Image: Channel 4

‘Rick and Morty’: Mort Dinner Rick Andre

No sooner have I lost one inventive piece of TV in Inside No 9 than another steps in to fill the void. Rick and Morty is back, and it enters its fifth series at a confident pace, pitting Rick against an Atlantean enemy in a funny and strong episode showcasing how much Morty has changed.

Rick and Morty (both Justin Roiland) are on an adventure that has gone perilously wrong, and it seems neither of them may make it out alive. A phone call to his crush, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), kicks a little passion into Morty, and he manages to execute a daring crash landing in Earth’s ocean. Rick is horrified, however, as the ocean is home to his nemesis, Mr Nimbus (Dan Harmon), and he has now violated the terms of a treaty. Rick invites Nimbus to dinner to smooth things over, and dispatches Morty to another world to pick up some fine wine.

As is typical of Rick and Morty, the episode of both self-aware and packed with great lines

The end of series four left Rick and Morty in an interesting place, and I was delighted to see ‘Mort Dinner Rick Andre’ continue the show’s development. Rick is still a deeply unhappy man, Morty and Summer (Spencer Grammer) are in a place where they can deal with adventures on their own (though Summer gets very little to do this episode) and, most incredibly, Beth (Sarah Chalke) and Jerry (Chris Parnell) are working to overcome their relationship issues – watching them and their new ‘sex-positive’ attitude is certainly something. I loved the introduction of Nimbus, a fey Aquaman-type who loves sex and can control the police with his crotch. He’s the latest in a long list of bizarre side characters that make a big impact, and he’s a fascinating adversary for Rick. Even Jerry is initially unimpressed.

Despite the set-up of the episode suggesting a conflict between Rick and Nimbus, ‘Mort Dinner Rick Andre’ is largely a Morty-focused instalment. We see the impact of these adventures on the teenager, and not just in his brilliant assertion that “I haven’t been to a full week in school in years – I don’t know shit!”. Morty is becoming just as capable and Rick, and just as willing to slaughter civilisations to get his way – in a genius B-plot, a bit of dimension-hopping with a friendly traveller called Hoovy (Jim Gaffigan) leads to generations of tragedy and a society dedicated to killing Morty. It’s the kind of incredible story that Rick and Morty excels with. I don’t know if the Jessica side of Morty’s story really works – in all frankness, she’s been a bit of a non-character for the show’s run – but it’s nice to see something happen with her.

‘Mort Dinner Rick Andre’ is not the biggest series premiere we’ve ever seen in Rick and Morty, but I think it’s a very enjoyable start that proves the show is still inventive, clever, and very funny

As is typical of Rick and Morty, the episode of both self-aware and packed with great lines. Rick is furious with Nimbus’ attempts to expand his backstory and establish continuity, and it’s a cracking observation that he can just turn up at the end and “deus ex machina” the shit out of a situation. There’s a good side-gag of the Nintendo 69 and, as a huge fan of Frasier, I loved Rick’s annoyance at holding a private conversation with Morty: “You see this whisper kitchen Frasier shit you’re making me do.” I love the new, positive Jerry too – Jerry moments are always brilliant, that’s the one rule of this show.

‘Mort Dinner Rick Andre’ is not the biggest series premiere we’ve ever seen in Rick and Morty, but I think it’s a very enjoyable start that proves the show is still inventive, clever, and very funny. We’ve got relationship dramas, family dramas, lots of character development, gags, and a sci-fi odyssey that lasts generations, all packed into 22 minutes without any sense of clutter or lag. If the rest of the run continues as this quality – a typical Rick and Morty quality that will definitely appeal to fans of the show – then we’re guaranteed a good one.

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