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Recap / Rick and Morty S3 E9 "The ABCs of Beth"

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"A dad makes a toilet look like R2-D2, and it breaks the front page of Reddit, but I'm Charles Manson because I gave you your own world instead of an iPad. "
Rick Sanchez
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Beth learns that her childhood friend Tommy is not dead, as everyone believes, but trapped in a parallel world that Rick created for her when she was younger. As they search for him, they find out that he's become a depraved and twisted individual, and we learn of Beth's hidden dark side.

Meanwhile, Morty and Summer are introduced to Jerry's new alien girlfriend Keara. The relationship doesn't work out, but Jerry's attempt at breaking up with her leads to her attempting to kill Jerry's children.


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Tropes:

  • Action Girlfriend: Alien badass hunter Kiara is Jerry's new girlfriend. She turns into a Dark Action Girl when she goes all Psycho Ex-Girlfriend on him and his family.
  • Adult Fear:
    • On a mundane level, a spouse threatens her paramour's children when he tries to break up with her and blames the kids. There is nothing funny about that given how often it happens in real life.
    • Tommy's family suffered a Trauma Conga Line: Tommy disappeared after Beth abandoned him in Froopy Land, his father was arrested and convicted for his murder, and his mother nearly watched her husband die by lethal injection.
    • Beth is terrified that she is like her father, and also about choosing whether or not to pursue her dreams.
  • Age-Inappropriate Art: The play Tommy wrote was performed by the few Froopy kids not eaten by Tommy, and features themes of bestiality and cannibalism. Made worse by the fact that they were voiced by real children.
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  • Ambiguously Evil: Beth and Rick argue about whether Beth as a child was sociopathic or just wanted attention.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: Beth's choice at the end of the episode isn't disclosed: did she decide to stay, or did she accept Rick's offer to make a perfect clone of her while she went traveling? The Beth we see again at the end of the episode seems much cheerier and involved with her children than usual, which could point to a "perfect mom" clone-Beth or to a Beth finally at peace with herself and her choices. On top of that, even if she did accept Rick's offer, Beth would also be able to Kill and Replace the clone to return to her old life later on. Rick could very well make another clone in the future, so from this point onward, Beth could switch places with her clones an indeterminate number of times.
  • Amicable Exes: Kiara, despite initially being angry when Jerry tells her the real reason he wants to break up, seems over it by The Stinger, leaving him a heads up on his answering machine her new boyfriend saw his texts to her and advices him to just ignore him if he calls.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Amidst all of the deadly, illegal and/or disturbing things, Rick mentions rainbow colored duct tape as one of his creations for Beth as a child.
  • Artificial Limbs: After losing an arm, Rick replaces it with a crude prosthetic he has in case of emergencies.
  • Artistic License – Law: Tommy's father was sentenced to death row for murdering his son (and it's publicly accepted that he also ate him), though Tommy was just trapped in Froopy Land. Legally this is ridiculous since there were no remains to use as evidence to make a conviction.
  • At Least I Admit It: Rick is annoyed that Beth keeps blaming his terrible parenting for her issues. He tells her bluntly that he doesn't deny being a terrible parent, but she does. She's exactly like him, in the worst possible way.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Most of the episode is centered around Beth believing that her father didn't love her and refused to spend time with her as a child. Rick doesn't disavow her of the notion, but he takes offense at how she belittles Froopy Land. Toxic and hateful as Rick is, he does take Beth to her childhood "chicken coop" to prove how real and safe it was. Then at the end, when Beth is terrified that she is evil, he tells her that she's smart, and it means that like him that she'll want to take the universe for a ride until it throws her off; if she wants to take that ride, he'll help her do it, whenever she wants. If she doesn't, he'll support her anyway.
  • Backhanded Apology: Beth gives one to Tommy, only to realize afterwards that she was echoing Rick who used the same line on her earlier.
    "Tommy, I'm sorry you think you deserve an apology."
