Beth and Jerry are finally getting a divorce, but how will Morty and Summer deal with the split? This was one of the darkest Rick and Morty episodes to date, just as the Season 3 trailer predicted. Rickmancing the Stone explores the Smith Family’s emotional handling of divorce and life lessons learned in a post-apocalyptic earth drawing inspiration from Mad Max. I think 3 major themes run the course of this episode: repression/avoidance, nihilism, and strength.
The effects of divorce ripple through a child’s psychological development. My parents divorced when I was 3. Although I feel unfazed by the situation because I was so young when it happened, I’m sure it had psychological effects on me at the time. There are probably subconscious inner workings still processing beneath the surface that I fail to detect. In this episode, we get to watch these psychological effects begin to take hold in Morty and Summer in the worst way possible: violence.
When your parents separate, for better or for worse, it is a major identity shifting moment. The world as you know it becomes a big falsification. When a person’s identity is shattered, he or she tends to withdraw, not knowing how to act next. In this case, Morty and Summer avoid handling the situation at home, or at the very least fail to talk about it, and take out their frustrations on the people of post-apocalyptic Earth.
Summer kills the leader of the Death Stalkers and forms an alliance with them where she routinely ventures the planet to go scavenging and killing. This is a stark comparison to the mindless teen we were introduced to in Season 1. Even Morty recognizes Summer’s increasingly violent shift in character as a result of processing the divorce. “Violence is therapeutic for her,” says Rick.
As Morty is thrust into the Blood Dome with the help of a new companion, Armothy, a revitalized arm looking for vengeance, he too begins to find joy in the fighting. While brutally murdering his opponents in the ring, Morty envisions his enemies as versions of his weak father, “Tell her you want to stay married or get on with your life. Whatever you do, stop being a baby and act like a man!” As he slays another victim Morty yells, “who else wants some? Who wants to be my pussy of a Dad today?”
Even the nihilistic Rick understands the gravity of the situation. If Morty and Summer stay, they’re going to keep taking out their aggressions on innocent bystanders. “We need to get out of this environment so we can properly deal with your parents' divorce,” claims Rick.
Armothy’s unfinished business (to kill the man who killed his orginal owner) helps Morty come to his own realization of how to handle his parents’ divorce. Morty wants to go back to the blood dome and “take [his] baggage out on unrelated people” but soon realizes that “we could do that forever.” He concludes Armothy is right, “we both gotta see our stuff through, I gotta deal with my parents’ divorce and you gotta do what you gotta do.” Which means killing the biggest tool of the episode, Slaveowner.
Like any true procrastinators, Rick and the gang decide to push off their responsibilities one more time and stick around post-apocalyptic earth an additional 3 weeks before portal-ing home. It turns into a hilarious portrayal of a shitty sitcom family argument between Summer and her new love interest, Hemorrhage. Even post-apocalyptic life becomes ordinary and problematic. Rick drops some final wisdom to end the show and take his grandkids back to earth, "No union built on running from your problems lasts more than 5 years, 7 tops.”
These are some of the major takeaways from Rickmancin the Stones primary plotline: shoulder your responsibility even if the problems you face aren’t your fault. Don’t build a false world around avoidance. Taking out your frustrations on others is wrong. Life sucks sometimes, deal with it straight up and things will work out for the better.
As mentioned in my previous Rick and Morty analysis, nihilism is a motif found throughout the show. It predominately guides Rick’s actions or inaction, but we always find some inconsistency in his nihilistic worldview.
“To live is to risk it all, otherwise you’re just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you” -Rick while taking a shot at Jerry.
This joke works because we as the audience assume that it is inherently bad to be a chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting around to wherever the universe blows us. It’s a major diss on Jerry, because we believe in taking control of our destiny. In order to do so, we must act in a way that suits our individual worldview which essentially means that we must have some sort of purpose or meaningful force driving our actions. It’s an obvious contradiction to nihilism where nothing matters and one should be perfectly content and happy with being blown around by the universe.
Let’s switch gears to Summer who finds romance with her nihilistic lover Hemorrhage, the newly crowned leader of the Death Stalkers. When Hemorrhage first reveals his face and stupid mustache, Summer is clearly let down. Hemorrhage’s tonal change from hardcore killer to insecure teenager shows his embarrassment. As Summer rags on his mustache, he incredulously insists “nothing does matter, I know that, I’m not weak.” Hemorrhage’s insincerity reveals that one can’t have feelings (embarrassment) and be a true nihilist at the same time. Nothing matters, remember?
Summer and Hemorrhage’s relationship deteriorates when Hemorrhage turns into a couch potato. She shouts that he’s the not the same “nihilistic brute I married except now life only means nothing when I’m talking to him and everything means everything when it’s on fucking TV.” You can’t arbitrarily pick and choose what has meaning. That’s not how nihilism works. You can’t use nihilism as a guise to hide from the challenges in your life, or to avoid the reality of your situation.
Jerry’s shortcoming as man is a recurring joke of the show. No one likes a weak man. Think about it, women always choose the dickhead, the badass, or the hero, never the weakling that everyone steps on. A good man has the potential to do evil, and proves his morality by choosing not to. A weak man doesn’t have the choice, if he does good, it's because it is his only capacity to do so. Jerry is weak, but maybe this episode hints that his strength is growing.
Speculation time: Jerry is finally realizing his weak nature and his awakening consciousness is speaking to him. Jerry chooses to be weak twice in this episode: once in the driveway letting his children and Rick walk all over him, and once in the post credit scene when he lets the wolf steal his paycheck without putting up a fight. Both times, Jerry looks dismayed at his actions and the wind whooshes by whispering “looooser.”
Usually it’s fun to rip on Jerry because of his cluelessness, but this is the first time we see him painfully reflect on his shortcomings. My fan theory is that the wind is his consciousness speaking. He’s beginning to realize that he is a weak loser. Maybe he’ll turn that around and get back together with Beth at the end of the season….maybe.
Rickmancing the Stone hit the ground running and I’m excited for the rest of Season 3. Here are my biggest takeways:
- Don’t run from your problems, and do not take them out on others. Face them head on to avoid a delusional world that will come crashing down in the future.
- Don’t use nihilism to hide from your challenges, problems, and feelings.
- Act in a way that makes you feel strong not weak. When your own consciousness is calling you a loser, listen to it. Think of everything that happened today. When did you feel strong? When did you feel weak? Why?
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