REEL Review – Rick and Morty: Season 4 (2019-2020)

Creators: Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland | Runtime: 23mins (episode) | Animation, Sci-Fi, Comedy

Rick and Morty in recent years has become the pinnacle of the adult cartoon landscape, it’s balance of “high-concept rigamarole” (As Jerry describes it) and self-aware jabs at genre cliches make it so accessible for two different reasons, pleasing it’s more casual fanbase, as well as preaching to those fans who believe themselves to be just as smart as Rick. A show can never be judged by the people that watch it, and luckily for us Rick and Morty are yet to give in to the monumental pressure they are under with each new season. In the 10 episodes of Season 4, we get to see everything that makes the pairing of Rick, and his grandson Morty, so loved among pop-culture. The only problem perhaps (albeit a small one), is how self-aware it does start to become.

It’s not the first show to be ‘in’ on it’s own existence, but the first three seasons proved that balance is key when it comes to winking to the camera, using the 4th wall delicately to manifest Rick’s own dismissal of the story they are following (and maybe the writers) while never actually taking away from the formula itself. The last episode of season 4, Starmort: Rickturn of the Jerri (ep.10), does this wonderfully as Rick can’t help but notice the thematic similarities to Star Wars, but happily engages in it because the formula demands it. It’s probably one of the standout episodes of the season, as well as The Vat of Acid Episode (ep.8), and a personal favourite is The Old Man and the Seat (ep.2) which showcases the melancholy the show is capable of, and just how deeply human a character like Rick is.

In terms of progression season 4 does offer us some, maybe not as much as Season 2 or 3, but the last episode’s ending does allow it’s next season to have some sense of ambiguity. But that’s why Rick and Morty‘s strongest gadget to wield is in it’s writing, creative and unpredictable but also gives time for progression as well as call backs. So many things from the show have become iconic, staples of the shows quirk that could easily be heavily relied on for more, but instead Harmon and his writers opt for giving you more to relish in (hologram injustice Rick is fantastic), instead of exhausting the things that make them so popular. Sure we see Meeseek’s, we get the odd call back to early episodes, but they are always thinking of concepts, no matter how ridiculous they make become.

Episode 4 of the season (Claw & Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty) takes you down a fantasy route that includes hyper sexual dragons and a talking cat (voiced by Matthew Broderick), an episode that hasn’t been greeted with overwhelming success despite it being loaded with funny moments. It’s more ‘family issues’ episodes feel like Season 1, using the idiocy of Jerry and Rick’s “I’m right, you’re wrong” mantra perfectly. It doesn’t matter what kind of Rick and Morty fan you are, there is enough variety to please. The writing is strong enough that it’s aware of it’s monumental expectations yet continues to push it’s imagination enough in order to find it’s voice time and time again.

The only episode that you might question is Never Ricking Morty (ep.6), a middle finger to the ‘anthology’ episodes that so often appear in TV. But Rick’s sighing at conceptual tedium and the commentary riddled story aren’t a problem, in fact they make the episode much more entertaining. The problem is in the shows self-deprecation, challenging the idea that Rick and Morty isn’t limitless in it’s potential. While there’s no doubt that every show has a peak, the show deserves to be much more positive about it’s own capabilities. But the episode is still great, and whether or not Harmon is just teasing the lack of potential or really doubting, it still spawns one of the most unique episodes the season has to offer.

There is no doubt that Rick and Morty will continue for a while, it’s imaginative, balanced and it’s characters are flawed and complex enough that even it’s secondary stories are both funny and relevant. Sure this season does dip in quality a little more than the previous ones, but it’s got enough idiocy and genius to make the full 10 episodes worthy of your time, no matter what kind of Rick and Morty fan you are.

Verdict:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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