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Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty Review – A Confusing Yet Satisfying Meta-Narrative Runaway Train (4 x 6)

Rick Sanchez returns to action in "Never Ricking Morty"
Still from RICK AND MORTY Season 4 Episode 6 "Never Ricking Morty." Photo courtesy of Cartoon Network, 2020.

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Rick and Morty returned from its 4 1/2 months-long hiatus to induce an unhealthy dose of a self-deprecating bombardment of meta-narrative jokes.

In season 4, an increase in meta-jokes, fourth-wall-breaking and tropes of the like have been steady fare in the show.

That’s why in this installment, the writers decided to poke fun at themselves, while simultaneously confusing the heck out of fans, but in a good way.

 

In “Never Ricking Morty,” a clever title disguised as a ruse –because one would likely make a connection to the 1984 film “The Neverending Story.”

Which was, of course, teased in the promo stills with Rick seemingly playing with a giant “dog” just like the protagonist in the movie.

However, as revealed in the episode, this is nothing more than a throw-away cutscene because – SURPRISE SURPRISE – it’s an anthology episode!

This is a stunt the show has pulled before during the “The Ricklantis Mixup” episode, which was actually about the day-to-day life at the Citadel of Ricks instead of the underwater adventure teased in the promos.

So, in a sense, we can probably classify this as a call-back episode? But, I digress.

Maybe it’s because of the prolonged anticipation or simply the blatant fake-out, but the show once again manages to subvert expectations.

Unlike the anthology episodes in the show’s past (both “Interdimensional Cable” episodes, and “Morty’s Mindblowers”), this time the “real” Rick and Morty are actually not directly affected by the stories in the anthology.

While the aforementioned previous anthologies place Rick, Morty, and the rest of the family as spectators, or subjects of the series of random stories.

In “Never Ricking Morty,” it is revealed at the end of the episode, that the anthology was simply happening in a toy train Morty had bought from the Citadel of Ricks at some point as a gift for Rick.

So neither of them or the other characters in the “real” world were actually involved in any of the stories at all.

That said, the anthology that happens in the train (dubbed “Story Train” by an advertisement at the post-credits scene of the show) is packed with satisfying storylines that will definitely not be canon.

TOY TRAIN RICK & MORTY STORIES

There was quite a lot to unpack as everything about this episode was equally convoluted and confusing as well as shocking and silly, while coming in rapid-fire speed as each story starts after another before one can even process what in the world just happened, nevertheless, here are some of the things that stood out:

  • Rick meta-references the story circle method famously used by producer Dan Harmon to craft his writing. In the episode, Rick hints at plot details that are about to happen during the episode when he finds a “blueprint” of the train’s layout, which leaves Morty confused as he openly mocks and criticizes the method.
    • When characters of the show start to interact with its creators, it has been coined as 5th Wall-Breaking, which is exactly what Rick and Morty both do in this episode.

 

  • Tickets Please guy / Train conductor – this new character is introduced as a faux villain who has impeccable abs with ridges (which Morty uses a sexualized term for, much to Rick’s disgust) who ends up severed in half in a struggle, but as he dies in the train he’s revealed to be playing a Roy-like simulator game similar to the one in season 2.
    • Morty takes pity on him, so Rick kills him, but not before cracking “too soon” jokes when he says “He’s just a stub,” and “You don’t know the half of it.”

 

  • As Rick and Morty go deeper into the mystery of the Story Train, they encounter the “real villain” of the episode, Story Lord, who tries to harvest the duo’s “Story Potential” by draining them of their “Narrative Energy,” which is broken down to Marketability, Broad Appeal, and Relatability.
    • This is another case of 5th Wall-Break because it openly mocks the story-writing process the creators of the show are likely using. The Story Lord character is likely an avatar used by the writers to represent themselves as well as the fans crazed craving for more Rick and Morty stories, and how each party is guilty of “draining” the characters of their story potential by demanding too much.

 

During the fight with Story Lord, Rick and Morty are literally thrust out of the Story Train’s narrative, and go into off-shoot cutscenes that represent canon storylines, which the show has not resolved.

Some of these include:

  • The return of Abradolf Lincler, who has been M.I.A. since season 1.

 

  • A cameo of Snowball (season 1), Morty’s hyper-intelligent dog in a robotic-exosuit battling a cat, presumably from the same talking variety as the season 4 episode 4 character that hangs out with Jerry.

