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Recap / Rick And Morty S 4 E 8 The Vat Of Acid Episode

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After being disappointed with Rick's invention of fake acid, Morty demands Rick to make an invention that lets him reload his actions.


Tropes:

  • Acid Pool: Rick creates a vat of fake acid to jump into, but Morty views it as a dumb invention, to which Rick takes considerable offense.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Even though they were all out for his blood, the mob after Morty is quick to lament his apparently gruesome death by an acid bath.
  • An Aesop: Subverted. Morty thinks that Rick making him the reset device was supposed to teach him the lesson that using it to reset all of your mistakes is wrong because you shouldn't try to avoid the consequences of your actions since those mistakes and their outcomes are what makes you who you are. Turns out, every single one of Morty's resets did have dire consequences that he wasn't aware of. First was killing an alternate Morty in a parallel reality and replacing him. Second, and just as serious, was Morty having all of the timelines merge, forcing him to confront an angry mob representing the aftermath of his do-overs.
    • The other, more straightforward lesson that Rick wanted Morty to learn was simply, "Don't ever make fun of me again. (Ever) ."
  • Ate the Spoon: Rick invokes this as a contingency for people trying to test the fake acid. He has a laser, set to low power, ready to blast a hole in any ladle they used to test the "acid".
  • Audible Gleam: The gems being exchanged in the opening scene make a sound when exposed to light.
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  • Bad "Bad Acting": Rick doesn't even try to make his supposed horror and grief at Morty "killing himself" in the fake vat of acid seem genuine. Still, no one else sees through it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The opening scene in conjunction with the episode title suggests that the episode may be a Bottle Episode, with Rick and Morty having to hide in the vat until the alien gangsters leave after having a series of casual yet complex conversations, but it very quickly moves away from that.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Invoked by Rick's "vat of acid" contingency plan.
  • Bookends: At the start of the episode, Rick and Morty used a vat of fake acid to fake their deaths. By the end, Morty ends up relying on the "fake acid" plan to escape the outrage of everyone he pissed off during his do-over device spree.
  • Brick Joke: One that pays off pretty quickly. Near the end of the episode, one of the SWAT team members gets splattered with Rick's harmless fake acid, and when it doesn't hurt him, he mistakenly believes he's impervious to acid and plans to get rich off of it. The Stinger has him showing up on TV to prove it... only to predictably be killed when he's dipped into real acid.
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  • Call-Back: This is the second time this season that someone's decision to "not think about it too hard, but just have fun" leads them to a place of horror.
  • Can't Take Criticism: It's "Pirates of the Pancreas" and "Froopyland" all over again. Rick takes Morty calling his fake vat of acid stupid very personally. The entire episode's events are Rick's way of getting back at Morty for it.
  • Complexity Addiction:
    • Morty lampshades that Rick's vat of acid gambit is complicated and stupid. He's proven right when both times people hang around to question the validity of it, from which point it quickly goes off the rails and the questioning person ends up shot dead instead. It only partially works in the end, and only because the only other witness was too stupid to realize the ruse.
    • The reset device. Instead of just turning back time, it creates a number of alternative realities and then it goes back in time *there*, killing the previous Morty in a gruesome way, because this way it isn't only time travel and Rick can keep claiming he doesn't do time travel. Also, it's part of an elaborate ruse to put Morty in a situation where he is forced to use the vat of acid to fake his death.
  • The Constant: Apparently, "every Rick has a vat" (and presumably, every one of those Rick's Mortys criticized him over the fake vat of acid plan), which is why the Rick Morty meets before they merge the timelines knows what Morty has done.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: To Morty's absolute chagrin, any party Rick or him try to shake off by faking their deaths through jumping into the fake vat of acid remains behind to somehow contemplate on what happened and wonder how absolutely crazy either of them has to be to opt for suicide.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Rick had installed air hose systems into his fake vats of acid so he'd be able to breathe, as well as hidden compartments on the bottom. One contains weapons specifically for blasting ladles meant to test the "acid", the other contains spare bones just in case people try to test it on another body. He even has a radio system to listen in on witnesses so he'd know when they leave.
