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The Hidden Importance Of The Season 5, Episode 2 Title Of Rick And Morty

The scifi weirdness of "Rick and Morty" has returned to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, where Season 5's Episode 2, called "Mortyplicity," aired Sunday, June 27. There are eight episodes left to go in this batch of episodes, and they're already proving to have some major narrative potential. This most recent episode was quite the ride, with a plot about decoys that's both complicated and amusing, featuring meta elements that highlight its bizarre, ambitious, and totally in-character premise. 

In the plot, it's revealed that Rick made decoys of the family to throw off would be assassins, but the copies of the family think they're real, and have thus made more decoys who also think they are real. So after one decoy family targets another, now the decoys are all killing each other thinking they're the original versions. Viewers follow each family until they die and the perspective changes, and things get a bit unwieldy with multiple versions of the Smith family all in the same house. "Mortyplicity," called "easily the most overwhelming episode in the shows history" by a Reddit user in a thread dissecting the episode, did have the hilarious result, as another Reddit user pointed out, of establishing that there is no canonical family to follow in "Rick and Morty," which kind of makes what producer/writer Scott Marder teased as coming "epic canon" in the fifth season (via Digital Spy) seem even murkier. Figures.

Like most of the episode titles in the series, this one is based on a movie, but it's not as obvious a reference as many. Here's what the title really means.

Multiplicity was a 1996 movie starring Michael Keaton

In the 1996 movie "Multiplicity," Michael Keaton plays Doug Kinney, a construction worker and family man who has too much to do and too little time to do it in, between the responsibilities of work and home — a situation many people can relate to! But in Kinney's case, he meets a scientist who has invented a process to clone people, and who clones Doug as a way of helping him out. As it turns out, one isn't enough to take on Doug's duties, so he gets another. And his two clones make a fourth. Each clone has slightly different personality traits, and the clone of the clones has diminished intelligence (and this particular idea also shows up in the "Rick and Morty" episode, as Rick says, "You get far enough down in the decoy line and sh** gets weird. You ever make a copy or a copy?"). As you might expect, things get a bit chaotic from this point on, with the three clones losing Doug his family and his job as they try to impersonate him while he takes a vacation. 

In the 1980s, Keaton played "Mr. Mom," Batman, and Beetlejuice and became a star. Keaton did "Multiplicity" in the midst of his nineties run of less high-profile roles. He told The Guardian that he was trying to get out from behind the shadow of previous projects, including the "Batman" sequels that he declined to be in: "But, look, there was some really horrible taste in the 90s, and I probably contributed to that, unfortunately." he said. But he liked the scripts of the projects he did end up doing in that decade, before he took an acting break starting in 1998. "I do what interests me," he said.

It should be noted that Keaton's clones in the movie didn't end up killing one another, as in "Mortyplicity," but that's just another way the Adult Swim show likes to dial up the darkness, humor and the shock value. Time to brace yourselves for Episode 3!