TL;DR – A season of incredible highs and deep lows
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this season.
Rick and Morty Review –
At the best of times, Rick and Morty are one of those shows that are hard to contextualise on a season level. Each episode tends to fly so wildly into different territories that it makes finding a through-line difficult. However, this season is a little different, as you can divide the season into three relatively neat chunks. However, this is easy because there is a vast difference between this season’s high and low marks.
So to set the scene, we open Season Five’s Mort Dinner Rick Andre with things in dire straits. Rick (Justin Roiland) has been gravely wounded, and the spaceship is badly damaged. As Morty (Justin Roiland) carries Rick to the ship, all around them are crystals showing potential Ricks and Mortys, including them as Blade Rick and Morty, which is quote “tight”. As the spaceship crashes towards Earth, uncontrollable and on fire, Morty spends his last few moments calling Jessica (Kari Wahlgren) lamenting over what could have been. She suggests they go on a day tonight. Buoyed by that opportunity, Morty manages to save the day and splash lands the spaceship into one of Earth’s oceans, which should have been good but for the fact that it summons Mr Nimbus (Dan Harmon). Because we will be looking at the season as a whole, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead, especially for the season finale, so if you have not watched, please be aware before continuing.
The first chunk of the season that we will look at is the first bookend with Mort Dinner Rick Andre, Mortyplicity & A Rickconvenient Mort. All of these episodes show the show’s strength when it nails its episodic nature, as they all exist in their own little bubbles. Yes, there are hints to the past, but character and story drive the process here. I liked the weirdness of the opening and the sheer insanity that is whack-a-mole kill episode, but for me, the highlight was the look of what happens when Captain Planet grows up. This episode takes a silly premise but then uses it for some deep character development. We get to see Morty fall head over heels for Planetina (Alison Brie) and how that love can blind us from seeing people for who they really are. But it also gives Beth (Sarah Chalke) a moment to step up and be a mother in a way she hadn’t been this season. All of this crescendoed in a profoundly heartfelt ending, even with the ongoing subplot of Rick and Summer (Spencer Grammer) orgy-hoping their way around the universe.
However, from the high of the first bookend, we get the slump in the middle, starting with the sentient-sperm episode Rickdependence Spray and following through Amortycan Grickfitti, Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular, and Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion. While I am not sure if the horse-sperm episode is the lowest point in the series, even with a giant-incest baby, it is the moment when the show course-corrected in the wrong direction. The best thing I can say about some of these episodes is that they are at least watchable because there is still a level of quality to the animations and voice work that can smooth over a lot of rough edges. One of the actually frustrating parts of this block is that they finally give Summer some much-needed attention and character growth in these episodes, and it all gets lost. All of this climaxes in the weasel Evangelion episode, which just felt like a sad rehash of the time they did this in Community with Contemporary American Poultry.
I wondered if this season was about to snowball into oblivion. However, a second course-correct occurred, and we got the second bookend that closed out the season better. While the first bookend showed the strength of Rick and Morty’s episodic nature, the second showed its strength in more serialised storytelling. This starts with Rick going into Birdperson’s (Dan Harmon) mind in Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort with the hopes of making one last attempt to save his old friend. It is sad and hopeful, and even in his most heroic, Rick is still a selfish asshole, but he gets called on it, and there is no answer for a change. The final two-parter Forgetting Sarick Mortshall & Rickmurai Jack might be better known in the future for dropping Rick’s entire backstory in one montage. Still, for me, they shine in how they take the time to look at the consequences of their toxic relationship. Now to be clear, this is not the first time this has happened, but the last time they really dug into this with Pickle Rick in Season Three, people seemed to miss the point. Here they use the story of Evil Morty, one of the show’s longest and most loved plot threads, to rip that relationship asunder and leave it in a healthier place. It also leaves Season Six in a very precarious position.
In the end, do we recommend Rick and Morty Season 5? Well, that is a hard maybe. Unfortunately, this is a season of incredible highs and deep lows. Honestly, if you want to skip the middle, I think it will work better for you, or at least for me. But at least it did its job of wanting me to know what comes next. ]
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Rick and Morty
Directed by – Jacob Hair, Lucas Gray, Juan Meza-Léon, Erica Hayes, Kyounghee Lim & Douglas Olsen
Written by – Jeff Loveness, Albro Lundy, Rob Schrab, Nick Rutherford, Anne Lane, James Siciliano, John Harris, Siobhan Thompson & Scott Marder
Created by – Justin Roiland & Dan Harmon
Production/Distribution Companies – Justin Roiland’s Solo Vanity Card Productions, Harmonious Claptrap, Green Portal Productions, Williams Street, Adult Swim & Netflix
Starring in Season 5 – Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer & Sarah Chalke with Jim Gaffigan, Dan Harmon, Kari Wahlgren, Keith David, Tom Kenny, Alison Brie, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Coolidge, Michelle Buteau, Kyle Mooney, Christina Ricci, Adam Rodriguez, Darren Criss, Troy Baker, Timothy Olyphant, Maurice LaMarche, Nolan North, Lauren Tom, Eric Bauza, Cassie Steele, Nicholas Rutherford, Phil LaMarr & Cecilia Gault
Episodes Covered – Mort Dinner Rick Andre, Mortyplicity, A Rickconvenient Mort, Rickdependence Spray, Amortycan Grickfitti, Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular, Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion, Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort, Forgetting Sarick Mortshall & Rickmurai Jack.