We finally get to spend a little time with the family this season. After episodes of taking a backseat, Beth and Jerry become focal characters, with an episode that really explores the dysfunction between Rick and his daughter. As a penultimate episode, ‘The ABCs of Beth’ treads a fair bit of ground and leaves an interesting cliff-hanger that could have a real impact on the finale/future seasons.
We open with a news bulletin about an upcoming death row execution – Beth remembers Tommy, the friend that the inmate father supposedly killed, and the goofy imaginary world they that shared. Cue Rick – frustrated that Beth takes the mickey of the name Froopyland, Rick reveals that it was one of his creations, and Beth realises that Tommy may be trapped inside.
The two enter Froopyland. After a few fake suicides to prove how harmless the world is, Rick is attacked by a giant bird-like creature that tears his arm off. He soon gains a new mechanical arm and the knowledge that the world has been corrupted by human DNA. He and Beth are captured by deformed monsters, who take them to King Tommy.
I love how, no matter how many chances Jerry is given, he shows no sign of developing as a person
How has he survived, you ask? Although Rick and Beth have put it together, we are treated to an adorably horrific child’s production depicting Tommy’s sleeping with a Froopyland creature after humping many things, and the subsequent cycle of cannibalism and incest that has sustained him (this isn’t a kid’s show, everyone).
We’re also shown that it was Beth who trapped Tommy in the world, out of jealousy for him and his Nintendo console. Rick is completely unsurprised, telling Beth that she was a scary kid who frequently asked him for terrifying devices to use on the neighbourhood’s children. Beth retorts with barbs about Rick’s parenting, but quickly realises that she is just like him. She decides to prove that she is different by mounting a rescue of Tommy but, after she is unable to apologise to her former friend, she winds up in a defensive frenzy and kills everybody there.
Beth returns with Tommy’s severed finger, and the two create a clone to save his father – the adventure has made Beth think about her life, however, and she asks Rick what to do. He gives her two options – make like him and travel the cosmos while a clone replaces her, or stay with the family and be content. What does she choose? Well, we don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out – I expect we’ll have a world-weary Beth either way round, but for very different reasons – and it’s a pleasure to once again find Rick pushing through to show that he cares for somebody.
Bring on next week, and make it schwifty
To the B-story. It’s the kid’s weekend with Jerry, and some things have changed. He now has telekinetic powers as a result of dating Kiara, an alien hunter. Morty and Summer quickly realise that he is using Kiara in an attempt to make Beth jealous, and urge him to break it off. But, because he is such a cowardly figure, he weasels out of the situation by blaming Morty and Summer.
Kiara hunts down the family, with the kids urging Jerry to finally man up and face his problems (the open disdain they have for their father now is both a little tragic and very funny). Jerry confronts Kiara and is saved from death when her former boyfriend turns up – Jerry was just a rebound relationship too. Yay for more Jerry – I love how, no matter how many chances he is given, he shows no sign of developing as a person.
‘The ABC’s of Beth’ is a change of pace for this season, but is no less funny (and certainly more uncomfortable) than some of the other episodes. I’m glad that we finally got Jerry back, and the exploration of Beth’s character is one I hope the show revisits in the future. It’s a shame to think this is the penultimate episode of season three, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had no idea what will happen next in a TV show – bring on next week, and make it schwifty!
‘Bitch, my generation gets traumatised for breakfast.’ – Summer sums up the mentality of our generation in a line (apologies for the lack of a trigger warning).
‘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 is frustrated with Beth’s lack of appreciation of Froopyland.
‘I’m sure you noticed what she has three of [her breasts], but guess what she has two of?’ – Jerry, what do you see in Kiara?
‘This is my secret Froopyland where I have no rules! I am excited. I am jealous of Tommy’s friends and his Nintendo and his dad who likes him.’ ‘I take it Tommy wasn’t class playwright.’ – Rick is unimpressed with the expository play.
‘Hi Beth, you’ve gotten taller. Shall we resume stabbing?’ – One of the inventions young Beth asked for was a sentient switchblade – this really made me laugh.
Thomas Middleditch sells the insane self-confidence of Tommy so well, it makes his incestuous joy a hysterical highlight of the episode.
Jerry has a few phone messages on his answering machine. Kiara warns Jerry that her new boyfriend is furious with him. Then, the new boyfriend tells Jerry that he is coming to kill him. Rick tells Jerry that he killed the new boyfriend and, for good measure, had sex with Kiara. Finally, we hear from Michael, the owner of the antique store where Jerry bought the answering machine in the first place. Jerry’s fallen behind on payments, but he’s allowed to just keep it because ‘no-one uses them anymore and it’s only used for exposition on TV shows, anyway.’ Touché, Rick and Morty.