  • Berserk Button: Downplayed. Rick has no reason to take Beth to Froopy Land, except to prove to her that it was real and one of his creations. He's insulted that she disparaged his creations, especially since it took a lot of work.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Tommy had sex with the animals of Froopy Land, both to keep himself occupied and to eat the resulting offspring.
  • Blatant Lies: Beth comes to Rick with Tommy's dismembered finger so they can clone him, telling him that Tommy simply gave it to her.
  • Blood Is the New Black: Beth returns from Froopy Land splattered in blood after killing Tommy's Mooks and likely Tommy himself. Combined with her horrified expression, it's implied the adrenaline high of fighting has worn off and she has realized she killed Tommy, leading to her realize she is like her dad... in the worst ways possible.
  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • Kiara is allowed to hunt anyone without consequence because it's the way of her people. She doesn't see anything wrong with killing sentient beings.
    • Tommy's isolation left some dents in his moral compass.
  • Breathable Liquid: Froopy Land's water is breathable, a safety feature Rick built in so Beth wouldn't drown while he wasn't paying attention.
  • The Caligula: After spending a lot of time in Froopy Land, Tommy became its ruler. His rule involves a lot of cannibalism and incest, though it's frightfully justified in the sense that it was done to keep him alive.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Summer and Morty repeatedly do this to Jerry over both rushing into a relationship with Kiara, and being secretly uncomfortable with the way her species looks. Played with a bit in that Summer claims this makes him racist even though Kiara is a member of a different species rather than a different race - and also she claims he's sexist by bragging about having a girlfriend with three boobs and two vaginas.
    • Beth is outraged that, when she was a child, Rick would rather dump her in Froopy Land than spend some time with her. Rick, however, is completely aware and unapologetic of being a terrible father, pointing out that he and Beth are Not So Different.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Platonic variation where Rick says anything but he loves his daughter Beth when she asks him why he'd help her leave her current life behind. The closest he gets is saying he might love her, or that it might be that he likes her... because she matters so little.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Several of Beth's toys wind up later in her hands when battling Tommy's guards.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: A common theme in Rick and Morty, but this episode deserve special mention. It should be a big reveal that the world is ruled by the child Beth abandoned there, who sustains himself by raping the inhabitants and eating his own children. In this show, Rick and Beth figure it out almost instantly, and don't seem at all shocked by it. When Tommy confirms this, they're more annoyed than disturbed.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rick openly admits that the Beth of the episode is not his Beth, which she admits she knows, referencing again how the titular Rick and Morty have left behind their original universe.
    • Rick's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Beth is similar to the one he gave to Jerry in "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy", about them not taking responsibility for their actions and taking him to task for his lack of morals. The difference is that with Jerry he was raging about the latter's attempts to appear pitiful, while with Beth it's about her blatant hypocrisy and Self-Serving Memory.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Summer and Morty are furious that their father used them to break up with Kiara and nearly gets them killed as a result, when he should have been honest about him being on the rebound. They tell him this repeatedly as he tries to take them on the lam.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Froopy Land started out as a genuinely pleasant place, since Rick set out to design the world to be as physically harmless for his daughter as possible. Then Tommy got left behind in Froopy Land and began breeding with the local wildlife, leading to the creation of dangerous wild animals and a society of creatures that cannibalize their young.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Rick carries around cybernetic limb replacements just in case he loses an arm or a leg.
  • Creepy Child: Rick claims Beth was this growing up, but it's left up in the air whether Beth was genuinely evil or trying to get attention from Rick.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Acts as one for Beth.
  • Deus ex Machina: After Jerry confesses to Kiara the real reason he wants to break up with her and she begins her Humans Are Bastards rant, her own ex-boyfriend suddenly shows up and implies she was using Jerry as a rebound. Morty lampshades this by saying Jerry was "handed an ex machina."
