“Rick and Morty” has a knack for taking familiar sci-fi tropes and using them as a lens to examine the intricate web of personality traits and disorders within its characters.
A prime example of this is the character Unity. In the episode “Auto Erotic Assimilation” from season 2, viewers are introduced to a hive mind composed of assimilated humanoid aliens. Unity, Rick’s former romantic partner, is the central consciousness behind this hive mind. Voiced by a roster of performers including Rob Paulsen, Patton Oswalt, and primarily Christina Hendricks, Unity represents an invasive force that subjugates entire planets, erasing individuality in favor of a collective existence.
Initially, this concept unsettles Summer and Morty, given the apparent erasure of free will. However, they soon discover the positive impact Unity has had on the planets under her control. She’s transformed self-destructive addicts into marine biologists, prevented inappropriate behavior, and averted potential conflicts.
Navigating the morality of Unity’s actions is complex, especially within the confines of a 21-minute animated show. This complexity is somewhat overshadowed when Rick convinces Unity to revisit their wild partying days, leading to a downward spiral of excess and loss of control over her conquered planet. Meanwhile, Unity caters to Rick’s every desire, whether it’s an undignified giraffe, a surplus of redheads, or an overt nod to the show “Community.”
As anyone who’s received a late-night text from an ex can attest, there’s often a good reason for a breakup. Unity comes to realize that Rick possesses a unique ability to strip away individuality, surpassing even her own influence. She ends their relationship through a series of notes scattered across the planet. The episode concludes with Rick struggling to justify his addictive and self-centered behavior, misleading his grandchildren into believing he initiated the breakup. The narrative takes a dark turn as Rick’s intoxication on experimental chemicals prevents him from ending his own life.
On a more optimistic note, Unity finds solace with another hive mind, Beta-Seven, whose eccentricities bear resemblance to the Borg collective. Whether Rick’s prediction about their future pans out remains unexplored in the series.