Warning: This Rick and Morty season 6 episode 8 review is packed with spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading now – you don’t want to make Mr. Poopybutthole sad, do you?
This episode may mark a first in Rick and Morty’s long run – and not just because its title will require a few asterisks in more prudish TV listings. Yes, bumbling patriarch Jerry has had the occasional moment of triumph – indeed, he’s achieved previously unseen levels of agency and self-awareness this season – but we don’t think he’s ever been quite as heroic as he is in the fun, puerile, and surprisingly poignant 'Analyze Piss'.
Jerry’s road to becoming a superhero is every bit as labyrinthine and weird as we demand from Rick and Morty. Even more surprising, however, is the fact he gets there under his own steam, via an uncharacteristic mix of bravery and determination – and a little bit of help from his father-in-law.
The episode gets off to the best possible start, as Rick’s crotch-thrusting nemesis Mr. Nimbus makes a welcome return. After the duo’s waterfront battle comes to a surprisingly low-key end, Rick finds himself face-to-face with lesser villains Cookie Magneto (who has the power to manipulate baked goods) and Mr. Calypso. They’ve come looking for Rick because he’s, well, Rick, but Rick’s so exhausted with his walking target status that he vaporizes one and incarcerates the other.
Morty urges his grandfather to think about why this keeps happening, so Rick pays a visit to Dr. Wong, the family therapist he once famously avoided by turning himself into a pickle. Pointing out that battling his many foes doesn’t seem to change anything, she says he might as well ignore them for a week and see what happens.
In an out-of-character move, Rick actually follows someone else’s advice – admittedly, it’s because he wants to prove her wrong – and turns the other cheek when the latest bad guy turns up at the Smith family residence.
As well as being the justification for the shameless pun of the episode’s title, Pissmaster is a supervillain so gross that he has no equivalent in Marvel, DC, or even The Boys. And, with Rick out of the equation, Jerry flies into action when the urine-spraying bad guy directs an utterly inappropriate comment at Summer. This is Jerry as we’ve never seen him before, the never-say-die protector of his family who comes out victorious at the end of a very long (and inept) fistfight thanks to his cunning use of a flamingo statue as a weapon.
It's a truly life-changing moment. Beth now seems way too attracted to Jerry for Space Beth to get a look in, while Summer is proudly telling the world that, “That’s my dad!” And thanks to everyone in the street filming the fight on their cellphones, #flamingodad becomes something of a celebrity, with news of his bravery travelling across the wider universe.
This leads to him being head-hunted by a pair of – shall we say – guardians of the galaxy, who offer Jerry a magical orb that will give him access to raw power. Unlike Rick, he’s worthy of wielding the magical trinket, though he does need his father-in-law to build him an Iron Man-style suit first. “If I give you raw power, you’ll end up miserable like me,” Rick warns, with remarkable prescience.
As Jerry enters a world where he takes down intergalactic Hitlers, launches space cars and enjoys the respect of his kids, Rick learns that you have to be careful what you wish for. Sure, he gets a brief moment of joy when he learns he’s no longer public enemy #1 for every wannabe scumbag in the multiverse, but there’s still a hole in his life that even sitting in a dingy bar can’t fix.
It's a deliciously Rick and Morty-esque irony that, even in Jerry’s finest hour, Rick manages to make the episode all about him. In fact, ‘Analyze Piss’ manages to highlight both the good and bad sides of the smartest man in the universe.
His potential redemption arc begins when he hears Pissmaster being described as the “biggest piece of shit in the galaxy”. That’s clearly relatable for Rick, so he travels to the residence of one Eugene Michael Piss (a case of nominative determinism if ever we heard one) to make peace. He finds Pissmaster’s house flooded with – yeah, you guessed it – and quickly realizes that the supervillain has killed himself in the bath. But when Pissmaster’s daughter unexpectedly turns up at the door, Rick dodges his first instinct to dive through a portal, and instead masquerades as the dead man, pretending he’s okay.
Assuming Pissmaster’s stinky mantle, Rick then sets out to rebuild the villain’s reputation – a process he finds unusually rewarding. He even plots a grand finale in which the universe will see Pissmaster go down in a blaze of glory as he saves a city of orphans from a giant bomb.
