This RICK AND MORTY review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 4 Episode 9
It was starting to get noticeable and a little weird that the rest of the Smith family have been largely absent for much of season four. Except for the occasional glimpse into what’s going on back at Morty’s house, usually to fire off a joke or two at Jerry’s expense, it feels like the grounded, sitcom half of Rick and Morty has been all but abandoned in favor of going hard on the sci-fi rigmarole. Summer gets included on adventures more than Beth or Jerry, but we haven’t seen that much of her regardless. She had a pivotal role two episodes ago in “Promortyus,” but she was only actually in it for the back half, a good lot of which was spent flashbacking to what had happened to Rick and Morty.
It’s therefore nice that “Childrick of Mort” gets the whole family involved by setting them off on a camping trip that quickly goes sci-fi awry. What’s less nice is almost everything else because it’s all pretty underwhelming.
As someone who keeps insisting this show’s problem is that it’s started getting dull watching two overpowered protagonists nonchalantly sci-fi destroy all obstacles that dare cross their paths, I really wanted to like this episode, which features precious little of what I usually complain about. Bringing the rest of the family in should, in theory, handily do away with Rick and Morty’s core problems. The titular characters might be too powerful and jaded for any conflict to meaningfully trip them up, but Beth, Jerry, and Summer still have plenty of room to grow, right? Unfortunately, in “Childrick of Mort,” they don’t.
I’m charmed by the basic premise of pairing up Summer and Morty and Rick and Beth the way this episode does. Morty is understandably fed up with Rick these days and their relationship is marked by acerbity, but here, teamed with Summer, Morty’s multiverse-weary attitude takes a backseat and he actually sort of acts like a little brother, mostly deferring to his sister, which is a rare and sweet dynamic for the series to showcase. It’s also nice to see Beth and Rick doing stuff together because it’s nice to see Beth doing anything at all. Jerry goes off and gets into some nonsense on his own, which is par for the course for Jerry.
However, highlighting typically neglected characters though this episode does, it doesn’t do anything interesting with them. We already know Beth is starved for fatherly approval from Rick and that dynamic hasn’t shifted one way or the other by episode’s end. Summer and Morty’s plot, though somewhat charming, is the thinnest one and is largely just an extended gag about Summer huffing brake fluid and a plot contrivance to save Rick in the eleventh hour of his storyline (though I have no problem with the plot contrivance; it works fine). And Jerry is still just a petty loser, grasping at whatever he can to feel a sense of authority.
I wouldn’t care so much that we didn’t get any character development, but I also barely laughed. The premises here just don’t provide a solid foundation for laugh-out-loud stuff. Like, I get that there were a whole lot of jokes about jobs packed into the sequence of Rick and Beth talking about how their whole clay-people-job-factory thing works, but while it was all clever enough, I can’t point to any lines that stood out as particularly funny (if nothing else, factory-worker Beth is sexy). Rick and that Zeus guy smack-talking at each other seems like it was meant to be a big joke sequence, but it was all ho-hum. Summer and Morty were the funniest, but the only time I actually laughed was near the end when Morty says, “We played video games and got high, we did wrong!” And Rick saying “getting high and playing video games is the best” is both funny and true.
With the whole Smith family involved, “Childrick of Mort” is a welcome change of pace after a bunch of sometimes-samey, Rick-and-Morty-centric episodes, but only on the most basic of levels because it’s kind of mediocre. A lot of crazy crap happens, as is Rick and Morty’s wont, but a lack of standout jokes or interesting character moments renders the proceedings mundane. I didn’t find “Childrick of Mort” tiresome like I did “Never Ricking Morty.” It’s just whatever.
Also, I know he’s a douche and Summer was proven right about him, but I still felt bad for Jerry and wish she had apologized to him. They’re always so mean to poor, stupid Jerry.