Some of the best and most refreshing Rick and Morty episodes shine the spotlight on Morty’s big sister Summer Smith. Whereas Morty often repeats his worst mistakes over and over leading to somewhat redundant plotlines, Summer is a more capable and grounded character whom Rick trusts to do things like steal Mr. Nimbus’ magic conch shell or “do a Díe Hard” to save the day. Far too often, Summer either gets sidelined or gets reduced to a smartphone-obsessed millennial, but Season 7 Episode 7 “Wet Kuat Amortican Summer” delivers one of her all-time best stories. In doing so, it also includes a bombshell revealed plucked from the darkest corners of Rick’s fractured psyche.
“Wet Kuat Amortican Summer” opens on Summer doing Rick’s chores so she can earn a new gadget. After feeding some monsters in the basement below the garage, sorting through Rick’s amulets, and disposing of dead aliens, Summer demands an attribute slider cuff so she can wow her classmates at the “frolf mixer” teased in Episode 6’s post-credits scene. At first, it works great, giving Summer the strength she needs to show off and the charisma to hit on a handsome jock.
Summer trades chores for sci-fi technology.
However, it doesn’t take long for Morty to get jealous, and just like in the Season 4 finale when the siblings fought over an invisibility belt, they wind up wrestling for the device only to fall into a pool. The genetic sequencer then mutates them into a single being with their spines entwined. Morty is transformed into a horrifying Kuato, a disturbing reference to Total Recall.
(In that classic Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi action movie, Kuato is the name given to a psychic mutant growing out of a man’s abdomen. In Rick and Morty, it’s a generic term given to any sort of mutant growing out of a person’s body. They all have a psychic link to their hosts, and the only thing they can say is “open your mind” in various tones like some “I am Groot” nonsense.)
Naturally, Summer winds up partying on an alien planet with a bunch of other Kuato hosts only to be abducted into a human trafficking ring, or rather, a Kuato trafficking ring. Turns out, the Kuato leader wants to sell Kuato Morty to the highest bidder. Rick eventually tracks them down and teams up with Summer to fight a bunch of henchmen and rescue Morty. It’s in the midst of a firefight that Rick drops this bombshell:
“Morty’s a dog! People have cats because their affection is earned. I treat you like an equal because I respect you. You remind me of your grandmother!”
One of the few times we’ve seen Diane in Rick and Morty.
Speaking of Summer’s grandmother, earlier in the episode Rick’s AI analyzes security footage to track Summer and Morty down but puts it in black and white. “I didn’t design you for dramatic effect!” Rick says. The AI responds cuttingly: “You made me sound like your deaf wife.” This cleverly sets up Rick’s later comment about Summer being like Diane.
After all, it was only two weeks ago that Rick finally get vengeance Rick Prime, the Rick variant who used the Omega Device to erase Dianes across all realities after murdering Rick’s original Diane and Beth with an explosive device. For Rick to admit and vocalize why he respects Summer demonstrates a lot of progress he’s made toward becoming a better person. Earlier this season, the episode “Air Force Wong” emphasized Rick’s commitment to therapy and its effect on him. He couldn’t let go of his vendetta against Rick Prime, but now that he’s gotten his revenge, he’s finally starting to move on and open up about Diane. We’ve come a long way.
Consider that we knew virtually nothing about her until the Season 3 premiere, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” when the Galactic Federation explored Rick’s memories only for him to conjure up “a totally fabricated origin story” where Rick Prime murders Diane and Beth. It wasn’t until the Season 5 finale that an extended flashback confirmed this part of Rick’s past was actually true. When Rick gets sent back to his home dimension in the Season 6 premiere, he converses with an AI in his garage that sounds just like Diane. Since then, that AI — or at least its voice — has become the default mode for Rick’s garage and space cruiser even in his home dimension. But that wasn’t always the case!
Morty is just Morty, and that may never change. But every time the show explores Rick’s relationship with Summer or Beth, things get far more interesting.
“You’re exactly like me,” Rick told Beth in Season 3 as he waxes philosophical about the meaningless of the multiverse and how smart people like them “get a chance to climb on top” and “take reality for a ride.” So he offers to make a clone of her, which is how Beth and Space Beth came to coexist. Why would he do this?
“I don't know, maybe you matter so little that I like you, or maybe it makes you matter,” Rick says. “Maybe I love you. Maybe something about your mother.”
Rick rarely opens up to his daughter, but when he does it’s always interesting.
This is the closest we’d gotten in years to Rick expressing a genuine feeling. Things are very different now. Not only does Rick recognize that Beth is just as brilliant and powerful as he is, but he also acknowledges that Summer is like Diane. That probably means that while Diane may not have been a super-genius, she was an immensely capable spitfire with a lot of sass and good instincts who’s endlessly reliable in a pinch — just like Summer.
We all love Morty, but the way Beth and Summer reflect aspects of Rick’s identity offers much more in terms of rich character development. If Morty has to be sidelined every now and then for that to happen, then Rick and Morty is a better show for it.
Where does it go for here? On this side of the Rick Prime saga when Rick is opening up about Diane, we’re bound to learn more about Morty and Summer’s grandmother. The Omega Device allegedly obliterated every instance of Diane from across the multiverse, but if there’s a Morty out there who’s smarter and more capable than Rick, then in an infinite universe, there’s at least one Diane who was — or still is — the smartest woman ever. Could such a woman have figured out a way to shield herself from the Omega Device? If so, she’s probably looking for the villain who tried to wipe her off the face of the multiverse. That would lead her straight to Rick. Wouldn’t that make for one hell of a Season 7 finale?
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on Adult Swim.
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