After the hot mess that was last week’s episode of Rick and Morty, this instalment of everybody’s favourite interdimensional toon dials down the jizz jokes, hikes up the weirdness and gets right back on track.
It begins with the revelation that Rick and Jerry are having a “guy’s night” – this, unbeknown to Beth, has been happening for some time. With Beth heading out, she leaves the kids home alone, warning that she expects no trouble while she’s gone. Morty plans to invite over Bruce Chutback, a new arrival at his school. Summer – ever the social climber – agrees to help him impress the much cooler, enigmatic student.
It’s revealed that Rick – in debt to demons after flogging them faulty skinhooks – is taking Jerry to karaoke. The cringe – and thus perverse pleasure – that said demons feel being around Jerry and his awkwardness are ample repayment. “His lameness is our candy,” they say. Intrigued by her father and husband’s surprise relationship, Beth tracks her father and her husband down to the bar. The demons invite Beth to partake in ‘Essence of Hell’ wine with them. Drunk, she joins in with making fun at Jerry’s expense.
Back at the Smith residence, Bruce arrives. Morty and Summer show him interdimensional cable, but its Rick’s car parked out front that he’s really interested in. Keen to impress, the siblings decide to take Bruce out in the spaceship. The ship’s AI shows resistance and refuses to let them take control. The kids tell it that Rick is in danger. The car concedes and the three kids take to the skies, then onto a variety of planets where they begin to cause trouble. A notable highlight of their joyride is the reveal of a planet that’s home to sentient mailbox aliens, called “Mailboxians” (more of them please).
The car reveals to the kids that it has a recording of the night thus far and plans to screen the evening’s adventure for Rick. This, it says, is leverage, so it can use the remaining time that Rick is out with Jerry to do anything it wants and blame it on Morty, Summer and Bruce. Chaos duly reaped, the car and the kids stop for food on the way back to earth. It’s subsequently dinged by a “Changeformer”. Sparks fly between Rick’s car and the trademark skirting robot-car-hybrid, and the former says it won’t sell the kids out to their granddad if they help it lose its virginity.
In the bar, or rather in the toilet of it, Jerry overhears two of the demons talking disparagingly about him. Wise to Rick’s cringe-as-repayment plan, Jerry is belligerent. The demons subsequently tire of Jerry and massacre everyone. They drag Jerry to hell. Beth and Rick follow disguised as demons. After freeing Jerry, the three kidnap a demon and modify it to be a wheeled cannon that can shoot shrapnel that converts pleasure from pain back into pain. They use the turret to defeat the demons and portal home. Rick aggressively tells Jerry that guys nights are over. He’s fine with this, to Rick’s annoyance.
The date between Rick’s car and the Changeformer is going terribly. The fake head the car has strapped to its roof falls off when the Changeformer leans in for a snog. Humiliated, Rick’s car incinerates the Changeformer and his entourage. It flees with the police in pursuit. Worried that they will be killed if it’s shot down, Morty ejects himself, Beth and a terrified Bruce and the trio is arrested.
The kids are given a public defender – she’s called Alyson Hannigan (“no relation” to the How I Met Your Mother and Buffy star) but is actually the car’s AI forcibly implanted in her brain. The car tries to get Summer and Morty to blame what has happened upon Bruce. They refuse, so the car blows up the body it is inhabiting and escapes with the three kids, incinerating the police station that was holding them. They arrive at home, just in time for Rick and Beth (still dressed as demons) and Jerry (his clothes still shredded from hell) to think they’ve been at home all night.
Bruce tells Summer and Morty that while he had fun, he wants to gauge his peers’ opinions of them before he commits to a friendship. Summer and Morty conclude that Bruce is lame. In a glorious post-credits scene – one of the show’s very best – the Mailboxians arrive to beat up Bruce.
It’s a strong episode all round – not the cleverest Rick and Morty has been, nowhere near as inane as ‘A Rickconvenient Mort’, but a decent summary of the show at its best. The aforementioned Mailboxians may well make you splutter up a lung, but Bruce Chutback’s AM-radio-esque-theme song is the highlight of the episode. All together now: “Bruce Chutback! Newest kid in school! Just transferred in! Hasn’t done anything embarrassing yet!”
Inspired casting this. Bruce is played by Darren Criss (Glee, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story). If you know how much Dan Harmon disliked Glee, this is all the more delicious. In 2011, Harmon’s Community – which many viewed as a rival to Glee – debuted season three’s ‘Regional Holiday Music’. Random outbursts of song pepper the episode. Coincidence? Of course not.
Pop culture parodies
The title is obviously a nod to 1973 coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, but it’s largely horror that’s referenced throughout. Rick’s demonic friends are blatant riffs on the Cenobites from Clive Barker’s classic Hellraiser series, while the swordfish Rick lugs around hell is surely a nod to the wall-mounted fish found in Roger Cobb’s aunt’s house in ace 1985 horror comedy House. Elsewhere, the Changeformers are Transformers – and Autobots at that – in all but name. And did we spot a Galacticus clone being dragged around space by Rick’s rogue car? (We did).
Nice to see you again!
Hello to Brad, Tricia and Grace!
Did you know?
At the beginning of the episode, Rick says that it’s a Friday night. At the end, Beth tells her kids that it’s a school night. And Harmon says he doesn’t do time travel…