 

  • Phoenix-person (formerly Birdperson) and his lover Tammy Guetermann, Summer’s ex-BFF/Galactic Federation Spy make a brief appearance while battling Rick and Summer.
    • Summer and Tammy are, of course, wielding lightsabre-like weapons, while dueling it out. Awesome.

  • Finally, Evil Morty and a deformed Mr. Poopybutthole, who’s dressed like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, leading an army comprised of Male Gazorpazorps, Mr. Meseekses (?), and spear-wielding Ricks from the Citadel.

All these cameos are popular characters that represent storylines that the show has never truly resolved over its run, and by cramming them into an anthology episode, they’ve simultaneously satisfied and disappointed fans in one fell swoop and have navigated around writing them into canon for the show’s main narrative. Quite ingenious.

  • The anthology then ends with Rick and Morty UNCHARACTERISTICALLY praying to God/Jesus for salvation from the Evil Army arguing that the Bible is “the greatest story ever told.”
    • Doing so prompts Story Lord to intervene because Rick and Morty “would never do this,” as the Narrative Energy levels all go down.
    • Also, after Rick and Morty are finished praying, cartoon characters resembling Veggie Tales and other “Christian-y” cartoons surround them. (One named “Crossy” and another “Biblesaurus“).
    • After arguing with Story Lord, a version of Jesus Christ himself descends from the sky to resolve the issue.
    • Rick then proclaims that the Bible is every writer’s “hell” as Story Lord is trapped in the anthology.
    • However, when Rick and Morty escape to the Story Train’s reality, they discover that too is fake, and so are they.

After the reveal, the Jesus Christ inside the Story Train makes the train literally go off the rails, and the Rick and Morty in the real world argue over buying another train, while Rick goes off on a rant about capitalism and the coronavirus pandemic saying:

“Buy another one Morty, consume Morty, nobody’s out there shopping with this f***ing virus. Where’s your f****ing wallet?”

 

VERDICT:

Everything about this episode was nearly perfect, especially considering it’s an anthology episode, which basically renders it a throw-away narrative-wise.

But the treasure trove of masterfully crafted meta-humor and references off-set the lack of storyline advancement.

However, the pacing of the story was a bit distracting as well, but nevertheless, “Never Ricking Story” scores . . .

8.5/10!

 


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Lorenz Bacani is a pop-culture enthusiast who's trying to watch as many good comic-book movies and TV shows as superhumanly possible. He received a bachelor's degree in Journalism and New Media at California Baptist University. Wrote for a news tabloid, worked for a couple of non-profits, and dabbled in some photography (mostly for Instagram purposes). He is probably currently binge-watching an old TV show for nostalgia.

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty Finale Review – Attack of Beth’s Clone (4 x 10)

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Season 4 finale of RICK & MORTY reveals Beth has had a space rebel clone since season 3.

Rick & Morty wrapped-up season 4 with a Star Wars homage episode, titled “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri,” that revisited the Clone Beth and Phoenix Person / Tammy story arcs.

The seeds of this finale, of course, were planted way back in season 3 episode 10 “The Rickchurian Mortydate” where Beth discussed the idea with Rick of having herself cloned, so she can live two lives.

In the same episode, a post-credits tag showed Tammy, the treacherous Galactic Federation agent / Summer’s ex-BFF, reviving her ex-lover / Rick’s BFF Phoenix (formerly Bird) Person into a cybernetic body – a la Darth Vader.

For a long time, absolutely nothing was ever explicitly established on-screen to further develop these arcs, that is, until now.

 

A TALE OF TWO CLONES

Beth has been a pretty low-key character this season and has only played a major role in a couple of episodes, but she came back big time toward the end, gaining momentum from episode 9, and following through with a bombshell revelation in the finale.

Since “The Rickchurian Mortydate,” it’s revealed in this episode that Beth was actually cloned by Rick per her request, and there have been two Beths leading completely different lives simultaneously.

One Beth (let’s call her Space Beth) pursued adventure in the galaxy as a rebel hero fighting against the New Galactic Federation (NGF), just like Rick did when he was younger.

This version of Beth has cybernetic enhancements as well and has been put on the NGF’s “Most Wanted” list, which basically fulfills a recurring gag in her character that she is basically Rick, but a woman.

Too smart for her own good, jaded to a fault, and limitlessly stubborn.

