“And awaaaaayyyyy we go!”…
After fairly recently discovering the utter splendour that is Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s televisual brainchild Rick and Morty, I managed to catch up on all 11 episodes of the first season within a couple of weeks. This is because Rick and Morty is brilliant. Truly, properly brilliant. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s weird, it’s inventive, and it’s the kind of show that consistently impresses me. After having ploughed through the series, I did some serious wondering about just what Roiland and Harmon could possibly bring to the table for series two to top what they did in the first.
It turns out I needn’t have worried, because the season opener, A Rickle In Time, is one of the most creative and original 25ish-minutes of TV I’ve ever seen. The episode picks right up where season one dropped off, with time frozen whilst Rick, Morty and Summer sort out the house before Beth and Jerry get home following an epic party. Having spent 6 months effectively out of time, the unfreezing process becomes a little complicated. They are now incredibly vulnerable to disruption, and Rick, Morty and Summer cannot be uncertain about anything at all, for fear of breaking their timeline. It’s a terrific conceit, given Morty’s propensity for being unsure of himself and his place in the universe, as well as Summer’s uncertainty about her place just within their family. This is where the episode gets amazing; after sending Beth and Jerry out for ice cream, the three set about being completely certain of everything. Except they aren’t, the timeline splits, and we are presented with 2 Ricks, Mortys and Summers, all trapped in a Schroedinger’s cat-filled dimension that both does and does not exist. The horizontal screen split symbolizing the two timelines is a stroke of genius, especially in terms of the voice work. For the most part, the characters are saying the same or very similar things, but the delivery in each timeline is different enough to represent the uncertainties the characters are experiencing. For example, we can tell almost immediately that one Morty is saddened by the goings on, whilst the other is quite cross about the whole affair and Rick’s attitude towards it. As always, Rick has a plan (and luckily for him, Second Rick is thinking the same way) but of course nothing goes to plan and chaos ensues; there’s a hilarious scene in which both Ricks come to the conclusion that the other is trying to kill him, which is so perfectly executed and completely hilarious that it’s hard not to want to rewatch it immediately. Only Rick would be so paranoid as to assume that another version of himself might be trying to kill him, and only Rick would be smart enough to be kind of right about it! A second timeline split occurs and our eyes are treated to 4 versions of Rick, Morty and Summer, and it’s a complete visual and audio delight. I’ll admit I replayed these scenes quite a lot, just so that I could focus on the little differences between each timeline; it really is a treat for the eyes and such an imaginative start to a new series. Things only get more insane when an unfortunate-looking all-powerful fourth-dimensional being appears to fix time, time gets split way too many times, and a whole bunch of Ricks do a whole bunch of Rick-ish things. Whilst the audio gets a bit crazy here and you can’t quite understand everything being said, the bits you can hear are obviously chosen for their relevance, and it all works so well. My absolute favourite part of watching this insanity unfold was seeing some of the different sides to Rick in the splits. There’s a wonderful sequence in which 1 Rick sacrifices himself to save his Morty; we see that, even though it’s squashed fairly deep down, there is some goodness in Rick despite his sociopathic ways and apathetic attitude, and that he genuinely does care about Morty. Of course, this moment of quiet acceptance and sacrifice (“Be good Morty. Be better than me”) makes the following moment of realising he has a chance to live even more hilarious. It’s just a perfectly executed sequence, and hints again at the subtle character arc we’ve seen Rick go through. This glimpse at the lonely man hiding behind the genius and alcohol provide terrific insight into our hero against the backdrop of all the craziness. This is where this show really sticks out above others for me; it manages to balance the sincerity and ridiculousness, each enhanced by the other, rather than bringing them down.
Beth and Jerry’s storyline in this episode, whilst completely unrelated to the madness going on in their own garage, is comparatively dull (Beth struggles to save a deer that Jerry hit with their car) but I think is actually quite a gem. For a start, it contains one of Jerry’s best lines of the show so far, but it also provided Jerry with a much needed win, and Beth with a platform to be the slightly absurd one for once. Chris Parnell is an utterly perfect choice for Jerry and I pretty much love whenever he is on screen, but his sheer panic at potentially being caught behind the wheel of a vehicle that has just hit a deer whilst eating a rum raisin ice cream was just priceless. The storyline also helps to flesh out Beth as a character, and we can see the similarities to her father really starting to shine through. Her desperation to help this deer when she is, in fact, a horse doctor, shows a level of ego only really rivalled in the show by Rick. It’s a nice little insight into their family unit, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as a fairly down-to-Earth plot juxtaposed against the timeline-splitting assault on the senses (and I mean that in such a good way).
Overall, I thought this was an absolutely cracking start to the new series. I love that there’s clearly thought behind the bonkers ideas in this episode. It doesn’t feel like just some gimmick to get a weird-looking set up on screen; there’s work gone into this, and thought, and it’s done in such a way that only Rick and Morty can really deliver. As an opener, it did it’s job in making me chomp at the bit for episode 2. I think I might be a bit addicted…
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)