Following last week’s emotionally fraught showdown with Rick Prime, our Rick continues to struggle with depression and dark thoughts. He’s been manifesting his angst with a lot of day drinking in the garage, and Morty has noticed. To try and bring Rick out of his funk, Morty attempts to cash in some of his Morty Adventure Cards, which he has been accumulating since season one. Rick contests the validity of the cards, leading him to call for an inter-dimensional audit of all their adventures. The audit is performed by an omniscient alien known only as The Observer – a geode-inspired alien that Rick has hired to keep tabs on their exploits. The Observer plays back their various adventure scenes on his crystal display, teeing up a classic anthology episode, à la “Morty’s Mind Blowers.” If only things were so simple. Stuff gets messy.
Ladies, gentlemen and all the lucky people in-between – we’ve got another hit on our hands! Last week’s flawless episode took on the Rick Prime storyline with grace and aplomb – a powerhouse half-hour of violence and laughter that answered as many questions as it asked. “Unmortricken” was not only a perfect episode, it was a game changer of an episode offering new context to all those who came before, and all those who come after. It was a major mid-season surprise that emanated season finale vibes – a smart creative move that frees up the rest of season 7 to do whatever it wants to do. “Rickfending Your Mort” had the opportunity to go in any damn direction it wanted. Would it be a season one style stand-alone romp? A direct continuation of the previous episode? An anthology-style that tosses out dozens of great ideas like they’re nothing? An experimental episode about Bird Daughter and Ethan solving mysteries that has none of the main cast? The world waited all week for answers, and it turned out to be an expertly executed melange of all those possibilities, except the fourth one! “Rickfending Your Mort” takes all the momentum built up in “Unmortricken” and runs with it, gathering some of the strongest elements from previous seasons along the way and twisting them together into something that is both comfortingly familiar and surprisingly fresh.
All of the clips presented in “Rickfending Your Mort“ are excellent, and some are even grouped thematically. It turns out that not only can Morty turn into a boat as well as a car, he can also survive on a desert island. Rick has spent a day as a leg. Churros have been made into immortal beings. Different guns do different things, and Jerry caught a corrosive piss syndrome from garbage needles. Most charming perhaps is the Pet Semetary inspired scene where Rick and Morty experiment with evil corpse-reviving dirt. It’s one of those rare R&M scenes where the boys engage in some good old-fashioned horse play, neither one with a care in the world. (Aside to Adult Swim – Rick shouting “Let’s gather some data!“ is as good a catchphrase as any he’s had – please put it on a t-shirt!)
The clip show structure is thrown off right away by The Observer. Despite Rick’s cool and ominous threat about having friends in cosmic places, two things are fast made apparent – that Rick doesn’t personally know The Observer, and that The Observer is a total dickhead. His voice sucks, he’s bad at his job, his unwanted comments are unprofessional, and he really crosses the line when he starts showing clips of the rest of the Smith family. His semi-accidental murder at the hands of our titular heroes may not be justified, but it is a nice example of what you can achieve with teamwork.