Space Beth even has her own spaceship, which she uses to go back to Earth after finding out that Rick planted a proximity bomb on her neck in case she comes anywhere near the other Beth.

She attempts to kill Rick in this episode because of this and gloats to her father that she’s replaced him as the most dangerous being in the galaxy.

Even the NGF admits this saying that Rick becomes a “non-threat” when he is left alone.

Regardless, this Beth seems satisfied with her personal accomplishments and has reached her full potential as a badass and a person.

In the words of Morty,  “Like father, like god damn daughter.”

 

Beth in “The Rickchurian Mortydate” after realizing she may have been cloned by Rick. / Adult Swim.

 

Meanwhile, the other Beth (aka “Normal Beth”) stayed home on Earth where she reconciled with Jerry, whom she was on the verge of divorcing, and fixed her broken albeit insanely dysfunctional family.

She even managed to get everyone, including Rick, to do periodic family psychiatric therapy sessions.

This version of Beth decided to live a “normal” life and became less like Rick.

Nevertheless, she is equally satisfied, fulfilled, and self-aware of the life she had chosen.

In other words, this Beth is happy.

She isn’t even shocked at the idea that she may be a clone when Space Beth shows up.

Nothing phases her anymore because she knows who she is, and has developed a healthy acceptance of it.

This is a direct contrast to her father who, despite knowing who he is (essentially a near unparalleled genius god scientist), can not come to terms with his own existence and has a deeply suppressed depression because of it.

 

The episode explores these dynamics in a subtle way but does so in the signature dark comedic style that the show is known and loved for.

In the end, when the space dust settled Jerry, Morty and Summer now seem to accept having two different Beths as the norm.

I love having two moms,” said Summer.

Followed by Jerry who quickly responded, “I love having two wives.”

However, when Rick tries to tell which Beth is the clone via a Mindblower Vial memory, he made it so even he wouldn’t remember, his family berates him for being a bad father and claim they don’t even want to know.

Rick watches it alone, and the memory reveals that he removed the labels “Real Beth” and “Clone Beth” from the tanks he used to clone Beth, and shuffled them, so it’s impossible to know who his real daughter is.

This makes Rick come to a self-realization that he is indeed a terrible father because he would be content in killing either one of the Beths if he favored one over the other.

It should be interesting to see where the show takes this development next season.

Will Space Beth bring a new dynamic to the show permanently? Or will they just kill her off-screen?

Could go either way with this show at this point.

 

THE RISE AND FALL… AND RISE AGAIN? OF PHOENIX PERSON

Phoenix Person and Tammy Guterman / “The Rickchurian Mortydate” Rick and Morty (3×10) / Adult Swim.

 

It was simply amazing to see these two characters again and in the canon storyline this time.

They were last seen in”Never Ricking Morty,” but were basically a figment of imagination in that episode.

Tammy, before meeting her poetic demise at the hands of Rick and Summer in this episode, led the NGF to Earth to look for Beth aka “Blade Smith” and take her in.

And the absurdly morbid way she was used to defeat Phoenix Person, by Jerry no less, is a scene that should be watched because it’s simply too difficult to put into words.

Seriously, it’s messed up and hilarious at the same time.

Before that though, he has a super awesome sci-fi fight scene with Rick where he almost kills him.

In the end, Rick saves his best friend from the brink of death (the parallels with Anakin/Darth Vader continue) and stores him in the garage in hopes of rehabilitating him.

So while the arc of Tammy is permanently shut, there is potential for more Bird/Phoenix Person appearances in the future!

 

BATTLE FOR THE INVISIBILITY BELT

As usual with this show now, you can never trust the promos.

Though the invisibility belt did play a major role in the main arc of the episode, it was mostly relegated to B-storyline.

Basically, Morty and Summer fight over it so they can both do pervy teenager stuff.

And they kind of used it against the NGF invasion, which is sponsored by Wrangler jeans, apparently.

But in the end, it’s used by Jerry to save the day. Go figure.

 

VERDICT:

It’s tough to do a Star Wars homage because it’s been done before many many many times.

Rick & Morty does it by explicitly not doing it in overtly obvious ways.

They hide it in plain sight, within the characters, within the story arcs, within a blink and you’ll miss it moment, or a cleverly placed easter egg.

And that’s what made this episode special.

It had the essential elements of Star Wars, but the characters and the narrative are all original concoctions.

