Warning: This Rick and Morty season 6 episode 10 review is packed with spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode, stop reading now – you don’t want to make Mr. Poopybutthole sad, do you?
If you were expecting the full-on Christmas episode teased by the festive lights and bells over the opening title, 'Rictional Mortpoon’s Rickmas Mortcation' isn’t it. And if you were hoping for this season finale to continue Rick’s hunt for his nemesis, Rick Prime, well, you’re also going to be disappointed. What we get instead is an extremely quotable, gag-filled 22 minutes of fast-paced science fiction comedy that’s fun while it lasts, yet leaves you feeling it could be so much more.
The story’s driving force is a great unanswered question from another sci-fi universe: what happens if you drop a lightsaber with the glowy bit pointing towards the ground? The conundrum arises because the newly generous "Rick Santa-chez" – that 22% of additional agreeability hasn’t gone anywhere since last week’s adventure – has been dishing out some uncharacteristically thoughtful Christmas gifts. Seventeen-year-old Summer is delighted to receive money, the two Beths love the framed photos of "the two of us from a universe where she wasn’t murdered", and Jerry can’t wait to watch his extra-dimensional extended cut of Miracle on 34th Street.
Rick excels himself, however, by traveling "far, far away" to get Morty the one thing he always wanted – an actual lightsaber that even "makes the noises". Although lightsabers are good with remotes and fruit, it turns out they’re a total disaster when they land pointy end-down. Inevitably, Morty’s present soon ends up slicing its way through the multiple levels of Rick’s basement and threatens to destroy the Earth if it reaches the planetary core.
Morty’s quest to recover this elegant weapon from a more civilized age runs into a surprising but significant obstacle in the form of Rick himself. It turns out that our Rick (AKA Rick C-137) replaced himself with a robot doppelganger around about the time Morty accepted that sword from the Knights of the Sun, explaining why he suddenly got 22% nicer. The old switcheroo is one of the oldest tricks in the sci-fi book and something of a cliché, though Rick’s clear disdain for the “stupid Knights of the Sun thing” feels like an acknowledgment that this entire plotline is one to forget. The actual Rick has been using the time to continue his hunt for Rick Prime, the Rick who killed his wife and (original) Beth.
With relations at a historic low with his flesh-and-blood Grandpa, Morty forms an unlikely alliance with the returning President Curtis. This commander-in-chief remains one of the show’s standout characters, whether he’s pursuing outlandishly undiplomatic foreign policy, or sacking the government scientists desperately trying to stop the saber from initiating armageddon. Here he’s pulling the strings on a hilariously silly mission to use a drill ship – The Core is clearly on the playlist in the White House screening room – to intercept Morty’s problematic Christmas present. POTUS and Morty are ultimately successful, of course, though their triumph sends the episode massively off course.
"May the Force be with me!" yells a triumphant Morty, before Curtis snatches the lightsaber from his hand and counters: "I think you mean with me." It turns out that the President isn’t the Star Wars hater he’d earlier claimed and has actually been a mega-fan since he saw the original movie as a kid. He also belongs to the slightly toxic wing of the fandom that believes Star Wars belongs to his generation.
Unfortunately, as amusing as Curtis’s rants about the prequels, Disneyfication and "that third movie [getting] all muppety" are, the episode has nothing fresh to say about Star Wars or its fandom. Where the Die Hard action of ‘Rick: A Mort Well Lived’ was an intelligent spoof on an action classic, this is just a bunch of tired old gags recycled into an (admittedly) eloquent new form. Considering Family Guy, The Simpsons, Robot Chicken, Community, Spaceballs, and pretty much every other comedy on the planet has already mined that galaxy far, far away for gags, it’s disappointing that Rick and Morty should dedicate such a large proportion of the episode to such low-hanging fruit.
Rick C-137 has more important things on his mind than secret Star Wars rooms in the White House, leaving Morty to develop a much more satisfying relationship with his robot grandpa. Nonetheless, there’s a tragic edge to the Rickbot’s story. Even after the other members of the Smith family have torn him literally limb-from-limb to a soundtrack of ‘The First Noel’, he still gamely persists with his claim that he’s not a robot – it’s no surprise that he spends half the episode trying to find ways out of his miserable existence.