  • Didn't Think This Through: Rick claims he made Froopy Land completely safe for Beth, but he didn't include any food sources apart from the Froopy Land inhabitants themselves and a swamp of honey where Beth nearly drowned Tommy. This means that when Beth strands Tommy, he finds himself starved for protein and starts using the inhabitants.
  • Dirty Coward: Ignoring what they'd told him, Jerry throws his children under the bus by using them as an excuse to get out of a new relationship without looking bad. When his kids are in actual danger from this lie, he sucks it up and admits to lying in order to spare them.
  • Eats Babies: Tommy has to live in Froopy Land by impregnating its creatures and devouring the newborns.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rick is a terrible father, but he emphasizes to Beth that he explicitly made Froopy Land childproof so that she wouldn't drown or get hurt; any hostile creatures are a result of Tommy "humping" everything out of boredom. When Tommy rapes an innocent Floopy Land creature, even Rick was disgusted and kept yelling at Tommy to leave it alone. The last straw was when Tommy tries to eat the resulting fetus seconds later, and Rick just decides he has had enough. He also correctly tells off Beth on realizing that she deliberately abandoned Tommy in Froopy Land, because he made it to protect the neighborhood from her.
  • Everybody Knew Already: By the time the King of Froopy Land reveals himself, Rick and Beth have already correctly guessed who he is and how he's sustained himself for the last few decades. For good measure, they spend most of Tommy's monologue trying to stop him from explaining what they already know.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Jerry loses his nerve after being put on the spot about breaking up with Kiara in a Varrix cave, even the Varrix immediately get sick of listening to his bullshit.
    Varrix female: Just rip the Band-Aid off!
  • Exact Words: Summer promises to help Jerry figure a way out of his relationship with Kiara if he only admits to being a closet racist, a beta male sexist, and that he dragged her and Morty into a terrible situation out of nothing more than pure selfishness. As soon as he does, they both leave, with Summer claiming that getting him to admit those things about himself was helping him out.
  • Express Delivery: Froopy Land's creatures give birth seconds after being impregnated. Tommy couldn't very well sustain himself if they didn't.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Beth completely fails to bring the real Tommy back from Froopy Land. Rick pulls her out via portal gun when he realizes that Tommy is not reasonable and will demonstrate his bestiality and cannibalism-incest to strangers without remorse. Beth goes back on her own and tries to reason with Tommy. Just as she makes some headway, she refuses to apologize for ruining his life and that of his father's, and has to fight his entire army. At best she returns home with his finger, to clone it and save his father from lethal injection.
  • Fingore: Tommy's severed finger.
  • Foreshadowing: When Rick analyzes the bird DNA and realizes it was mixed with human DNA, Beth quickly deduces that Tommy has been impregnating the Froopy Land inhabitants and has been eating the descendants, for a source of protein. Later on, it's revealed that she deliberately tried to drown Tommy in the honey swamp and left him to die in Froopy Land. Of course she'd know what he had to do to survive.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Tommy from what Beth tells us was an ordinary kid who had a healthy relationship with his dad and a loving family. By the time Beth and Rick encounter him, he's become The Caligula in her childhood "chicken coop," having raped the inhabitants and started eating the resulting offspring so as to stay alive. He has also created an army out of the survivors, who round up newcomers and will use brute force if he demands it.
  • Funny Answering Machine: The Stinger has Jerry's answering machine that resolves the loose ends with his subplot and ends with the person he bought the machine from telling him that he'll ignore the late fee since answering machines are outdated and only used for exposition in television shows.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's stated by Tommy and argued by Beth that she trapped him in Froopy Land because she was jealous of his happy and whole family, especially his relationship with his father.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Double-subverted. Beth after encountering Tommy decides that she's going to go alone into Froopy Land and bring him back because it's the right thing to do, especially with The Reveal that she abandoned him there on purpose and got his father condemned. She reveals her identity to Tommy and begs him to come home so that his father won't be executed. Tommy is too far gone to return home for his dad, however, and only agrees to if Beth will apologize. Beth refuses, so Tommy sets his children on her, and she fights her way through, returning home with his finger. Then she manages to clone him with Rick's help and save Tommy's father. Beth afterward feels really guilty on realizing how many lives she ruined, including that of Tommy and his family, and realizes that she is amoral like her father.
