The Vat of Acid Episode
|"The Vat of Acid Episode"|
|Rick and Morty episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4|
|Directed by||Jacob Hair|
|Original air date||May 17, 2020|
|Running time||23 minutes|
"The Vat of Acid Episode" is the eighth episode of the fourth season of the Adult Swim animated television series Rick and Morty. Created by Dan Harmon, written by Jeff Loveness and Albro Lundy, and directed by Jacob Hair, the episode was broadcast on May 17, 2020, in the United States. It won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.
Rick and Morty meet with alien gangsters at a factory to exchange valuable crystals. The gangsters betray them and Rick fakes his and Morty's deaths by jumping into a vat of fake acid; however, the gangsters do not immediately leave, and instead discuss their feelings before testing the vat's acidity. Morty eventually grows impatient, revealing the ruse and forcing Rick to kill the gangsters. Morty insists the vat of acid was a bad idea and harangues Rick over never taking any of his own ideas seriously. He goads Rick into creating a portable "save point" button that one could return to escape death or correct their mistakes. Rick relents and crafts a special remote, which Morty takes without waiting for an explanation of how it works.
Morty uses the button to commit numerous crimes and pranks, resetting himself each time to avoid any consequences. Eventually, though, he begins a relationship with a girl, falling in love with her. When they end up stranded in the mountains after a plane crash, Morty considers using the remote, but calls for rescue instead, since the last save point was right before they met. However, after they are rescued, Jerry inadvertently activates the remote. Morty then fails to recreate the relationship and accidentally overwrites the save point.
Morty concedes to Rick that he has learned the hard lesson that consequences determine who a person becomes and give a person's choices meaning. A self-satisfied Rick then reveals that the remote does not reset anything, but instead teleports Morty to an alternate dimension, killing the Morty native to that dimension so that Morty can take his place. Horrified, Morty begs Rick to undo everything. Rick merges all of the alternate dimensions, causing Morty intense torment. While this undoes the deaths of the alternate Mortys, all the people in those dimensions who knew about Morty's crimes are now in that merged dimension, and descend as an angry mob upon Rick and Morty's house, demanding his surrender. Rick provides only one escape: jumping into a vat of fake acid to fake his death. Morty begrudgingly complies. Satisfied that his point is proven, Rick reveals they have been in an alternate dimension this entire time, as he did not want to waste their home dimension.
In a post-credits scene, one of the policemen present at the siege at the Smith home, who came to believe himself impervious to acid, appears on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Johnny Carson still being alive in this dimension). He lowers himself into a vat of real acid, resulting in his painful death.
Production and writing
Broadcast and ratings
The episode was broadcast by Adult Swim on May 17, 2020. According to Nielsen Media Research, "The Vat of Acid Episode" was seen by 1.26 million household viewers in the United States and received a 0.68 rating among the 18–49 adult demographic.
Jesse Schedeen of IGN awarded the episode with 9 stars out of 10 saying that the episode "is a demented romp that showcases Rick Sanchez at his darkest and most hilarious." Steve Greene of IndieWire gave it a "B+" rating, who felt that "even as it's stuck between an unexpected event episode and a decent spite-driven adventure, there are still enough existential ideas here to chew on." Tom Reimann of Collider gave it a "B" rating, who felt that "series co-creator Dan Harmon has run into some controversy on social media, and this ending, coupled with Rick's scorched-earth, take-no-responsibility response to Morty's criticism, casts the episode in a particularly cynical light that makes it difficult to fully enjoy. We're three episodes into "The Other Five", and so far each one has been (at least in part) a rant about how hard it is to write Rick and Morty. I hope the next two episodes manage to fully embrace the smart sci-fi deconstruction that made the show so unique in the first place." The episode won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, the series second win after "Pickle Rick".
- The montage in which Morty is shown using the reset button is set to the song "It's in the Way That You Use It" by Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson.
- Rick and Morty [@RickandMorty] (April 14, 2020). "Imagining episodes based on their name is almost as fun as watching episodes. New #rickandmorty returns May 3 at 11:30pm on @adultswim. [Photo with episode titles and air dates]" (Tweet). Retrieved May 17, 2020 – via Twitter.
- "Shows A-Z - rick & morty on adult swim". The Futon Critic. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
- Metcalf, Mitch (May 19, 2020). "Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 5.17.2020". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on May 19, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- Schedeen, Jesse (May 18, 2020). "'Rick and Morty: The Vat of Acid Episode' - Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
- Greene, Steve (May 18, 2020). "'Rick and Morty' Review: 'The Vat of Acid Episode' Is a Solid High-Concept Escape Act". IndieWire. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
- Reimann, Tom (May 18, 2020). "'Rick and Morty' Season 4 Episode 8 Recap and Review: "The Vat of Acid Episode"". Collider. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "72nd Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners". Emmys.com. July 28, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
- Del Rosario, Alexandra (September 19, 2020). "'Rick and Morty' Wins Second Outstanding Animated Program Emmy". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 20, 2020.