The eighth episode of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty titled “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” aired on August 8 and left fans with more questions than answers. In a nearly standalone Rick episode, the episode commits to a parody of Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while Rick trades out romance with friendship within the memories of his coma-stricken best friend Birdperson to save his life. In shades of the previous “Pickle Rick” Die Hard parody episode, Rick leaps through the memories in order to provide a convincing plea to his friend to wake up once more, yet potentially only to save himself from also perishing while inside Birdperson’s mind.
“Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” allows viewers to see a wide range of Rick’s past with Birdperson over the years while also gaining some insight into the intergalactic scientist himself. Memories are shown of the first few times Rick and Birdperson hung out in addition to their time during the Battle of Blood Ridge and BP’s relationship with varying forms of the Galactic Federation’s double agent Tammy. The episode demonstrates Rick’s insecurity and inability to find even a true friend who wants to go on these spectacular voyages across the galaxy and different dimensions with.
The insecurity of Rick shown in the aftermath of Birdperson’s refusal to join Rick on continuous trips and adventures can be fleshed out with Rick’s incessant need to employ his grandson Morty on each trip. There can be no resistance from Morty and, when there is, Rick can impose his will on the socially awkward teenager. Through the exploration of Birdperson’s mind and memories, it appears Rick has tried and is still trying to impose his sense of direction and will upon his best friend, who has witnessed resistance, love, and betrayal and ultimately wants nothing to do but run away.
While Rick’s mission appears to be altruistic on the front end, it quickly devolves into yet another example of his selfish desire to live as he realizes that he is only going to survive if Birdperson does, seemingly doing the initial task for himself instead of its original intention. Birdperson’s memories are serving as a coping and acceptance method that he is fostering an understanding of his connections with Rick, Tammy, and others, something that Rick’s incessant desire to want instead of foster.
Additionally, the episode offers a shocking reveal through a throwaway interaction with Memory Rick and Rick that C-137’s Rick is living within a dimension with Beth, a version of his daughter that has passed away and Rick attempts to rely upon. While the episode does not reveal too much about this paradigm-shifting claim, it does bring us to question a lot of what the show has shown us in the past. Does Beth being cloned even matter? Has Rick been so careless with the lives of his family as this is not actually his Beth? And are Jerry, Morty, and Summer solely exist within a hypothetical different timeline? Were Diane and Beth actually killed in a similar fashion as the season three false reality? Or does any of this even matter? Everything is questioned that we have viewed in the past five seasons and is hopefully explored through season five’s hour-long finale in September.