  • Heel Realization: Beth realizes she is like her father in the worst ways and worries that she is a bad person, looking at pictures of her family (lingering on Morty, which is especially relevant given the Sadistic Choice of the previous episode).
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Tommy has tainted the ecosystem of Froopy Land by raping the local wildlife, which resulted in horrible mutant offspring.
  • Hypocrite: Rick gets annoyed when Beth tries to get on the moral high ground on wanting to return to Froopy Land to save Tommy. He had just learned that Tommy went missing in Froopy Land because Beth tried to drown Tommy in a honey swamp and abandoned him. Rick then pulls out a box of her disturbing childhood toys and explains that she was terrorizing the neighborhood and created Froopy Land so he wouldn't have to clean up after her. He knows he is a bad parent and a scientist who has terrorized others, but at least he admits that he is one, and Beth is like him in the worst way.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kiara rants about how duplicitous humans are when she finds out Jerry used her as a rebound to get Beth's attention. Turns out she was doing the same thing with her boyfriend. Naturally, Jerry gets just as offended (though given how she was chasing him and his children over a rebound thing, he's got more reason to be upset.)
  • Idiot Ball: Summer and Morty should know that Jerry isn't exactly a paragon of bravery or honesty and how dangerous Kiara is, and that he would end up lying to her if left alone.
  • Implausible Deniability: A blood soaked Beth claims that Tommy willingly gave her his severed finger. Sure he did.
  • Internal Reveal: Played With. Offscreen, Rick had told Beth that he wasn't her Rick, but a Rick Sanchez from another dimension.
  • In the Blood: By Rick's account, Beth was amoral as a child, and deep down still is, because being his daughter made her "smart" enough to be equally nihilistic.
  • Ironic Echo: "I'm sorry you think you deserve an apology."
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: Summer insists her father admit to being "a closet racist, a beta male sexist" and having brought her and Morty along to his date for entirely selfish reasons. Jerry repeats most of it, but leaves out the "beta male" part.
  • Jerkass Ball: Summer and Morty grab it: When their father is literally begging for their help with dumping Kiara, a telekinetic alien hunter with super-speed and intense commitment issues, all they do is make him admit horrible things about himself and tell him to be honest, then ditch him. Doubles as an Idiot Ball moment as they should know that Jerry isn't exactly a paragon of bravery or honesty.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Tommy has grown into The Caligula, but when Beth tries to deny that she pushed him into honey and abandoned him, he is correct when he says that she can deny it all she wants, but it was his "slice of reality" that got affected.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Kiara can hunt anyone she likes due to her culture and suffers no consequences, apart from an awkward encounter with her ex. This includes strangling Summer, a child who has no means of defense. Even by the end, she starts a new relationship with Rick and Rick onscreen doesn't punish her for threatening his family.
    • Beth suffers no consequences for abandoning Tommy as a child, getting his father convicted, and possibly murdering Tommy as an adult. She's very aware of this, and Rick tells her that she has a choice to always be above the consequences, if she wants the chance to pursue her dreams.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: There is one in Froopy Land who kidnaps Rick.
  • Kill and Replace: Implied; after being unable to get Tommy back into the real world, Beth returns with one of his fingers and helps Rick clone him, which saves his father.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Tommy's guards demand that Rick and Beth kneel before their ruler.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Kiara's ex shows up and distracts her with an argument over why she's hunting on his turf, Morty tells a Jerry offended by the notion he was her rebound that he's been handed his "Ex Machina".
