I saw the Pickle Rick episode of Rick & Morty last night, and all I can say is…that was pure raw genius. Short synopsis: Mad scientist Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of a therapy appointment, and then has to construct an exoskeleton out of cockroach and rat parts save himself after falling into a sewer.
Yeah, you’re saying that sounds nuts.
Stick with it, though. It’s amazing. After this elaborate series of improbable events, Rick does finally end up with the therapist and there’s this wonderful dialogue (taken from Film Crit Hulk, which really gets into this episode):
Therapist: “Rick, why did you lie to your daughter?”
Rick: “So I wouldn’t have to come here.”
Therapist: “Why didn’t you want to come here?”
Rick: “Because I don’t respect therapy. Because I’m a scientist. Because I invent, transform, create, and destroy for a living. And when I don’t like something about the world, I change it. And I don’t think going to a rented office in a strip mall to listen to some agent of averageness explain which words mean which feelings has ever helped anyone do anything. I think it’s helped a lot of people get comfortable and stop panicking, which is a state of mind we value in the animals we eat, but not something I want for myself. I’m not a cow. I’m a pickle – when I feel like it – So… you asked.”
Therapist: “Rick. The only connection between your unquestionable intelligence and the sickness destroying your family, is that everyone in your family, you included, use intelligence to justify sickness. You seem to alternate between viewing your own mind as an unstoppable force and as an inescapable curse. And I think it’s because the only truly unapproachable concept for you is that it is your mind within your control. You chose to come here, you chose to talk, to belittle my vocation, just as you chose to become a pickle. You are the master of your universe. And yet, you are dripping with rat’s blood and feces. Your enormous mind literally vegetating by your own hand. I have no doubt that you would be bored senseless by therapy. The same way I’m bored when I brush my teeth and wipe my ass. Because the thing about repairing, maintaining, and cleaning is – it’s NOT an adventure – There’s no way to do it so wrong you might die. It’s just… work. And the bottom line is some people are okay going to work and some people, well, some people would rather die. Each of us gets to choose.”
That last bit — after 20 minutes of unbelievable adventure and violence and exotic super-science — suddenly grounds the whole story in mundane reality and speaks of a far deeper truth than is possible with a talking pickle.
It would be good to use this cartoon in a discussion of bioethics, except that I fear students might be more distracted by the hyper-violence that comes before. But man, I know a lot of people who would nod enthusiastically to everything Rick says, and would spit on everything the therapist said…when the therapist is the one to bring some real insight.