Review: ‘Rick and Morty’ Season Four starts rocky, saved in the final five episodes

Highlights and a synopsis of the highly anticipated fourth season of the late night sci-fi comedy.

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Hailee Schievelbein

Illustration by Hailee Schievelbein

Norah Kleven

The fourth season of Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty” came to a close on Sunday night. 

The animated adult comedy revolves around the Smith family and the intergalactic adventures of grandfather and grandson duo Rick and Morty. 

At the beginning of the season, fans saw a new dynamic within the Smith household: Rick’s daughter, Beth, and her husband, Jerry, are working on their marriage, leaving Rick with less power in the household. However, by the end of the season, Jerry returns to his seasonslong role as a verbal punching bag. 

The first half of the season seemed to be grasping at the success of previous seasons, confusing comedy with over-the-top innuendos.

But, by the final episodes of the season, Rick and Morty were back to their classic adventures, reminiscent of earlier seasons.

The first five episodes of the season saw Rick and Morty hunting for death crystals, soul bonding with dragons, taking part in intergalactic heists and fighting off space snakes who try to invade planet Earth. There were poop jokes galore, with an entire episode dedicated to depicting a kingdom that Rick built for his porcelain throne.

Writers continued blurring the lines of reality, especially in the later half of the season. The episodes used mind-bending plot lines, leaving viewers unsure of what and who was real at the end of the 20-minute episodes.

A defining characteristic of this season was its use of meta commentary, which, until this season, hadn’t been used by the writers of the show. It often felt as though writers were addressing the audience, with Rick and Morty as their medium. And in typical Rick and Morty fashion, there was no shortage of social commentary, touching on modern dating culture, religion, political ideology and more. 

A refreshing element to this season was an added touch of humanity to Rick’s character, who is a notoriously nihilistic drunk. In the final episode, Rick reckons with his perceived failure as a father, and, earlier in the season, he makes a friend. 

Though Morty and his sister Summer maintain their characters, it is clear that both are maturing — Morty is becoming more confident, and Summer becomes more competent on adventures, fending for herself when she is forgotten by Rick and Morty on a planet inhabited by aliens called Glorzos. 

Perhaps the most surprising plot of the season was in the season finale. Writers resurrected a plot from season three’s “ABCs of Beth” in which Rick offered to make Beth a clone who could stay home and perform her motherly duties while the real Beth roamed the galaxy. In this episode, a version of Beth — who may or may not be a clone — returns to Earth. 

This episode is one of the few in which Rick is not in control of the situation, and it seems as though he might actually die this time. Jerry comes to save the family with his puppeteering skills in one of his scarce but ever-satisfying heroic moments. The mystery of who the real Beth is could drag into another season. 

But, where will writers go from here and how long until Rick and Morty hits the airwaves again? As Rick might say, that is about as uncertain as uncertainty itself. 

Grade: B+