The premiere of Rick and Morty season 6 picks up right where we left off, with the citadel shattered and “Evil” Morty having achieved a hell of a victory against all Ricks.
Dan Harmon has talked about letting the younger writers take the lead this season, as his aversion to serialization has long frustrated the fanbase. And while the one-off adventures are good fun, when Rick and Morty follows through with a seed planted in earlier seasons, the results can be really thought-provoking.
Rick and Morty’s first two seasons were crackling with creative energy, and several throwaway jokes cut deep, affecting the titular two several years later. Hence, the season 6 premiere, “Solaricks,” explores the consequences of all that dimension-hopping, with the characters forced back to their universe of origin.
The episode begins with Rick, stranded in space, parodying Avengers Endgame while pretending not to know who Iron Man is. Our heroes are on the brink of death, again, but luckily, Rick cloned his own daughter – it’s Space Beth to the rescue, armed with lasers and corny one-liners. After all, what’s a Marvel parody without a cringe-inducing quip or two?
With the portal fluid sabotaged, an attempt to reset it inadvertently sends Rick, Morty and Jerry back to their original universes. Amusingly, this hard reset answers an old fan theory, a throwaway joke from the Jerry daycare from the episode “Mortynight Run,” which suggests that Rick might have carelessly swapped Morty’s dad for another. Turns out, he did!
Imposter or not, this Jerry is Morty’s dad now – it’s his third, I believe. But Morty’s “real dad” has fallen on some hard times. In his universe, Rick accidentally destroyed the world and mutated most of the population into Cronenberg-esque nightmares after trying to make Morty a love potion (Morty’s horniness always seems to spark terrible consequences).
Another throwaway joke taken to its logical conclusion, Rick and Morty were forced to bury their duplicate dead bodies in the backyard after moving to a near-identical dimension, which probably removed the last ounce of Morty’s innocence.
We last saw Morty’s original “Cronenberg” universe when he briefly brought Summer there to witness the horrifying aftermath of Rick’s experiments – Morty’s original family had become feral scavengers, and were frozen by a blast from a duplicate Rick’s ice gun.
Cronenberg Jerry might have survived being frozen in ice, but Beth and Summer didn’t. He’s a hard man now, a far cry from the pathetic person he was – he’s such a survivalist, he abandons Morty and even tries to steal his supplies.
There’s a dark joke here, as Morty is genuinely impressed by the badass his father has become. Cronenberg Jerry says, dryly, “am I cool enough for you?” It’s a simple, but heartbreaking line; Morty never respected his father until he lost everything, and became as cynical as Rick. When Morty came back to visit his old family, it was only to prove a point to Summer – it was the beginning of Morty’s understanding that infinite realities means infinite families. Some, it seems, can be discarded.
Meanwhile, Rick is stuck in his old dimension, with nothing left but the ghost of his dead wife, an AI that Rick specifically designed to endlessly haunt himself – a very “Rick” thing to do. Rick even cursed the inhabitants of his suburb to live the same day eternally, aging into confused, tortured souls. This is the kind of thing Rick does when he hits rock bottom, and the fact he bothers to pull the lever and gift them the sweet release of death surely shows some emotional growth.
Back in the normal universe, the two Beths are fighting over their defining life choice, competing for Summer’s affection. Summer being somewhat similar to Rick, she really admires Space Beth and looks up to her. But Summer also seems to appreciate her mom – Space Beth is cool and all, but as Beth points out, she doesn’t have the patience to tolerate the mind-numbing mundanity of an average life – she wouldn’t do Summer’s laundry.
As Rick aims to rescue Morty and reunite the family, he realizes that this is his chance to murder the man who killed his original family, Evil Rick, as he is trapped in the Cronenberg universe. This is the purpose that used to define Rick’s life, until he settled into his random adventures with Morty.
Interestingly, it’s revealed that Evil Rick is actually Morty’s original grandfather. Other than that little tidbit, we don’t really know much about Evil Rick, and seemingly, neither does Morty – Evil Rick abandoned his family to go do sociopathic activities, like murder Rick’s wife and child. All we know about Evil Rick is that he lacks even the ounce of empathy that some Ricks seem to have.
Hence, Rick and Morty attempt to take him down, but Evil Rick is running in circles around Rick, who’s so intent on revenge that he’s borderline suicidal. In a nice contrast, Morty shows a willingness to die for the grandpa he’s grown to love. And it can’t be denied at this point that Rick loves Morty too – he might have initially stuck with him as bait, but he’s clearly grown attached to his sort-of grandson.
So, Rick abandons his revenge quest and brings everyone back, even returning for Jerry, whose trapped in the toxic family dynamic of season 2, where everyone despises one another (which also serves as a nice reminder for how much things have changed).
In a hilarious, but oddly disturbing scene, a duplicate Jerry releases an adorable alien Rick brought home, Mr. Frundles, which transfers its consciousness across the house, then the entire planet, with terrifying speed.
Whelp, that’s the planet gone – Earth is Mr. Frundles now. Time to move to another almost identical dimension, and start over. But this time, instead of Morty being disturbed and alienated by burying his own corpse, it’s a wholesome family exercise. Morty’s brain might be broken beyond repair, but at least he and his family are damaged together.
Indeed, the Smiths have grown so much, they shrug off Rick’s attempts to emotionally distance from them. While Morty still suspects that Rick might be using him to bait Evil Rick, Rick clarifies that Evil Rick doesn’t care about Morty, at all – he doesn’t care about anyone.
Is our Rick still the Rickest Rick? I think so – a completely sociopathic Rick is not a very interesting character. It’s our Rick’s humanity that makes him so interesting, as he’s always struggling with, and suppressing, those pesky, messy feelings.
In a memorable post-credits scene, Cronenberg Jerry meets a tragic end, but goes down fighting, almost killing Evil Rick with one careful swipe. But Evil Rick’s got backups inside of backups – just like our Rick. Like “Evil” Morty, there’s surely an arc unfolding here (speaking of “Evil” Morty, did the poor kid get forced back to his own dimension?). We’ll see both of them again, no doubt.
It’s unclear if the portal fluid will be reset properly, but an entire season where Rick lacks his most potent weapon is intriguing – I’m hoping he won’t repair it until later.
Season 6 is off to a great start, with the promise that the show will build on what has come before, along with plenty of absurd, standalone adventures along the way.