Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty: “Auto Erotic Assimilation” Review

Rick and Morty
Season 2, Episode 3 – “Auto Erotic Assimilation”
Air Date – August 10, 2015

Rick and Morty might be the darkest comedy on television right now. Where most comedies settle for depicting terrible people doing hilarious things (look no further than It’s Always Sunny or South Park), Rick and Morty isn’t afraid to occasionally let the darkness stand on its own. These honest and sobering moments punctuate the series with a remarkable amount of emotional weight; the writers understand that it isn’t always necessary to soften the blow with humor. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” examines the often destructive relationships we have with others–plumbing the depths of Rick’s pain when he encounters an old flame and taking another hard look at the strained marriage of Beth and Jerry.

Christina Hendricks guest stars as Unity, a powerful hive-mind that has enslaved entire species and who also happens to be one of Rick’s old love interests. Their passion is quickly reignited and the two embark on a marathon of debauchery (involving, among other things, hang-gliding into a stadium full of redheads and people who look like Rick’s father) while Summer and Morty are waited upon by other assimilated members of Unity’s hive mind. Rick and Unity share a genuine connection and understand each other–Unity admires Rick’s ability to see the “big picture”–but it soon becomes clear that their relationship is self-destructive and enabling.

Summer is unsettled by Unity’s enslavement of an entire planet,, but as Unity slides deeper into her toxic relationship with Rick, she begins losing control of some of the citizens. Summer and Morty are there to witness their liberation, but before Summer can enjoy her ideological victory, she quickly learns a lesson about trying to do some good in the world. The newly freed citizens quickly revert to their horrible selves (sex offenders and drug addicts, mostly) and reignite a race war. It’s the hard lesson that Morty has learned on several occasions throughout his adventures (as recently as last week’s “Mortynight Run”): doing what’s right doesn’t always mean doing what’s best, and in this crazy universe, you’re almost certainly unable to know the difference. It’s nice to see Morty take a turn as the wiser, more jaded member of the duo here, a small consolation for the horrible lessons he’s usually subjected to: “Ah, Summer, ha ha… First race war, huh?”

Beth and Jerry, meanwhile, find themselves bickering as they snoop through Rick’s garage and discover a secret underground lair housing an imprisoned alien. They can’t agree on what to do with it, but Beth and Jerry’s constant arguing are enough to drive the creature to break free on its own. It calls out Jerry and Beth for being terrible people in a terrible marriage who are only using Rick as an outlet for their frustration, their hatred for each other rivaled only by their own self-loathing. The subject of Beth and Jerry’s marriage has been touched upon before–a hasty arrangement following an unexpected pregnancy–but there isn’t a touching resolution to be found here. It may have taken a baby-eating, space AIDS riddled alien for them to confront their failure to each other and themselves, but Rick and Morty doesn’t presume to have the solution for their troubled marriage.

Ultimately, Unity finds the strength to face these difficult truths, even if Rick is unwilling. She breaks up with him, leaving him devastated and suicidal. Although he isn’t able to go through with it, “Auto Erotic Assimilation” lingers on his pain–the sort that isn’t channelled into drunken binges or angry outbursts, but merely overwhelms. It’s a hell of a way to end an episode (particularly a cartoon comedy), but these are the sort of poignant, often brutally honest moments that keep Rick and Morty so grounded.

  • Patton Oswalt also guest stars as Beta 7, a neighboring hive mind in a practical alliance with Unity (and who also hopes that the alliance can be more than practical).
  • “The first rule of space travel, kids, is always check out distress beacons. Nine out of ten times, it’s a ship full of dead aliens and free shit! One out of ten times it’s a deadly trap, but I’m ready to roll those dice!”
  • “Stop affecting that stupid hip hop dialect!” “Stop shifting the crosshairs to my ironic urban patois!”
  • Rick and Morty was renewed for a third season earlier this week.

About Will Fan

Will Fan
Movies, television, games, food, coffee, vague lists, naps. Twitter: @will_fan

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