From Tammy acting essentially as the Empire, to Phoenix Person filling the role as Darth Vader.

Which, of course, implies that Rick is Obi-Wan.

Morty and Summer are the clumsy Luke and Leia.

So Beth essentially became something like a Rey figure?

Does that mean Jerry is Kylo Ren? Oh god why.

Anyway, the finale is a masterpiece and scores . . .

10/10


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Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty Recap – Rick Knocks-Up a [SPOILER]!? (4 x 9)

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(L-R) Beth, Summer, Morty, Rick and Jerry. Season 4 Episode 9 "Childrick of Mort" / ADULT SWIM.

When Jerry forces the family to go on a camping vacation, Rick receives a text from an unusual sexual partner who claims she’s pregnant.

Childrick of Mort” is the penultimate episode of Rick and Morty’s season 4 offerings, and it is quite a spectacle to take in.

Basically, Jerry’s plan was never going to happen, and instead, the episode escalates into the most bizarre baby mama drama.

So who, or more precisely, what has Rick had sexual relations with this time? A planet. That’s right. A frickin’ planet.

 

This isn’t anything new for Rick though because he, technically, has “partied with a whole planet” before.

Specifically, with Unity, the hivemind collective who had a mutually toxic relationship with Rick in Season 2 Episode 3 “Auto Erotic Assimilation.”

Still from “Auto Erotic Assimilation” of Rick and his ex-partner Unity. / Adult Swim.

 

On the other hand, this is the first episode this season that the entire Smith family has been together on an adventure again.

Even though Summer and Morty were kind of relegated in the back story, they are beautifully incorporated into the final act of the episode, albeit in a gruesome way.

Rick, Beth, and Jerry take center stage as they deal with the dilemma of a pregnant planet and a literal god.

 

The show has not been one to shy in making fun of Marvel movies in past episodes as evident in Season 3 episode 4 “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender” serving as a satire of the Avengers films.

This time, they reverse-parodied the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and made Rick a dead beat dad figure who basically impregnates a female Ego the Living Planet named Gaia.

Beth, who has well-established abandonment issues toward Rick, forces his father to well… be a father to her half-human, half-planet, half-siblings.

Rick ushers his “offspring” into an independently functioning society with Beth’s guidance as she is motivated by her desire to gain Rick’s approval, which she does in this episode to a fault.

This, of course, backfires when they find out that Rick isn’t actually the real father, and Gaia also had sex with a Zeus-like god named Reggie, whose hair looks similar to Rick’s.

Rick, surprisingly, claims he’s more of a father to Gaia’s children and tells Reggie to go away, and they have a hilarious and extremely satisfying fight.

Basically, it’s Peter Griffin versus the talking chicken in Family Guy meets Kratos in God of War, but darker, pettier and more childish.

Reggie the Zeus-like god that Rick Fights in “Childrick of Mort” / Adult Swim.

 

Meanwhile, Morty and Summer are forced to hang with Jerry who still wants to do “nature stuff,” but is quickly shunned by his children.

Because Morty just wants to play video games, and Summer just wants to get high.

After Summer savagely puts his father down when he offers them a s’more, she and Morty try to find Rick but get lost and find an abandoned spaceship instead.

They get their respective wishes, of sorts, as Summer gets dangerously high on alien tech fumes, and Morty haphazardly pilots the spaceship (while also high) assuming it’s as easy as playing a video game.

This eventually leads them to inadvertently killing Reggie during his fight with Rick by driving the spaceship through the god’s eye. (A clever reference to the Zeus mythos)

 

As for Jerry, well, he ends up with the Unproductives, a group of Gaia’s children that add no value to their society as deemed by Rick and Beth.

Jerry imparts his knowledge of camping skills on them, and says that those who don’t enjoy camping are “bad.”

This urges the Uproductives to start a revolution against Gaia’s other children.

They’re led by Jerry as he is granted by Reggie with lightning powers, which he underutilizes due to incompetence.

He does, however, gain Beth’s affection back from Rick by rescuing her from falling during the battle.

Of course, Jerry’s side loses though and Rick abandons Gaia and Reggie’s children in the end.

 

VERDICT:

This episode is probably one of, if not the most, bizarre installment of Rick and Morty yet.

It was billed as a simple family camping trip episode but became something that’s quite difficult to evaluate and at times off-putting.

Regardless, it still captures the essence of why the show is so funny and smart into an unstable cocktail one just can’t help but chug down.