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: Tommy's father was wrongfully accused of killing and eating his son. Though Tommy didn't leave Froopy Land (either due to having spent his whole life there, or as heavily implied, being killed by Beth), they make a clone from his finger to show up at the execution mere moments before the lethal injection was administered.
  • Long List: Rick reviewing all of the disturbing toys that Beth asked him for as a child.
    "Rayguns, a whip that forces people to like you, invisibility cuffs, a parent trap, a lightning gun, a teddy bear with anatomically correct innards, night vision googly-eye glasses, sound-erasing sneakers, false fingerprints, fall-asleep darts, a lie-detecting doll, an indestructible baseball bat, a taser shaped like a ladybug, a fake police badge, location-tracking stickers, rainbow-colored duct tape, mind control hairclips, poison gum, a pink sentient switchblade."
  • Mind over Matter: Kiara has telekinetic abilities, which Jerry gets access to by sleeping with her. They evidently wear off quickly, since he's lost them in the span of a day or so after trying to dump her.
  • Moral Pragmatist: When Rick reveals that Froopy Land's real purpose was to reign in Beth, he clarifies that he did it less out of altruism than to save the hassle of cloning every child or small animal that fell to her clutches.
  • Multi Boobage: Kiara is a blue alien with three boobs (and two vaginas to boot).
  • Mundane Utility: Rick created an entire virtual world just to entertain his child so he could work on other things, though he later claims it was to protect the neighborhood from her budding sociopathy.
  • My Little Panzer: Rick made Beth an array of childlike implements of murder and mayhem at her request. A ladybug taser and cutesy-voiced sentient switchblade are but two examples.
  • Never My Fault: Neither Rick nor Beth admits any fault to each other or Tommy about any of the bad things that have happened.
  • Not So Different:
    • Both Jerry and Kiara turned out to be dating one another simply to make their exes jealous.
    • Stated outright by Beth when she refuses to apologize to Tommy and realizes she's just like her father.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Beth's rampage in Froopy Land is mostly offscreen, but implied to be incredibly violent and gruesome.
  • On the Rebound: Morty and Summer believe that this is the reason for Jerry's fling with Kiara. Turns out his real intent was to make Beth notice him.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Turns out that Kiara was doing this with Jerry to make her ex jealous, which makes her rant toward him having her as a rebound hypocritical (especially given how she was chasing him and the kids in anger earlier). The Stinger reveals they patched things up friendily though.
  • Overly Long Gag: Rick going through a box of inventions he made for Beth, which takes quite some time and covers the entire spectrum of criminal activities one might engage in.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: When Jerry mentions that his new girlfriend has two vaginas, Summer and Morty just stand there in Stunned Silence.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Beth's rant about wanting her father's attention as a child must've struck something in Rick, because he spontaneously offers her to help him so they can spend some overdue quality father-daughter time cloning Tommy and using the clone to stop his father's execution.
    • In The Stinger, Rick leaves Jerry a message that he killed Kiara's jealous boyfriend, right after said boyfriend left a threatening message, even mentioning he was looking out for him. Of course, the next message has Rick telling Jerry he slept with her though given he doesn't comment much else on it, it was probably just to let him know.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: The title is a pun on The ABCs of Death.
  • Psychic Strangle: Kiara strangles Summer this way.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Kiara tries to kill Summer and Morty after Jerry breaks up with her can be together after Jerry lies that he can't be with her because they don't want him to. Jerry comes clean to save his daughter's life. She spares Summer but is now angry at Jerry for lying. Luckily, her ex shows up and distracts her while Morty, Summer, and Jerry escape. The Stinger implies she's over it now, though, and that she's back to being on good terms with Jerry.
  • Psychological Projection: Discussed. Jerry accuses Summer and Morty of being uncomfortable with the idea of him dating an alien, and later when he wants out, asks if he can use them as an excuse, to which Summer rebukes:
    Summer: First, I want you to admit that you’re a closet racist, a beta-male sexist, and you dragged everyone into a horrible situation by only thinking of yourself.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: Several decades in Froopy Land turned Tommy into this, with him engaging in cannibalistic incest, but still holding a grudge against Beth for supposedly pushing him in honey and using poorly censored swear words despite no reason to.
