When it comes to season finales, most TV shows are hit-or-miss. More often than not, we get more misses than hits. That’s to be expected. Capping off a season of any show, no matter how acclaimed or celebrated it might be, is exceedingly hard. There’s bound to be a sizable portion of fans who don’t care for it.
When a finale does turn out to be a hit, though, it’s all the more precious. Most of us can count on one hand how many genuinely incredible finales we’ve seen over the years. Some shows are better at it than others and even they’re not always consistent.
Then, there’s “Rick and Morty.” Between its colorful fanbase and unique approach to adult animation, it’s one of those rare shows that dares to raise the bar in unexpected ways. It can be obscenely absurd one minute and genuinely heartfelt the next. You just don’t know what you’re going to get, but you often find yourself wanting more.
I’ve praised this show before for is eclectic insights on everything from romance to nihilism. I’ll probably praise it again in the future for its uncanny ability to raise the bar for absurdity, insight, and pickle-based humor. I consider myself a big fan of the show and the events of Season 5 only made me a bigger fan.
Now, I know I haven’t touched on “Rick and Morty” that much since Season 5 began. A while back, I did post my overall reaction to the Season 4 finale and the intrigue it offered. The underlying theme of that season seemed to revolve around Rick gradually losing control over his family and his ability to manipulate Beth, Morty, Summer, and even Jerry.
Relative to previous seasons, this was a major shift. For the first three seasons of the show, we got used to seeing Rick being nigh-invincible in his ability to control a situation. It seemed like nothing anyone did, including his family, could hope to escape is influence.
Then, after Jerry came back into the picture, it seemed to unravel. We saw Rick becoming more and more vulnerable. He could no longer hold his own against big time threats. It all came to ahead when Space Beth returned in “Star Mort: Rickturn of the Jerri.” This episode established clearly that Rick, as brilliant and capable as he is, cannot handle everything by himself.
While I thought that finale was good, I didn’t think it was great, especially compared to the dramatic finale we got at the end of Season 2. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the Season 5 finale. That’s the main reason why I didn’t speculate on it or post my reactions to the various episodes leading up to it.
I was tempted. Believe me.
This season had some incredibly memorable episodes. Between giant incest babies and replicants, “Rick and Morty” once again pushed the envelope, as only it could. However, it was the finale that made this season one of the most memorable to date. A big part of what made it so impactful was how it finally confirmed the details of Rick’s backstory.
It played out in a recorded memory that had some elements from “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” but we were led to believe that was mostly fabricated. Now, we know the truth and it’s actually a lot more tragic than we thought.
In case you haven’t seen it, here is what Morty saw of Rick’s story when it played out in his mind.
There’s no way around it. This revelation about Rick’s history has a lot of implications. Suddenly, Rick’s behavior and outlook on life throughout the course of this show has a whole new context to it. This is one of those scenes that can completely change the way you watch previous episodes.
Now, we know what makes this Rick, also known as Rick C-137, unique within a vast multiverse full of Ricks. He was once similar to the many Ricks like him. He was a super-genius capable of creating his portal gun to traverse the multiverse. Many other Ricks walked this same path.
Then, another Rick entered the picture. He offers him a chance to join other Ricks, explore the multiverse, and become godlike in his abilities. However, he rejects that offer, choosing instead to remain close to his wife and daughter. That’s not a trivial decision in the grand scheme of things.
The bigger picture implies that no other Rick has walked this path. They all freely abandon their families and their home universe in order to join this unique segment of the multiverse where they reign supreme. Together, these Ricks ensure that they remain at the top of the pecking order.
Then, this one Rick dares to defy that.
He dares to go against what everyone else does.
Unfortunately, he pays a price for that choice. It costs him his family.
Once again, we see a more emotional side of Rick. We see that this version of Rick that we’ve been following since Season One really did love his family. He really did opt to eschew the multiverse in exchange for a simple life with Beth and Diane. However, the rest of the Ricks couldn’t have that.
It leaves him broken, angry, jaded, and driven. Suddenly, his animosity towards other Ricks and the role he played in various interstellar wars has greater meaning. The same could be said with the general callousness and reckless disregard he often displays towards Morty and his family.
It’s not that he doesn’t care on some levels. The flashbacks make clear that he clearly does. However, no matter how much or how little he cares, they’re not the same as the family he lost. He never even found the Rick who killed them. It’s easy to see how that could break a man, even one as smart and capable as Rick Sanchez.
On top of how this re-contextualizes everything that has happened in the past, it has larger implications for the future. The finale ended with Morty opting to help his Rick and reject “evil” Morty’s offer to join him in venturing to a part of the multiverse where Rick isn’t the smartest being. It’s eerily similar to the decision Rick himself made, choosing his family over a chance at greater power.
This effectively gives new importance to Rick and Morty’s connection. Back in Season One, we’re led to believe Rick only hangs around Morty because Morty’s brainwaves block Rick’s from the various other multiverse threats that constantly seek him out. That might have been true to some extent, but this flashback offers greater insight into why he’s such a threat.
Whereas Season 4 made clear that Rick is vulnerable when he has nobody supporting him, Season 5 also makes clear that he’s still capable of so much chaos. After losing his family, he will cross lines that even other Ricks won’t cross. He’s willing to hurt himself and others to get what he wants because he’s already lost everything.
This opens the door for many more upheavals in future seasons. The Rick who killed his family is still out there. “Evil” Morty is now in a part of the multiverse where beings stronger than Rick exist. What happens if one of those beings finds their way back to Rick? What happens if “Evil” Morty is further broken by his journey?
I keep putting “Evil” Morty in quotes because this finale also accomplished something critical in that part of story. At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to call this Morty evil. He’s just sick of Rick and sick of living in a universe where he’s constantly manipulated by Ricks like him. All he wants to do is escape. If that means sacrificing other Ricks and Mortys in the process, so be it.
That final scene is ominous, but intriguing in so many ways. It leads me to wonder where this will take Rick in his never-ending struggle to maintain what little control he has over is world, his family, and all those around him. This finale reminded us that, despite all his genius and know-how, he tends to lose control easily. When he has no support from Morty or his family, losing control seems inevitable.
Even with all these revelations, Rick is still an asshole. There’s no getting around that. However, he’s now an asshole we can understand on a level that wasn’t possible until this finale. His various struggles and myriad of issues are far from over.
I has left me more excited and intrigued for the future of “Rick and Morty” than ever before. I know it may be a while before we get any details on Season 6, but after this finale, I’m willing to be patient.
To everyone else out there who saw the finale and Rick’s confirmed backstory, what do you think? How do you see Rick and Morty’s story playing out from here? Let me know in the comments.
Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!