‘Mortyplicity’ is something of a mind-melter, and there are moments where you suspect that the episode’s principal personnel – writer Albro Lundy and director Lucas Gray – are duking it out to entertain themselves before they do their audience. They fail on the latter front. But the weirder the episode gets, the more essential to the Rick and Morty canon it becomes.
The episode starts around the Smith family table – talk of killing God ensues, a bit of mild Jerry-bashing follows – before squid-like creatures break into the house and shoot each family member, horrifically. Somewhere else, but in an identical location, the newly introduced Mr. Always Wants To Be Hunted – who looks awfully like he’s the same species as Mr. Poopybutthole – is asking to be hunted. Rick’s watch alerts him to a ‘decoy’ family being eliminated. The family flees by car.
Rick explains that the squid want him dead, and since the Space Beth incident in ‘Star Mort Rickturn Of the Jerri’ (season four, episode 10), he’s created various decoy families across space and time to protect him and the Smiths. Dominoes fall repeatedly therein, and decoy upon decoy upon decoy are eliminated by the squid. Then Morty discovers that the decoys are making their own decoys. Still with us? Good. Buckle up.
It then transpires that the squid are actually decoys, only suited in squid costumes. Paranoia over who is real and who is a decoy follows. What we presume to be the real Smith family are tranquillised by a grotesque decoy Rick. They’re taken to his crude lair. This Rick is a failed model of a decoy, who harvests the skin of regular decoys to look more like them, subsequently harvesting skin for his own decoy Smith family. Let’s, for the sake of clarity, call these decoys Scarecrows.
Then what we’re going to call ‘Glockenspiel Smith decoys’ turn up and save the real Smiths. They and a large number of decoys of varying forms, unite in an underground base. Squid decoys turn up, killing the majority of other decoys. A Glockenspiel Jerry cowardly hides himself away, holding a tub of varnish to protect himself with. Rick decides to end the cycle by creating a beacon to attract all forms of decoys towards his version of the Smith Residence. He kills them all, Battle Royale-style.
There’s time for some ‘Muppet decoys’ – actually Beth and Rick suited up in costumes so ‘cute’ they would avoid being massacred – before, shorn of said suits, they head into space to investigate the state of play. Another set of decoys shoot them down. They fight – again, horrifically – before the surviving Smiths are executed by Mr. Always Wants To Be Hunted, incensed that he wasn’t being hunted.
In space, what we presume to be the real Smith family, is returning from an adventure with Space Beth. Rick’s alarm goes off. He tells his family the decoys have been killed. And every single person watching the episode feels a little bit of liquified brain dribble from their nostril.
If you can keep up, all of it – though multiple viewings are recommended! Quite what the significance of Mr. Always Wants To Be Hunted is… well, who the fuck knows, but it’ll be fun finding out. It’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge the post-credits scene, perhaps the show’s best ever – certainly its most bleakly creative – in which Glockenspiel Jerry, now varnished and across millennia, encounters baby beavers, dead dolphins and reptilian cowboys before being hung above a yellow humanoid Jesus, nailed to the cross.
He is, of course, a sporadically recurring regular, but it’ll never cease to be cool to hear the strangled larynx of Tom ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ Kenny.
Pop culture parodies
You probably twigged that the title is a reference to the 1996 Harold Ramis-directed Multiplicity – a sci-fi comedy about a man who can create multiple versions of himself, and the problems that creates. And yet, there’s spoken references throughout the episode to Westworld, Ex Machina, Highlander – including an always welcome airing of the gloopy synth intro to Queen’s ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ from said film’s soundtrack. We popped hardest for the appearance of the energy sword from Halo.
Nice to see you again!
It’s fitting that an episode about decoys – clones, in all but name – would see an appearance from Space Beth. Hello, also, to The President.
Did you know?
The word decoy is used a quite remarkable 77 times!