Summer: "Wait, what?! Vampires are real?!"
Rick:Yes, Summer, vampires are real. Who knew? Oh, right, all humanity, for hundreds of years, now.
Big Trouble in Little Sanchez is the seventh episode of the second season of Rick and Morty. It's notable for having one of the better b plots with Beth and Jerry.
The episode opens on a typical breakfast for the Smith family. Morty mentions a lunch lady died from having all of her blood drained through puncture wounds in her neck, Rick off handedly remarks that it sounds like a vampire, and Summer freaks out and asks Rick for help killing the vampire. She suggest that he could use his unlimited scientific acumen to turn himself into a teenager but Rick shuts her down hard which prompts Beth to intervene and drag Jerry into the conversation. Jerry comes down on Ricks side because he wasn't actually listening to the conversation and they get into a fight about nothing. Rick shuts them both down by asking why they don't get a divorce or fix their marriage. They both look ashamed an Jerry admits that they've been to couples' counseling with no success. Rick admonishes them that that was Earth counseling, he knows an alien service that has a 100% success rate, and drags them both to the garage before they can protest. Morty ask Summer if she thinks their parents are actually getting a divorce but Summer deflects and says she's going to sharpen some stakes.
Later Summer is trying to get Morty invested in killing the Vampire but Morty isn't really interested when who should appear but a teenage Rick. Turns out Rick had a change of heart and decided to fulfill Summer's request. He's also conspicuously up beat and willingly engages in conversation with other high schoolers including a guy Summer is crushing on. Summer's crush and Rick hit it off and it looks like tiny Rick is a lot more friendly and charismatic than old Rick.
Cutting over to Beth and Jerry they both have their brains scan and their perception of each other made into flesh and blood creatures. Jerry's perception of Beth comes out as a Xenomorph queen looking monster with Predator jaws. Beth is understandably upset. On her turn she creates a giant worm with Jerry's face. With everybody feeling offended they move along to watch their and other alien couples projections interact. What no one sees is Xenobeth and Wormy working together just a few enclosures away.
Back with Rick and the kids they've slain the vampire off screen and Rick is about to return to his old, wrinkled body when Summer gets a text from the guy she is crushing on asking if her parent are still away and if so whether they could have a party at her place. He also asks if Tiny Rick will be there. Rick decides to stay tiny and Summer an Morty throw a house party. At the party Tiny Rick plays a song that goes a little something like this:
Let me out
what you see is not the same person as me
my life's a lie
I'm not who you're looking at
let me out, set me free
I'm really old; This isn't me
my real body's slowly dyin' in a vat
is anybody listening'
can anyone understand?
Stop lookin' at me like that and actually help me
Help me; I'm gonna die!
Everybody, including Morty, claps but Summer manages to catch the subtle undertones of the song.
Meanwhile on the alien couple counseling retreat Xenobeth and Wormy have escaped by cooperating and begun killing the other guests. The counselor ask how Beth and Jerry's monster versions can get along and work together to which they shrug. He proceeds to castigate them for having the worst marriage he's ever seen to which both of them conclude that this is just bad couple counseling. Soon after, the Counselor escapes on the last ship stranding them. Jerry decides to hide and Beth decides to try to contact Rick telling. She tells Jerry to stay in his hidey-hole; that they work better apart rather than together. Then she gets capture immediately by Xenobeth, Jerry reveals himself to try and help, only to be chased off screen by Wormy.
Back on Earth Summer confronts Rick about his subconscious cries for help as evidenced by the song and the fact that he's doodling pictures of his older self crying out for help in class. Rick just claims that it's an emo streak and he's fine. Morty backs Rick up on this because he's become way more popular since Rick became a part of their class and because he's managed to snag Rick as a wing man for the dance. Later that night Rick and Morty are at the dance where Rick continues to be the life of the party. Sadly, the principal takes Rick aside and explains that he found evidence that Rick was the one to stake the gym coach. He's mostly okay with it since the gym coach was in fact a vampire but Rick did kill a member of the faculty so he's still got to be expelled on principle. Rick furious over this goes to Summer and accuses her of ratting on him loudly and in front of everyone. She admits to it and defends her choice with the fact that Rick is clearly losing it. Rick loudly proclaims to everyone that Summer got him expelled instantly demoting her to pariah status.
