Rick and Morty has become a veritable cultural phenomenon (for better or worse) and part of the reason for that has been the slow, limited release of episodes that maintain interest and build anticipation over time. Well, rejoice all you Rick and Morty aficionados, because the second half of Season 4 begins screening on the 3rd of May. And this half-season kicks off with a bang, as Rick and Morty get more meta than ever before.
Series creator Dan Harmon is a big fan of meta-humour, as anyone familiar with his previous work, Community, will know, and Rick and Morty has never shied away from approaching humor in that way as well. Rick and Morty episodes, in general, tend to fall back on a few standard approaches, with the most popular being outright parody or satire of existing, well-known tropes and plots. However, especially as the years go by, the writers have become very aware of what the fandom thinks of Rick and Morty (as characters, and as a show), and this had led to an increasing level of meta-commentary episodes, in which the characters themselves address what makes Rick and Morty popular or interesting. And never has it been so blatant than in Never Ricking Morty.
We start off the episode on a train, where each carriage is filled with people that seem to have some fascination with Rick Sanchez. As they explain themselves, the viewer is drawn into random vignettes of bite-sized adventures featuring Rick. Soon enough though, it becomes apparent that Rick and Morty are trapped on device driven by narrative forces, where the very beats of a storyline themselves have become weaponized and part of what they must overcome. Throughout the episode, they encounter random scenes of exciting adventures that may or may not ever happen in the future, including a snippet of “the series finale,” which is a hilarious example of what the fans of R&M want the show to be, versus what the creators probably intended it to be. This episode even finds time to comment (in typical style) on the claims made by some critics that the show has failed to meaningfully present women as characters, through a brief snippet of what Morty imagines a feminist adventure would be like.
On the whole, I would say this episode is more clever than funny, whereas the best R&M episodes manage to be both. That being said, what is clever is very clever, and there are many layers and alternate realities that spin by in half a second or less in this episode, so it definitely requires multiple viewings, as some of the best episodes often do.
All in all, this is well-placed as an episode for returning back to a season after a break, but there is also now the definite focus on pleasing existing fans at this stage. It will be interesting to see if the show becomes more and more insular for only existing fans over time, as that seems to be the trend that is being taken at present.
Rick and Morty season 4 returns on Monday, 4 May on the Adult Swim Corner on Showmax for South African fans to stream, just 24 hours after the 3 May USA premiere! In the meantime, you can catch up on all previous episodes of Rick and Morty on Showmax here.
Rick and Morty – Season 4 Episode 6: Never Ricking Morty
Rick and Morty return with plenty of commentary on themselves, but not as many laughs.