Warning: Spoilers for Rick and Morty season 4 episode 1 ahead. You have been warned!
Rick and Morty’s back. Huzzah! But wait – somethings different. Not the show, which remains as whip-smart and artistically creative as ever, but how Rick and Morty, the TV series, fits into the real world.
Between seasons two and three, the show transformed into a behemoth of television: one capable, with a single gag about Szechuan sauce, of causing riots at McDonald's. Rick and Morty quickly became so popular that international publications – such as The Guardian and New York Times – wrote op-eds about the series, while Captain America himself, Chris Evans, posted multiple times on social media about his love for the show.
Season 4, then, marks the first time the creators have written episodes knowing just how many people their show’s going to reach. And, rather than steer away from directly addressing the fandom’s many complaints about season 3, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have tucked their heads in and charged head-first into their dissidents.
The premiere begins in typical Rick and Morty fashion. The eponymous duo are sitting around a table, but not everything’s straight forward. Rick’s actually inserted a chip into his brain that allows him to browse Amazon while seemingly there with the family; Morty’s perving on his crush, Jessica. Soon enough, they’re travelling through an asteroid field – in a scene that harkens back to the season one premiere – before landing on a planet in search of Death Crystals.
It looks like we’re in for a classic Rick and Morty adventure. Wrong! Two minutes later and Rick’s dead, impaled on a rock after Morty crashes their ship. This won’t be a classic adventure, but an interdimensional trip for Rick, and a narcissistic death-defying world-conquering massacre for Morty.
As Rick travels through dimensions, the writers address complaints that their last season didn’t contain enough simple Rick and Morty-centric episodes – the bread and butter of the first two seasons. When a Rick clone wakes up in a Fascist dimension, Hitler Youth Morty demands they go on a “simple, classic adventure” and that Rick “stops the meta-commentary”. There’s even a Messeeks on hand. “I like Meeseeks,” says Fascist Morty, the personification of the toxic members of the Rick and Morty fandom. And then, with the smash of a Meeseeks' box button, they’re all floating through space, dead.
Meanwhile, as Rick goes through the multi-verse (Shrimp Rick and Teddy Rick make fleeting appearances), Morty, able to see his own future, wants nothing but to live an existence that will lead him into Jessica’s arms. Unfortunately, despite seemingly decent intentions (at least by this show's standards), Morty ends up killing an army of police officers, goes to court, and then ends up being forgiven by the public because he can make some odd whale-like noises. All this, to discover he won’t be with Jessica until he's at least in his 40s. With that, Morty ends up cocooning himself in some strange destructive substance, only for Rick to appear – with Wasp Rick in tow – to save the day.
Things, as they nearly always do, return to normal by the episode's end. But this time, in a scene directly referencing the season two premiere, Rick and Morty – the show – delivers its mission statement for the season to come: this won't be a slew of “classic Rick and Morty adventures”. Maybe a few, but things are going to be different. People, and shows, evolve, and the fans will have to get used to that.
As a meta-statement, it's certainly a bold opening to the season. And considering how much the premiere squeezed into its 20 minute runtime, I can’t wait to see how things pan out. Rick and Morty’s back, and it’s different, kind of. Huzzah!
Want more Rick and Morty? Then why not check out the best Rick and Morty episodes now!