Rick and Morty: “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” Season 3 Episode 5 Review

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Rick and Morty has always done an admirable job pairing its characters and creating rich dynamics between them. The prospect of a Rick and Jerry solo mission sounds exciting for that very reason, but through “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy,” I think we’ve found a dynamic that doesn’t quite work to the show’s larger mission.

There’s something a flat to Jerry’s perspective on a typically bizarre Rick outing in the multiverse (in this supposed resort world, death is impossible, with all gruesome happenings quickly reversed). Jerry in general is a simple character, in the sense that his view of the world is far less complicated than those of his family, which is part of what makes him such a brilliant addition to the ensemble. No matter what happens, Jerry will always be there to awkwardly fumble with the flow simply because he really doesn’t have anything else to contribute. Well, unless his divorce pushes him further and further out of the show’s picture.

Jerry’s arc in this episode is a worthwhile one, as he finds the courage to fend off the alien after Rick by the end. But that kind of happens by accident, which helps in the plausibility of it all. Either way, Jerry walks away with a little bit more pride, something he desperately needs. The show takes us there in a way that isn’t really surprising or fresh, and there’s little to indicate that Rick and Jerry’s relationship at large is going to change. But it still works, even if it’s at the most barebones level.

Faring better, however, is Beth’s journey to be a better mother to her kids. When Summer plays with the wrong device in the garage, she winds up becoming a gigantic woman. When Beth tries to help with the “reverse” button, Summer’s skin and muscles are turned inside out, which honestly got the biggest laugh of the episode from me. The physical comedy of it all paired with Morty’s begrudging involvement was brilliant. Morty’s dark path this season adds another notch to its belt with his revenge on the boy who wronged Summer. All of this material gels so well because it advances the overarching themes of the season in a way that’s profoundly weird, emotionally rewarding, and flat-out hilarious. And that’s the difference between this episode’s A-story and B-story.

But if this is what a weaker episode of Rick and Morty looks like in season three, then viewers are still in very capable hands. “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” isn’t nearly as original as the rest of the season has been, but it was only a little less provocative. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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