Rick and Morty is a show that thrives on a lot of things: its colourful characters, its subversion of genre tropes, its dark humour, and its inventive stories. Get these all on-point, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a great piece of TV. But what happens when it misfires – when all the elements are there, but they just don’t quite click? You get an episode like ‘Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion’, which is disappointing because of how much better it feels it should have been.
On a trip to Boob World, Rick stumbles upon a planet with a Gotron Ferret – the last remaining one he requires to complete his collection. The five Gotron Ferrets assemble a giant robot, and Rick is thrilled, taking the family on a quest to fight a giant monster that is attacking another universe. Most of the family fall into Rick’s obsession, and Summer becomes his literal right-hand man as he embarks on a multi-dimensional mission to build bigger and bigger Gotrons. But things start to go wrong, and an abandoned Morty can only watch as the family comes under threat from both external forces and itself.
The story is a little too packed, and it doesn’t feel like it even reaches the sum of its parts, culminating in a third-act stand-off that’s just poor
‘Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion’ is a weird episode. On its face, it’s a typical Rick and Morty parody mash-up: a combination of an anime (something called Voltron, apparently, but I can’t claim to know it) and the gangster film Goodfellas. There’s nothing wrong with that – the show has done these kinds of mash-ups before, to great success. But this episode isn’t a great success, there’s nothing really beyond the initial parody when it comes to the robots, and the gangster stuff just doesn’t land at all. The story is a little too packed, and it doesn’t feel like it even reaches the sum of its parts, culminating in a third-act stand-off that’s just poor.
It’s a shame to write that, because things looked very positive from the off. I liked the robot parody (even though I’m not an anime fan), and all of the family were getting involved in the adventure – Jerry, of course, was sceptical for fear he would miss a chiropractor’s appointment. It also suggested that it was going to do something interesting with the Rick-Morty-Summer dynamic, with Summer stepping up to back Rick out of jealousy at his relationship with Morty. There’s a lot of potential, and all the references to family suggested we’d get a solid episode dealing with family dynamics.
But that’s not what happens, and it’s all the worse for it. There’s a fun gangster plot with some parallel versions of Rick and the family, but it gets old really fast, and isn’t too engaging outside of alternate versions of the scientist. The first sequence with the robot is as good as that ever gets, and the way the story plays out is a little predictable (and if there’s one thing Rick and Morty should never be, it’s predictable). I liked the call back to ‘Rickdependence Spray’, which leads to a bizarre sequence and some great voice-acting moments for Spencer Grammer as Summer, but its climax is lazy. I often marvel at how much the show fits into 20 minutes, but normally, it’s not just stuff for the sake of stuff.
Frustratingly, there’s a bunch of great gags tucked away into the poor structure
Frustratingly, there’s a bunch of great gags tucked away into the poor structure. The show deals with the voiceover trope as only it can, and every Jerry line is a cracker. I particularly liked his plans for disciplining Summer – committing suicide so he can get to Hell first, and then hide by the gates to dox her. Moments like that are what make this episode annoying to watch, because there are so many suggestions about how it could have played out, and where the focus could have been for a better experience – actual family stuff.
Where, then, do we stand on ‘Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion’? It made me laugh a decent amount, and the pay-off from the earlier episode is about as satisfying as I think it could be, but it’s not that brilliant. The story doesn’t hang together too well, and the conclusions are just rushed. It’s a shame because this episode has a lot of potential, and hints at some quite interesting ideas, but they’re left ignored.