This RICK AND MORTY review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 5 Episode 5
It’s not like I ask for a lot out of my favorite sci-fi sitcom. I just want there to be some sci-fi as well as some sitcom and a problem that pops up often in Rick and Morty these days is it forgets about the sitcom part. Sometimes an episode gets lost wayyyy up inside its butthole, Morty (as yammered about in the opening of last week’s review), with a sci-fi puzzle box premise that gets so convoluted it feels like you’re in the writers’ room, listening to them work out the machinations of their plot. But the more pervasive issue is that all the protagonists of this show seem to hate each other.
Sure, it makes sense that they hate each other; their obvious, escalating dysfunctionality has been on display for over four seasons now. But that doesn’t change the fact that it can get exhausting watching the Smith family chew each other out all the time. You want to find something to love, or at least root for, in a sitcom family, so it’s off-putting when the Smiths show such disdain for one another they barely seem to care whether the family they came with is the one they’re leaving with.
“Amortycan Grickfitti,” therefore, is refreshing in how the characters display a bit of heart. Yes, they also did this in “Mortyplicity” and “A Rickconvenient Mort,” but it was so brief in “Mortyplicity” that it almost felt inconsequential and so forced in “A Rickconvenient Mort” that I don’t think anybody bought the emotionality it was selling. It’s not like “Amortycan Grickfitti” is a feel-good lovefest or anything, nor does it come anywhere near plumbing the dark, emotional depths of something like a “Rick Potion #9.” Much of the episode is still dedicated to hyper-violent, carefree dispatching of background characters. Regardless, Morty, Summer, Rick, and (to a lesser extent) Beth all have believable arcs that present them as not totally irredeemable murderous sociopaths, and that’s good enough for me.
If nothing else, this series having turned all its protagonists into overpowered mass-murderers (well, maybe not Jerry) allows them to do a little bait and switch when Rick’s (also overpowered and mass-murderous) ship suggests they throw new-kid-at-school Bruce Chutback under the bus. I completely expected Summer and Morty to take the easy way out and sacrifice Bruce to the intergalactic justice system, so it was a nice surprise when they instead showed him mercy.
The Rick, Beth, and Jerry plot is mostly one big running gag about demons from Hell who find bad things good (much like “Oscar the fucking Grouch” as Rick puts it, which is one of the episode’s best jokes). This pays off at the end when Rick is forced to (through some confusing, circuitous logic) have a moment of 100% sincerity, which means he actually has to admit he, in some way, loves Jerry. I know being the lamest is Jerry’s whole jam and all, but there have been episodes where the shitting on him gets so excessive that I really do just feel bad for the guy, so a whole plot in which the moral is basically “be a little nicer to Jerry” suits me fine. It also doesn’t feel too unreal that Rick admits some love for Jerry, as, afterwards, he ensures him this will never happen again.
So, “Amortycan Grickfitti” has a solid plot that still squeezes in its fair share of sci-fi violence while not forgetting to do some decent sitcom character stuff. However, a problem it has that has been persistent this season is it’s not all that funny. There’s some decently chuckle-worthy stuff in there, most of which comes from Jerry being charmingly lame (the third time in his life that Jerry shit his pants from eating too much soup was because, “to be fair, it was cold outside and the soup was warm”). Still, nothing got a big laugh out of me.
I don’t know if it’s anything different about the way jokes are being told in these new episodes. Sometimes it feels like they’re rapid fire but not that many are all that great, like a quantity over quality situation. However, I’m willing to allow for the possibility it could just be down to me getting too familiar with the Rick and Morty comedy rhythms over four and a half seasons, so that gags have to really stand out to make me laugh. Whatever it is, I tend to find the comedic premises clever or funny in concept, but not often laugh-out-loud funny.
Season five has so far been comedically weak and the plots have been either clever yet somewhat tiresomely convoluted or just plain dumb (i.e., the last two episodes). “Amortycan Grickfitti” is still not consistently funny, but it’s well-plotted and it finds time to give the characters decent arcs. In other words, it’s the most solid episode of season five so far.