Even though I watched it a few times, I missed the point of Rick says how he likes this Morty’s real-time response at the beginning and his comments about CPU burning out. And since this episode is about a simulation, inside a simulation inside a bigger simulation, that puts some perspective on what Rick does when he’s finally “alone” with “Morty”. He allows himself to have fun with his grandson.
As far as I’ve noticed, this is the first time Rick was so open about their relationship, throwing crystals around and playing, actually having fun and being close to Morty without covering it with a snarly comment afterward.
He probably decided to present himself like that for one other reason – he wanted the aliens to think they have won. But why not have some fun with “Morty” as he’d like to in real life while he’s at it.
It’s important to notice that Rick has at least 2 motives to behave as he does. By giving a fictional character more motives, we are making the observer think about the character more, wanting to discover new situations the character might be in. Would he always behave like that? In Rick’s case, the answer is yes. He will always think deeper than a regular person and will always be ready for anything that comes into play. He doesn’t let things slide without controlling them or attempting to do so.
Of course, Rick ends up winning over the aliens with his acting and gets to go home with Jerry who was basically a lag in the simulation, is the real human.
On the writing side, this is one of the better episodes for me, because we are instantly placed in the question mode. What does he mean by saying those things to Morty? Why does Rick pronounce Morty in that manner? What’s going on? Yet we are forced to follow Morty, as if he was real and observe Rick’s relationship with him. But we keep staying on Morty’s side until the very end.
Building anticipation is the key. By making us believe that somehow Morty has to be real, we reach the peak of our attention and become slightly disappointed when we realize he’s not, only to feel a rush again when Rick wins for the last time. We feel satisfaction knowing that he “avenged” Morty, even when he’s at home, waiting for Rick’s return.
This is also the first time we see Rick having a stage persona. He knows how to act and perform, which will later reveal to have been a huge part of his life during the time he left Beth and the family.
At the end of the episode, we see him coming back to check up on the real Morty and make sure he’s not a simulation. Rick relaxes again for a brief amount of time, knowing that he’s drunk and that Morty will perceive his words as the words of an alcoholic, thus won’t even bother to understand what’s going on.
Rick is extremely aware of himself, and that’s making him more complicated, as he’s using and abusing his family. We will also see him break the fourth wall later.