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‘Rick and Morty’: Rickdependence Spray

The most recent Rick and Morty ended with something I’ve never seen before – a few clips of the show’s production personnel, expressing disbelief about the episode they put out. If that doesn’t give you some suggestion about how contentious ‘Rickdependence Spray’ will be, you’re not paying attention. The show returns to gross-out humour for a controversial episode that has really divided the fanbase – for my part, I’m on the side that really enjoyed it. I thought that there were a lot of great lines and set pieces, a fun performance by the returning Keith David, and a sense of the dark and surreal that tickled me.

Right, here’s a plot summary you’re not going to find on any other show. Morty visits his mother at the horse hospital and has the idea to use a horse breeding mount for his own sexual pleasure. A little while later, Rick picks up the barrel of what he believes to be 100% horse sperm, and tires to use it to create a weapon against his latest enemy, a race of underground-dwelling cannibal horse people (the CHUDs). However, as the vat contains Morty’s DNA, Rick accidentally creates an army of giant sentient sperm hellbent on destroying everything and taking over the world. The Smiths are summoned by the President of the United States (David) to defeat the sperm and save the world.

‘Rickdependence Spray’ is a big, dumb episode that wears its shamelessness on its sleeve, and I love it

‘Rickdependence Spray’ is a big, dumb episode that wears its shamelessness on its sleeve, and I love it. We travel a lot in this instalment, and a lot of the gags – Morty going to great lengths to avoid admitting he had sex with the breeding mount, Rick and Morty being impressed by a really cool mercenary, Vegas performers going to war – all landed with me. There are a lot of solid side jokes (one about the difference between a trebuchet and a catapult worked for me), and I think this is the funniest episode of series five in terms of number of laughs. It’s unabashedly weird (at one point, Morty lampshades this, stating that “this is out there, even for us”) and there is a sense of the script just throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, but I thought it worked well.

Obviously, what hits the spot for one viewer will be too out there for another. However, I think everyone can agree that the Keith David’s guest spot is a good one – this is his fourth appearance as the President, and his voice adds an air of seriousness that makes all the insanity even funnier. His appearance makes sense to the extent that this episode is clearly a very loose parody of Independence Day, but his real role is to provide a lot of great lines. His cynical observation that he can’t kill a monster baby (I’ll avoid the specifics so you can appreciate the shock yourself) because it’s a human line in an election year is a great one.

It’s an episode that wants to be funny and disgusting – it certainly manages the second, and your tolerance for it will depend on how much you think it manages the first

Much though I enjoyed the episode, not everything landed for me. There’s a subplot about useless men ignoring Summer and Beth’s contributions because of their genders, but the joke never really stretches past that. It feels like they needed to give everyone in the family something to do, but it’s a worrying sign when Jerry’s enthusiasm about pouring glasses of water makes more of an impact. It’s also the case that some of the moments aren’t that funny – Rick kissing a horse person (voiced by Christina Ricci, apparently) lingers on for way too long, 

Not everyone is going to enjoy ‘Rickdependence Spray’ – it goes on a lot of tangents and detours, and many viewers will not enjoy the ways in which it pushes the boundaries of good taste. It’s an episode that wants to be funny and disgusting – it certainly manages the second, and your tolerance for it will depend on how much you think it manages the first. I give it high marks, but a lot of reviews are slating it – this is one that you’re going to have to watch to form your own opinion.

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