Of course, even with the episode’s events getting dismissed as figments of the characters’ imaginations, some truths about who they are still come through, so that everyone gets an emotional journey. Well, sort of. Jesse and Korvo learn they might dislike a lot about each other, but they’re still family and would certainly rather have each other than a douche like Vanbo (Jason Mantzoukas). It’s a little more confusing with Yumyulack because we appear to learn that, despite being a jerk to her, he wants Jesse to like him, but it’s later revealed he’s the only one (well, and the Pupa) who wasn’t in the pretendo-deck, meaning his character’s whole journey was entirely Jesse’s delusion… I guess? This is where it gets a little messy and highlights why I’m no fan of this “all a dream” stuff.
But I’m being a stickler about what is still a pretty funny episode. There have been funnier this season, but I still got some decent laughs out of “Retrace-Your-Step-Alizer.” I love that Korvo’s time-travelling shoes light up while Terry’s don’t, as well as the fact they’re those ridiculous Pump sneakers from the early nineties. “Where’s your donkey, Blue Shrek?” is a very good line. As usual, there’s tons of great pop culture references, including a Darth Maul-esque battle, a Simpsons x Space Jam crossover, and a great joke about David Cronenberg’s goofily-titled eXistenZ. Also, I love all that weird nonsense about turning people into Game Boy cartridges.
It’s also a funny reveal that the only real thing that does happen is the Pupa’s plot in which it infiltrates an old woman’s mind and uses its powers to grant her wish to see her mother’s face one last time in order to get its hands on a battery-operated Harry Potter whistle. This plotline is a treat because, if you’ve been conditioned by Rick and Morty to expect the worst like I have, the Pupa’s story is presented as though it’s going to culminate in some unspeakable tragedy, but instead it ends on a silly, wholesome little gag.