Any good show creator knows that with animation, you can push the boundaries of where you want your show to go. Couple that with Adult Swim’s infamous raunchy style, add a dash of science fiction and sarcasm and you get “Rick and Morty,” arguably one of the most meaningful Adult Swim shows out there. It’s amassed a loyal and devoted following ever since its rocky beginning back in 2013, and has recently been renewed for 70 more episodes. But fans rejoice, because it’s back from the dead with no lapse in quality or humor. The show bounces back and levels up in its own witty, symbolic and chaotic way. The season premiere is almost just like a regular episode of “Rick and Morty” but on steroids, which was necessary and appreciated after such a long hiatus.
The season premiere kicks off with an extremely loose parody of “Edge of Tomorrow,” which is nothing unfamiliar to the series as its humor and plot points are often heavily reference-based. The episode immediately addresses the change in the family dynamics, as Jerry (Chris Parnell, “Will & Grace”) forces Beth (Sarah Chalke, “Milo Murphy’s Law”) to make Rick (Justin Roiland, “The Cyanide & Happiness Show”) abide by the new protocol that requires him to ask for permission to take Morty (Justin Roiland, “The Cyanide & Happiness Show”) with him during his adventures rather than whisk him away at a moment’s notice. They fly off into space to harvest death crystals that show you how the way you’re going to die and how it changes with the decisions you make. Always the naive one, Morty hides one in his pocket and sets out to do the exact right things to end up with his longtime unrequited love, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren, “DC Super Hero Girls”). Rick ends up getting brutally impaled in a spaceship accident, and thus has to continuously reincarnate himself using clones from parallel universes in order to find his way back home.
To resurrect the fanbase from its lengthy hibernation, the premiere uses harmless fan service by referencing past seasons. They don’t make the mistake of letting the references get in the way of the plot; it only serves to excite fans who had been begging for an inkling of “Rick and Morty”-related material for what seemed like an eternity. It’s almost so chaotic that it’s difficult to keep up with everything going on at once. It took me a couple watches to fully understand and connect where this episode is in relation to the past three seasons, but its complexity is nothing to fear. It’s always a gift when shows have something to offer every time you rewatch it, and with shows that are as quick-witted as this, it’s nearly impossible to catch on to all the jokes and references in the first go.
But that’s not to say that the premiere didn’t offer anything to the start of the season. “Rick and Morty” never fails to craft fresh new ideas to bring into the mix, and this new season is no different. It has layers in ways that many shows lack and proves that overlap between quality and Adult Swim-type networks (which people often make snap judgements about being superficially vulgar) can exist. One can only hope that the 70-episode renewal won’t constitute a decrease in quality, but at this rate, I doubt we have anything to worry about. Since the start of the series, it’s only been an uphill spiral of wit and creativity, and after this break, I’m sure the creators aren’t willing to let it slip through their fingers again.