How Has Rick & Morty Fluffed Season Fives Landing This Badly

How Has Rick & Morty Fluffed Season Five’s Landing This Badly?

It all started so well…

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How Has Rick & Morty Fluffed Season Fives Landing This Badly

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Back when Rick & Morty season five first premiered, I described the opener as being like a whole season in a single episode, and despite the disappointment of season four, my hopes remained sky high. The first episode had all the interconnected storytelling, mix of wacky adventures, and meaningful heart the previous season had lacked, and set the table brilliantly for what was to come. Unfortunately, all future episodes decided to Get Schwifty, by which I mean they took a shit on the floor.

Okay, so that’s a little harsh. The second episode, Mortyplicity, was fantastic too, and even prompted me to write a – now clearly premature – article on how season five was the show back to its best. Put simply, I jinxed it. Episodes three and five were decent without being all that interesting or funny, six was solid but probably needed another rewrite or two, and seven – the most recent – finally gets the show back to form in the parody department, but falls down everywhere else. Episode four meanwhile is the worst in the show’s history, with it repeatedly giving into its worst impulses.

I’m not sure where this season stands amongst the rest of them. Clearly, it and season four are fighting for last place, but season four’s lows aren’t as bad as Rickdependence Spray, while season five lacks a Rattlestar Ricklactica-level episode to haul it out of last place. However, I don’t want to consign it to the bottom of the pile while it still has three episodes to run, so for now let’s say its official – well, my official – ranking is TBC, but that the first three places are closed off.

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How Has Rick & Morty Fluffed Season Fives Landing This Badly

The problem with discussing this, as is the problem with every discussion about Rick & Morty, is the fanbase. If you thought they were obnoxious when they liked the show, wait until you see them when they hate it. For a lot of people, Rick & Morty was not just a show they ‘liked’ either. There were riots over a limited edition Mulan sauce because Rick mentioned it in a bit – a lot of people cared about this show more than is probably healthy. When it’s doing well, that relationship is unhealthy. When it starts to tank, though, it becomes downright toxic.

This is why I’m reluctant to jump in with both feet on ‘Rick & Morty sucks!’. Firstly, it doesn’t – it’s still funny and watchable television even if The Ricklantis Mixup seems beyond it. But also, yelling about Rick & Morty being awful is basically just throwing your voice in with the worst of the fanbase. The common criticism is that the writers have gotten lazy, which ironically is a lazy criticism in itself. It’s something we see in game development too; any fault with any piece of media lies with the schmucks who made it not working hard enough.

How Has Rick & Morty Fluffed Season Fives Landing This Badly

However, there are some details behind the scenes that could point to a downturn in the show’s quality. After season three, it was handed a huge 70-episode renewal. This number wasn’t random, it was the number of episodes it needed to make to qualify for syndication. But at that stage, the show had put out 31 episodes. How many shows do you know that get renewed three seasons in for more than double their current output? Especially animated shows, which typically take longer to produce than live-action ones.

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Added to that, Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland – who also voices both Rick and Morty – has been busy on his other show, Solar Opposites, which has produced 20 episodes in the last two years and is due for another ten in both 2022 and 2023. It’s not so much laziness as it might be being overworked – if that’s the case, there’s another parallel with games development.

Being renewed up to the point of eventual syndication when you’re only 31 episodes in also brings huge pressure. Rick & Morty has always been touted as a show that can do anything – it exists in multiple dimensions with infinite possibilities, and can explore those possibilities freely, even when it mainly stays with our C-137 universe leads. But being told to prove these infinite possibilities over and over again for 70 episodes without the freedom to wrap it up and move on brings restrictions of its own.

These infinite possibilities also introduce a unique problem. Whenever somebody acts out of character, or an episode goes off the rails, fans are quick to suggest the episode we just saw wasn’t a C-137 episode. In layman’s terms, it’s non-canon. It doesn’t count.

Season five has struggled with this idea. Episode one is obviously C-137, since it references past C-137 occurrences and both the Morty-Jessica and Beth-Jerry relationship are part of the C-137 dimension. Episode two, meanwhile, begins in C-137, then hops dimensions. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The episodes don’t feel connected, nor do they have any consequences or growth. The get out of jail card is that this isn’t C-137, or is multiple different dimensions, or is the origin of Evil Morty. Most recently, however, episode seven brings back episode four’s Giant Incest Baby and specifically references C-137, so that theory is out.

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Turns out, there’s no hidden mystery. Season five just isn’t as good. A combination of syndication pressure plus the show struggling under its own tropes – possibly mixed with Solar Opposites – means Rick & Morty just isn’t what it used to be. I look forward to the false dawn of the season six premiere in a couple of years.

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