Rick and Morty season 5 episode 9 and 10 spoilers follow.
“It changes the show when you do something that big.” Here, Rick and Morty‘s team is specifically referring to the return of Evil Morty and why it took so long to happen. (Four years in fact!) But in this new Adult Swim featurette, these words also apply to the far grander changes that season five just introduced in its final two-parter.
By giving the fans what they’ve always wanted, Ricky and Morty has transformed itself into something entirely new moving forward. And no, we’re not just talking about that Rick and Two Crows anime either.
‘Forgetting Sarick Mortshall’ starts off familiar enough. After accidentally spilling some portal juice on his hand, Morty gets into a fight with Rick and they soon part ways. This isn’t the first time that Rick and Morty have turned on each other, but their separation lasts a lot longer than usual, encompassing everything from Puddle Jerry and the Portal Boys to vomit in the mouth and an alien crow tractor beam.
Eventually, Rick and Morty make up, but something’s changed. “I think we’re done,” says Rick. “What we had was abusive… I’ll always be your grandpa, I’m just kind of obsessed with crows now.” And with that, Morty is forced to bid his grandfather a teary farewell.
It’s been five seasons coming, but Rick has finally acknowledged his own cruel toxicity, and what makes this even more painful is that his sudden realization doesn’t fix what’s already broken. Morty expects them to get back together, “because that’s what happens at the end of a Rick and Morty episode”, but that’s not on the cards, not immediately anyway.
Any of us could have predicted that Rick and Two Crows wouldn’t last a “thousand seasons”, despite Rick’s claim to the contrary. Still, that doesn’t mean what happened next was predictable by any means.
‘Rickmurai Jack’ starts off with Rick and his two new companions in full anime mode, but things take a creepy turn when it’s revealed that Crowscare, his arch-nemesis, is secretly having sex with Rick’s crows. And weirdly enough, that’s actually the least shocking thing about this episode.
Reunited, Rick and Morty visit the Citadel of Ricks to de-age a forty-year-old-looking Morty. As soon as Rick mentions that they’ve “hit the ground running with a Citadel episode”, you just know that Evil Morty can’t be far behind. Then lo and behold, he arrives, and with his long-awaited return comes something that fans have longed for even more: Rick’s “stupid crybaby backstory” (His words, not ours).
Remember that season three flashback that revealed Rick’s wife and daughter were killed by another Rick when he first invented the portal gun? The writers deliberately made us question whether this scene was actually real, but here, Rick’s tragic backstory has been confirmed.
We also see the revenge spree Rick subsequently went on. But after killing himself over and over again, he gave up trying to find the actual killer and instead helped build the Citadel before eventually settling down with an alternate Beth (as hinted at here).
Is this tragic backstory a tad clichéd? Sure, but even a show like Rick and Morty needs to lean into these kinds of story beats every now and again. Given how long the writers have deliberately kept these answers from us, it’s clear that the show could have never fully lived up to the weight of all those expectations.
Still, it’s a credit to them that this reveal didn’t feel like a let-down, even if it does feel like they themselves weren’t particularly excited to share that secret. Following these revelations about Diane, Rick himself even says “now everyone can shut up about it” in one of the finale’s most meta moments yet.
Fans and critics alike have spent most of this season suggesting that some serialised storytelling and a few canon reveals could help elevate what’s been a rather chaotic and sometimes lifeless season. Because of this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this whole episode has been just leading up to Rick’s backstory, but that’s not all the finale has in store.
The other big twist is that the Citadel was actually designed to breed Mortys who labour away to keep the Citadel running. This even involves setting up an infinite number of Beths with an infinite number of Jerrys to procreate. And these Mortys are then in turn used to assist all the Ricks who banded together to create something known as the Finite Curve Barrier.
Essentially, it’s a wall which cordons off all the realities where Rick isn’t the smartest man in that particular universe – AKA an “infinite crib built around an infinite f**king baby”, as Evil Morty puts it. Given the infinite nature of the multiverse, have you ever wondered why we’ve never seen Rick visit a reality where people are obviously smarter than him?
This Curve explains that all away, answering a question most fans might not have even asked up until now.
In a bid to break the Finite Curve Barrier and escape the toxic Rick and Morty cycle, Evil Morty kills countless versions of them both and destroys the Citadel, which finally leads him to a new world where Rick is not the smartest person. While we don’t see that reality yet, and may never will, it’s incredible to think that this episode pays off a storyline that first started over seven years ago in season one.
Did the Rick and Morty team have this planned out since the beginning? Almost certainly not, and as previously mentioned, their obvious disdain for continuity and canon means that they probably did all this out of necessity rather than an active desire for more serialised storytelling.
Over the past five seasons, it must have gradually become more and more obvious that you can’t dangle a secret this big in front of the fans for this long without eventually giving them something, or you risk alienating the fandom entirely.
That’s not to say the show needed to suddenly tear through this much canon at once. It’s almost as if the writers thought “Screw it. We’ll give them exactly what they’ve asked for” in typically chaotic Rick and Morty fashion.
It’s worth noting here that some of the reveals do verge on being too confusing. Given the finale’s limited runtime, there’s not much breathing space for these developments to play out, making this an episode that fans will likely rewatch over and over to pick all out of those crucial details.
And it’s entirely possible that season six could troll us all (again) and ignore everything that’s just happened. That’s essentially what the season four finale did regarding Space Beth’s involvement with the show.
Things feel a bit different this time though. To paraphrase the writers, “It changes a show when you do something this big.” How these changes will play out is what remains to be seen, although we wouldn’t be surprised if Rick and Morty have to face a future without their precious portal gun now, along with the knowledge that things may have irrevocably changed between them too.
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