At couples counseling Jerry discovers that his worm counter part is a complete and total coward who flinches when Jerry holds up his fists despite Wormy being ten times bigger. Disgusted with himself, Wormy, and Beth he decides to take down Xenobeth or die trying. Meanwhile Xenobeth is using normal Beth to create and army of Wormies. Beth admonishes Xeno that her plan is stupid and kidnapping Jerry to create more Xenos would have been the better plan. Xenobeth replies that she could never accept the existence of another of herself as she already believes herself to be the greatest being in existence. Beth is forced to contemplate her husband not only believing her to be a monster but a narcissistic one at that. Luckily, Jerry arrives soon after with a laser rifle scavenge off the dead security and proceeds to kill several Wormies. This unexpected rescue attempt prompts Beth into generating heroically muscular versions of Jerry making the fight less one sided.
Back on Earth Tiny Rick is about to hack his older body to pieces with an axe when he gets tackled by Summer and Morty who has come around to Summer's point of view about Rick's behavior being way, way weirder than usual. Rick tells them that it's not like they know how to put him back in his old body. Morty manages to get Rick in a full nelson and Summer forces him to listen to Elliott Smith which brings him back to himself ... somehow ... and he instructs them how to switch him back in between bouts of existential angst. They manage to switch him back and he thanks Summer while chastising Morty for not really noticing the way things were going. He's naked. He then lowers the entire garage down to his secret lab basement where we see more clones. Rick offhandedly remarks that Project Phoenix is not the fall back that he'd hope and then proceeds to chop his clone bodies to pieces. He then notes that he's gotten a whole lot of messages from Beth and Jerry. He's still naked.
The battle of the Jerrys isn't going great with Xenobeth killing them faster than they can join the fight. Jerry classic goes to Beth's side and tries to free her from the chair she's restrained in but her bindings are too strong. In a rare moment of brilliance Jerry pulls the mind scanning helmet and puts it on one of the heroically muscular clones and the machine spits out a version of Beth that looks like a Hindu God. Goddess Beth obliterates Xenobeth and frees regular Beth effectively ending the conflict. Beth and Jerry reconnect and agree to stay together at least until Morty is out of the house. Rick shows up, still naked and covered in the blood of his clone bodies to pick them up and doesn't even seem to notice the death and destruction.
The themes of this episode are loathing and instability. On the Rick side of the equation we see a man who get's a new lease on life, knows that it's fundamentally temporary, but refuses to deal with this fact. Rick's real personality is suppressed by a surge of youthful optimism leaving him happier than he's been in years and when faced with the option of becoming older Rick again chooses to destroy his original body rather than have it around. When he gets back to his old body his position is the perfect mirror. He kills his younger bodies with extreme prejudiced rather than be tempted to betray himself. This isn't even a matter of safety, the bodies are inert, it the simple fact that one influenced Rick's decision making in a way he didn't like. Rick's a person who's repeatedly shown a willingness to kill and screw over other versions of himself. He tried to kill the other him in A Rickle in Time and he killed several alternates in Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind all be it in self defense. He even betrays Zeep in The Ricks Must be Crazy despite having gotten all buddy buddy with him while working on a way out of the Tinyverse. Rick doesn't like himself, Rick doesn't trust himself, and Rick doesn't like most of the qualities that make him who he is when he encounters them in other people. Yet when something changes him for the better he literally kills it with an axe because as much as he hates himself he hates others even more. If an optimist is somebody who thinks the glass is half full and a pessimist thinks the glass is half empty Rick is the guy who sees the empty space between the electrons and says the glass and water barely exists, though it's still real enough to choke on.
Beth and Jerry's marriage is hurting. It's been hurting since the start of the series. Neither of them are great people, Beth is hyper competitive, hypercritical, and at times hyper competent which just feeds into her narcissism. Jerry on the other hand is the pinnacle of mediocrity, despite his self-image as capable and productive member of society. They are together because of an unwanted pregnancy that they only ended up keeping because of a flat tire. Despite all of this, they doggedly remain together even as their personalities and Rick drive them further and further apart. What's worse is they use the relation to prop up their worst impulses. Jerry uses Beth's hypercriticality to feed/justify his Martyr complex and Beth uses Jerry as a distraction against having to really examine who she and her father really are. The extraterrestrials repeatedly say that their marriage is the worst in existence but really it's pretty standard as dysfunctional marriages go which begs the question why human relationships look so bad to other species.
Both relations are are chalk full of loathing and they both are out of equilibrium. In Rick's case the problem tends to solve itself in the specific instances that it comes up but is fundamentally unsolvable in general. Rick can't escape himself. In Beth and Jerry's case it's like a spinning plate, put some energy into the system and prolong it's existence. Put to many other stresses on the system and the plate will eventually fall. This Episode is a good set up for the end of the season and beginning of the next where these problems and others come to a head.
Morty: "Do you think mom and dad are, you know, gonna get a divorce?"
Summer: "I think it's okay to dream, Morty. I'm gonna go make some wooden stakes."