Rick and Morty: Season 4 Episode 8 Review “The Vat of Acid Episode”

Rick and Morty: Season 4 Episode 8 Review “The Vat of Acid Episode”

Of the 51 episodes currently released from Rick and Morty, only one has received an Emmy award; and it’s “The Vat of Acid Episode”. Widely regarded as the best episode of Rick and Morty by critics and fans alike, this episode takes Morty on a lengthy and emotional journey of self-discovery. It has lasting impacts on his behavior in Season 5 (and the rest of Season 4). As Jessica says in the episode, “It seems like you’ve really found yourself. I like who you found.” It’s a large leap forward for his character, with plenty of the classic Rick and Morty hijinks we’re used to. Let’s get into Season 4 Episode 8!


The episode begins with Rick and Morty in Rick’s car, heading to a shady factory exchange with an outer space mob boss. Morty warns that they might be in the middle of a set-up, but Rick explains that he’s scouted out the location and swapped one of the acid vats with a fake vat (filled with jacuzzi-heated Mountain Dew). He instructs that if things go wrong, jump into the same vat as him. Morty tells him the idea is lame, and they have a short squabble before heading into the factory. Upon trading briefcases of crystals, the boss reveals that he’s tricked Rick into taking the fake crystals while he has the real ones. Rick half-heartedly puts his hands up before grabbing Morty and jumping into the fake acid vat. Inside the vat, Rick’s equipped ‘quick-release bones’ to make it seem like they’re dead. He’s also equipped the vat with a blaster gun, if anyone tries to dump anything in the vat. The boss and his lackies are stunned and horrified, so they decide to sit and talk for a while. Getting tired of the bit, Morty grabs the blaster, jumps up out of the vat, and starts shooting at the boss and his lackies. He misses, and Rick has to step in and kill the three aliens. Wordlessly, Morty gets out of the vat and starts picking up all the crystals and their briefcases. In an annoyed huff, Morty says, “Can we go now?”.

Upon returning to the garage, Rick and Morty have an argument about how Rick’s vat of acid idea was stupid. Rick states that there are no stupid ideas, and Morty corrects that the only stupid ideas are his. He brings up a device he’d pitched to Rick, but he’d never made. Morty wants a ‘save-place’ remote for life, in order to try stuff and go back to a save-place in time. After a screaming match, Rick decides to make the remote. In the middle of the night, later on, Rick calls Morty to the basement and confesses that he can’t make the remote. He says he’s a lame inventor who is losing his touch, and Morty immediately steps in to support him. Suddenly, Rick shoots Morty, pulls out the remote, and rewinds time before screaming, “I did it, Morty!”. Rick offers to explain the rules, or Morty can go off and have fun. Morty chooses the latter.

Over the following few weeks, Morty spends his time doing everything he’s wanted to do. He’s pictured pulling down his teacher’s pants, confidently talking to Jessica, speed racing with ‘Heroine Keith’, and much more. After saving his place, he spots a pretty girl walking into a coffee shop across the street. Morty opens the door for her, and then sits down to have a cup of coffee with her. Over a montage, their relationship grows, from friends to lovers to partners. It’s Morty’s first real taste of love. They have a fight, but Morty surprises her with airline tickets and a vacation. She accepts, overjoyed. During the flight, their plane crashes and Morty loses his backpack (which had the remote in it). They crash in a snowy tundra, with a few other survivors. They’re low on food and stamina, and try eating another person. Morty decides he’s going to go after the backpack, and treks across the icy forest to find it. He eventually retrieves it, pulling out the remote. But instead of pressing rewind, he puts the remote down and picks up his phone. He tries to dial ‘911’, but his necrotic fingers begin to fall off. As he passes out, just before pressing ‘call’, there’s a rescue helicopter seen above. Morty wakes up in the hospital, surrounded by his family and his roughed-up girlfriend. A couple more weeks pass, things settling back to normal, when the 6 of them (Rick, Beth, Jerry, Morty, his girlfriend, and Summer) are watching TV and Jerry accidentally picks up the time remote. Thinking it’s the normal remote, he presses ‘rewind’ and resets Morty back to the day he met his girlfriend (about 3-5 months backwards). Morty sees his girlfriend approaching the coffee shop again, and he rushes to her, trying to explain everything. She, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about and sprays him with mace.

Disheartened by losing all that time, Morty returns the remote to Rick saying, “I had fun, but I think I learned a valuable lesson about consequences.” (as he believes there were no consequences to his actions). Rick explains that there were a lot of consequences, Morty just didn’t know about them. Every time he hit ‘rewind’, the Morty in that alternate dimension had to die and C-137 Morty was transported to a near-identical reality. Having murdered thousands of Morty’s, C-137 Morty wants to set the timeline straight, making it so those Morty’s never existed and were never killed. Rick explains that to do this, they need to merge the realities, and Morty will have to face all the consequences of all his previous actions. He agrees, and Rick merges the realities. The AARP, Civil Liberties Union, FBI, CIA, Heroine Keith, S.C. Justice Sonya Sotomayor, and others, all pull up to the Smith residence. Rick reveals that there’s a vat of acid in the front yard, and that’s probably the only way he’ll get out of this situation. Thoroughly done with Rick’s attitude, Morty marches over to the vat, and jumps in. Everyone is shocked, but they leave shortly after. Once everyone is gone, Morty comes out of the vat, asking how they’re supposed to keep Morty ‘dead’. Rick explains that this isn’t their reality because ‘he wouldn’t waste their reality teaching Morty a lesson’. In fact, this isn’t even his Rick. The Rick sends Morty back to his reality, Morty having lived an entire journey of self-discovery in the meantime.


This episode is stunning from beginning to end. Everything works perfectly in tandem, from the expansive and sweeping score, to the completely plugged storyline, finishing with the emotional development Morty has. It’s no surprise that this is the one episode of Rick and Morty that’s won an Emmy. The writers, animators, and music department are all in top form, creating a narrative that feels so much longer than the 30-minute structure. It’s the first taste of a real heated argument between Rick and Morty, and it’s the first we see of Morty really standing up for himself and calling out Rick. From the moment he tries to blast the alien gang, it’s obvious that Morty is changing. His development in this episode has a ripple effect on what we see in every episode afterwards. He’s more confident and self-sufficient, trusting his instincts more often. We begin to draw parallels between Morty and Rick, seeing how alike they really can be. This episode is a masterclass in sitcom animation, showing the breadth of everything possible for an animated program.

Score: 10/10

This episode couldn’t get any better if it tried. It’s an ambitious undertaking, to have so much character transformation in under 30 minutes, but it’s flawless in execution. After this episode, you feel that Morty is genuinely changed from his experience, and it’s a true coming-of-age story. It reminds us that time passes, and Morty is getting older. As he develops as a person, the dynamic between Rick and Morty will shift considerably, with more respect coming from both parties. This is the beginning of a relationship journey between Rick and Morty, one that doesn’t truly come to fruition until Season 5 Episode 10. For all those reasons, this episode is an obvious perfect score!Rick and Morty

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