The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty S6E3 “Bethic Twinstinct”
Ah, Thanksgiving: or, as Rick says, “Life is a subscription and Thanksgiving is your family’s annual burden.” I’m sure many of us have family landmines on Turkey Day, but in Rick and Morty S6E3 “Bethic Twinstinct”, a family so dysfunctional, traverses the pre-2018 DMZ practically barefoot and blindfolded.
Morty is the proud recipient of a Pooplickian GamePod XL courtesy of Space Beth, who is visiting for the holidays. As befits Jerry, he immediately spoils the mood with a toast that heavily implies (and then confirms) that he is grateful for his wife and would kill himself if she ever left or cheated on him. It’s classic for Jerry to say or do the worst at any given moment, and it’s classic for everyone else to hate him for it.
Wife Beth and Space Beth begin to communicate about the dishes. Since they have identical back problems, they can adapt perfectly to each other. Late that night, Beth goes outside to an equally sleepless Space Beth. They almost kiss but are interrupted by Summer getting a glass of water and accidentally kicking something in the living room. However, Summer knows what would happen. She responds by becoming more involved with the video games. In the episode, it becomes an ongoing part for everyone but Jerry to realize what’s going on and cope with video games. I think it might not be dissimilar for children to escape domestic squabbles by retreating to another room to escape into a game. For his part, Jerry is ignorant of everything and disinterested in virtual media, opting for a ridiculously simple puzzle instead.
The Beths announce that they are taking a trip to the Gloppydrop system for ice cream, but instead use it as an excuse to hang out together outside of the family. Meanwhile, they acknowledge that while they don’t know who the “original” Beth is, they can talk to each other and say things they couldn’t say to anyone. It was a fantastic plot point with Rick cloning his daughter and protecting himself from knowing who was the original and who was the clone, and I love that the show is sticking with that storyline. The comfort the Beths feel as they interact is palpable. Considering how narcissistic Beth can be, it’s not that surprising when they hit the ground running how much Beth is attracted to herself before they fall into bed together on Space Beth’s space station orbiting Earth. It’s worth noting that the age-old question of what class of sexual activity does having sex with oneself fall under is not answered.
They continue in Space Beth’s ship at home, which Morty overhears, and now we have both Morty and Summer focused on the video game a little too much to distract from the fact that their mother is cheating on her father… with hers Mother. It’s so surreal to see the Beths interact, and the strength of the writing shows how organically the two (especially Ms. Beth) grapple with the concept of being the same person but with enough different experiences to have a genuine heart -Heart about their feelings.
Beth goes to her father and mentions that she and Space Beth had so much fun that they forgot about the ice cream. Rick immediately understands what she’s saying and gives his daughter some rare, honest advice. About his own never-ending adventures, he says that he has also “forgotten about the ice”. He warns Beth that if she “forgets” too much, she’ll have “secrets and lies to hide…Lies abound.” When Beth sarcastically asks Rick if he’s against secrets, he replies, “Oh fuck no! Secrets are great!”
Things eventually come to a head as the Beths grapple with their differences: Ms. Beth is tied to her domestic duties, tied to her marriage, and unsure of how to deal with the fact that she could…cheat on Jerry with her clone . Space Beth is sharper, dismissing Ms. Beth’s concerns and more interested in the passion she shares with… herself. Damn, this is confusing. When Rick, Morty and Summer confront the Beths about how obvious everything is (except to Jerry), Space Beth abruptly spills the beans on their rendezvous at the dinner table. Space Beth says she had sex with Jerry’s wife… or maybe she did she is Jerry’s wife and he cheated on her with a clone. This proves to be too much for Jerry, who suddenly turns into a pill bug.
Rick reveals that this pill error coping mechanism was Jerry’s desire for an “emotional coping mechanism” when the two were drunk together. Now I want to see the scene where Rick and Jerry are drunk and share their honest thoughts with each other. However, this causes a rift between the Beths, with Mrs. Beth professing her love for Jerry and Space Beth and fighting back against Mrs. Beth’s poor communication with whom she believes she is a worthless husband. As the Beths decide Eternal Sunshine Jerry eventually unfolds her memories of their love and lays himself and his “weird little dick” down (noting that he’s the only one commenting on his member).
Space Beth realizes that Jerry is only upset about all of this because he didn’t know about it, didn’t give “permission”. Suddenly, Jerry is overcome by a change. He gives them permission. What follows can only be described as the most uncomfortable, hilariously awkward threesome ever. We don’t see Jerry announcing he’s getting humiliated with the Beths, asserting himself, furniture moving — but we hear it in the dining room, just below the bedroom. A shocked Morty and Summer and a thoroughly irritated Rick are allowed to listen to the whole thing. This is probably the funnest part of the episode; Matching mental images to what Jerry and the Beths are saying is a terrifying notion, and the changes in Morty and Summer’s facial expressions show the full breadth of the trauma process.
But in what may be the first time Jerry has come out on top (?), the threesome seems to have greatly improved his relationship with his wife and with Space Beth. It’s surprisingly nice to see Jerry in a better place at the end of Bethic Twinstinct, and not as a joke. Maybe this will improve their marriage, or maybe Jerry is still such a loser that it just gives him enough confidence to carry him through to the start of the next episode. I also suspect that one or more family members are in for a major emotional upheaval. It can’t be long before we find out.