1. Tons of cameos and character references

undefined

You probably don't need to be told that the Rick with the long hair and the robes is supposed to be a nod to Severus Snape. Same goes for the storylines that contain aspects of movies like Stand By Me, Training Day and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But there were a few other neat references that you might have missed if you haven't rewatched this amazing episode six times already.

It's kind of incredible it took this long, at the Creepy Morty bar/club/sex dungeon, but we finally got a version of Morty that's a dead-ringer for Marty McFly. 

undefined

Diehard fans will know that Rick and Morty started out as a crude Back to the Future parody called Doc and Mharti.Thankfully, these days the show is a crude Back to the Future parody with uh, extra steps. 

Digging a little deeper, one of the Rick candidates on the debate stage should look familiar to those well-versed in the red-hot memes of 2010.

undefined

There's no doubt about it. That facial hair can only belong to Jimmy "The Rent Is Too Damn High" McMillan. The animators went out of their way to replicate his tie too, which is a nice touch. 

This one's a little less obscure.

undefined

Rick Sanchez is one of pop culture's most beloved genius assholes, so it makes plenty of sense that one of his many variations would resemble a real-life genius asshole. 

If you want to catch every reference in this show you've got to be willing to pause and zoom. Otherwise it's hard to catch this Doctor Who shoutout in a crowd shot near the beginning of the episode. 

undefined

The scarf and trenchcoat are classic Doctor standards, but the hat makes it look a bit like this was a specific reference to the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy.

Back at the Creepy Morty, an even deeper cut is lounging in a booth.

undefined

That's not Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, as many have suspected -- it's actually Dan Guterman, one of the show's writers.

This Morty on the other hand, is a puzzler.

undefined

As far as I can tell, no one has quite nailed down just who or what this lineless Morty is supposed to represent. Some have suggested he kind of resembles a South Park character, and others think he looks more like Mharti from the original show prototype. If you have any ideas, please berate me for my obvious oversights in the comments.



2. Return of Shoney's

undefined

The appearance of a Shoney's restaurant in the season three premiere has inspired a ton of fan theories, mostly involving Rick still being in the same mindprison where he started the episode. The theories hinge on the idea that every reference to Shoney's reaffirms the idea that Rick is still in the imaginary Shoney's of his own making.

So when the Shoney's mug shows up on the mid-management Rick's desk just before he gets blown away, supposedly that's yet another signal that the whole season so far has taken place in Prime-Rick's mind. I'm not really on board with this concept, especially because Shoney's is an actual restaurant that exists.

Even so, reinforcing the idea that Rick is a big fan of a mid-sized diner chain gives his character a charming new wrinkle.

undefined

This is a smaller thing than some of the other entries on this list, but all these little bits really add up to something special.

3. Morty's meaningful signage

undefined

Since they know the internet is going to dissect every frame of your show, the Rick and Morty team went ahead and made it worth the effort to pause and zoom during dense scenes. For example: When Cop Morty drives through a crowd, you can see a handwritten sign that says "Nobody exists on purpose." This is a callback to a memorable moment in which Morty consoles his sister during a crisis.

undefined

During this speech, Morty mentions that he and Rick buried that particular dimension's Rick and Morty in the backyard after they messed up their own universe. The existence of this slogan makes you wonder if the other Ricks and Mortys out there have had similar adventures and similarly consoled Summer -- meaning that they likely ruined/Cronenberged realities themselves. 

That's a little heavy, but not all of the signs have such morbid implications.

undefined

Second in from the right, squint and you can see someone holding up a sign that reads "This Guy Needs A Plumbus!" Really though, who doesn't?

4. The bleak "motivational" poster in the classroom

undefined

Even from the little time we spend at the Morty-filled school, we get the idea that it's really more for the benefit of Ricks than anyone else. The Mortys that come through the doors are all missing grandfathers for various reasons, and are likely only spending time there to keep sharp until another Rick needs a sidekick. The attitude that regards Mortys as a resource and not human beings is encapsulated in the RECYCLE sign at the back of the class -- the one with a Morty face at the center. Something tells me that sign might be coming down after the regime change.


5. Beth's love of horses goes way back

undefined

The saga of Simple Rick might be the darkest part of a pitch-black episode. We see that one of the only Ricks that decided to actually spend his time raising a child is not venerated for his deeds but instead harvested for (delicious-looking) snacks. The brief flashbacks of Good Rick's parenting are some of the only glimpses we have of that era, so it's worth taking a closer look.

In the background above, you can see Beth posing for a picture with a horse. This definitely lines up with her current line of work. 

undefined

It's somewhat heartening to see that Beth followed through with her dreams even in a universe where she wasn't encouraged by a positive father figure. Then again, knowing this show, Beth became successful to spite Rick and show that she didn't need him around. 

6. Cop Rick and Cop Morty's seatbelt switcharoo

undefined

We've hit on this detail a couple times in recent weeks, but it cropped up again this week so we have to mention it. The "Training Day" Rick and Morty cops flip the script on not only the relationship and personality of the two characters, but their safety habits as well. Note that Cop Morty isn't wearing a seatbelt, while Cop Rick is strapped in

If you haven't noticed, up to now Morty has almost always worn wears a seatbelt inside vehicles while Rick basically never bothers

undefined

undefined

undefined

I'd ask if Evil Morty wears a seatbelt when he drives, but I think we already know the answer.


7. Someone tagged "Get Shwifty" on the left side of this wall

undefined

Someone tagged "Get Shwifty" on the left side of this wall. That's it. I just liked that they said the thing.

8. Evil Morty's diabolical plan

undefined

Everything came together at the end of this episode when that music kicked in and your jaw hit the floor. Even if you insist on telling everyone you saw it coming, it was still a fantastic capper to an excellent episode.  

But in straining to see the incriminating evidence just outside the airlock, you might have missed the fact that Trenchcoat Rick is among the fresh corpses.

undefined

Remember, this is the same Rick that supplied the dirt about Evil Morty to Fired Morty in the first place

undefined

This hard evidence is the basis for a few emerging fan theories. The most convincing of which suggests that Evil Morty intentionally leaked the info about himself to Fired Morty, then killed him and Trenchcoat Rick to hide the evidence. 

Why do all of this? Well, Evil Morty needed the votes, and an attempted assassination could (and did) tip the scales

undefined

But how could Evil Morty possibly guarantee that Fired Morty wouldn't succeed in his assassination attempt? Well, there IS the fact that Fired Morty is still a Morty. But we also know that Fired Morty shot Evil Morty with a gun in his left hand

undefined

Because Fired Morty used his off-hand, he botched the murder. 

But wait, how do we know that Mortys are inherently right-handed? Well, Fat Morty DID mention that he thought he was "Left-Handed Morty," implying that was supposedly the thing that set him apart from the rest of his kind. It seemed like a random joke at the time, but you never know what details could end up being important.

undefined

For this theory to hold water, Evil Morty would have to have had an intricate, meticulous plot in place. Sounds exactly like the kind of thing Evil Morty would do, doesn't it?

Almost makes you wonder if this was the plan all along. After all, it was during his first appearance that Evil Morty killed scores of Ricks, using all of their Morty's to power a horrendous machine. Once all the Rickless Mortys were freed, they took refuge in the Citadel, where they helped create an unstable power balance that lead to Evil Morty's eventual election. 

It might seem like a stretch, but somehow listening to the Evil Morty music again -- remembering his past diabolical schemes -- makes the theory a bit more believable. 

At this point, I'll be kind of mad if the conspiracy doesn't turn out to be true.



Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.