Rick and Morty Season 4 Made Me Feel Stupid and I Loved It

Dept. of Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!


It’s not often that a show comes along that makes you feel so stupid watching it and yet thankful for the experience. Rick and Morty, Season 4, is one of those shows. Now, I can already hear some eyeballs rolling at this and some of you may already reaching for the close tab button, but WAIT!

Yes Rick and Morty has got itself a bit of a… reputation. From (past) toxic behaviour from one of the show’s co-creators, to toxic behaviour from fans, to the whole szechuan sauce debacle,  the show hasn’t exactly endeared itself to anyone who’s not been on board since the beginning. It’s meme friendly catchphrases and concepts don’t help (“Get Schwifty,” “Wubba lubba dub dub,” “I’m Pickle Rick!“), but believe me, it’s more than worth the effort. Especially considering that the show’s troublesome co-creator apologized for his past behaviour (and more importantly, had his apology accepted), and the show-runners take every opportunity to call out their most rabid fans on their most toxic behaviour.

Get Schwifty

If you don’t know, Rick and Morty is the animated show from Adult Swim featuring Rick Sanchez, the smartest man in the Universe, and his grandson Morty, who are most definitely nothing like Doc and Marty from Back to the Future. The pair go on “adventures” together through this and many other universes, that are simultaneously more and less childish than that sounds.

At this stage it’s pretty much accepted that Rick is the smartest man in the universe but he’s also a deeply unhappy individual, who often punishes his family in incredibly petty ways for minor transgressions, and rarely follows up on his responsibilities. In Season 2 he had a not-very-healthy relationship with the entire population of a planet who were possessed by a hive mind called unity, but he tops this in Season 4 by accidentally getting a planet itself pregnant.

Morty is dragged along on these adventures, mostly as someone for Rick to talk and brag to. By all appearances, Rick has little interest in Morty’s input on their adventures, and yet, he goes to great lengths to keep Morty around.

While this past season is right up there, quality wise, with the previous ones, there are two episodes this year that made me dizzy with their concept and execution.

Stealing Stuff Is About the Stuff and Not the Stealing

In “One Crew over the Crewcoo’s Morty” (the episode title puns are getting more and more tortured) Rick and Morty do a heist episode, as only they can. After his attempted theft of an alien artifact is thwarted by a “heist artist,” Rick needs to surrender himself to the tropes of the heist genre, just to get into “heist-con” to confront his rival. (Rick regularly steals insanely powerful exotic materials for entirely petty reasons… or just to get high).

All the well known tropes of heist movies are present and correct. A montage where Rick assembles his crew, accompanied by a funky, bass heavy, soundtrack. A team catchphrase (“Sanchez, you son of a bitch, I’m in!”). Sudden, yet inevitable, betrayals and double crosses, with split screen action. There’s even multiple reversals, where it’s revealed that everything that has taken place, up to and including any previous reversals, have all been part of one big plan.

Even when it seems Rick has been outfoxed by an out of control “Heist-o-tron,” an AI he built that is designed only for heisting, the heist nonsense reach entirely new levels. Rick invents a “Rand-o-tron” to come up with a plan so random that it can can outdo the Heist-o-tron’s “lazily contrived bullshit.”

All of this is in good fun until it’s revealed that everything, including the rogue heist AI’s, were all in service to the biggest heist of them all: stealing the joy out of the heist genre.

That’s right. In doing a heist episode Rick and Morty completely eviscerates the concept of heist episodes/movies. Even the inclusion of an Elon Musk cameo in the form of Elon Tusk, an Elon from another universe who is slightly easier to work with, can’t undermine the cleverness of episode.

I Don’t Like How Meta This Is Getting, Rick

This high concept, meta madness is matched in “Never Ricking Morty,” where our heroes find themselves on a train where everyone is telling stories about Rick and Morty. The duo quickly realize that they are trapped in an anthology, not of their making.

I had to watch this episode 3 times to catch all the little details but it’s true genius can be summed up in one line Rick says to Morty:

“It’s not a real train. It’s a story device, literally. A literal literary device, quite literally metaphorically containing us”

Rick Sanchez

I just got a headache transcribing that, never mind thinking about it, or how you would even begin to come up with it.

In navigating the story based structure of the train and the episode itself Rick even references co-creator Dan Harmon’s “story circle” storytelling framework. As its impossible to traverse the train successfully without also advancing the plot, Rick plans in advance for ‘Step 6’ in the story circle, “The hero has to pay a terrible price,” setting up the necessary plot machinations to proceed to the following story step.

The episode also requires Morty to tell a story that passes the Bechdel test (a test the show regularly fails) in order to break the train’s (and the show’s) “thematic seal.”

This is a new bar for meta storytelling.

Don’t Ask.

The episode does all this while making repeated vulgar jokes about “c*m-gutters” and an extended “bit” about a man dying horribly outside of the continuity of the train, literally suspended in disbelief.

Just by writing about these episodes, I feel worse about writing.

I’ve not even touched upon Abrodolph Lincoler, the race of aliens after Earth’s water who are voiced almost entirely by New Zealanders like Taika Waititi and Sam Neill, or the planet of racist snakes that Rick and Morty accidentally inspire into a Terminator style “Time War.”

Rick and Morty is one of the smartest shows on television and if you haven’t given it a chance already you absolutely should. After Season 3, Adult Swim ordered 70 more episodes from co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. With 60 left to produce after season 4, now is the perfect time to get on board.

Make sure you are prepared for how… squicky things can get though. Despite all of the above there’s also an episode where Rick gets Morty a dragon (voiced by Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones) and they end up having a “Soul Orgy” with a den of “slut dragons.”

So there is that.

Rick & Morty
Netlfix, Season 4, 10 episodes
Showrunners: Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland
Cast: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke, Dan Harmon, Maurice LaMarche, Kari Wahlgren, Matthew Broderick, Clancy Brown, Liam Cunningham, Keegan-Michael Key, Clancy Brown, Nolan North, Christopher Meloni, and Paul Giamatti,

All four seasons of Rick and Morty are currently streaming on Netflix.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

Jordan Peele is the Narrator of The Twilight Zone.
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