Why are we playing? Sure, video games are an immensely popular hobby — and a hugely lucrative industry — but rarely do we stop and examine them why so many people are drawn to spending hours and hours in immersive realities that are not our own. In between Rick and Morty‘s latest episode (Season 6, Episode 4: “Bethic Twinstinct”) and last week’s dramatic focus Roy: A life well livedthe answer is starting to look a bit murky.cl
Since Space Beth returned earlier this season, Episode 4’s title is an obvious twist on “primal instinct‘ (Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 neo-noir erotic thriller) and the fact that we have two versions of Beth Smith in the main universe of the series. There’s raunchy shenanigans, yes, but some of the more interesting things that happen in the B-plot involve the Smith kids detaching themselves from reality with the most powerful video game console in the multiverse.
“Bethic Twinstinct” Does More Than a “Full San Junipero”
It’s Thanksgiving once again, and in a clever reminder of last season’s raucous Christmas special, Rick comes home as a turkey. Space Beth is back to celebrate after getting Morty a Pooplickian GamePod XL, which is “the most realistic gaming console ever”. We quickly learn that Beth and Space are getting Beth very friendly as they bond over a variety of shared interests, including sipping red wine from Venus and rolling eyes at Jerry.
In a piece that feels ripped right out Spider-Man: No Way Home, the two versions of Beth help each other crack their backs. Except here, it’s the prelude to the most narcissistic sexual experience imaginable. Beth and Space Beth have a real affair that feels authentic. Rick may be a textbook narcissist, but Beth has always made love in a very confident way. Everyone knows Jerry doesn’t deserve her, including Jerry. It doesn’t take long for Rick, Summer and Morty to figure it all out. But of course, Jerry is completely clueless and needs to be told about it directly at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
In a way, Beth and Space Beth’s romance was inevitable. It’s one of the hottest episodes of the series, but the story is also about self-exploration – and radical self-acceptance.
Eventually, they hack into Rick’s holodeck and spend many years in a relationship that culminates in a romantic sunset on the Santa Monica Pier. Rick calls it a “complete San Junipero” in reference to an episode of Netflix’s sci-fi anthology series black mirror.
Especially after Jerry and Beth had a threesome with Mr. Nimbus in the season 5 premiere, this A-plot ends in the only natural way: Beth, Jerry, and Space Beth have what sounds like bizarre, kinky fun that benefits from their power dynamic. Beth and Jerry have grown a lot both as individuals and as a couple since hitting rock bottom at the end of Season 3.
Summer and Morty use a Pooplickian GamePod XL to break up
The episode has two brilliant, harrowing cuts that would work in almost any domestic drama: Summer and Morty separately witness their mother’s affair. We see their stunned reactions before the shot jumps straight into another scene where they’re playing video games. Cinematically, we’re jolted straight from trauma to dissociation, with the only consistent image being their faces.
After Morty steals Rick’s controller to play with, Grandpa objects, but Morty says, “This is mine!” Summer also refuses to share hers, saying, “Create your own controller! Some of us need all the control we can get!”
Their previous involvement with games was more interactive and lively, but now, as Morty claims, they just stare at them “in a numb trance.” In an Inside the Episode video, author Anne Lane points out that her arc is all about “avoidance.” Crude symbolic irony like this doesn’t always work, but it’s really good for these kids to cling to “controllers” at a time when things are getting out of hand in their household jives.
Rick and Morty makes fun of gamers
The games on the Pooplickian GamePod XL all feel pretty retro, although there is a real “realism” setting. (The default is 4/10 for some reason.) However, more “realism” makes space boring asteroids Tee much emptier. Most astronomers predict that about 99.99 percent of space is just an empty vacuum. So Morty pilots a ship drifting through space in search of an asteroid to blow up.
In a way, this realism attitude makes fun of the never-ending urge to immerse yourself in gaming. Some games like The Last of Us Part I or even the Call of Duty franchise use cutting-edge technology for cinematic realism, but for years games have had to settle for limited graphics in digitized worlds and rely on the players’ imaginations to perform some things. The most memorable gaming experiences aren’t immersive because you feel like you’re in another world; They are immersive because they are so captivating that you forget about the real world. There is a clear but subtle distinction here Rick and Morty makes fun of
What comes next is a sharp indictment of gamer culture in general. “You guys are obviously just trying to tell yourself it’s cool because you’re uncomfortable with it,” Summer says. This one’s a little harder to unravel, but Summer has always been the smartest character on the show. When she makes a stray, cheeky observation, it’s often the show’s writers who drop a truth bomb.
“Summer, you have no idea about gamer culture!” Rick spits before turning to Morty: “Bro, tell your son you love the sh*t out of him.” Morty nods enthusiastically.
There’s a certain kind of inauthenticity in gamer culture sometimes. We long to plod through a game for hours, completing tasks with reckless abandon. What could otherwise be a loving farewell to a dying father is reduced to a useful game mechanic. But the delusion of “realism” in gaming defeats the sense of what it means to actually “play a game”.
Morty’s son: Naruto or Morty Jr.?
When Morty plays the “Realistic”. asteroids In the game, Rick notices the option to record a video for his “child” if he dies in space.
Blurring the lines between reality and video games, Morty captures a selfie clip for his “son”. Is that theoretical? Or is the video for Morty Jr., his half-Gazorpian from Season 1? However, a much more likely explanation is Naruto. You know, Summer and Morty’s giant accidental incest space babe? At the end of the episode, we even get a callback from Naruto:
“I’ll be in space looking for my grandchild,” Space Beth says as she leaves. Morty is confused at first before remembering his son with a hint of sadness in his voice. The recall feels completely random and somewhat out of character Rick and Morty, a show that so often leaves plot threads dangling for years. It seems very likely that Naruto will return sometime this season. Why else would the authors put this handy but clearly intentional memory in there? We have to wait.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on Adult Swim.