Rick and Morty Season 4 Premiere Imagines a World Without Rick (But Like a Zillion Universes With Him)
There is a reason that the Rick and Morty season 4 premiere took two years to deliver, beyond just contractual negotiations. The series is densely written and, improvised special episode segments aside, very intentional. In “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” is the season four premiere of Rick and Morty, but it is also a conceptual and meta statement on the future of the series. After a remarkable third season, protracted contract negotiations between the creators and Adult Swim resulted in a 70-episode deal. So, this is the first episode in a new era of the show. We won’t get into plot spoilers, save for what’s given away by the title. This episode features a plot device in which Rick frequently dies and then gets brought back to life as a clone just in different universes than the one on the show.
What’s more important than the spoilery specifics of the plot is what the season 4 premiere said about the next 69 episodes of Rick and Morty. In the last season, the show started to take some of its stranger concepts and work them into an overarching mythology for the show. In fact, the creators teased the fans with an adventure to Atlantis, only to instead focus on that specific mythology and the series’ greatest villain: Evil Morty. The story in the season 4 premiere seemed to be about the debate going on with Rick and Morty fans. Some want the show to branch out in a more serialized way. Others want the show to go back to its roots with one-off, standalone sci-fi adventures.
But, like the little girl in the popular meme, the show’s creators said: Why don’t we have both?
Rick and Morty Season 4 Premiere Maintains the High Quality of the Show
Image via Adult Swim
The Rick and Morty season 4 premiere worked on every level, both as a story and as a meta-commentary on the show. Again, avoiding plot spoilers, the series brought back a number of concepts used in previous episodes. Also, we saw the kind of adventure where Rick’s genius basically blows up the continuity of the show. Using some hand-wavy sci-fi stuff, the gang gets away scot-free. This seems to be a nod from the storytellers that within in their own established universe, there is no real stakes. Rick and Morty can blow up their lives and the writers will sci-fi their way back to the status quo. The show is safe from whatever crazy stuff they come up with, because it can always go back to the default.
It’s clear by the end of the episode that the series will do new, outlandish things. It will weave elements into a larger story. Also, they will still do one-off, “classic”-style adventures. Fans will see familiar things they love, but also get new things that might love even more. (Of course, they also might hate it, but if they do the show can just sci-fi, hand-wave it away.) The only thing that’s really important in this series is not the plot or state of the multiverse. Rather it’s the characters in the show.
Beth, Summer, Morty, Rick, and, yes, even Jerry, are who the writers (and the fans) are supposed to care about. Instead of worrying about where or how the series might stick the landing when it ends, just enjoy the episodes we get. And don’t think too hard about them. Or, at least, don’t get super-angry and all-caps shout at the actors and writers on social media.
The First Episode Wasn’t the Only New Rick and Morty We Got
There was another new bit of Rick and Morty footage that we got outside of the show itself. The reviews for Death Stranding have been all over the place. Yet, the new game starring Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead got its own Rick and Morty promo. Like the show, the promo itself served as a meta-commentary on video games. Morty was all-in for the specific (nonsense) rules of the game’s world. Rick, on the other hand, wanted to eat the baby in the jar at the center of the game’s plot just in case it was a power-up. This combined with the original series of “promo commercials” starring the characters to promote the first season suggests that Rick and Morty are spokespeople now. There is likely a dedicated team in the show’s offices working on just the ad material they’re going to do. This isn’t new, as we all remember the Hardee’s spots with the dancing hamburgers.
Both the dialogue of the Death Stranding promo and the commercials for the series itself are tightly written jokes. (Delivered in the improvisational line-reading style of series creator Justin Roiland.) It stands to reason that there will be more of these sorts of commercials this season. There are four episodes remaining. It’s probably a good money-maker for Adult Swim. But anything that keeps the show’s creators from making new episodes raises red flags for fans. (Did we mention there are only four episodes left in the new season?)
What did you think of the Rick and Morty season 4 premiere? Share your thoughts, theories, and reactions in the comments below, even if you’re a Summer.
Featured image via Adult Swim
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.