In this Christmas-themed episode, Morty is shrunk down in order to travel into Anatomy Park, a theme park built inside a homeless man named Reuben. Jerry, Beth, and Summer spend some quality time with Jerry’s parents and a new family friend.
“Can we stow the gadgets and look alive?”
This episode opens with Jerry expressing the standard talking points of the modern doomsayer. Electronic gadgets are taking away our humanity, keeping us from interacting with each other, etc. The show goes somewhere interesting with this theme. It ends up being true that they have a great time without the devices, but the catalysts of the good time are Jerry’s parents and their new friend/lover. At the end of the episode, everyone in the family takes back their devices. When Jerry suggests that they all learned a valuable lesson, Summer responds, “no we didn’t, Dad. No we didn’t.”
It seems to me that if you look at the episode as a whole, the message seems to be that the use of electronic devices is a red herring. Sure, its not good for a family to all ignore each other in favor of looking at their phones. But it’s also not good for a family to all ignore each other while reading books or watching TV. It’s not really about the devices at all – it’s about the people around and how you interact with them.
“This holiday is about humanity.”
Morty responds to Jerry, saying, “I thought it was about being born half-god or something.”
Dan Harmon has tackled the theme of “the true meaning of Christmas” before, specifically several times in the show Community. The connecting theme in Dan Harmon’s Christmas thoughts is that Christmas is defined by each person and each group for themselves, and this definition will inevitably change over time. To some people, Christmas represents a particular person in their life that they only see at Christmas. For other people, its about a chance to play video games and relax with buddies.
“What are we going to be when we die? A list of fears and questions, or a collection of real experiences?”
Jerry’s mom knows what’s up. Good for her.
“Hey Dad, where’s Morty?”
Rick: “He’s busy.”
“You got a problem with that last one, Morty?”
Rick is strangely defensive of “Pirates of the Pancreas.” Apparently he thinks its great, and everyone else he works with is hesitant to get on board. We aren’t given too many details about what it is, exactly. Rick does say of it, “we don’t whitewash it either. The pirates are really rapey.” Rick seems like the type to mean well, but not really see how uncomfortable rapey pirates could make people feel.
Often, when presenting certain things that you personally know are bad, it can be easy to think that other people will assume you know the thing you’re presenting is bad. However, it is easy to forget to include the crucial context that will make it clear that you’re in fact condemning the thing you’re presenting. Rick might see having rapey pirates as a way of avoiding problematic whitewashing, but guests will see rapey pirates and assume that whoever made the ride just thought rapey pirates would be entertaining.
“Would you like to ride the bone train?”
Morty: “Why are you doing this bit? We’re gonna die!”
“No, you’re right. It was a dick move for me to even pause like that.”
Dr. Xenon Bloom says this after pointing out that someone will have to stay behind to work the controls. This seems appropriate, since Morty and the girl he’s with are both minors, neither have anything to do with the current catastrophe, and also Xenon Bloom appears to be a cell of some sort and its unclear what he would even do if he were to escape.
“Well, if the old adage is true, one can only wonder what’s going down in the Rocky Mountains.”
A TV reporter says this while observing Reuben’s giant feet hanging above the West Coast. It is one of the strangest dick jokes to ever appear on national television.
“Chunks of blood and viscera are raining down on the country. Everything should be fine”
It’s a Christmas miracle.