      • Turns out every Rick has this plan in place, according to an alternate Rick.
    • One of the SWAT officers near the end had apparently brought a ladle from home to test the acid, just in case.
  • Double Meaning: The Do-Over device is designed to send Morty back to a previous spot in time, allowing him to perform a do-over. When Rick explains the true mechanics of the device, sacrificing alternate Mortys and sticking the original into their timeline, he clarifies that Morty didn't "do a do-over", but just "did it, over and over". In other words, Morty just did the same thing in a different timeline, and all of them simply continued.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Jerry accidentally resets Morty's entire relationship with his girlfriend, Morty tries to woo her while apparently warning about their impending plane crash, but scares her, and she maces him in the face; when Morty falls over because of this, he accidentally presses the save button, thus repeatedly resetting himself to the point in time right after she rejected and maced him. He's so miserable about this that he goes to the zoo, sets a save point, then repeatedly jumps into a pit with angry gorillas and gets torn apart.
  • Eating Shoes: The survivors of the plane crash are seen roasting shoes over a fire while Morty gnaws on a shoe made of vegan leather.
  • Enemy Chatter: Rick and Morty listen in on the mobsters expressing their feelings over the alleged suicide.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though they were willing to cheat and kill Rick, the gangsters at the beginning of the episode are horrified when they think Rick and Morty died by jumping into the fake vat of acid. They're especially appalled at the fact that Morty didn't jump, he was dragged in by Rick.
    Gangster: What kind of psycho- his own grandson?!
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • Rick builds a remote control device that he lets Morty believe will allow him to "reset" to a "save point" as desired (or if he dies), but really sacrifices countless other alternate Mortys, just to get back at him for making fun of him.
    • Even more specifically, when the FBI and several other disgruntled parties show up in a mob in front of the house, Rick makes sure that the only way Morty can get out of it is by using the same "faking your death in a fake vat of acid" trick that they used at the beginning of the episode, as payback for Morty being so unimpressed with the ploy. He even forces Morty to say that the vat is good, and makes him kiss it, before jumping in.
  • Exact Words: After Rick creates the save-and-reset remote for Morty and the latter asks how he did it, Rick says he could explain it if Morty wants, or he could just have fun with it; Morty, probably assuming the explanation would just be a bunch of science mumbo-jumbo, gladly chooses to go have fun. Later, an alternate Rick does give Morty the description of how it actually works, mocking him for choosing to not hear it from the start and just have a good time instead, and Morty is deeply dismayed to learn the truth.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Zigzagged; Rick's do-over device actually involves killing parallel universe Mortys at the start of the "save" point. He recorded their demise all to psychologically torment Morty and then erased them all by collapsing them into another parallel reality he then has Morty leave to return to his own.
    Rick: All right, c'mon Morty, let's go home.
    Morty: Wait, what?! This-This isn't our reality?
    Rick: What, you think I'd waste our home teaching you a fucking lesson?
  • Faking the Dead: The whole point of Rick's "fake vat of acid" gambit.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Morty and his unnamed girlfriend get one, which includes meeting, growing closer, meeting each others' families, having a fight, breaking up, making up and going on a trip together, getting in a plane crash and ending up stranded in a frozen wasteland, and getting rescued and returning home. Sadly for Morty, Jerry mistakes his reset remote as the remote for the TV and accidentally undoes the entire relationship.
  • Fingore: When Morty finds his phone in the wreckage of the back half of the plane, he removes his glove and uses his frostbitten hand to operate the frozen touch screen, causing the skin on the tip of his finger to stick to it and get ripped off.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • Rick and Morty give one to each other while they're in the fake acid vat.
    • They exchange them again during their heated argument in the garage.
