Rick and Morty season 4, episode 8, The Vat of Acid Episode, contains a major plot surprise that Rick Sanchez compares to a Christopher Nolan film. Rick and Morty is no stranger to explaining its story through movie allusions, generally calling out the movie by name in the dialogue; this isn’t even the first time they’ve done a Nolan movie parody, with season 1, episode 2, Lawnmower Dog, containing a plotline based on Inception.
But the reference in The Vat of Acid Episode is from one of Nolan’s earlier and more underrated films.
Nolan reference in Rick and Morty season 4 episode 8
The Vat of Acid Episode depicts Morty going through life with a remote control that allows him to save his progress and then restart if something bad happens. Morty uses it to remove all of the repercussions of his deeds until it all goes wrong when he saves his own life at the wrong time.
When things go awry, Morty confronts Rick, only to discover a new twist to the plot that Rick compares to The Prestige. Rick swears he doesn’t time travel. Thus, the equipment doesn’t operate that way. Instead, it employs parallel dimensions. When he uses the remote, he is actually traveling to another realm and murdering Morty in that dimension.
Morty is horrified, recognizing that he is killing people to accomplish what he wants, similar to how Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) performed his magic tricks in The Prestige. Angier produces clones of himself while appearing to teleport across a room.
Because there is an issue with keeping both clones alive, one of them must be murdered every time the trick is performed. Morty has to perform the same thing repeatedly throughout his life without even realizing it. Using the remote kills Morty in the other reality, which frightens him once he realizes this. He appears to have killed several of them during the episode but refuses to tell Rick how many times.
Differences between the episode and The Prestige
There are also significant variances between this and The Prestige, making it more than just a simple reproduction of that twist. Morty, unlike Robert Angier, has no knowledge of who gets slain along the road. He’s also killing other copies of himself rather than the actual version. It’s plainly based on the twist from The Prestige, yet it’s distinct enough from that narrative to not seem like a knockoff.
Without precisely replicating the twist, Rick and Morty season 4, episode 8 maintains the similar terror of discovering that one of the major characters has probably killed hundreds of people for their own selfish gain. Unfortunately, The Prestige is currently unavailable on Netflix.
Did you love this reference? Let us know in the comments.