Review: Rick and Morty Season 4 Premiere

[Not a spoiler] Summer ruins the Rick and Morty Season 4 premiere, but in a good way. ‘Rick and Morty’ has been one of those shows that define not just quality television but also our generation’s outlook. It has never simply been a generic science fiction tale of protagonists going on simple, classic adventures to learn a thing or two about life at the end, although, the season 4 premiere promises to do exactly that. Never has any television series (or movie for that matter) been so self-enlightened that it can spin a tale about its own formula to delight fans with ridiculously high expectations.

At first glance, the Adult Swim animated original does nothing special or extraordinary in the first episode of its new season. That is, it does not do anything that it hasn’t done before to outsmart its viewers. The plot jumps through alternate dimensions before one can figure out any clear narrative path that the episode is going to embark upon. Rick and Morty’s family try to ground the two to a safer, more normal life while the two realise why they can’t ever stop going on adventures.

An exercise of the show’s nihilistic philosophy, it justifies its overtly self-critical tendencies as being inescapable: the characters can’t let go of it while the viewers (mostly millennials known to dabble and spiral into overanalyses of society to reach the conclusion that nothing matters) would not want to let go of it.

Rick and Morty Season 4 Episode 1 Recap

The episode starts at the Smith family’s dinner table, instantly sucking viewers into its world revolving around the beloved, almost dysfunctional family without any form of extended foreplay. When Morty stalks Jessica on social media, Beth oversees his phone and talks about it. Summer requests her parents to give her brother some personal space, not missing the opportunity to pass a comment on the situation however.

Classic Smith family stuff. But you know that the writers of Rick and Morty haven’t turned predictable and boring when Rick starts to talk like a robot who has been forced to sit at the dinner table as a means to spend quality time with the family. He is also forced to say the magic word, “please” when he requests Morty to join him for another adventure. Apparently, Morty’s parents have decided to make Rick avoid pushing Morty into going on life-threatening intergalactic adventures with him.

In retrospect, that was the first sign of foreboding that the episode was going to be a reflection on some of its own staples and style. Wasting no time, Rick takes Morty to another planet to collect “death crystals-” magical stones that allow anyone holding them to see how they are going to die. After a battle with the beings called “Crystal Poachers ,” the two decide to leave and Morty steals a death crystal for himself. It shows him that he can possibly die with Jessica in his old age if he takes decisions based on the crystal’s vision (he can see what every little choice will lead, almost like a future seeing device) and he becomes obsessed with making that a reality.

When Rick finds out that Morty has been acting accord to the crystal a few seconds later, he begins to convince Morty not to till he falls on a shard of rock and dies…Just when the viewers fear a ‘Game of Thrones’ style move being pulled by the writers, the show pulls the rug under them. Rick returns as a holographic projection that was stored in Morty’s spine for crisis detection. When Morty questions if Rick is still alive, the hologram urges him to not be “holophobic” and consider entities without physical dimensions equally.

Rick is “reborn” in a fascist, alternate dimension that is explored in the story’s comic book series. It appears as if the show might be taking viewers to some of its past episodes in a way that Marvel did with “Avengers: Endgame.” When Mr. Meeseeks is conjured to reality, that perception is strengthened till the makers put an end to that route with Rick’s death in this dimension. He reappears in another alternate dimension as a shrimp in a…fascist universe and perishes quickly. Over the course of the episode, Rick is shown getting reborn in various alternate dimensions and dying to be reborn in another.

Morty, on the other hand is on a quest to do everything that would lead him to fulfil the death crystal’s vision of being in relationship with Jessica. This leads to a destructive path till he is finally stopped by wasp-Rick from another dimension, setting everything right. In its final moments, Morty defends Rick in front of his parents and promises Rick to live in the moment and try newer things and go on simple, classic adventures apart from their regular, fun-filled meta-critical complex ones. When Summer tries to join in their conversation, she is nagged by Rick and Morty for having ruined the season 4 premiere with her comments…

Rick and Morty Season 4 Episode 1 Review

In such an outlandish manner that feels very suitable for the show, it manages to re-calibrate its viewers into the new season. In an age where new seasons and TV shows arrive at a faster pace than an individual’s capacity to consume them, our expectations as viewers, many a times, manage to thwart our beloved storytellers’ attempts to produce something enjoyable.

This year, for instance, the latest seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Sacred Games” proved to be heavily disappointing, not because they were lacking in quality but because we were expecting the show’s creators to outdo their already high efforts. Such a demand is just ironic as it does not allow a show’s writer to provide something original and outstanding while pandering to the very things that have worked for them at the same time.

But Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon manage to not get sucked into that and deliver a season premiere that feels like an effortless glide into its peak success despite the long break after season 3. To say that the episode does nothing new would be unfair. But arguing that it does something radically different would be doing exactly that too.

Season 4 episode 1 matches any of the show’s best episodes when it comes to witty gags, an inventive plot and some absurd creativity. Its references to science fiction will not be missed by genre loyalists either. The Japanese animation, Akira is drawn parallels to and Isaac Asimov is accused for his “AI-racist bullshit.”  But it also takes a never-witnessed-before approach of playing with the very idea of what viewer’s want to free itself from any formulaic expectations. So, get your pickles out and do not miss out on this one. The fourth season is going go to be just as amazing and fun. Don’t believe me. Take it from the creators of the show themselves after this half-hour long reassurance.

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