    • Morty later gives one to Rick for making him kiss his vat.
  • Foreshadowing: There are a few hints before The Reveal that Morty is actually hopping between parallel realities:
    • After Morty pulls down Goldenfold's pants and uses the remote, the shot lingers for a second after Morty vanishes, hinting at the fact that Morty is hopping between timelines instead of truly resetting, and that all of his actions still happened in the previous timeline.
    • Jessica's behavior towards Morty:
      • In one timeline, when Morty just politely greets her, she ambivalently brushes him off and walks away, even though the Jessica we know is almost always quite polite to Morty.
      • In another, after he talks to her and walks away, she outright squees with delight, despite never being that excited about talking to him before.
      • When he later apologizes to her for this behavior, she says she doesn't know what he's talking about. At first it might seem like just casually brushing aside the apology, but in hindsight, she clearly means it literally; the Jessica he's talking to now is not the same one as the above example.
    • After the plane crash, Morty dresses in Kenny McCormick's brown parka from South Park, a character famous for being unceremoniously killed multiple times during the latter show's early seasons.
    • The judge whom Morty apparently drove to suicide in "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat" shows up alive and well in the mob out for his blood, shortly before it's revealed that Rick and Morty are in a parallel reality at the end instead of their current home reality.
    • The entire scene where Rick reveals to Morty the true function of the do-over device has him talking a little slower and with slightly different intonation than usual. Then it turns out Morty was in an alternate dimension and that the Rick he was talking to was not "his".
  • Gave Up Too Soon: As Morty grudgingly decides to jump into Rick's fake acid to escape the angry mob, his new girlfriend shows up after remembering him, but runs off after seeing Morty drop into the acid.
  • Good-Times Montage: A cross-over with Failure Montage as we see a montage of Morty using the do-over button for fun as well as for failure correction.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Morty accidentally bisects one of the SWAT officers at the end of the episode, and he dies extremely painfully.
  • Hollywood Acid: All vats of acid are depicted as boiling and vivid green, with Rick offhandedly denying that his fake is just gallons of Mountain Dew in a hot tub setup. Rick's ruse is dependent on the assumption that it'll rapidly dissolve away all flesh, leaving behind only bones... which at least one witness questions and tries to test every time.
  • I Choose to Stay: When stranded in the mountains, Morty makes a solo expedition to find the rear half of the plane where his phone and the reset device are stored. On the verge of death, he makes it and gets the device, but remembers his romance with his girlfriend. Rather than reset to save himself from all the pain and trauma, he uses his phone to call for help instead. Too bad Jerry soon after renders his choice moot by accidentally resetting Morty with the remote anyway.
  • In Case of X, Break Glass: In Rick's new vat of acid, he added a gun next to the oxygen tank that Morty could use if someone were to use a ladle to test the acid.
  • In Spite of a Nail: When Morty questions how the alternate Rick knew of the vat of acid argument to play along with the revenge, he's angrily told that every Rick devises the vat of acid gambit.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Sure, Rick is immensely obnoxious and petty in this episode, but considering past episodes that involve time in some way, Rick was presumably correct in not implementing time-travel in his do-over device, thus avoiding paradoxes that could endanger them.
  • Kick the Dog: Morty does several mean or petty actions while using the remote, such as pantsing Goldenfold or pushing an old man out of a wheelchair, since he is under the belief he can be free of consequence. After merging his possibilities back together, however, numerous groups show up demanding Morty's head, implying Morty did something to the African community, the AARP, the whales, and something involving Gamergate.
  • Kill and Replace: Morty was unknowingly doing this every time he created a "save point" by hitting the blue button on his remote; each time, there was an alternate Morty at that point in time who died (via dissolving) when he did that, and when Morty hit the red "reset" button, he was actually replacing that alternate Morty at that point in the timeline where he killed them. Morty's horrified when he learns this.
  • Killer Gorilla: When Morty jumps into the gorilla habitat in a zoo, the apes tear him apart.