In the end, Rick grudgingly uses his portal gun to save the President, Morty and his "little toaster" from death by "perfectly vertical" mini-lightsabers. Alas, it’s too late for the Rickbot, who – despite it all – uses his final words to say nice things about his genius creator.
By the time Rick C-137 tells Morty he can “help me if you want”, the episode has run out of time to properly advance his search for Rick Prime, who now appears to be in hundreds of places at once. But, with Morty now forcibly recruited for the manhunt, it’s clear that this episode was just an amuse bouche for the show’s return. “Rick and Morty season seven,” teases a maniacal Rick. “Hunting my nemesis. Maybe trying to stay healthy while doing it, juggling plates – not every episode, Morty, it could be all happening in the background. Who knows?”
It's a strange end to a season whose ongoing gags subverting ideas of meta and/or serialized storytelling have not always been successful. After a run of standalone episodes, this felt like the right time to pick up the story threads left hanging by season premiere 'Solaricks'. Instead, as this finale teases answers that never come, you can’t help feeling the joke might just be on us.
A little Mort information…
- This week’s episode title is inspired by 1989 Chevy Chase vehicle National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
- ‘Ricktional Mortpoon’s Rickmas Mortcation’ is the third Rick and Morty episode set over Christmas, following season one’s ‘Anatomy Park’ and season four’s 'Rattlestar Ricklactica'.
- Jerry’s favorite Christmas film is 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street, which starred Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, and Edmund Gwenn. There’s no record of an extra-dimensional version with a bonus two hours of footage, though it’s nice to see it’s still available on VHS.
- The design of Morty’s lightsaber hilt is similar to both Obi-Wan Kenobi’s classic model and Luke’s new saber in Return of the Jedi.
- With an AI sword in the previous episode and an AI "vertisaber" this week, we’re noticing a bit of a theme…
- Rick tells his malfunctioning AI vertisaber to “stay on target”, echoing the legendary words of Y-Wing pilot Davish ‘Pop’ Krail (aka Gold Five) in the original Star Wars.
- There are a couple of nods to Alien in the episode. The way Morty’s vertical lightsaber burns its way through the levels of Rick’s basement looks very similar to acidic xenomorph blood cutting its way through the Nostromo. Meanwhile, the family powering up Robot Rick’s disembodied head is a reference to Ripley and co. reactivating smashed-up synthetic Ash.
- President Curtis (voiced by Keith David) is making his second appearance of the season after ‘Juricksic Mort’.
- His nerdy Secret Service agent is correct when he says lightsabers have kyber crystals in their hilt. The gems are also used to power the Death Star’s planet-obliterating weapon.
- Last week Rick made a reference to the family having “enough clones and robots in it”. We already knew about Beth or Space Beth being a clone, so it looks like the writers were hiding a massive clue in plain sight.
- It makes sense that Jimmy Carter built the Presidential Star Wars room with his own two hands, seeing as he was in the White House when the original movie was released in 1977. It’s more surprising that his successor, Ronald Reagan, tried to destroy it, seeing as his Strategic Defense Initiative was famously nicknamed Star Wars.
- There’s a seasonally appropriate Santa Claus vibe to the smashed-up Rickbot’s red bandage/white fur collar ensemble.
- The props in the Star Wars room aren’t quite accurate to the movies (presumably to avoid copyright infringements) but you can see approximations of a TIE Fighter, Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced, Han Solo’s blaster, the Cantina bar, Han Solo in carbonite, the surface of the Death Star and the Emperor’s throne room. Weirdly, the Scout Walker looks more like RoboCop’s ED-209 than an actual AT-ST.
- As he did in season five, Mr. Poopybutthole speaks the final words of season six. Last thing we knew (in the post-credits sequence of ‘Rickmurai Jack’), Mr. Poopybutthole had lost his job and was estranged from his wife, Amy, and son, Poopy Jr. Now he’s trying to rebuild his life, working out at the “Dungeon of Pain” until he lifts a weight so heavy it breaks his legs.
- Mr. Poopybutthole made his first appearance in season two classic ‘Total Rickall’. He was a close friend of the Smith family until he was shot by Beth, who mistakenly believed he was an alien parasite. He’s been a semi-recurring character in subsequent seasons – 2017 short ‘The Poop in my Pants’ put the spotlight on his romance with Amy, for example – as the show has mapped out his increasingly tragic life story.
That's the end of Rick and Morty season 6. Be sure to check out the best TV shows of all time for more watching ideas.