I haven’t reviewed Rick and Morty since the Season 3 finale. In truth, there seemed little point in doing so. By the time Season 4 started, the show’s audience seemed pretty well defined and there was little I could say one way or the other. You either loved the show and how it continued to defy convention or you were sick of it and the edge-lords who seemed to become an increasingly vocal portion of the show’s fanbase. I fell into the latter category, but decided to give the show another shot. The Season 5 premiere, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” won’t change anyone’s minds regarding the show, being a fairly typical Rick and Morty episode, in so far as any Rick and Morty episode can be said to be typical.
The episode is centered around Mr. Nimbus – a speedo-clad King of Atlantis who considers himself Rick’s nemesis. Mr. Nimbus couldn’t be any more obvious a stand-in for Marvel Comics’ Namor without shouting “Imperius Rex!” While a dinner party/peace summit with Mr. Nimbus and Beth and Jerry’s dithering about his invitation for a threesome make up the lion’s share of the comedy, they are not the heart of the story. That concerns Morty, who is trying to balance a date with his dream girl Jessica with his being roped into acting as the wine steward at Rick’s dinner party, while trying to sneak some booze back to Jessica.
The actual story involves the fact that Rick uses a Narnia-like dimension where time travels faster than in the real world as a wine cellar. This causes problems with a helpful dog-man named Hoovy (Jim Gaffigan) helps Morty carry a case back into Rick’s lab and returns home to find a vengeful son waiting to kill the man who abandoned his mother when she was pregnant. This, and Morty’s increasingly violent and Rick-like response to the dog-men trying to kill him, leads to a multi-generational Game of Thrones saga, as an entire clan of Hoovy’s descendants rise up to wage war on the mysterious devil boy who shows up once a century to raid a cursed liquor stash.
I had expected Hoovy’s story to be a throw-away gag rather than the basis of most of the episode’s conflict. Certainly Rick and Morty has made similarly dark jabs for the sake of a single punchline in the past. Yet this, and the finale of “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” showcase the show’s strongest trait; after five seasons it remains unpredictable. Love it or hate it, Rick and Morty can still surprise us and that is an encouraging thought, even if I might not laugh as hard at Rick’s antics as I once did when the idea of “Doctor Who, but with a drunk jackass” seemed fresher and funnier.