22 Easter Eggs In Rick And Morty Season 4 Episode 8, "The Vat of Acid Episode"
How dark can Rick and Morty get? "The Vat of Acid Episode" tackled that question.
Rick and Morty Season 4 (part two) continues its run of strong episodes with "The Vat of Acid Episode," which probably ranks among the show's best entries ever. On one hand, it was a classic Rick and Morty adventure: Some wacky hijinks are followed by Rick inventing a metatextual, reality-bending device, which causes Morty to go buck wild and get in way over his head.
But even beyond the standard Rick and Morty template, "Vat of Acid" got really dark, even by this show's standards. And lo and behold--shockingly, but also somehow totally unsurprisingly, the whole thing was a ploy by Rick to dunk on Morty and prove that his grandson should never question his plans.
What's actually not surprising is the fact that this episode was brimming with Easter eggs for Rick and Morty fans, references to past episodes, and inside jokes only the biggest dorks on the internet (like us) will understand. Here's every hidden gem and background joke we spotted in Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 8, "The Vat of Acid Episode."
And speaking of things you need to watch, check out GameSpot's weekly TV series and movies-focused podcast, You Should Be Watching. With new episodes premiering every Wednesday, you can watch a video version of the podcast over on GameSpot Universe or listen to audio versions on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Apple Podcasts.
1. Vats of Acid
The vats of acid around which this episode centers appear to be an homage to classic Batman scenes across a variety of mediums set in the Ace Chemicals factory, which is iconically filled with vats of bubbling green chemicals.
The crystals Rick and Morty exchange with the mobster-like aliens are of unknown purpose, but in appearance, they resemble rupees from the Legend of Zelda game series.
3. Title Card
This episode features a title card with the episode's name for the first time in Rick and Morty history (as far as we can remember). Oddly, when it first appears, it seems to suggest that the duo will be trapped in that vat for the entire runtime, similar to the "bottle episodes" done by many other shows throughout history, such as Breaking Bad's "The Fly," which took place entirely inside Walt and Jesse's lab.
However, upon second viewing, the title card seems to simply suggest that this is an episode fans will refer back to many times. Maybe it's a turning point for Morty's character, or Rick's latest reality-meddling will have wide-ranging consequences going forward.
As the mobster aliens kill time loitering around the fake acid vat, they discuss a story involving something called a "hyperloop." This is a reference to a real-world theoretical high-speed train system using sealed vacuum tubes, proposed originally in 2013 by Elon Musk's companies Tesla and SpaceX.
5. When I Was a Pickle
During their argument, Rick and Morty bring up a couple of past episodes. Rick brings up "when [he] was a pickle," referring to Season 3, Episode 3, "Pickle Rick"--a fan favorite. For the purpose of contrast, Rick brings up Season 4, Episode 4, "Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty," in which Morty's request for a pet dragon culminates in a lot of really awkward sexual stuff, and which is generally considered not a very good episode. Rick even points out that the adventure wasn't particularly well-timed, as it aired months after Game of Thrones' near-universally-despised series finale.
Rick calls Morty "Bukowski," referring to iconic author and poet Charles Bukowski, a famed 20th century writer whose books include Ham on Rye and many others. Whether Bukowski was a beatnik, as Rick suggests, is a topic of debate.
7. Futurama Did It
In disparaging Morty's real-life-video-game-checkpoint idea, Rick does a riff on the "Simpsons Already Did It" joke made famous by South Park's Season 6, Episode 7 in 2002. Rick doesn't want to bother with Morty's idea because, in this case, Futurama--also by Simpsons creator Matt Groening--already did it--specifically in the series finale, "Meanwhile," in which Professor Farnsworth invents a device that causes the user to travel 10 seconds backward in time. The devices even look similar.
8. "I Don't Do Time Travel"
Rick's insistence that he doesn't do time travel is the latest entry in a long-running series of jokes about time travel on this show. The most recent example is in Season 4, Episode 5, "Rattlestar Ricklactica," which marked the first time Rick and Morty featured actual time travel. It's no accident that the box marked "time travel stuff" in Rick's garage workshop is featured so prominently in the background of many of this episode's scenes.
