Look, we’ve watched the Rick and Morty season five finale three times now and it made our brain hurt. It’s stuffed with answers to some big questions – and is far too dense to absorb in one sitting. But there is much to enjoy too, despite this being arguably the most lore heavy episode to date.
On the one hand, this is a continuation of episode nine – there’s plenty being said here about the parting of ways, toxic relationships and of reconciliation – but it’s also an extremely meta comment on one of the fandom’s most constant concerns. Is Rick and Morty better when it’s telling epic, series long stories? Or when the episodes are short and contained?
All of this debate is contained within an example of the former, as Rick and Morty – quickly reconciled after the events of ‘Forgetting Sarick Mortshall’ (as well as a fun anime inspired cartoon within a cartoon opener) – return to the Citadel and resume their conflict with Evil Morty, referencing events almost as old as the show itself. The dialogue is knowing throughout. We get Rick’s “stupid crybaby backstory” (his words) learning that it really was another Rick who killed our Rick’s family (confirming Cornvelious Daniel’s vision back in ‘The Rickshank Rickdemption’ to be legit, despite Rick suggesting it wasn’t an authentic backstory at the time).
It’s almost as if, irritated by the fanbase’s consistent clamouring for more canon-based content, the show’s writers have decided to provide almost all of the answers to almost all of the big questions in one episode. Perhaps they hope it might silence the naysayers and give them their show back. It won’t. Justin Rolland and Dan Harmon might not have created their hit series with a view to world-building – but they can’t back out now without haemorrhaging viewers who watch the show as much to debate theories on Reddit as they do to laugh at it.
It is likely they’ll still try. ‘Rickmurai Jack’ ties up so many loose threads that it’s quite possible that regulars like The Citadel and Evil Morty won’t be seen again – there’s no need to if Rolland and Harmon now decide to leave things are they are. We learn that Rick sought revenge. Then he gave up. Then he created The Citadel before starting a new life with a surviving Beth. We learn that The Citadel was actually designed to breed Mortys, which in turn powered something called the Central Finite Curve. This exists to cordon off the universe from realities where Rick isn’t the smartest person within said universe. Or as Evil Morty puts it, “an infinite crib built around an infinite fucking baby.” Seeing the macabre, inner workings of The Citadel is interesting and typically creative, though it’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s not much of a story being told here, just fan service.
The episode ends with Rick and Morty stripped of the portal gun and Evil Morty escaping to another dimension. At one point we also get to see 40-year-old Morty. Which is funny. Our head hurts but we enjoyed it. We think.
‘Rickmurai Jack’ is both innovative and extremely clever. It also features the darkest joke ever told about Jerry. But it also positions Rick and Morty at something of a crossroads. If the episode spends its running time attempting to wriggle free from the lore demanded of the series, it largely succeeds. It also creates an ultra-convoluted template that the fanbase may well demand more of. Catch 22. Your move, Mr Sanchez.
Nice to see you again!
Snuffles! Only for a second! But Snuffles!
Pop culture parodies
The episode title is an obvious nod to fellow Adult Swim toon Samurai Jack (the last season of which hung upon the theme of time travel. Rick and Morty famously doesn’t ‘do’ time travel. Top trolling). Pussifer is Mortal Kombat sub-boss Kintaro in all but name. There’s shades of The Witcher’s feudal stylings to Rick’s adventures with Two Crows. His nemesis Crowscare shares an obvious aesthetic with Batman villain Scarecrow. There are also references to Inspector Gadget, Terminator (again) and ‘Blade Runner’. Oh, and there’s a brief appearance of a Rick-as-Stan-Lee character to remind us of some distant Rick and Morty backstory (which is a nod to the late Marvel editor’s similar wall-breaking appearances – although the episode he references is chronologically wrong. Mistake? Deliberate? You just never can tell!) Excelsior!
Did you know?
The episode of the anime influenced show-within-a-show, Rick and Two Crows, that the Rick and Morty finale begins with is titled ‘A Wing and A Prayer’. That’s a John Wayne quote – playing the part of real-life World War Two pilot Hugh G. Ashcraft – from the 1942 propaganda film Flying Tigers. All of this has little relevance to the finale. The episode is likely named thus because it’s got crows fighting owls. But we just wanted to show off our movie knowledge, really.