Is there any experience worse than being a teenager? No. It is so unrelentingly awful and you don’t even know how bad it is. You’re just forced to be confused and experience intense and complicated interpersonal relationships for the first time, while being horny as fuck. I let a lot of shitty people treat me like shit in high school and at no point in time did I think, “Man, maybe I should just make new friends.” I never thought that, because I was a teenager and therefore a fucking idiot.
In “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez,” Summer finds out there’s a vampire at her school and asks Rick to make himself younger to go to her and Morty’s high school to help out. While the vampire is no problem (“Who would have thought it was Coach Feratu?”), Tiny Rick ends up being a fucking handful. He’s incredibly popular, for one, and really boosts Summer and Morty’s popularity. But because his young brain is too young to handle adult emotions, he can’t admit to himself that he wants to stop being a teenager.
Meanwhile, Rick’s dropped Beth and Jerry off at a therapy planet to get their marriage worked out. The process involves created a real version of their mental images of their partner, and then having them interact. It sounds like wonderful therapy—really, I’d love to try it—but the problem is that Jerry sees Beth as ruthless and power hungry, Beth sees Jerry as spineless and servile, and the two of them of are completely codependent.
One of the highlights of this episode for me was Summer, who has really become an interesting and integral character to the show. While Summer is also a teenager and gets wrapped up in dating the cute guy she has a crush on, she’s also the first to recognize that Rick’s not happy being a teenager and is pushing all his angst down. Morty is an interesting foil for Rick, but he wants Rick to love him too much. Summer isn’t quite as jaded as her parents, but she sees through bullshit. She’s learning from Rick too, but doesn’t have the added emotional trauma that makes her afraid of him. She’s more than happy to get Rick expelled if it will help him, finally, admit that he’s in pain.
Developing Summer has been a delight to watch especially because in the first season I often wondered why she was even there. She seemed to be either really absent, except for “Something Ricked This Way Comes,” or just around to deliver stereotypical teenage girl dialogue. The show gets more dynamic when she’s a real character. I hope they keep utilizing her as well as they do here in the future.
I always feel like I’m qualifying my reviews of these harrowing events with, “but it’s also really funny,” but trust me, this episode is fucking hilarious. I think this episode might have my favorite gag ever, when Summer makes Morty hold Rick down and force him to listen to Elliott Smith so that he can admit that he’s upset with the way that he is. I mean, it’s a niche joke, but I literally made an Elliott Smith memorial t-shirt after he died so I am in that niche. Beth and Jerry working out their issues manages to be funny while also being real about what’s wrong in their marriage. While their mental images of each other end up destroying the facility, they do finally get to see each other as something more than monsters.
My one hope is that the character development here is consistent through the future of the series. Rick and Morty is a really special show, one that’s realistic about human relationships. I hope they remember the things they’re building.
Gita Jackson has dedicated her entire adult life to wading through the marginalia of popular culture and finding gold.