Rick and Morty decide its time for a vacation — and after all they’ve been through the past few seasons, it’s clearly deserved. ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ kicks off with Rick whisking Morty away on a ‘quick’ adventure that ends up lasting six days. Realizing it wasn’t so quick after all, the two visit an alien spa to get a little time to rejuvenate themselves.
The alien tech at this spa has a machine that removes all toxic waste from the body, but neither Rick nor Morty saw it coming when the machine ends up ripping their personalities in two. ‘Toxic’ Rick and Morty are sucked into the machine, and the abrasive and lying Rick and anxiety-ridden, doubting Morty are trapped. Outside the machine, the other half of Rick and Morty go about their day, with newfound niceness and self-esteem respectively.
This is really a genius idea, and it’s safe to say that Rick and Morty‘s third season has been consistent in delivering plots that remain fresh and exciting. This episode doesn’t deal with Beth and Jerry’s impending divorce, but unlike the ‘Vindicators’ episode, this one-shot goes back to the series’ roots, and its one hell of an exciting ride.
While Toxic Rick and Morty begin to plan their way out to freedom, their newly positive counterparts (mainly Morty) experience the benefits of no longer having self doubt or any negativity in their lives. Morty’s newfound confidence lands him a date with Jessica, but things don’t go so well. Positive-Rick is able to trace strange signals he’s been getting back to the spa and wants the two to merge back with their toxicities.
Morty resents this idea but is a bit more willing once his date with Jessica turns out to be a disaster. Confident Morty has a tendency to talk and talk, and his openness is alarming for a first date. Morty takes it all in stride and meets another girl, Stacy (voiced by Tara Strong), whom he convinces to go home with him. Confident Morty is a player. Who’da thunk?
Morty and Stacy pick a ‘safe word’ (just how kinky is Morty underneath it all?!) Morty and Stacy come to find that Rick has stolen the alien spa’s machine and is about to converge the toxic parts back. Morty is hesitant to agree — rightfully worrying that Toxic-Rick is behind all this. He’s eventually forced into the machine by Rick, but he shouts his safe word, and Stacy pulls him out. She gets sucked into the machine, and Toxic Rick and Morty are brought out, now in the same universe as their good natured opposites.
It wasn’t surprising that the toxic Rick and Morty tried to trick their healthy versions back into the machine, but the show still manages to keep the viewer on their toes thanks to the episode’s healthy pace. Stacy’s appearance doesn’t feel like she was created solely to get trapped into the machine; her appearance as Morty’s second date ties the two scenes together. This is animation and storytelling done right. (Can someone tell this to American Dad‘s writers, who have dropped the ball with recent episodes?)
The yin and yang versions of Rick begin to fight. The brawl encompasses the family house, with both Ricks knowing where all the gadgets and monstrosities are hiding. Morty eventually joins in, and both characters have their personalities put to the test with their good and bad qualities competing to win out on freedom from inside the tank.
Of course, Rick and Morty must stay true to its originally developed characters, which means the more evil, toxic versions must eventually lose. The show, however, still knows how to have fun in the process. Toxic Rick manages to turn the entire world toxic, too, giving Rick and Morty quite a mess to clean up.
Right off the bat, the show cuts to a church. Now toxic, the preacher admits: “God is a lie! We made him up for money!” A costumed mouse rips off his head to proclaim to a kid’s birthday party that Santa isn’t real. He even goes so far as to tell the kids they were all mistakes. Ouch!
The ‘healthy’ Rick ends up bargaining with his Toxic self by shooting Toxic Morty. The only way to find a cure is in healthy Rick’s brain, and Toxic Rick eventually shows his more human side, caring about Morty’s well-being and agreeing to merge. Back to his former self, Rick switches the toxicity beam that corrupted the planet, causing the world to immediately revert. As the preacher monotonously says, “God is not a lie.”
Morty runs away before Rick can merge him back with his toxic self, and the episode cuts to a scene where he has become a trader on Wall Street. After work, he gets a call from Jessica, and he realizes it’s a trap from Rick designed to track his location. Morty ends up getting distracted by his new girlfriend and doesn’t hang up the phone in time. The episode ends with Morty forcibly having his negative qualities re-inserted. You can’t win ’em all, player.
While Morty may not have lucked out with this episode, fans of Rick and Morty sure did. This episode was well thought out and entertaining, proving that the show can still provide quality entertainment even without a larger narrative. This season’s strength has been its overarching plot centered around Beth and Jerry’s divorce and how it has taken its toll on the family. This episode is a brief break from the more serious issues, and the result is a delightfully zany throwback to Rick and Morty seasons past.