This RICK AND MORTY review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 6 Episode 7
With a lead character who regularly makes clear his awareness he’s on a TV show, Rick and Morty is always plenty meta, but it’s not even a minute into “Full Meta Jackrick” that things get even more meta than usual. And if this hyper-meta-ness feels familiar, it’s because this episode is a sequel to the other most meta episode ever, season four’s “Never Ricking Morty.” Yes, this time the Story Lord from the Story Train has made it out of the fictional world and into the metaverse—oh, uh, wait, we can’t call it that—the meta-reality.
Like the Story Train episode before it, this means a story about stories, replete with cutaways to other story concepts, literal manifestations of storytelling devices, and loads of overt references to creator Dan Harmon’s writing process. If you thought “Never Ricking Morty” was brilliant, you’ll probably feel similarly about “Full Meta Jackrick”. However, if you found the events on the Story Train exhausting and not very funny, well, come along with me!
Perhaps we’re hitting critical mass on stories that are self-aware they’re stories. People seem to be getting sick of that brand of dialogue that’s seemingly become the norm for Marvel movies, Netflix shows, and even the Star Wars universe, where characters comment on the absurdity of their situation, much like they’re audiences to their own conflict. (This is more commonly known as the Whedonization of media.)
Rick often employs meta dialogue like this quite a lot in general, acknowledging a premise is hokey, tired, or tedious, but, in an episode where the focus is the meta-ness, it stands out all the more. He condemns the whole thrust of the episode as “not a likable premise.” The problem with this kind of dialogue is you have to disagree with Rick to find what he’s saying funny. If you agree with him, well, you just don’t find it likable. Just because the premise knows it sucks, that doesn’t mean the sucking is neutralized.
Not that I think the Rick and Morty writers are so basic that they think this is how it works; they’re just covering all their self-aware bases. They also have the character Previous Leon counter Rick’s dismissal of all the “pointless, self-aware bullshit” with “It’s not pointless; it’s cool!” In this way, all sides of the “is this meta bullshit worth a damn anymore?” debate are represented… even mine! Rick at one point calls the episode “a bunch of groan-inducing wordplay for seven TV critics who won’t even enjoy it.” I feel seen!
The last time they went meta-balls-to-the-wall like this, I found it tiresome and alienating and it was much the same here. Sure, some of the concepts are undeniably clever, like the character of
Brett Rhett Con, who possesses the ability to retcon, instantly changing his name when Morty points out the stupidity of it. But, overall, the comedic premises are so overwrought it feels less like you’re being told jokes and more like you’re having them explained to you. As for the story being alienating, I have some understanding of Dan Harmon’s writing process and how he uses a story circle based on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth to craft his plots, but there was still some stuff that went over my head. For someone who knows nothing about how Harmon writes, it seems like it’d be awfully hard to enjoy “Full Meta Jackrick” at all. What is this “refusal of the call” bullshit they’re yammering about? How many viewers have even heard of Joseph Campbell?
“Full Meta Jackrick” is certainly clever, though not much fun to watch. I didn’t dislike it as much as the Story Train episode, at any rate, or maybe I just think that because this season has built up some good will by being pretty solid so far. What it comes down to is I found this episode’s predecessor, “Never Ricking Morty,” tiresome and alienating and, though I felt similarly towards “Full Meta Jackrick,” it was at least readily identifiable as a sequel to all that Story Train mishegoss. So, although I didn’t much enjoy myself, I figured, well, looks like Dan Harmon needed to get another one of these out of his system, but things should hopefully get back on track next week.