Rick and Morty’s fifth season finale left us with one of the biggest cliffhangers in the show’s history. Not only did Morty’s bad-egg alternative self (and president of the Citadel of Ricks) Evil Morty enter a 2001: A Space Odyssey-style light show to explore unknown dimensions, Rick took an uncharacteristic detour into introspection and backstory.
Despite his in-built aversion to serialized drama and canon, Rick revealed that he’s motivated by grief and trauma, having seen the OG versions of his wife, Diane, and daughter Beth killed by a murderous version of himself. He subsequently spent decades exploring the multiverse, in a fruitless quest to hunt down his evil doppelganger. The good news for long-standing fans of the hit sci-fi comedy, however, is that none of this will be forgotten in Rick and Morty season 6.
"At the end of every season we have this crucial choice to make, which is are we going to end on a cliffhanger?" the show's co-creator Dan Harmon says. |It makes that episode easier to write because you don’t have to finish and then you’re done for the season. But then you have homework and I guess this was one of those. We left a lot unresolved but we knew that if we just hit the reset button at the top, that would be considered lazy or unsatisfying."
No spoilers here, but it’s safe to say that season 6 premiere 'Solaricks' picks up more or less where its predecessor left off – the Citadel has been destroyed, and Rick and Morty are trapped in the middle of nowhere with their all-important portal gun no longer functioning. In other words, if you’re a newcomer to the world(s) of the smartest man in the universe, this might not be the best place to get on board.
"There was this other consideration we had, which is when is your show allowed to be so canonically indulgent?" says Harmon. "Do you ever have to stop considering the hypothetical new viewer who’s watching off the streets and is starting with [the season 6 premiere]? I think it’s nice sometimes to consider it a zero-sum game and just go, 'Look, that person’s going to not enjoy this, there’s going to be too much canon. Maybe they’ll be impressed with the tone of the show and be inspired to get caught up by watching the previous season, but let’s just do this for everybody that’s been waiting [for a continuation]. Let’s finish this story and get our season started.'
"Regardless of how anyone feels about engaging in canonical storytelling," he adds, "at a certain point when you’ve done enough callbacks to Evil Morty, you deserve any ire the fans would throw at you for not resolving the story, because you’ve played that game and now you owe them a resolution. Ultimately it pays dividends, it’s a great character and we’ve got great things in store with it. But [serialized stories are] not something you would do unless you felt kind of mandated to do it, because it’s hard [to do]."
As well as setting up this eagerly anticipated new run of episodes, the 'Rickmurai Jack'/'Solaricks' double-bill will have big repercussions for the show as a whole. So while the new season will continue the Rick and Morty’s ongoing push-and-pull between memorable standalones (such as 'Total Rickall' and 'Pickle Rick') and expanding those complex, multiverse-hopping continuities, executive producer Scott Marder hints that Rick’s big family twist is also setting up the second act of a show that famously received a whopping 70-episode order from Adult Swim back in 2018.
"For me, a really well-balanced season has a few, like, big dogs that knock you over with canon," Marder explains, "but then mostly just a lot of one-offs and fun stuff that people come to expect from the show. [With ‘Solaricks’] we felt like we stumbled into an episode that allowed us to close one door and kick another one wide open for people, with us being at kind of the halfway mark of the 10-season run."
Rick and Morty returns on September 4 on Adult Swim in the US. You can catch the new season simultaneously in the UK, where it debuts on E4 on September 5. For more, check out the most exciting new TV shows heading your way soon.