  • Reality Ensues: Morty and Summer hate the bubble gun because unlike in fairy tales the bubbles actually have a limited amount of oxygen, or "no air" in their words. When they arrive at Jerry's place, they're gasping for breath when the bubbles pop.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Upon witnessing Tommy "preparing dinner", Rick declares "Alright, that's it! I'm outta here!" and promptly draws a portal in the floor and exits as quickly as possible.
  • Sex Magic: A variant. Jerry develops telekinesis from having sex with Kiara.
  • Shout-Out
    • Entering and exiting through Froopy Land is done with a small tube that you use to "draw" the portal, similar to ChalkZone. Said chalk is also purple.
      • It could also be a reference to Pan's Labyrinth where a young girl uses the same method to enter a fantasy world that's actually horrifying.
    • A large amount of the plot can be seen as one to the movie Jumanji (a child trapped in a fantasy world, his friend rationalizing it as a traumatic hallucination, his father is accused of his murder due to the outrageous circumstances of his disappearances).
    • Rick mentions Blade Runner when discussing the possibility of cloning Beth.
    • Jerry compares Keara to Cheetara from ThunderCats (1985).
  • The Stinger: After the credits, we are shown Jerry's answering machine, which his left the following messages:
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!": Rick lets himself fall from a cliff at Froopy Land, only to reveal that the ground below was bouncy. He then sticks his head in the rainbow river to reveal that he oxygenated the water.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Rick: Come on, I-I-I put real elbow grease into this place.
    Beth: You're supposed to put elbow grease into your daughter!
    Rick: Gross.
  • This Means Warpaint: Jerry, Summer and Morty wear face paint for their hunt.
  • Trapped in Another World: Tommy was stranded in Froopy Land for over 30 years.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Rick and Tommy claim that Beth was an Enfant Terrible who asked Rick to make her disturbing inventions and ultimately shoved and abandoned Tommy in Froopy Land out of jealousy over his relationship with his father. The sentient switchblade Rick made her also alludes to her using it to stab people when she was younger. For her part, Beth denies pushing Tommy and insists that she only asked Rick to make her things because she wanted him to spend time with her.
  • Uncertain Doom: We never learn if Tommy was killed by Beth or only lost his finger.
  • Unreliable Expositor: At the beginning of the episode, Beth tells Summer and Morty that she had memories about an imaginary place called Froopy Land where Rick left her while he worked, and that her friend Tommy vanished there. The episode reveals that Froopy Land is real, Rick created it for Beth specifically, and she deliberately abandoned Tommy there for decades. Beth keeps insisting that she didn't leave Tommy to drown in a honey swamp.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Justified; Tommy refuses to go home with Beth at first because he hasn't found a way out in decades and believes "Froopy Land" is the real world. Then when she tells him he has to come home to save his father's life, he refuses to listen to her until she apologizes for pushing him into the mud.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Discussed. Rick is insulted that Beth disparages his creation Froopy Land because he made it just for her, and as childproof as possible so that she could have a paradise while he worked. He also emphasizes that it took a lot of effort, and thus he invested the time for his daughter. Beth in the meantime is furious because of her abandonment issues and says she just wanted Rick to spend time with her. Whether or not Beth has a point is muddied by the fact that Rick at her request made a lot of weapon-toys that she would use the terrorize the neighborhood, and to save the trouble of cleaning up her messes, he would take her to Froopy Land and leave her there. Downplayed, as it's more of him wanting basic gratitude, understandably, and that he ends up seeing Beth as an Ungrateful Bastard.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Rick considers his offer to clone Beth one: No matter what she chooses, it's a win for him because she'll finally "chill the fuck out."

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