9. Reverse Psychology
There are several references in this episode to various corners of internet culture. At one point, Rick points out that before it was called "negging," it was simply known as reverse psychology, which is certainly somewhat accurate.
Rick goes on to say that "incels" (involuntary celibates--if you're unfamiliar with this term, save yourself some sanity and don't Google it) didn't invent it, Bugs Bunny did--referring, of course, to the Looney Tunes character who frequently used psychological tricks to outsmart hunters and rivals.
10. Polly Pocket
One of the objects on Rick's workbench in this shot appears to be a modified Polly Pocket clamshell toy.
11. Ice Cream Flavors
The ice cream flavors listed in this vignette are all references to background designers who worked on this episode, according to the credits:
- Candy Caines = Vance Caines (background design lead)
- Bolden Berry = Chris S. Bolden
- Robbie Road = Robbie Erwin
- Bremnermint = Lauryn Danae Bremner
- Rhees N Pieces = Michelle Rhee
- Butter Scott = Tommy Scott
12. Moe's Tavern
This scene takes place in front of a building facade that looks almost exactly like Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons, minus the round porthole window in the door.
13. The Plane Crash Sequence
According to Rick and morty co-creator Dan Harmon in this week's Inside the Episode video, the plane crash sequence wasn't originally in the script. Episode director Jacob Hair added it because the episode was five minutes short. Hair says the sequence was inspired by the 1974 book "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors," about the real-life crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 in 1972.
14. Capri Sun
Rick appears to be drinking a Capri Sun. The high-sugar juice-like drink was popular in middle school lunches and at kids' soccer games in the 1990s--and, I'm told by the parents here at GameSpot, it still is.
15. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Rick claims his disdain for time travel comes from the fact that Ant-Man and the Wasp, the 2018 Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, did it, and thus he has little interest. That movie didn't exactly feature time travel, but did include plenty of quantum shenanigans. Time travel proper didn't really enter the equation until 2019's Avengers: Endgame; Rick may have been thinking of that movie.
16. It's The Prestige
Rick delightedly informs Morty that he "Prestiged [him]self." This is a reference to the 2006 Christopher Nolan movie The Prestige, in which a magician's tricks turn out to be something very dark (no spoilers!).
17. Time Crystals
Rick also mentions Time Crystals, also known as Crystallized Xanthenite, which he used in his device to stop time in the Season 1 finale, "Ricksy Business," and which got the duo in trouble with Shleemypants the Time Cop in the Season 2 premiere, "A Rickle in Time."
18. Jeffrey Dahmer
Rick makes a snide reference to Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous Wisconsin serial killer whose slayings included cannibalism and necrophilia. Like Morty, Dahmer was "just having fun," as Rick says while reprimanding his grandson.
19. Morty Protesters
Morty offended a wide range of individuals and groups during his exploits, including but not limited to:
- Me Too activists
- The American Civil Liberties Union (a human rights advocacy group)
- The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
- The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
- GamerGate (a hate group that preceded the alt-right in the first half of the 2010s)
- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor, who was appointed by President Obama in 2009
Protestors can also be seen holding various signs suggesting additional Morty crimes, including "Return the Whales," "Cannibalism is a choice," "That's our word" (held by a white woman, so, no idea what word it might refer to--maybe "Karen"?), and "Moscow Morty," referring to Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell's nickname Moscow Mitch.
20. Merchant of Venice
Justice Sotamayor quotes Skakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599. Oddly, Rick seems to have an appreciation for the quote. Who knew Rick gave a crap about The Bard?
Rick's reference to a more pleasant alternate reality in which 9/11 never happened marks the second 9/11 joke on Rick and Morty in as many weeks, after last week's gag in which the titular duo did not destroy a pair of alien towers.
22. Johnny Carson
Lastly, in this superior alternate reality, Johnny Carson is still alive, and even better, he's still on the air. Carson hosted NBC's The Tonight Show for 30 years between 1962 and 1992. In this episode's post-credits stinger, the commercial break cards featuring the phrases "Welcome Back" and "More on the Way" are riffs on real visuals from Carson's show.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company