By Aristophanes and Hermes
Today’s discussion of Rick and Morty contains spoilers through Season 3, Episode 7: “The Ricklantis Mixup.” Reader discretion is advised.
Editor’s Note: The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity, grammar and style.
Aristophanes (Ari): Previews for the latest episode of Rick and Morty originally billed it as a one-off adventure to Atlantis. However, the creators instead pulled a bait-and-switch, giving us a half-hour update on the politics of the Citadel of Ricks, which we last saw, mercilessly decimated, in the Season 3 premiere.
It was an entire episode where every on-screen character was either an alternate version of Rick or an alternate version of Morty. There were sweeping overtones of political intrigue, bits of societal critique and a slew of pop culture references. Multiple stories converged around a single overarching plotline: the Morty Party candidate’s surprising victory in the city’s presidential election.
If you can’t tell by this intro, I felt it was one of the strongest episodes of the series to date, due to the frenetic pace and intelligent, referential humor. What were your initial thoughts after watching it?
Hermes (Herm): Let it be known the Citadel elected Evil Morty president! The music was a clear giveaway, though I am surprised the city is still running in the first place. I didn’t consider that the Citadel could operate without the Council of Ricks, which we saw destroyed in the Season 3 premiere.
Ari: It does seem a bit retcon-y, to be honest. I never thought of the Citadel as being democratic, and, like you said, to be able to run independently of the Council of Ricks. But without that democratic element, this episode just wouldn’t have worked in quite the same way.
Herm: Well, you’re right; the Citadel had not been democratic up to that point. At the beginning of the episode, they said this was the first democratic election the Citadel had ever conducted. Previously, it had most likely been an oligarchy, at least before C-137 Rick, aka “our Rick,” obliterated it.
Ari: It’s just like the city of Kallipolis in Plato’s Republic! First comes an oligarchic state, which eventually becomes democratic. Then, that democracy elects a tyrant, turning the city into a dictatorship.
I’m just not sure what comes next. Will the Ricks living in the Citadel really be fine with a tyrant Morty?
Herm: I don’t think the Ricks will have a choice, probably because the Mortys won’t cede their newfound power.
Ari: Do you think we’ll see a Morty uprising against the privileged Citadel Ricks? Another thing I hadn’t yet considered: Is Evil Morty looking out for the rest of the Mortys?
Herm: Probably not. It’ll take a lot to make the Morty population revolt, especially when one of their own is in the highest position of power. And regarding your question about Evil Morty, I doubt it. It’s Evil Morty.
Ari: What’s his end game, then? Just the thirst for power? I assume we’ll see Evil Morty confront Rick C-137 at some point. But I don’t expect to see that follow-up for a while, probably.
Herm: I’m not really sure. Evil Morty definitely wants to take over the world. I think it’s likely the Mortiest Morty, aka “our Morty,” eventually goes up against Evil Morty, the supposed Rickest Morty.
Ari: So what did you think about all of the different intersecting storylines in this episode? Did any of them stand out to you?
Herm: I think the storyline between the Rick and Morty cop duo — the Morty being the alpha, Rick being the beta, Morty being more corrupt and Rick being more optimistic and naive — was a clear juxtaposition to the standard relationship between those two characters.
Ari: It was definitely an interesting juxtaposition, and a bit of a parody of the buddy cop genre. It seems like we saw a lot of film parodies this episode, actually. The political storyline was similar to All the President’s Men, and the four schoolboy Mortys’ side story was straight out of Stand By Me, with each Morty dressed to resemble one of the four main characters. We even saw a Willy Wonka-esque Rick running a candy factory.
Besides the obvious homages, we also got a bit of societal critique. We saw “Mortys killing Mortys” and getting busted for drug dealing. We saw a disgruntled factory-worker Rick take another Rick hostage before eventually getting killed, himself. And we saw a presidential campaign that eerily echoed both the 2008 and 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns.
Herm: The Stand by Me parallels were quite obvious to me. Except there’s no dead body, right? I’m not quite sure how 2008 was echoed, though. The 2016 allusion seemed clear.
Ari: The election alluded to 2008, in that the Morty Party candidate appealed to both the white working class-type Ricks and the lower income-type, discriminated-against Mortys. The debate speech, especially, gave me a whole “there are no red states or blue states, just the United States” feel. Except, you know, the candidate turned out to be a homicidal super villain.
And then, of course, there was that jab referencing 2016, the line about the election nearly being close enough to “trigger a recount.”
Herm: Was that a line from Obama’s 2008 campaign?
Ari: Well, I believe Obama first said it prior to 2008, but it was a recurring thing he said multiple times throughout his campaign and during the presidency.
I do want to say, I appreciated that the political storyline wasn’t a direct representation of 2016. As in, it was a more original plot, not just a Rick and Morty version of what South Park has already done many times.
Herm: I was actually just about to mention South Park. But yeah, anything else that is a direct representation of the 2016 election is just a tired, cliched trope at this point. We all know what happened. I don’t care what form of creative media you use. Rick and Morty is not the only popular adult animated show to release an episode this past week satirizing previous elections; BoJack Horseman did, as well. However, both shows did right and didn’t make a clear “Donald vs. Hillary” comparison in their satire.
Ari: Justin Roiland, by the way, was incredible in this episode. The way he created different voices for every single version of Rick and Morty, it really made it feel like they were all separate people. You almost forgot that one person provided the voices of every character in this episode.
Herm: Ready for next week? Based on the previews, I guess Morty looks into the eyes of an all-knowing tortoise, learns the truth about everything and becomes suicidal. Rick removes the negative things and it’s basically a new “Interdimensional Cable” episode.
Ari: But it’s not “Interdimensional Cable,” which Rick broke the fourth wall to tell us.
Herm: Rick always breaks the fourth wall.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11:30/10:30 CDT on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The next episode will air September 17.
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