The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty S6E8 “Analyze Piss.”
Rick and Morty S6E8 (“Analyze Piss”) opens with a content warning, advising viewers that the episode contains content and conversation involving suicide, and concludes with crisis resources. Indeed, the episode deals with suicide in a way that it hasn’t done before, and is different in tone from the mayhem of last week’s episode while still finding room to be wacky. Rick’s got a villain problem: random, ridiculous villains are coming out of the woodwork to challenge a frustrated Rick, prompting Morty to suggest Rick figure out why he appears to have a target painted on his back.
Dr. Wong returns, and instead of turning himself into a pickle and going on a violent odyssey just to avoid therapy, Rick actually decides to heed her advice this time: just ignore the villains pestering him. So when a character named Pissmaster, who flies around on a Green Goblin-esque glider in a suit spraying urine all over the place, accosts the Smith family, Rick doesn’t react. Pissmaster making a sexually explicit comment to Summer, however, is enough for Jerry to react, responding to the villain with a legendary beatdown with a lawn flamingo, which blows up on social media.
This summons a pair of members from a galactic tribunal, who present Jerry with an orb of raw power. After chiding from his family, an irritated Rick constructs for Jerry an Iron Man-style suit with a planet-destroying nuclear gun, powered by the orb. Jerry’s first act of justice is to destroy a planet of Space Hitlers (including Riddler Hitler, and a brain in a jar that has a toothbrush mustache drawn on the glass with Sharpie). Jerry proceeds to become an intergalactic celebrity and enforcer, to Rick’s chagrin. Dr. Wong points out to Rick that him not having to worry about his own immense power, and the dead Hitlers, are a net positive—and Rick realizes that she’s right, especially when villains like the rhyming Mr. Stringbean and the belt-whipping Doctor Buckles start fighting amongst themselves when they can’t get a rise out of Rick.
Without the constant barrage of wacky characters for Rick to tussle with, he finds himself lacking a purpose, and slips back into the heavy alcoholism that informed most of his behavior in the earlier seasons. Rick’s always been a drinker, but his constant inebriation has been significantly less of a focal point this season, until now. Completely trashed, he flies to Pissmaster’s house, and rings the doorbell with a six pack of beer in hand. Apparently, he wants to bury the hatchet and hang out with the guy.
However, when the door is not answered, Rick enters anyway and discovers, to his horror, that Pissmaster has slit his wrists in the bathtub and is dead. Rick tries to resurrect him, sealing his wrists and using a defibrillator, but is unable to save him. It’s a surprisingly sad and uncomfortable scene as Rick desperately begs his would-be antagonist to wake up.
Rick is about to leave, when a woman arrives at the door, worried sick about Pissmaster. Rick opens a portal for a quick escape, but the woman calls out for her dad, apologizing for what she’s said about him and her guilt for repurcussions. Rick pauses, realizing that this guy’s daughter is about to find his body, and likely feeling his own paternal instincts and love for Beth kick in. Unable to subject the girl to what has happened, Rick briefly dons Pissmaster’s helmet and cracks open the door to assure her everything is fine. She makes him promise that he won’t kill himself.
Rick finds that Pissmaster has written a suicide note, stating his realization that Jerry’s beatdown and the subsequent media explosion means that people just wanted to see him fail, and all he ever wanted was to prove them wrong.
This isn’t the first time the show has dealt with suicide in a serious manner: the brutally sad conclusion to S2E3 (“Auto Erotic Assimilation”) finds a heartbroken Rick attempting to take his own life, drunkenly blacking out before the device can disintegrate his head. Pissmaster’s death here is a main plot point and seriously has an effect on Rick.
Forging a newer, better suit, Rick takes on the mantle of Pissmaster and becomes a hero, saving people from muggings, rescuing cats from trees, and reforming Pissmaster’s media perception. His endgame is to plant a nuclear bomb on an island composed entirely of orphans and have the auto-pilot suit carry it into space, so that everyone will think that Pissmaster sacrificed himself in a blaze of glory. The orb tribunal has taken notice of “Pissmaster’s” honorable actions, and decides to award him his own orb—and Jerry has to deliver it.
Jerry is not happy about this, and is even angrier when Rick/Pissmaster refuses it and takes off with the bomb. Jerry pursues him, and once again the social media cycle latches on, though this time they perceive that Jerry is attempting to stop their new hero from saving the orphans. Rick’s facade is revealed when Jerry knocks off his helmet, but he still succeeds in having the bomb carried away and sealing Pissmaster’s legacy as a hero. The tribunal is not happy about this, and takes the orb back from Jerry.
Rick can’t bring himself to reveal to Jerry that Pissmaster killed himself as a result of Jerry’s beatdown, and accepts the family’s conclusion that he’s been Pissmaster all along and allowed Jerry to look awesome by beating him up. Yet, Rick isn’t happy with this. Rick earlier in the show would revel in watching Jerry fall apart at this news and a return to the status quo. But he can’t hold it in, either; Rick tells Morty the truth and shows him the suicide note, and a furious Morty immediately reveals it to the rest of the family. At first I was upset with Morty for doing this, and I can respect that Rick was struggling to contain that truth, but that definitely should have been a conversation with Dr. Wong, and not his grandson.
We continue to get a lot of strong character growth from Rick this season. Throughout the show, he has expressed love and care for his family, and occasionally other people, albeit begrudgingly. I think he believes these feelings are a sign of weakness, or that the death of his original family discourages him from the chance of getting hurt again. And this week, he tried to do a good thing and it didn’t quite work out for him. But he tried—his arc for the episode was to redeem the legacy of a guy whose entire gimmick is pee. Whatever happens with him in the final episodes of the season, it’s going to be eventful.