“Bethic Twinstinct” takes a typically bizarre concept and commits to it enough that the whole thing becomes surprisingly earnest. But there’s still room for plenty of Rick and Morty essentials at the same time.
This recap of Rick and Morty season 6, episode 3, “Bethic Twinstinct”, contains spoilers.
When you think of Rick and Morty you think, probably, of multiple realities, high-concept sci-fi premises, uber-violence, pop-cultural references, and a nihilistic streak a mile wide. You probably don’t think of “Bethic Twinstinct”, an earthbound, family-focused love story between Beth and Space Beth that turns the usual Thanksgiving episode concept on its head while also including a surprising number of the aforementioned Rick and Morty hallmarks. This isn’t the sharpest half-hour in the show’s history, but it does double down on a concept to surprisingly potent effect without sacrificing any essential components.
Rick and Morty season 6, episode 3 recap
In a way, I like this more than the usual fare, or at least I like it just as much but in a slightly different way. “Bethic Twinstinct” — a pun on Basic Instinct, obviously – has a bunch of both pop-cultural and self-referential nods thrown in, but it never loses sight of the premise, which is that, during a Thanksgiving get-together, Beth falls in love and begins a sexual relationship with Space Beth, but they decide to keep it a secret so as not to disrupt the family dynamic and potentially push Jerry into suicide.
This is weird, of course, but the episode does an okay job of highlighting why falling in love with oneself makes a kind of twisted sense – you’d have so much in common, after all. But the big motivator is very mundane; Space Beth represents freedom, untethered from the routine and expectations of nuclear family life, and a reprieve from the boredom of normalcy (not that anything this family experiences is normal, but you get the idea.) The problem is that neither Beth is any good at keeping this a secret.
This accounts for the episode’s dramatic tension – will Jerry find out?! — and also a very funny B-plot in which Summer and Morty, having figured out what’s going on, try to distract themselves using a hyperreal video game console that makes fun of the idea that “realism” is the last thing that video games need. In the Asteroids knock-off the little ship encounters very few asteroids since most of space is empty, the Street Fighter characters can’t fight unless they painstakingly find one another during their everyday lives, and in this version of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud can’t pick up his iconic Buster Sword because it’s too heavy.
The most surprising knock-on effect of Beth and Space Beth’s relationship is how it pivots at the last minute to reconcentrate some power in Jerry’s hands rather than consistently making a mockery of him. In being allowed to take control in his own way, Jerry manages to turn the relationship to his advantage in a weird power-play threesome setup that Summer and Morty are mortified to overhear. It isn’t a happy ending, per se, but it’s a very Rick and Morty one.