Rick: "Look, I'm not used to being this unsure for this long. I'm just gonna aim for shoulders starting with the weird girl."

Summer: "Aah! Grandpa Rick!"

Total Rickall is the forth episode in the second season of Rick and Morty. It is notable because it has one of the few plots that could stand on it's own apart from the cast and humor.

Plot Synopsis

The episode kicks off with the Smith family sans Rick eating dinner when Jerry gets an email telling him that the he has airline tickets. He brings it up to Uncle Steve who admits he was hoping to surprise everyone with a vacation. Rick wanders in to dump some green glowing rocks in the kitchen trash to Jerry's chagrin. Rick asks who Uncle Steve is only to be told that he's lived with the Smiths for almost a year. Rick responds to this by shooting Steve in the head resulting in Steve deflating into an alien creature which bleeds purple. After some panic screaming Rick explains that Steve was a shape shifting alien parasite who inserts itself into memories and they need to be on the look out for any wacky, zany characters. A tiny yellow humanoid in a top hat tells Rick he's here to help and Rick thanks him, introducing him as Mister Poopy Butthole in the process. Cut to the title sequence but with Mister Poopy Butthole inserted into every scene.

When we come back everyone has reconvened in the living room. Rick counts the six people in the room and writes six on sheet of paper he tapes to the wall. After a moments indecision Rick puts the house on lock down which causes blast shields to drop down and cover every opening. Mister Poopy Butthole mentions it's claustrophobic like the time that they were all trapped in an elevator and everyone flashes back to the time Cousin Nicky helped them escape from an elevator after the Hulk musical. Back in the present everyone has a good laugh, Cousin Nicky mentions how things get tense whenever they are cooped up and how it might be better if they got some fresh air. Rick does a quick head count and shoots cousin Nicky in the arm. Nicky's corpse transforms into another parasite and the family is left to wonder how many of the memories involving him did or didn't happen. Everybody flashes back to the time they were/weren't held hostage by a Nazi only to be saved by the family butler, Mister Beauregard. In the present Mister Beauregard is serving orderves while Rick counts the number of people in the room with a look of alarm. The family flashes back a few more time introducing, Frankenstein, Photography Raptor, and Sleepy Gary. Rick orders everyone to stop flashing back and points to the note with the six on it as evidence that remembering things is making the situation worse. Mister Beauregard points out that there was a fair bit of confusion about the number and they flash back to the part of the episode where Rick wrote the note on the wall except with all of the recently added characters present. Rick counts ten characters and writes a six on the wall with an anthropomorphic pencil called Pencilvester. In the present Rick admits that that's what happened but can't understand his past behavior. An attempt to figure out who's real with phone photos fails immediately and several more characters appear in the interim. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed Rick tries to shoot Summer in the arm. Sleepy Gary interposes himself between Rick and Summer before Rick can try for another shot and begs him not to kill his family. He asks Rick to remember the Barbecue and despite his attempts to resist Rick remembers cooking for a whole house party's worth of zany characters. Rick comes back to a present with the entire living room packed with fake friends and family.

Things devolve pretty quickly from there and Morty ends up holding the ray gun to Rick's head an demanding he lower the blast shields. Morty looks ready to kill Rick but then says he doesn't want to do this in front of Pencilvester. Two wacky characters drag Rick into the garage and Morty tells Rick that this isn't easy, that he has a lot of good memories with Rick to which Rick responds that all his memories of Morty are annoying crap. Morty really thinks about his memories of Rick and realizes that a ton of it was really terrible which prompts him to shoot the two parasites that dragged Rick to the garage. Morty explains that he got Rick's "hint" and figured out the parasites only create good memories while he has tons of traumatic memories about Rick. The two of them arm up with the arsenal that Rick apparently keeps in the garage. Thus armed to the teeth, they return to the living room and begin slaughtering the people who they only have good memories of and arming the bad. Rick, Morty, Summer, and Beth kill dozens of parasites while Jerry who retreated up stairs with Sleepy Garry cowers. When Garry bites it Jerry begs to be next, claiming to be a parasite, and wanting to "be with Garry." Beth agrees that he's a parasite but not the extraterrestrial kind and leaves him. The slaughter ends, the blast shields drop, and Rick lectures everyone on how important it is to wash their hands when they get back from space. It looks like the episode is about to end on a darkly positive note when who should sit down at the table but Mister Poopy Butthole. Beth eyes him for about five seconds before standing and shooting him in the chest. Unlike the parasites he bleeds red and doesn't transform. The whole dining room explodes into shouts and crying and Jerry call 911.

The Episode ends with the Smith Family watching Mister Poopy Butthole undergoing physical therapy at a hospital. Rick tells Beth not to worry about it while picking through and pocketing some meds, claiming he made a similar mistake once on a planetary scale. The nurse comes over and makes it clear that while he's not pressing charges he doesn't really want to see any of them again.

Themes

Here we see the characters at their best and worst. Rick is a genius who spared Earth from becoming infested by psychic parasite but he's also a paranoid nut who almost killed Summer. Morty gets a pretty clear reality check about his relationship to Rick and still doesn't shoot him in the head. But the real stars are the secondary characters. Summer and Beth both slid into the roles of executioners with no effort. Rick's callous disregard for life is something that we've all come to expect but it seems that his daughter and grand daughter can put aside any love they feel for the people around them when the situation calls for it. Morty is just as efficient of a killer but he's seen enough death and killed enough people that this shouldn't really come as a surprise. Contrast all of them with Jerry's attitude that his feeling are essentially the only reality he wants. This is at least the second time Jerry has expressed a preference for fake comfort over real conflict.

With the planet at stake, we the viewers understand that killing all of these people that they have nothing but fond memories of is the correct thing to do. But Jerry in the thrall of these monster knows only that he loves sleepy Gary and that all of the people he cares about are being slaughtered. If you don't feel for this character you haven't actually grasped his situation or you have no soul. And yet ... between him and Rick who do we want to be? Rick of course. Jerry's humble openness to his own emotions leaves him vulnerable to manipulation while Rick's savvy and paranoia save the world. Yet that same paranoia taints so many moments for Rick and that same paranoia in Beth almost kills Mister Poopy Butthole. If there is an easy take away from all this I missed it.

Pencilvester: "Rick, I'm Pencilvester. Listen to that name. You can't kill me."

Rick: "You're right." (To Morty) "Kill Pencilvester."

IRON NODER X: XTREME XCELLENCE

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