After more than four months, the long wait for the second half ofRick e MortyThe fourth season ended. Arriving during lockdown, the new episode, titled Never Ricking Morty, actually references thecoronavirus, joining the first wave of TV shows to reflect the current reality of social distancing.
The episode, which mimics the title of NeverEnding Story, takes place on a train in space. The setting, as Rick points out, represents a literal story device, putting us on track for a fast-paced, self-referential anthology episode.
Notice: This summary contains all spoilers.
The episode begins on the space train, where two travelers meet at the bar. One of them, which looks like an alien version of Wolverine, details how he fought Rick on his planet Ramamama (seems to be spelled that way).
The traveler who looks like a comic book hero is on the train looking for Rick to kill him. Everyone on the train, he says, is there to kill Rick. The other Clint Eastwood-looking traveler, wearing one of those short Old West capes, questions this "strange leap in logic".
Visiting another section of the Rick-obsessed train, the space cowboy encounters aliens describing stories that reveal how Rick saved "Space Christmas".
However, one involves Rick letting down new character Goomby, a little purple alien friend who helps Rick deliver gifts to Morty and the Smith family but isn't invited to their festivities, being left out in the freezing cold.
All of this is revealing just how personal this story is for Rick, and how meta it is for the show.
In another carriage, Morty, disguised as a blonde, meets a dozen of Rick's ex-girlfriends, who bond over dating Rick as a rebound at a low point in their lives.
Leah, a space ice queen, reflects on Rick's confused behavior when he first met his family: they all sat at the table, while he was left in the snowy tundra fighting huge space wolves.
The train goes in circles
The space cowboy is Rick in disguise, and after his investigations he realizes that the train is "amplifying and linking unrelated narrative fields".
He and Morty are looking for the engine which is really a "literary literary device that literally metaphorically contains us". Not a simulation, but "worse: an anthology".
Refusing to have a "one-off", "tense", and "replaced" episode, Rick threatens the former ticket inspector, who ends up getting ripped and stomps on his shin. Morty, showing more bravery and loyalty than ever before, immediately jumps on the ticket inspector, and Rick, showing he cares for Morty, refrains from shooting the inspector while holding Morty as a shield.
Instead, shooting through the window, Rick creates a vacuum that sucks the inspector's upper half out of the train. Skipping to a completely different scene, the Inspector wakes up in an arcade and asks Rick and Morty's favorite existential questions: "Is this real? Is this real life?" Then, back in space, we see him explode in blood and guts.
The train represents the circle of history.
We then cut to a group of train police students discussing with their instructor how they should have handled Rick and Morty's arrest to better maintain continuity.
Rick and Morty suddenly appear in the room and beat everyone up; Traditional continuity is not a high priority for the show. Rick finds a "structural guide" to the train showing the cars in a circle, a reference to co-creator Dan Harmon's creation of astory circlehe used to structure many Rick and Morty episodes.
Rick discusses when he could assemble a pair of failing spacesuits at exactly the right point in the story's circle so that they would "pay a heavy price" and re-enter the train at the equivalent of just before the end of the story.
Aware that this might be what crosses the line into too much meta, Rick points out that Morty watches YouTube videos of people reacting to YouTube.
After making a joke about the ticket inspector's upper half floating around, Rick and Morty decide to have some old-fashioned fun from now on, not overthink things, and keep the rest of the adventure grounded and fully engaging.
We then see some clips of Rick and Morty's musical moments, complete with a cameo by Birdperson.
Meanwhile, the ticket inspector, now known as the Floaty Bloody Man, becomes a new god. Followers of his believe that the entire universe is the Floaty Bloody Man's nightmare as he dies in a "time dilated" reality.
Rick and Morty then appear in spacesuits outside the train and shoot the inspector until he is completely dead.
destroying theme stamp
Rick and Morty walk outside the space train until they find the "theme seal", large shiny gold rings with symbols reminiscent of Middle-earth. To stop him, they have to tell a story that has nothing to do with them. We then see Morty's story, as improvised as the intergalactic cable episode.
So they have to tell a story that passes the Bechdel test. Morty loses his source of oxygen, but Rick, notably saving Morty again, gives Morty his oxygen so he can improvise the story. He tells about Summer and her mother defeating the female space scorpions, not to mention the male ones.
This "feminist masterpiece" destroys the themed seal and Rick and Morty find the control room, where they discover that the Lord of History is behind it all.
breaking the fifth wall
The Lord of History describes Rick perfectly: "There are no rules for you, spiraling through the multiverse, belching off-the-cuff dialogue about how nothing matters."
He then proceeds to beat up Rick and Morty, taking them to different realities where "nothing is canon", including Rick's decision to "help people now".
The Lord of History has been using Rick and Morty to fuel his anthology with their "limitless potential" and get them to the final stop: "beyond the fifth wall", which would have to involve co-creator and voice actor Justin Roiland referencing his past work or real life outside of Rick and Morty.
We then cut to a "human moment" where Rick, Morty and the Smith family send Summer off to college.
They then encounter blasts from the past, "the good stuff", including Abradolf Lincler, Tammy Guetermann, Phoenixperson, Snowball, Evil Morty, what appears to be an Emperor Palpatine version of Mr. Poopybutthole (a nice touch), an army of Roman Centurion Ricks (from the Citadel?), an army of Mr. Meeseeks and an army of Gazorpians. Reminds me of Doctor Who's favorite Pandorica conglomeration of aliens.
a divine presence
Seemingly stuck, Rick turns to his "best friend and personal savior, Jesus Christ".
By effusively letting Jesus into their hearts and praying, Rick and Morty do something they would never normally do, causing the Lord of History's narrative machine to break down with such a "horrific" tale.
Upon defeating him, they send the Lord of History to spend eternity in "all writers' hell". The Bible.
"We were literally saved by Jesus Christ, tell me how offensive that is in any way," says Rick when Morty worries that this is too cynical and offensive.
the meaning of everything
In the "Change" section of Harmon's story circle, Morty tries to figure out the purpose of the "messy" adventure: it brought them together and tested their demons.
"We took all that shit out of metacanon and now we can be ourselves," says Rick.
But when they try to take the train to the station, they discover it's not real. We zoom out and see the real Rick and Morty in the Smith family living room, playing with a purple train that Morty bought at the Citadel of Ricks gift shop.
Rick loves it, because Morty did "the most important thing". He fulfilled his purpose in life, which is to "buy and consume goods".
Lord and Jesus Story
Story The Lord and Jesus reflect on their lives on the toy train, how that is enough to make them question all existence.
Deciding to leave, Jesus causes the toy train to derail and break down.
Rick tells Morty to buy a new one, because "nobody is buying with this fucking virus".
We see an ad for the purchased Citadel of Ricks Story Train Morty, a toy intended for Ricks tired of his adventures with "dog shit" Mortys.
It comes with car after car of enemies, lovers and the Goomby, "all dealing with the nature of who you really are".
Thanks to the anthology builder, the stories will never end. The characters are alive, but "not in a major way". The ad points to their website, story-train.com, which at the time of writing... goes nowhere.
Focusing intensely on the show itself is an interesting choice for this episode. It's almost inaccessible to people who might be trying out Rick and Morty for more entertainment during lockdown.
But for fans, Never Ricking Morty serves to end some of the discussion surrounding the show. While the episode's hard-to-follow jumps in space and time don't lead to a clear message, it does touch on the notion of canon, fan service, and whether the show pokes fun at Christianity.
Either you're exhausted, impressed, or just ready for the hilarious ride.