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The Onion A/V Club Reviews – Rick And Morty: “Rick Potion #9”

On 27, Jan 2014 | In Press & News | By SBI

Love potions are gross. For decades—centuries, even—people have told stories about magical concoctions that will win the hearts of the woman or man of their dreams, and the patina of fantasy (or an inability to grasp the finer points of individual rights) always makes it sound sort of romantic and sappy, even if the effort is doomed to fail. Besides, most everyone has been there; even if (hopefully) we haven’t tried to dose the object of our unrequited affections, the desire to want someone who doesn’t want you back is pretty universal. Infatuation makes it harder to see where certain lines are, and the idea that there might be some simple solution that would circumvent all the terrifying, tedious steps of flirtation, conversation, risk, and the ever-present fear of rejection, is mighty tempting. But still: love potions are gross.

As Rick points out near the end of “Rick Potion #9,” they’re just roofies with a different name. You aren’t trying to build a relationship with a person you care about, you’re trying to cheat-code your way through their subconscious and turn an individual with agency and personality into an object programmed for fucking. The punchline isn’t that it doesn’t work out; the punchline is that you were a big enough ass to think it could work at all.In Morty’s defense, he is just a kid, and teenagers don’t tend to have the best sense of perspective when it comes to putting the rights of others ahead of their own throbbing biological urges. And when he demands Rick help him out in his pursuit of Jessica, he has, from a certain perspective, a bit of a point; while the specific request is creepy and gross, Rick has asked a lot out of Morty in the past, and Morty hasn’t had all that much to show for it, apart from still being alive and everything. “Rick Potion #9” is another episode where the story hinges on a family member asking Rick for help, and that help going fantastically awry. It’s a fertile ground for plot, because both the request, and the inevitably horrible result, make sense.

There’s a reason “The Monkey’s Paw” is a story that keeps getting retold, and it’s not just because we like gusts of wind that might have been zombies. The promise of a quick fix to our problems is such a powerful lure that the consequences don’t really enter into the decision making process. Morty asks Rick if there’s any potential side effects from the potion, because he’s not a complete idiot; yet if he was thinking clearly at all he’d realize that of course there will be side effects, whatever Rick says. (In this case it’s a “No,” followed by an unheard, “Unless she has the flu.”) But the moment before you make the wish, or grab the potion, or use the mad science that will ultimately lead to the downfall of civilization as we know it, you don’t really care.

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