This RICK AND MORTY review contains spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 6 Episode 9
Continuing the trend from last week, this is another episode about something painfully dumb being used as a vehicle for character development. Last time, it was piss which helped Rick learn about selflessness and avoiding unnecessary conflict. This time, we’ve moved onto the only logical topic to cover after piss: cutting off dicks. And this concept of dick severance is the framing for a story in which Rick tries to be more supportive and nicer to Morty. Like, genuinely!
Let’s note up front that, without the milestone of Rick being truly, openly kind to Morty, “A Rick in King Mortur’s Mort” would be a slight, silly episode. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode, because it’s quite consistently funny. It’s just one of those Rick and Mortys where our heroes are dealing with a stupid situation that they know is stupid; they’ve resigned themselves to having to handle it, but it feels like a hassle they need to tidy up, rather than an actual problem. In other words, this is one of those episodes where Rick and Morty, who are sci-fi guys, cross paths with fantasy guys, so, like the dragon episode before it, everything is presented with an air of detachment.
“Analyze Piss” may have sunk to just as dumb depths with its piss-focused plot, but it also pulled off an effectively dark and sad scene with the Pissmaster’s suicide. In contrast, “A Rick in King Mortur’s Mort” never really tries to rise above its flippant tone. Rick and Morty find these dumb fantasy dudes and their wiener-chopping ceremonies annoying and the episode seems to regard them that way too from start to finish. Ironically, the stakes are significantly higher in this episode compared to the last, as it turns out this reliance on penis detachment is linked to the entire balance of the solar system. Still, the point is it’s all presented as much ado about nothing. The episode never deviates from its goofy tone and makes no attempt at one of those emotional gut-punches the series is sometimes known for.
However, what it does do is have Rick be nice to Morty. He states he’s going to be nice to Morty, reaffirms that that’s what he’s doing, and then does just that! The story manages to ride a bit of tension throughout by subverting our expectations. Morty stands in for the audience by, at various points, questioning why Rick’s doing this, why he hasn’t chewed him out yet, and whether this isn’t another vat-of-acid-type setup. We keep waiting for the hammer to fall, waiting for the big reveal that Rick is as prickish as ever and is setting Morty up to screw him over later to teach him some kind of lesson… but it never comes! It’s like the opposite of “The Vat of Acid Episode;” the twist is that there’s no twist, which makes for a novel development for Rick’s character.
“A Rick in King Mortur’s Mort” is a very silly episode about very silly fantasy people doing very silly things to their penises. While some of it is funny, the plot feels sort of irrelevant except as a vehicle for the real standout feature of this episode: Rick saying he’s going to try to be nicer to Morty and then, incredibly, doing exactly that. Though the series lost sight of him for a while, this version of Rick has always been in there. For example, way back in season one’s “Meeseeks and Destroy,” Morty, against Rick’s wishes, goes on a fantasy adventure, only to get in over his head, but Rick helps him out without judging him for it. “A Rick in King Mortur’s Mort” might not be up to the level of that iconic episode, but it still works nicely as a belated companion piece.