So after months of waiting and an entire weekend devoted to its return, this weekend's "Global 'Rick and Morty' Day" saw the fifth season of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's Adult Swim series premiere to a ton of fanfare, a crapload of endorsement deals, and the opportunity to "Go Rick Yourself." Then the fine folks behind the dysfunctional dimension-hopping duo took things to a different level by actually having the season premiere from space (with live footage also airing on Adult Swim).
But pushing aside all of the smoke-n-mirrors and the well-orchestrated media rollout (and since endorsements are a necessity these days, we even like the way those have been handled post-McDonald's Szechuan Sauce debacle), it all comes down to whether or not the Emmy Award-winning Jeff Loveness (Season 4: "Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim's Morty," "Never Ricking Morty," "Promortyus," and "The Vat of Acid Episode")-written "Mort Dinner Rick Andre" left fans feeling that the wait for Season 5 was worth it and if it set a vibe for what's (possibly) to come. Thankfully, we can offer a wink, a nod, and two finger-guns on both counts- but to find out why we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer because… yes… there will be spoilers.
Okay, we have a ton of takeaways from both a thematic standpoint as well as possible canon teasers (as much as they can be relied on in a show that constantly breaks the fourth wall to call out canon specifically). But overall, Loveness crafted an excellent "return" episode that not only reminded the viewers of how things left off but also offered a "slice of life" to give us a better sense of how things have progressed. While still adventuring with Rick, Morty is growing into being his own man just as willing to push back on Rick as he is to willingly join him on the next adventure. With Dr. Wong still a very important factor in the family's life (hmmm…), Beth has gone from needing her dad's approval, and Jerry's gone from just living to despise Rick to being a couple that appears to be interested in working on themselves.
And then there's Rick, not exactly a "change agent" when it comes to things of a more personal nature- but then again, it's hard to learn from the past when you're someone who continues running from it. So Morty wants his own life, and Beth and Jerry are off doing couples stuff? No worries, Rick will just groom Summer to be his new "sidekick"- not because that's what's best for her but because he needs someone and Summer seems to be back to her "impress Grandpa" stage (in fact, both Morty and Summer seem to have warmed back up somewhat to Rick since the season finale). While we know this is going to lead to more family/group adventures this season, it will be interesting to see how the shifting dynamics impact them individually and as a unit (and let's not forget Space Beth).
Okay, so let's do a deep-dive into some highlights:
Opening Credits: While the opening credits may never come into play… why is Rick giving Noob Noob CPR?!
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show": We're all about the RHPS references throughout the episode, with our "Brad and Janet" (Jerry and Beth) looking to broaden their sexual horizons and "Dr. Frank N. Furter" (Mr. Nimbus) more than willing to "serve" their needs. I'm liking where things appear to be going with Beth and Jerry- a little stability even for a little while would be a nice change. Bonus points for the end credits scene showing that they went through with a threesome with Mr. Nimbus- again, this isn't a show that dabbles in cliches. When it does, it batters viewers upside the head with them so they know exactly what they are- and we're better for it. Also, don't get us started on how the portal was a nod to "The Time Warp."
It's Not Easy Being Rick: Viewers also saw much more of Rick as a person, even if it took pretty extreme situations like "near-death" "close to a war with the oceans" for it to happen. Even if it was only for a few seconds, you couldn't help but wonder if Rick's words to Morty before he passes out in the cold open are the most truth Rick has revealed about himself in some time. And once again, Morty had a chance to rail against Rick for always having enemies because of who he is and the things he does- but then perspectives changed. Morty learned the hard way how something simple as wanting some wine for a date with the girl of his dreams and to keep the peace between land and sea can have devastating ramifications he never saw coming. Morty learns the hard way that control isn't as easy a thing to have in every situation- and that sometimes, you do need to be the "asshole." And just when you think you have all of your plates spinning? Jessica becomes a "time god" who's self-aware that she's nothing more than a character in someone else's story and leaves to blaze her own path. And all of this started out of movie date.
Random Thoughts/Questions: Here are some bullet points to consider, question, and keep in mind as the rest of the season rolls along:
- Mr. Nimbus's ability to control the police might be one of the most specific (but practical) powers out there.
- Well, I think this episode cleared up any debate viewers might have about whether or not Morty needs a death crystal to go all "Jason Bourne." He clearly doesn't- and the ease at which Morty is willing to go that route to get what he wants is something to put a pin in. It comes across as very Rick-like, and we're pretty sure where that path leads…
- So is that it for Jessica? Because it would be a shame if her most profound character development came at the price of being written off the series. Maybe Space Beth and Time God Jessica team up for some "wacky, zany adventures" with a very high body count and well-intended snark? Yeah, we're there for that.
- Mr. Nimbus brought more than just lofty speech and sexy moves- he also brought along two major clues to Rick's backstory worth keeping on the radar. First, there was a reference to a "Kyle" who apparently worked with Rick back during their early years. But the second one made our eyebrow arch- Nimbus knew Rick and back when Rick's wife and Beth's mother Diane was alive. As you saw, not a subject Rick had any interest in continuing. But we now have a second source for more on Rick's origin story- and we can't help but wonder what it was specifically (we know the general answer is Rick) that drove a wedge between Rick and yet another friend.
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