By John Linderman
Elm Staff Writer
After more than two years’ hiatus, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s brainchild, “Rick and Morty” premiered its fourth season on Sunday night. This premiere comes after multiple controversies surrounding the show in the past year, including riots at McDonalds over Szechuan Sauce and toxic masculinity in the fan base.
However, the premiere entitled “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Repeat” covers these issues and more in its renowned comedic style, combining family drama and science-fiction with nihilism critique. Careful, reader, there are spoilers ahead.
The episode begins with Morty scrolling through his crush, Jessica’s, Instagram page at a family breakfast. Rick soon enters the scene, and both him and Morty start their adventure to find and collect death crystals, which show you your future death. Morty grabs a hold of a crystal, and catches a glimpse of him dying old with Jessica, a future he chases for the rest of the episode with militant fervor. Rick, in his idiosyncratic do-whatever-you-want philosophy, dismisses the power of the crystals, but is killed by accident by Morty trying to chase his future with Jessica.
The rest of the episode brings two topics of conversation to the viewer, each through the respective lens of Rick and Morty. Morty continues to chase the future with Jessica provided by the crystal, and ends up battling the military in his quest. It’s unclear if the new Morty is more or less like Rick, which had been a discussion point in previous seasons. Morty is still hopelessly in love with Jessica, but now goes through assertive and don’t-give-an-eff means to achieve her affections.
The latter of the two comes from more of Rick’s personality, which Morty had been contrasting with the past three seasons. Rick, through inter-dimensional clones, provides a meta-commentary on the fanbase when he arrives in an alternate fascist reality. Fascist Morty demands Rick take him through “classic old adventures,” mimicking some of the fanbase’s similar cries for episodes. Controversially, a section of the fanbase blamed new female writers for the perceived drop in episode quality in season three, possibly explaining the choice to depict alternate reality Morty as a fascist. The writers have made clear that they don’t cater to the whims of the fanbase, especially the more toxic splinters.
Once the characters collide in the same reality, their two stories merge. Morty’s efforts to secure a future with Jessica are thwarted by Rick, Hologram Rick, and Wasp Rick. The meta-commentary wraps up at the end of the episode, with Rick opining that “there’s a lesson to be learned here, but I’m not going to be the one to figure it out.”
It appears the writers will work not only to distance themselves from the fanbase, but break from traditional television tropes that Harmon, the show’s progenitor, has commented on in the past.
Other memorable quotes from the episode include “you have to think ahead, and live in the moment” and “people who spend their entire lives avoiding death are already dead.” Fans may already be rushing to the perceived deeper meanings, but at the end of the day, “Rick and Morty” is here to entertain and relieve your mind of our shared daily drudgeries.
This episode earns four self-destructing quasars out of five.