had. Why does Beth so unequivocally love her horrible dad? Who in the world would Rick date, let alone have a child with?

To answer the latter, we were introduce to Unity, a hivemind that had, at that point, taken over an entire planet. Unity, voiced largely by Christina Hendricks, is extremely willing to start dating Rick again, much to Summer and Morty’s chagrin. Summer, for her part, is mostly unnerved by the idea of even being around a collective consciousness that takes over the minds and bodies of other living organisms. Reasonable for a normal human concept of reality, of course. Turns out that this species is more than willing to dive into a race war the second they regain control. Let’s take a moment to bask in the speed and deftness in how Rick and Morty charges through philosophical arguments for and against absolute free will.

Morty just seems a little grossed out that his grandpa is dating anyone at all, but it turns out Unity is pretty nice to the two of them. By the end of the episode, Morty might like Unity a little more than Rick, or at least pities her. Rick is toxic in relationships—unsurprising—and sends Unity into a days long bender. She gets completely wrapped up in Rick’s wants and needs, his whims, even making an entire television show just for him (“Now cancel it! Now bring it back!”). Morty can sense that something is wrong, but Summer, having a slightly more adult perspective, is the one that makes the call to leave Rick with Unity until she comes to her senses and leaves him. And, eventually, Unity does.

Back on Earth, Beth and Jerry have discovered one of Rick’s potentially dangerous secrets that lurk in their house. It’s an alien, one that tells us came to the planet to eat babies and is infected with space AIDS, that Rick was trying to cure for an enormous profit. More importantly, though, it tells Beth and Jerry that the problems with their marriage can’t be blamed on anyone but themselves.

And it’s true—they had spent the entire episode arguing in front of this alien about who was fucking up the marriage more. It turns out it’s just fucked up. And there are individual behaviors that they can change to help, but they have to admit that it’s just kind of broken from the start. While this plotline started off kind of plodding for me and took too long to reveal it’s thematic relationship to the rest of the episode, I appreciated that it prepared me for what was coming next.

At the end of the episode, as Rick, clearly hurt by Unity leaving him, returns home, Beth finally answers something I wanted to know. She’s telling him not to chain up aliens beneath their garage, but she’s telling us, the audience, that she never stands up to him because she’s afraid of her father abandoning her for what might not be the first time.

What follows gives me shades of Moral Orel, created by Harmon collaborator Dino Stamatopoulos. Moral Orel started out hilarious and got dark to the point that I’m not sure I can recommend it to anyone or even watch it again. While “Auto Erotic Assimilation” isn’t quite Moral Orel’s “Numb,” which treated us to a first person perspective sequence of an alcoholic in a failed marriage set to the Mountain Goats’ “No Children,” it’s quite close. Rick gets drunk and is only saved from killing himself by passing out. Wubba lubba dub-dub. See you in the next one.

Gita Jackson has dedicated her entire adult life to wading through the marginalia of popular culture and finding gold.

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