It’s Thanksgiving in the Smith household, and thankfully, we get to skip Rick’s turkey misadventure and go straight to an awkward family dinner.
Space Beth has come to visit, and she can’t help but notice how her suburban self is still chained to Jerry, who proudly proclaims he would commit suicide if Beth ever left him. Keen to get away from their annoying, doting husband, the two Beths spend some time alone, comparing their similarities and differences, getting increasingly intimate, until the inevitable happens.
I’m not sure if it would be described as masturbation or incest, but the two Beths seem to be having a great time; there’s something oddly wholesome about the pairing. Amusingly, the two are terrible at keeping their affair secret – both Summer and Morty catch them in the act, and attempt to dissociate through hyper-realistic videogames.
The joke is that “realism” in this context means drudgery, and it’s an apt satire of high-budget videogames that make players explore a map the size of a small country, and craft every damn weapon by hand (the sight of Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 struggling to even lift his Buster Sword, let alone land a hit, was hilarious).
Beth, unsure how to feel about her unusual affair, turns to the only man who could understand the situation; because of course Rick has had sex with one of his duplicates, probably a few times. At this point, the man has indulged in every conceivable act of hedonism, and he gives Beth some strangely well-adjusted advice – have fun without getting carried away.
But Beth isn’t sure whether she’s just lusting after her own image, or actually in love with her liberated self. So she does a “San Junipero” and lives a lifetime in virtual reality with Space Beth, blissfully entering their twilight years together.
Until Rick crashes the party and ends the simulation, with Summer and Morty demanding that Jerry be let in on their little secret. Space Beth has a typically hostile response, and the family decides to back off, until Space Beth, ironically, lets the secret spill, hoping to humiliate Jerry.
Jerry responds by curling into a pillbug ball, an amusingly unexpected move which Rick had a hand in. For once, Rick seems to have done something nice for Jerry, allowing him to retreat from emotionally intense situations whenever he likes.
Something about the vulnerability of Jerry’s pillbug form seems to awaken some kind of maternal instinct in Beth, and she decides she wants to stick with him, living the suburban life. The “San Junipero” fantasy was nice, but ultimately, just a fantasy. Space Beth is pretty engaged by her rejection, and the two decide that they just don’t want to deal with the messy, emotional reality of their affair; they’d rather Rick just wipe their memories.
Jerry unrolls to stop them, and the three have a serious conversation about how to move forward, leading to the most hilarious scene of the episode, in which the talk turns unexpectedly sexual, and the rest of the family hear their exploits through the paper-thin walls of the house – no amount of realistic videogame time is going to let the kids forget it.
With the tension released, Space Beth flies off again, reminding Summer and Morty that they accidentally created an incest baby, Naruto, who is still floating off somewhere in space – the sexual histories of the Smiths is getting increasingly convoluted, and gross.
Unlike previous episodes that push a crude joke too far (like the sex dragons and giant sperm adventures), “Bethic Twinstinct” had just the right amount of cringe, and was pretty thoughtful about the whole thing.
The episode was packed full of callbacks, building on Rick and Morty lore without leaning too heavily on it – the post-credits scene even sees Jerry visiting the Jerryboree again, hoping to conduct his own “self-love” experiments. Amusingly, he settles for a quick kiss with another Jerry – that’s more than enough for him.
While the start of this episode emphasized how much of a loser Jerry is, he ends on top, still married to Beth after having a threesome with her cyborg clone; it’s the closest to a happy ending the man can get.
If you enjoyed reading, check out my recap of the previous episode here