  • Match Cut: Morty's girlfriend's face morphs from a happy memory into the bleak reality at the crash site.
  • Meganekko: Morty's girlfriend wears glasses.
  • Merged Reality: Once the other Rick impresses upon him the horror of how the device actually works, Morty has the other Rick collapse all of his Save Scumming timelines into a single reality so that none of the Mortys were killed. Unfortunately for him, doing so causes all the people Morty pissed off in the other realities to want to get revenge on him, forcing Morty to follow Rick's fake vat of acid plan just to get them off his back.
  • Mundane Utility: Among the tasks Morty uses the do-over remote for are actions it's completely redundant to, such as testing free ice cream samples, catching a cheese puff in his mouth and even doing over in a video game.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Morty's reaction to finding out that the remote Rick made didn't give him a "do-over", but instead sacrificed an alternate Morty and let him take the double's place. He's so horrified by this that he meekly follows Rick's humiliating demands without objection to fix it.
  • Never My Fault: Rick claims he has no fault in what happened since Morty is the one who decided to activate the machine and not to have Rick explain how it worked. Even assuming ''Rick'' would have been completely honest with Morty, this doesn't change the fact that it was a pretty significant detail to reveal, and that the only reason the device works like that in the first place was that Rick chose so (and he admitted it).
  • The Noisy Straw: When Morty tells Rick about his revelation that consequences are a necessary part of life, the latter breaks the mood by sucking noisily on a straw.
  • No Name Given: Since Morty's entire relationship with his girlfriend happens in a montage with no dialogue, we never learn her name. In the Pocket Mortys video game her name is just "Morty's Girlfriend".
  • Noodle Incident: Rick is surprised by some of the parties showing up to get revenge from Morty at the end. Morty is unwilling to share details about what happened, but among the groups present are the S.W.A.T. unit, members of the African community saying "That is our word", a group demanding he "Bring back the Whales", something involving Gamergate, and many more.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: After running out of food and shoes, the survivors of the plane crash resort to eating the deceased ones.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: Morty pulls one of these on his math teacher. Gets worse when you realize that Morty and the teacher both had to live through this incident in their not-so-expendable universe.
  • Point of No Return: While the remote can save Morty's current location/point in time and teleport him back at the push of a button, it cannot take him to any point before his saved location. This comes back to bite him when his relationship with his girlfriend gets erased and he accidentally saves a new point after scaring her away, causing him to permanently lose his chance with her.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Morty uses his power to check out the women's locker room without having to fear the backlash. Or so he thought.
  • Rebel Relaxation: When Jessica ignored him the first time around at the school corridor, Morty tries leaning nonchalantly against a locker in the do-over. This time Jessica responds positively. Although, due to how the do-overs work, these were two different Jessicas.
  • The Reveal:
    • The remote that Rick made for Morty doesn't actually let Morty "save and reset" his timeline; instead, he's pulling a Kill and Replace on parallel-timeline Mortys every time he does this (killing them every time he "saves", and replacing them every time he "resets").
    • The Rick who reveals this to Morty isn't "his" Rick since Morty has now hopped realities a whole bunch of times.
    • After Morty has been returned to Rick C-137, the reality they're in at the time (where the climax of the episode takes place) isn't the same one they're currently living in, either, as Rick didn't want to "waste [their] home" to teach Morty a lesson. Apparently, in whatever reality they're in, Johnny Carson is still alive and on-air, 9/11 never happened, and rocky road ice cream is made with peanut butter instead of marshmallows.
  • Reverse Psychology: Rick accuses Morty of doing so, and it won't work (it actually isn't: Morty isn't trying to convince Rick he doesn't want the device hoping Rick will do it, he is going after Rick's pride).
  • Save Scumming: With Rick's new remote, Morty uses the gadget to save at any moment and then reload. To his shock, however, every time he did a reset, he sacrificed a Morty from a parallel reality.
