Warning: This Rick and Morty season 6 episode 3 review is packed with spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading now – you don’t want to make Mr Poopybutthole sad, do you?
Rick and Morty rolls out its second Thanksgiving episode and, as you’d expect, the unconventional subject matter means it’s unlikely to appear alongside A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or Planes, Trains and Automobiles on many holiday playlists. This predominantly earthbound story also represents a significant change of pace after the canon-heavy ‘Solaricks’ and the wall-to-wall Die Harding of ‘Rick: A Mort Well Lived’ –trouble is, it’s not quite as sharp as either.
‘Bethic Twinstinct’ starts with Rick transformed into a giant turkey (not for first time), but such everyday occurrences were never going to faze the most famous interdimensional family on TV. Rick and Morty quickly finds another way to cement its status as the weirdest soap opera in history, however, when Beth and Space Beth fall in love. It’s a development that could be every bit as disruptive to the Smith/Sanchez household as giant space infants and elderly relatives turning themselves into vegetables.
The romance begins the old-fashioned way, with shared jokes, back massages, and a mutual understanding that Kieran is the best member of the Culkin acting dynasty. Before you know it, the two Beths are heading off into space to buy ice cream, but when they return with no frozen desserts to show for their adventures, it’s clear this is more than just a conventional friendship between two people with identical DNA.
It soon becomes obvious that they “suck at doing it secretly”, leaving Summer and Morty to block out the visceral horror of My Two Moms by immersing themselves in hyperreal videogames. While their efforts at distraction never reach the heights of the best Rick and Morty B-plots, the writers have plenty of fun with the gaming spoofs. Highlights include a Street Fighter rip-off where you spend most of the game wandering around looking for someone to battle, and an extremely tedious Asteroids imitation based around the idea that most of the universe is empty space.
The bulk of the episode, however, is dominated by a relationship that’s calling out for a catchy Bennifer- or Brangelina-style nickname. While this isn’t the first instance of a character falling in love with themselves on screen, BethBeth’s shared life experience means they’re much better at making each other happy than Loki and Sylvie in Loki. Indeed, the writers, animators, and voice actor Sarah Chalke deserve a shout-out for making the chemistry between a pair of cartoon characters so convincing, whether they’re seducing each other over Venusian wine, or growing old together on a holodeck. This is a tender, believable romance – albeit one that comes with some very awkward consequences.
Their relationship has the biggest impact on Jerry, who – in a break with Rick and Morty tradition – is granted a surprising amount of agency. Most remarkably, his new-found assertiveness comes after he’s told the family he’d kill himself if Beth ever left him, and subsequently initiated his previously unseen “pill bug protocol”. Rick says this weird state of metabolic hibernation is what his son-in-law “wanted most in the world,” before pointing out that, “In his own sad way he’s taken control.”
BethBeth’s resulting guilt is enough to drive them to purge all memories of the relationship, until a “deus ex husbanda” plot twist prompts Jerry to wake up and call an instant halt to the procedure. What happens next is particularly bad news for Summer and Morty, however, as their parents’ bedroom heart-to-heart-to-heart rapidly turns into a threesome with some very weird power dynamics at play. We don’t see anything, but the sounds – which, hilariously, play out a little longer than they need to – tell you everything you need (or probably didn’t need) to know.
As it has so many times before, Rick and Morty revels in the opportunity to explore the ickier corners of sci-fi, the sort of places that are best summarised by the blank, haunted looks on Summer and Morty’s faces. "Jesus Christ, you need to fix the portal gun, Rick!" he yells at his grandfather in desperation – and you can totally understand where he’s coming from.
A little Mort information…
- The ‘Bethic Twinstinct’ title is a very forced pun on Basic Instinct.
- Rick has past form when it comes to transforming into a turkey. In previous Thanksgiving episode ‘Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular’ (season five), we learn that he regularly turns himself into poultry to earn the customary pardon from the US President.
- There are two Beths because Rick created a clone of his daughter in season three episode ‘The ABCs of Beth’. One stayed at home with the Smith family, while the other (Space Beth) left to explore the universe. Nobody knows which one is the original and which is the clone.
- The Venusian language sounds suspiciously like French.
- Space Beth’s ship is clearly bigger on the inside, seeing as she says it has a Doctor Who-style “TARDIS thing going on”.
- The Gloppydrop System, home of the best ice cream in the multiverse, was previously mentioned in season two finale ‘The Wedding Squanchers’.
- It’s unclear whether Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets knows Rick has his very own holodeck in the house.
- When Rick points out that the two Beths have done a “full San Junipero” by simulating old age in the holodeck, he’s referencing the classic Black Mirror episode of the same name.
- Summer notes that, “If he [Jerry] kills himself we’re going to have to get ourselves a new dad.” It wouldn’t be the first time, seeing as season six premiere ‘Solaricks’ confirmed that the current Jerry comes from another dimension.
- How did Space Beth get her hands on all the Predator weapons?
- Rick uses “Eternal Sunshine” as shorthand to describe the Beth’s plan to scrub memories of their affair from their minds. He is, of course, referencing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet get artificial help forgetting their relationship.
- Rick also refers to “Multiplicity porn scenes”, in a nod to the 1996 Harold Ramis-directed movie that featured numerous Michael Keatons.
- The grandkid Space Beth refers to is Naruto, Summer and Morty’s “giant incest baby” from season five episode ‘Rickdependence Spray’.
- Look closely and there’s a little Morty floating, tequila worm-style, in one of the bottles in the Smiths’ liqueur cabinet.
- In the post-credits sequence, Jerry hooks up with another Jerry at the Jerryboree, the daycare facility for Jerries that first appeared in season two’s ‘Mortynight Run’. With the portal gun out of action, however, we’re not sure how Jerry got there. And surely all of the Jerries should have been pulled back into their original universes by the events of ‘Solaricks’?
New episodes of Rick and Morty debut on Sunday nights/Monday mornings, respectively, on Adult Swim in the US and E4 in the UK. Here's the full Rick and Morty season 6 release schedule for more information.