REVIEWED: SEASON 4 (EPISODES 1-3) | WHERE TO WATCH: ALL 4
Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s animated mega-hit, Rick and Morty, sadly turned infamous almost as soon as it achieved mainstream success. It’s now burdened with the go-to example of a “toxic fanbase” – and it’s a damned shame because Rick and Morty is as thoughtful as it is razor sharp.
Presumably in an effort to avoid further ire of said fans (who have been waiting two years for new episodes), Adult Swim have opted to split season four in half, airing the first five episodes now with the latter five to follow sometime in 2020.
The season kicks off with “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” which is Rick and Morty at its very best: Dan Harmon’s pitch-perfect knack for a particular brand of self-aware, observational comedy combined with Justin Roiland’s abject random access humour, all centred around a unique and truly compelling science-fiction concept worthy of the best episodes of Star Trek.
Season 3 was, itself, a victim of the show’s fanbase. The show’s comedic nihilism was apparently rendered insincere and unfunny as soon as they realised some of it had been written by women. Season 3, apparently, lacked an understanding of the characters – except for Pickle Rick, which the internet fell in love with based on pre-release promo materials (before the show’s writing credits were revealed).
Season 4 is essentially the first time that the show has been given the opportunity to comment on the phenomenon of itself, so it’s worth noting that the premiere episode is peppered with self-referential jabs at those giving it a bad name. At one point, a fascist Morty from an alternate reality holds a gun to Rick’s head and demands that he “Stop asking questions; stop doing meta commentary; just have fun”. Rick, of course, ultimately kills him and ends up doing another take on that “100 years Rick and Morty” schtick from the pilot episode, essentially the show sticking a middle finger to those who want it to be something that it isn’t.
If the premiere was one of the show’s big sci-fi concept-driven episodes, then the second episode, “The Old Man and the Seat,” is more like one of the show’s character studies, exploring Rick’s inability to let people get close to him. If that sounds dry and downbeat, it’s worth noting that it’s done through a feud over someone using Rick’s private toilet and it’s every bit as funny as the show has ever been.
Lastly for now (at the time of writing), is “One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty,” in which the show decides to focus purely on laughs for a change as Dan Harmon – a vocal critic of the heist genre – offers up an exceptional deconstruction-cum-dismissal of a dozen films at once.
Season four of Rick and Morty can, so far, be best summarised with the (truly complimentary in this rare instance) phrase “more of the same.” If these three episodes are anything to go by, we have a hell of a lot to look forward to with the remaining 67 already ordered by Adult Swim. 100 years of Rick and Morty, indeed.