Rick and Morty is no stranger to shaking up the status quo. In recent years, Birdperson has become Phoenixperson, and we’re still not sure which Beth is Space Beth.
The season 5 premiere has seen fit to once again meddle with established canon. What starts as an episode where it looks like relationships will change in one way – with Morty finally sealing the deal with his high school crush, Jessica – ends up changing in a totally different, possibly show-affecting way.
In retaliation for Morty’s inadvertent meddling across decades in the world beyond the portal in Rick’s garage, its people kidnap Jessica and crystalize her in a prison where she can’t age. Jessica then goes mad from her experience of living hundreds of years in stasis – but also finds what she calls "enlightenment."
During her brief exposition dump at the end of the episode, Jessica reveals she’s seen the "life of time" and has transcended to a new plane of thinking. Short-term that means she and Morty should just remain friends. Long-term, it all culminates in a reveal that, as a man hits on her in the street, that she’s beyond such trivial matters and is now a "time god."
It remains to be seen whether this will carry over to next week, though Rick and Morty typically keeps major changes (including Beth and Jerry’s marital troubles) canonical up to a point.
If that’s the case, expect Morty to no longer be pining for Jessica. Instead, Jessica could have leveled up to become one of the most powerful beings in the universe – and adventures across time and space could await. It certainly adds a new element to when (and where) the show can go next. It just seems unlikely that Morty will be along for the ride. There’s the friend zone – and then there’s whatever the Rick and Morty season 5 premiere just pulled on Morty. Ouch.