After a long wait that felt as excruciating as existence does for a Mr. Meeseeks, Rick and Morty is finally back. If you were worried that the story would get old, or that the toxic, riot-causing fanbase would affect the quality of the episodes in any way, you can put those worries to rest. The season 4 premiere is as smart and funny as anything the show has done before, and it paves the way for a confident future – even if it’s just basically more of the same.
The episode, much like the series itself, centers on the relationship between the title characters, mad genius Rick and his teenage grandson Morty. When we last saw them, Rick’s daughter Beth had reconciled with her husband Jerry after they had spent the season separated, while Beth struggled with the idea that she may have been a clone. Beth also made huge progress when she stopped having a deep fear of being abandoned by Rick and the family became united against the mad scientist grandpa, who found himself humiliated for the first time and no longer the head of the family.
The episode’s title, “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat,” tells you everything you need to know about what it is about, provided you’re familiar with the Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt film Edge of Tomorrow: Live, Die, Repeat. Rick and Morty happen upon something that allows them to have brief glimpses into their deaths, whatever form they may take.
It’s a hilarious return for the show, as Rick shrugs off their discovery as some convenient gadget to be used and disposed of quickly. Morty, on the other hand, is instantly consumed by the revelation, and changes his entire life to revolve around his pursuit of a singular fate. As usual, the show effortlessly switches from an A-plot into a B-plot involving alternate and bizarre timelines and fun one-off characters, as well as plenty of references and easter eggs to other sci-fi properties ranging from Akira and Edge of Tomorrow to Arrival. No matter how nihilistic the show can be, and it very much continues its “everything is pointless” sentiment from previous seasons, the episode still manages to give a strong moral message of the merit of living in the present and enjoying it while you can.
In many ways it is still the same old Rick and Morty – Rick forces Morty to go on an adventure, things go wrong and Morty comes to regret the adventure, and then it gets resolved. What makes the episode interesting is the subtle yet important change in the status quo of the family. After season 3 had Beth finally stand up to her father, the season begins with Rick being forced to actually listen to people. Though he still goes on adventures with Morty, Rick is no longer in control and now to ask for permission before having things his way, and the show acknowledges this small but potentially significant change.
The same way Rick and Morty can’t escape their problems by jumping to another reality, neither can’t the show escape the character arcs it has established and how much the characters have grown, even if it only shows their changes a little at a time. While the 70-episode order means that things will never radically change, the post-credits stinger in the premiere episode suggests that Rick and Morty will continue delivering the same high-quality stories, but it also acknowledges that it may slowly change things just a little bit.
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