This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Rick and Morty, so we'd advise watching that before reading the below.
The latest season of Rick and Morty seems set on taking classic nerd culture characters and warping them around the show's dark and twisted brand of humor. Honestly, these parodies can be hit or miss, as is evident in this week’s episode, 'A Rickconvenient Mort', where the show retreads very familiar ground.
We’ve seen Rick and Morty be unnecessarily horny before. We’ve also seen Morty fall in love. This time, the show does a little bit of both at the same time.
The episode has Morty falling in love with a Captain Planet stand-in, Planetina, while Rick and Summer go on an apocalypse bar crawl, with each using sexual encounters with strangers to deal with their personal problems. It feels like the same song set to a different tune.
The show has explored these ideas before, and while they can still be funny, it sometimes feel like Rick and Morty is just rehashing old plots. In fact, if I had to describe 'A Rickconvenient Mort', it’s as if they mashed up the montage in 'The Vat of Acid Episode' where Morty has a tragic romance with Rick’s debauchery from 'Auto Erotic Assimilation' as its backup story.
Nonetheless, 'A Rickconvenient Mort' marks one of those rare moments where the show is predictable but still an enjoyable example of how to execute a formula. Outlandish antics power this show, but Rick and Morty really shines when it’s doing something smart with its unique brand of science fiction. This episode is mostly about the former.
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When Planetina first arrived at the beginning of the episode, there was a lot of promise. I thought we were in for a twisted and cynical look at environmentalism – or at least, some spin on this subject we haven't seen played out before. Instead, the main story focuses on Morty’s fledgling romance with this elemental being from the 1990s and explores how her “kids” (basically the Planeteers from Captain Planet) are now taking advantage of her for profit.
The storyline goes from inappropriate (Morty is 14 years old and Planetina, no matter how the show tries to spin it, is at least 3 decades old) to dark to tragic. If you took 'The Vat of Acid Episode' montage and stretched it out, this would be the result. Planetina’s kids being the aging and evil managers of her celebrity career grows old quickly as an idea, too.
It feels like the writers could’ve done more with this idea, but it all just ends with Morty going on another rampage, which we’ve already seen one too many times on this show. We've even seen one in the first episode of this season, in fact.
The raunchier backup story doesn’t fare any better. It follows Rick and Summer as they each sex their feelings away through one doomed planet after another – that is, until Rick falls in love and has his heart broken. This feels like familiar territory for the two characters at this point, despite the backdrop of dying worlds.
Planetina's descent into darkness towards the end of the episode feels like it deserved more of the spotlight. It’s certainly what I expected to see play out when she first arrived, and it's reminiscent of that great Funny or Die sketch with Don Cheadle as Captain Planet. The show could’ve done a lot more by taking a look at the true cause of environmental disasters, and delving deeper into Planetina’s violent means of saving the planet, which has a lot of comic potential.
'A Rickconvenient Mort' feels like a throwaway episode of Rick and Morty, then, which is slightly disappointing considering we're only three episodes into season 5 – and that last week's 'Mortiplicity' was so ambitious by comparison. It doesn’t take full advantage of its environmental premise, and while it's definitely still funny in places, it doesn't represent the best that the animated sitcom has to offer.
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