“The Old Man and the Seat” challenges humanity’s need for connection and Rick’s need for privacy to reliably hilarious effect.
This recap of Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 2, “The Old Man and the Seat”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Taika Waititi seems to be cropping up everywhere lately. Seemingly not content with the success among critics and audiences of his latest feature-film, Jojo Rabbit, he showed up as a scene-stealing bounty hunter droid in the premiere of The Mandalorian on Disney+ and arrives in Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 2 as Glootie, Rick’s four-eyed alien intern with “Do Not Develop My App” tattooed on his head. All he ever wants to talk about, in Waititi’s elastic voice, is that app.
“The Old Man and the Seat” has a laugh at the idea of easy temptation and the idiocy of those who succumb to it without a fight – in this case, Jerry (Chris Parnell), who immediately takes Glootie up on his offer for a 50/50 split.
The app, titled LoveFinderrz, which I assure you nobody gets away with, is clearly a bad idea. It’s especially clear to Morty, who just one episode prior fell victim to the same kind of misguided ambition, and intervenes on Jerry’s behalf. Unfortunately, Rick is absent, having gone off to a secret shimmering location for a private poop, so Morty alone is forced to contend with Glootie’s thirsty race, the Monogratrons.
LoveFinderrz, you see, is a dating app, built with a superior knowledge of intimacy that can distract humankind while Glootie’s overseers make off with all Earth’s water. If you scan this idea, you can probably find a pretty scathing commentary on true love, the pursuit of relationships and the leaving behind of true happiness and contentment – if you were looking for such things, obviously.
It’s fitting, then, that Morty and Jerry turn the tables on the Monogratons by turning the LoveFinderrz app on Glootie, who rather than having one soul mate after another has none at all. Perhaps his species aren’t quite as adept with relationships as they like to think. In a clever touch, the app is shut down by the installation of an ad wall – at the merest hint of inconvenience, all the users on Earth instantly uninstall it, the crisis is averted, and a lesson is learned.
It isn’t the only one. Rick’s B-plot in “The Old Man and the Seat” challenges his lust for power and control, and his frustration with the general dim-wittedness of everyone around him, through literal toilet humor. Rick’s private bog on a secret planet has been sneakily used by someone else, and he’s furious about it. Through a series of bizarre clues and devices, he’s able to track the culprit back to a frog planet where he blackmails a fly kingpin by kidnapping 470,000 of his 800,000 kids. The phantom pooper turns out to be – who else? – a philosophizing alien named Tony (Jeffrey Wright) who challenges Rick’s pointless bid for control in the universe in general but more specifically in the Smith family, where he now has to ask for Beth (Sarah Chalke) and Jerry’s permission before taking Morty away on intergalactic adventures.
It’s testament to the genius of this show that Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 2 can grapple with humanity’s need for worthwhile connection, its frustration and disillusionment with technology, and one brilliant, nihilistic individual’s lust for control, all without ever really seeming as though it’s trying to be about anything at all beyond light-hearted sci-fi slapstick. “The Old Man and the Seat”, like the Season 4 premiere before it, is Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s show at its effortless, anarchic best.