Just as Jerry did at the start of the episode, however, Rick/Pissmaster’s exploits attract the attention of the Orb-wielders, who dispatch Flamingo Dad to recruit his nemesis to the gang – if he fails, he’s back to being plain old Jerry.
If the episode stopped here, Jerry might have been okay, but there’s something inevitable about the way he turns “shit heel” to bring Rick down. With Jerry’s time as a superhero cut brutally short, Rick inadvertently makes things worse by pretending he was Pissmaster all along, making the family think he did a nice thing for his son-in-law by taking all those inept punches in the street.
Of course, anyone who’s ever seen Rick and Morty will have known this episode was never likely to end without the status quo being restored. So even though Rick could have stayed on the moral high ground for once, he can’t resist showing Morty the suicide note he inexplicably kept after leaving Pissmaster’s apartment. Rick may have spent much of the episode doing the right thing – but it’s clear it’s not always been for the right reasons.
A little Mort information…
- The ‘Analyze Piss’ title is a reference to Analyze This, a 1999 comedy in which Robert De Niro’s mob boss gets therapy from a psychiatrist played by Billy Crystal. It came out just a few months after the launch of The Sopranos which, of course, had a very similar premise.
- Having been referenced in last week’s ‘Full Meta Jackrick’, Rick’s Aquaman/Namor-eque nemesis Mr. Nimbus returns to the screen. He’s still voiced by Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, and yes, he still controls the police.
- Cookie Magneto is a baked-goods riff on X-Men antagonist Magneto.
- Before Rick milks him of cosmic fluid, Mr. Calypso has echoes of impossible-to-pronounce Superman villain Mister Mxyzptlk.
- When Rick bemoans fighting "these ’90s-style goofball supervillains" and says "I’m not the fucking Tick", he’s referring to Ben Edlund’s comedic comic-book superhero. The Tick has headlined three TV shows: a 1994 cartoon, and a pair of live-action series (in 2001 and 2016, respectively).
- For the second week running, a scene from the opening credits – this time of Jerry in his super suit – appears in the episode.
- Therapist Dr. Wong is played by Susan Sarandon, one of the most famous stars on the Rick and Morty payroll. She made her first appearance in season three’s now-legendary ‘Pickle Rick’.
- Jerry is suitably impressed that Rick managed to attend therapy without turning himself into a pickle or a housefly. Obviously, we know about the pickle incident, but we’re guessing Rick’s also managed to emulate the scientists in the 1958 and 1986 versions of The Fly – hopefully with less messy results.
- Next-door neighbor Gene makes one of his semi-regular appearances, spectating at Jerry’s fight with Pissmaster.
- Summer and Morty’s breakfast of choice is Strawberry Smiggles. The cereal first appeared in a TV commercial in season one’s ‘Rixty Minutes’, and FYE subsequently released a real-world version.
- One of the Council of Hitlers is a rip-off of Batman villain the Riddler.
- While the logos are similar, Space Mistubishi should not be confused with Mitsubishi. Or maybe it’s just a typo – Jerry clearly says Mitsubishi.
- There are loads of nice visual gags in the Orphan Island sequence: the eight-year-old bomb disposal ‘expert’ uses kids’ scissors to cut through a wire, plus there’s a café called ‘Please Sir Soup’ and a shop called ‘Rags & Riches’
- Jerry invokes the “decree of The Andromeda Strain”, named after the 1969 Michael Crichton novel that was subsequently turned into a movie by The Sound Of Music/Star Trek: The Motion Picture director Robert Wise.
- Last week we wondered if we could buy a Rick doll on rick-plush.biz, and were disappointed to learn that we couldn’t. We’re happy to confirm, however, that the link is now live – potentially great news for anyone who wants their very own plushie with blue hair and "realistic bald spot".
New episodes of Rick and Morty debut on Sunday nights on Adult Swim in the US, and on Tuesdays on E4 and All 4 in the UK. Here’s the full Rick and Morty season 6 release schedule for more information.