Put down your portal guns, friends – Rick and Morty is back. In an age where multiverses are everywhere, the show’s sixth series must deal with the consequences of truly opening up its own. And ‘Solaricks’ sets us in good stead, with a strong opener that consolidates the show’s strengths and hints that the writers are interested in exploring new depths.
a total game-changer
The sixth series picks up right where the fifth series left off – Rick and Morty (both Justin Roiland) are stuck in the remains of the Citadel, destroyed by Evil Morty as part of his scheme to shatter the barrier established by Rick to separate off the universes where he is the smartest man alive. Space Beth (Sarah Chalke) returns to help them back to Earth, and Rick attempts to reboot his portal gun – however, his attempts go wrong, leading to Rick, Morty and Jerry (Chris Parnell) being transported back to their original universes.
‘Rickmurai Jack’ was a total game-changer in both the backstory it delivered, and the potential it opened up for the show’s future, and I was very excited to see what the show would do with it. It looks like the writers have taken the best of both worlds, continuing with Rick and Morty’s typical multiversal chaos while further expanding the show’s lore (and potentially even setting up a recurring plotline and villain, although it remains to be seen how that will play out).
a perfect indication of how much the character has changed over the show’s run
I’ve said before that Rick and Morty’s best episodes deliver humour, clever and creative plots, and character work – ‘Solaricks’ certainly manages all three. As we learned the last series, Rick left his original universe in response to the death of his wife – on his return, he remembers that he’d programmed his dead wife’s voice to appear and haunt him, and his muted response is a perfect indication of how much the character has changed over the show’s run. Similarly, Morty winds up in the universe from the first series, where everyone was transformed into mutants and spends some time with his original father – a halfway competent Jerry.
There’s also a lot to love in the B-plot, which sees Summer (Spencer Grammer) and the two Beths head to the Citadel to protect the beacon that might help their loved ones return home. In the midst of the sci-fi action, the two Beths fight for Summer’s affection – it’s an exciting piece of character drama, complemented by one of the show’s typically inventive action sequences. We learn, as Jerry later confirms, that it’s shared experiences that bind people together, not just their original realities, and he even gets a slight win.
‘Solaricks’ is a strong start to the series
We have a number of references to the past, not least Morty’s universe, but also callbacks to the fates of some of the versions of these Ricks and Mortys (as well as the classic Jerryboree) – Rick’s reference to the previous series did make me chuckle. There are allusions to Avengers: Endgame, an adorable side joke character in the form of Mr Frundles, and lots of cracking lines. The writers play with sci-fi conventions as teleportation takes a longer time than expected, but it meshes the gags with a surprising level of heart. We’ve gone from a Rick who would happily sacrifice the lives of everyone else in his reality to one who can take some responsibility. There’s a meeting with an old neighbour that is played for laughs, yet horrific at the same time.
‘Solaricks’ is a strong start to the series, which showcases the classic Rick and Morty formula while demonstrating how its characters and the show itself have evolved. Opening the multiverse, hinting at a serialised story and bringing all of the family on the emotional adventure are welcome moves that will hopefully consolidate the show’s strengths, especially after two series that have unevenly bounced between meta and sitcom. On the strength of ‘Solaricks’, I’m looking forward to seeing where series six goes.