Thus, making it something that you have to see for yourself because nothing really compares to it.

“Childrick of Mort” scores an

8.0 / 10.0!


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Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty Recap – Morty Questions Rick’s Vat of Acid Idea (4 x 8)

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Still from Rick and Morty / "The Vat of Acid Episode"

Rick makes a fake vat of acid to trick some gangsters, but Morty loses his cool and things get out of hand.

Since the teasers were released for the show last month, “The Vat of Acid Episode,” was among the most anticipated of Rick and Morty’s season 4 second-half installments.

And the hype was justified because it is arguably one of the best episodes the show has ever had.

 

Just like everything with Rick and Morty, the vat of acid is not just a vat of acid.

In this case, it served as motivation for Rick to mess with Morty and put him in his place.

When Morty questions Rick’s fake vat of acid bit, which was unraveling against the gangsters they were trying to trick, Morty lashes out (killing the gangsters in the process) and insults his grandfather’s abilities.

Still of Rick and Morty using breathing tubes while in the fake vat of acid. Courtesy of ADULT SWIM / Cartoon Network.

 

Morty thinks Rick has lost it and his ideas are increasingly becoming dumber, while Rick refuses to admit his invention was a failure.

So, in true Rick fashion, he loses his temper and insults Morty until the two come to an impasse: Can Rick invent a checkpoint saving device? And yes, like the one commonly found in video games.

Rick succeeds and gloats, but gives Morty the remote control-looking device anyway to freely use and the two seemingly reconcile their disagreement.

Morty uses the device willy-nilly because he no longer has to deal with real-life consequences since he can just “reset” to a previous savepoint

 

He uses the device to pants Mr. Goldenfold in front of the class, hit on Jessica, order the right food at a restaurant, and a bunch of other irresponsible things.

But then Morty meets and falls in love with a girl at a coffee shop, which sets up an Up-like montage that shows their love story unfold.

Even though their story took a dark turn, and they end up in a crash that nearly kills them both, Morty shows growth in his character when he refuses to reset to his savepoint.

As their relationship seemed to be turning genuine, however, Jerry finds the checkpoint device and accidentally resets Morty back to the moment he and the girl met.

A freaked out Morty, who remembers everything they went through, blows it by coming on too strong to the girl, and the relationship never materializes.

And once again, Jerry accidentally ruins a good thing for Morty.

Morty and the mystery girl he falls in love with during a montage from “The Vat of Acid Episode” cuddled up after their plane crashes.

A heartbroken Morty then returns the device to Rick, and admits to learning his lesson.

But just as you think the show is about to end and the catharsis between the two characters will finally come full circle.

Rick pulls another twist and tells Morty that every time he used the reset device, a version of Morty from another dimension died as he took their place.

This haunting revelation weighs at Morty, while Rick just becomes spiteful and rubs it in Morty’s face.

“That’s right you little bitch, it’s the Prestige!” Rick says after the reveal,

“You Prestige-d yourself,” as he guilts Morty into undoing all the realities and take responsibility for his actions.

 

What follows next could only be described as Rick being petty because Morty questioned his vat of acid idea.

Is this because of the vat?” Morty asked

To which Rick just sarcastically responds “Noo…

Rick fuses the realities, so all the Mortys that Morty “killed” with the reset device never happened, so all the people that Morty wronged joined as a mob to punish him for his actions.

And as they were about to take their revenge on Morty, a vat of acid has been conveniently prepared by Rick, so Morty can escape his current predicament.

Morty, realizing Rick’s plan, reluctantly dives into the vat of acid again while verbally admitting to Rick how great of an idea it is.

Morty fakes his death and the mob leaves. Leaving Rick satisfied with his plan because he has “proven” his genius idea.

 

VERDICT:

Rick and Morty typically thrives in dark humor, and in this installment, they literally plunge into a vat of some pretty messed-up stuff.

In the middle of the joke, unfortunately, is Morty who continues to suffer under the weight of his grandfather’s genius, and learns that questioning him leads to nothing good.

Rick’s ego, of course, proves to be as vast as his intelligence but remains quite fragile even against the slightest provocation from his grandson.

The dynamic between them is perfectly pushed to new dimensions (literally and figuratively) in this episode and keeps the show fresh and challenging for its fans to dive into.

“The Vat of Acid Episode” scores

9.5/10


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