  • See Water: Rick and Morty remain underwater for an extended period of time without goggles and don't seem to have any problems keeping their eyes open.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Morty lives through the plot of the film Alive when his plane crashes in the mountains.
    • Rick mentions the Futurama episode based around the Save Scumming premise this episode utilizes.
    • Amongst the clutter in Rick's garage lab is the TCRI canister of mutagen from various incarnations of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
    • When Rick reveals to Morty how the do-over device really works, he refers to Morty repeatedly pulling a Kill and Replace on alternate versions of himself as "You Prestige-d yourself."
    • After the plane crash, three of the four survivors are dressed as South Park characters. The unnamed man is dressed like Stan, the unnamed woman is dressed like Kyle and Morty is dressed like Kenny. Morty's Girlfriend, on the other hand, is not dressed like Cartman.
    • Rick mentions how Ant-Man and the Wasp can time-travel, like in Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Silence Is Golden: The 5-minute montage of Morty's Save Scumming and his subsequent time with his girlfriend is shown without any dialog.
  • So Was X: At the end, when Morty tries to defend his actions by saying he was just having fun, Rick replies "So was Jeffrey Dahmer."
  • The Stinger: In a Brick Joke, the SWAT team member who got covered with Rick's fake acid and mistakenly came to believe he was immune to its effects goes on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson to prove it, and gets boiled alive in real acid.
  • Stock Femur Bone: Spoofed. One of the baddies in the opening scene notes that the tiny rat bones Rick crafted on the fly do look like cartoon bones.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Watching someone, even your enemies, commit suicide by vat of acid would be pretty traumatic. The alien mob boss is very freaked out by it, especially because he thinks Rick took his grandson with him. He needs to be consoled by his two henchmen, resulting in them all hanging around and discussing the complexities of the vat of acid and what it does to people.
    • When you do nothing but heckle and badger someone for a favor or do nothing but complain towards them, especially if the person you're complaining towards is dangerous in some way, the end result won't be pretty. Morty wouldn't stop heckling Rick about his fake acid vat and the invention HE wanted, so Rick purposefully designed the device to give Morty the worst possible consequences as payback.
  • Suicide by Cop: Namedropped twice by police officers, who apparently look forward to such events:
    • The first time, Morty simply wants to do it as part of his "consequence-free do-over spree", as his Save Scumming would render it moot. One of the cops doing the shooting happily said he always wanted to be in this scenario.
    • The second time at the end of the episode, the police that's part of the angry mob threatens to shoot Morty, being okay if he invokes this.
  • Tempting Fate: Despite his Crazy-Prepared-ness, Rick is overconfident that the Acid Pool trick is gonna work out flawlessly. The Morty Factor says otherwise.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Morty's reaction when Rick pulls him into the acid vat.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Morty is using the Save Scumming for fun.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The SWAT member who believes he's acid-proof, rather than conducting any more, less-lethal tests, decides it'd be a good idea to get rich by going on TV and having himself entirely dropped in acid to prove it. Unsurprisingly, he then dies horribly and painfully as he's slowly dipped in real acid.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Part of Rick's revenge is making Morty face the actions he made when he thought having a do-over meant he wouldn't have to worry about the consequences. Morty had crossed all kinds of lines and in the end, practically every demographic that can be said to exist is out for his blood.
  • Wrong Time-Travel Savvy: Despite living with a maniac that uses Expendable Alternate Universes as lab rats and that very concept is the show's backbone, Morty still thinks that using the do-over device works like Save Scumming in a video game instead of using the multiverse theory.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Just after Morty and his girlfriend survive their ordeal in the mountains, Jerry undoes their relationship when he mistakes Rick's device for the TV remote. Doubles as The Un Twist because of how obvious the "Morty has the entire relationship erased" plot point was, although it did lead to the far less obvious ending.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Morty’s reaction upon realizing the whole scheme was to force Morty to use the fake vat of acid to escape the consequences of his actions.

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