RICK AND MORTY – EPISODE 3: ANATOMY PARK

Ep #: 3
Air date: Dec. 16, 2013
Synopsis: Rick sends Morty inside a hobo’s body where he has built a theme park. Meanwhile, Jerry has to deal with his parents’ new lover.

Most shows require a certain amount of time at the start to establish the setting and characters. Rick and Morty nailed most of their formula from the get-go with mild hiccups. Paying homage to popular films was a prominent gimmick in the earlier episodes. Other than the titular duo’s obvious reference to Doc and Marty from Back to the Future, the second episode, “Lawnmower Dog” took on Inception and A Nightmare Before Elm Street. “Anatomy Park” continues the tradition, this time mashing both Jurassic Park and The Fantastic Voyage.

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Christmas has arrived and Jerry Smith is one excited patriarch. His parents are coming to visit for the first time in years and he wants the perfect family gathering. The rest of the Smiths are apathetic, glued to their tablets and smartphones. Offended, Jerry confiscates the electronics into a bag until the holidays are over.

Rick barges in with a hobo named Ruben. Jerry is about to call him out, but Rick assures him he’s going to be in his workshop the whole day, examining the man as he does every year to ensure he’s in top shape. That’s reason enough for Jerry, surprised the mad scientist is capable of kindness.

Jerry’s parents, Joyce and Leonard, soon arrive with a man half their age. Jacob is an open and friendly fellow who gets along quickly with the rest of the Smiths, but Jerry is confused what exactly his involvement with his parents are. The older Smith couple isn’t helping with their cryptic speech. After Leonard’s brush with cancer, the pair wanted a visible change in their lives and Jacob was the answer. They don’t elaborate any further than that, so Jerry gathers everyone in the main room while Rick drags Morty away to his workshop.

Ruben is going into shock, keeping Rick busy. He needs Morty to find someone named Dr. Xenon Bloom so he can figure out why Ruben’s fading. Rick uses a machine to shrink Morty to microscopic levels and pumps him into Ruben.

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Jerry’s assumption was way off. Rick’s been trying to keep Ruben alive, not out of concern, but because his body is the source for an amusement park called Anatomy Park. It’s a side business venture Rick’s been cooking up with Dr. Xenon, just to give you an idea on how low the man would sink that he managed to convince a desperate hobo to be part of his weird experiment. Morty is flabbergasted at the park’s existence. Rick is just a little testy when he thinks Morty is making fun of the Pirates of the Pancreas Ride, his personal pet project.

Morty boards a train down to the liver, home of the Haunted Liver tour. The entire place is in disarray, ruined by years of alcoholism. After a brush with an animatronic werewolf, Morty runs into a small group of survivors. Leading the charge is Dr. Xenon Bloom himself, a sentient amoeba and the brains behind the park. The rest are all human: Poncho is the trigger-happy muscle, Roger is presumably a zookeeper what with his Steve Irwin look, and Annie is a young researcher who happens to be a hot teenage girl. Morty surprises no one when he develops an instant attraction to her.

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Rick establishes communication and discovers the security system has been shut off and all the exhibits turned loose. Dr. Xenon explains that Anatomy Park isn’t just fun and games, but a museum of humanity’s living diseases. Morty bares witness to one when it strikes the team: Hepatitis A.

Jerry’s discomfort increases when he catches Jacob wiping Joyce’s lips during dinner. Though Joyce tries to cover it up, Leonard decides life is too short and confesses. Surviving cancer reminded the old couple to reflect on forty years of marriage. Life is fleeting and to make the most of it, Joyce took Jacob as her lover while Leonard willingly watches whenever they’re involved. The rest of the family—especially Beth—congratulates the trio on their newfound happiness. Jerry is displeased, a reaction Summer especially takes with karmic glee now that his ideal Christmas is crashing down on him.

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Morty’s team escape Hepatitis A only to realize Ruben’s brain isn’t getting enough air. It’s why security was down in the first place. Their new goal is to find the source of the problem. Another survivor—a guy in a mascot costume—joins them. Inside the respiratory system, Morty volunteers to look for a blockage, but a bushel of Tuberculous bacteria is hot on his trail. Poncho guns them down, but damages Ruben’s lungs in the process, forcing the old hobo to cough. The team nearly looses their grip, but only Mascot Man ends up the unfortunate victim. In one of the show’s gruesome moments, the whiplash kills the man by ripping out his skin and muscle.

Morty informs Rick that Ruben has tuberculosis. Just as Rick is seconds away from curing him, the man flat lines. Unwilling to go the extra mile to revive a dead man, Rick tells Morty if he’s unable to escape, then he might as well visit the Pirates of the Pancreas display.

At this point, the only way out is through the digestive system where a growth ray is secured and ready for use. Dr. Xenon discreetly informs Morty that the system shutdown was an act of sabotage. He suspects Annie since she’s been written up several times, but that doesn’t stop Morty from flirting with her.

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The crew passes the small intestines, home of an It’s a Small World-ish singalong ride. It’s exactly as creepy and ear piercingly as it sounds. Gonorrhea crashes the party, but Dr. Xenon claims they’ll be safe if they don’t move. He’s mistaken and Gonorrhea crashes their boat. They swim to shore, but they’re still trapped. Morty quickly points out that the dying corpse has been giving out gas. Poncho takes the suggestion and throws a lit match to the water Gonorrhea is in, blowing the creature up. Annie is so impressed, she hugs Morty. As straight as the homage plays out, “Anatomy Park” more than makes up for it through its creative use of human diseases and organs as obstacles for our heroes to bypass. The monster designs are particularly creative and appropriately ugly.

