This Rick and Morty review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 4 Episode 4
There’s an argument to be made that Rick and Morty shouldn’t have any magic in it. It’s a sci-fi show so all impossible happenings should be the product of a cartoonish, bastardized idea of science, and the introduction of magic conflicts with that and breaks the show’s rules.
On the other hand, Rick and Morty plays fast and loose with the rules of its world already. Rick regularly mentions that they’re on a TV show. The first season pitted Summer and Rick against the Devil himself, opening up the possibility that there’s an afterlife. Also, they’ve already dabbled in magic; the previous episode featured some kind of alien pharaoh’s curse.
Though I would be of the camp that prefers a series to define its fictional boundaries and then stay within them, the Rick and Morty team clearly doesn’t share my sentiment. To at this point suggest they need to get their act together, nail down some rules, and treat their multiverse with respect would essentially be asking for a completely different show. Also, one could argue that, in a multiverse of endless realities, ones where magic exist is actually completely in line with the series’ core conceit.
This is all a roundabout way of saying that I very much enjoyed the unapologetically ridiculous “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty,” an episode about magic, wizards, talking cats, and dragon soul orgies.
To note up front: this is not a deep Rick and Morty episode. The fourth season has been thus far mostly one of spectacle and gags, with character development and emotional moments pushed aside in pursuit of more spectacle and gaggery. I prefer my Rick and Morty with more drama and character exploration, but when an episode makes me laugh as much as this one did, I can hardly call it unsuccessful. This may be a gag plot, but it’s a gag plot done well.
Something the story of “Claw and Hoarder” has over some of the other episodes of this season (the previous one being the most obvious example) is that it never gets so absurdly complex it takes time away from the jokes. Not to worry, the plot is still completely insane, escalating in increasingly bizarre ways you’ll never see coming. But after the main conflict is established—Rick, Morty, and Summer must save a dragon’s life because Rick soul-bounded with the dragon so if the dragon dies, Rick dies—very little further complexity is added. Everything else is just absurdist garnish.
There is also a charming B-plot about Jerry going to Florida with a talking cat that tells him what to do. Jerry is a sad sack guy in the Jon Arbuckle tradition, and it feels immediately right and funny to see him getting bossed around by a cat who talks just the way Garfield does (i.e., you hear its voice but its mouth never moves). The cat’s charm is elevated by Matthew Broderick voicing it and giving it a calm, neutral demeanor.
That these plots still result in lots of insane imagery and a scene where Rick, Summer, and Morty have a soul orgy with a bunch of dragons (yikes) but still remain easy to follow means there’s time for more jokes and less confusing plot distractions to keep me from laughing at jokes.
A lot of good stuff comes from Rick mocking magic and dragons (“I will take you down like the blacklight poster you are”). Summer is also a welcome inclusion here, acting as the straight man to snark on Rick and Morty’s antics. And, yeah, at some point a lot of the humor relies on how funny you think someone (mostly a wizard voiced by Dan Harmon) saying the word “slut” a lot is and, well, I found it pretty funny (though, as it was with the season premiere, the amount of bleeped cursing is starting to feel like a crutch that detracts from the comedy).
“Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” is a purposefully, aggressively dumb episode, but a successfully very funny one, so there’s not much to complain about. Also, the dovetailing of Jerry’s plot with Rick’s dragon business works nicely and, though it’s not much, there’s a bittersweet nugget of character information snuck in at the end when Rick chooses to take in more knowledge about reality’s horrors, but wipes Jerry’s memory so he can remain a blissful simpleton. So, in summary, dragon orgies, and then a nice little character tag at the end. I’ll take it.
Joe Matar watches a lot of cartoons and a lot of sitcoms. He’s obsessed with story structure so that’s what all his reviews are about. Joe also writes about video games on occasion. He has an MA in English if you can believe it. Read more of his work here. Follow Joe on Twitter for more fun @joespirational!