The Smiths gather in the living room to bond while Leonard plays the bongos. Except Jerry. He chooses to pout. Beth tries to cheer him up, but the moment is ruined when Summer’s boyfriend, Ethan, bursts in. He’s pissed Summer hasn’t called back and the two get into a shouting match. Jerry is surprised Summer has a boyfriend. Jacob thinks he should be more involved with his children, a condescending remark in Jerry’s eyes.

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The team reaches the sphincter where the ray machine is. While Roger boots it up, Morty spots a creature slithering inside Poncho’s bag. Dr. Xenon recognizes it as Bubonic Plague. Poncho was the saboteur. Taking Annie hostage, Poncho intends to sell the plague to whichever country is willing to pay the highest bid, all out of spite towards Dr. Xenon whom he hated working for. Morty fights back, but is no match for Poncho’s strength. He gets his karmic justice when the plague bites him in the shoulder. Poncho topples over the catwalk and falls to his death. The team isn’t out of the woodwork yet; the sphincter dam is about to burst. Everyone escapes, but Roger’s foot is caught in the machine. The dam bursts, killing him. Morty comforts Annie as she cries into his arms.

Jacob steps in to try and help Ethan with his anger issues. At first, he’s reluctant, but then confesses his brother “made him feel like a girl.” Ethan breaks down until Jacob reassures him that he is who he is. Ethan and Summer reunite, making out just a little too inappropriately in front of everyone. Joyce is proud of Jacob and doubly makes out with him while her husband watches from a closet. For a show that could have easily dived into bad jokes at the expanse of other people not considered “normal” within contemporary society, “Anatomy Park” never resorts to cheap tactics, choosing to treat its subject matter with great maturity when needed. Joyce and Leonard’s polygamous relationship and Ethan’s abuse are both handled sympathetically. Not bad for an adult animated show.

Jerry’s reaction is understandable because it’s sudden and unexpected of his parents. He storms out when it becomes clear the rest of the family is not going to support his negativity.

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Speaking of making out, Morty and Annie are at it in a theater where an animatronic Ruben is explaining his life’s story while Dr. Xenon is gorging on ice cream. The corpse starts to decay and fall apart, threatenng to cave in the surviving crew. Rick is trying to find a way out, but a despondent Jerry wanders in to apologize; right now, Rick’s the sanest relative in his eyes. He instantly opts out when he witnesses the old geezer shoving dynamite inside Ruben’s body though. Rick tells Morty to go to the left nipple hole as he dumps the body into his spaceship. Dr. Xenon suggests taking the bone train (called because it’s connected to the skeletal system.)

The bone train lacks an auto-pilot button, meaning one of them has to stay and manually operate it. Neither teen is eager to volunteer. Dr. Xenon apologizes, realizing this was all his fault to begin with and operates the vehicle himself. An outbreak of E. Coli ambushes them just in time for the kids to board the moving train. Xenon has no such luck; he realizes the controls did have an auto-pilot button, but by that point it’s too late and he’s consumed by the E. Coli.

Rick flies out to space, lights up the dynamite inside Ruben, and kicks the dead man out. He then uses the ray machine to expand Ruben until he’s large enough to cover the entire United States, gaining the attention of everyone below. There was no reason for Rick to have gone this far, but he’s not one to leave his tracks behind. Rick doesn’t care to find a straight solution. He could have just shrunk himself and waited for the kids, but no, he had to pull an elaborate plan that probably only made sense to him.

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Morty wards off the E. Coli, but Hepatitis A blocks the upcoming track the train is on. Morty tries to stop the bone train and veers off course, crash landing to their destination, the nipple hole. Morty and Annie have no time to admire the view with Hepatitis A gunning after them. They’re saved at the last minute by Hepatitis C who gives them a thumbs up before walking off. Rick rescues the two in time for Ruben to explode into pieces.

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Despite Jacob’s advice, Beth is doubtful her marriage with Jerry will survive with his current personality. Then the sky rains blood, putting some perspective in their lives. Everyone is panicking until Jerry reassures them. Having just watched the news, he states everything will be mostly alright. He lets bygones be bygones and accepts Jacob into the family. Jerry then relinquishes the electronic devices in an effort to calm his family.

Rick flies Morty and Annie home, sad Anatomy Park will never have a shot now that Dr. Xenon is dead. Annie enthusiastically announces that she studied under Xenon; she might have the knowledge to make a second Anatomy Park, including Pirates of the Pancreas. That’s more than enough for Rick to shrink Annie for round two. Morty is upset since he felt something growing between him and Annie, but Rick dismisses it.

The duo reunites with the rest of the Smiths, all consumed within their phones and tablets. Rick calls them out for being slaves to the machines while Jerry amusingly shrugs.

The stinger opens with Rick during an on-call meeting with Annie and her new group. They’re unsure about Pirates of the Pancreas, but before they can give a reason, Rick cuts them off. He angrily rants to Ethan, the new carrier for the theme park. Ethan asks when he’s getting paid, but Rick is too huffy to care.

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