In Rick & Morty the subtext IS the show.
Nowhere is this more evident than the recent S3E7 episode “The Ricklantis Mixup”. This episode promises to take us on self contained adventure to Atlantis and immediately drops that promise on the floor. Instead delivering us into several ‘day in the life’ threads from the recently liberated Citadel of Ricks. There are several stories here, From a group of disenfranchised school children who go looking for the magical wishing portal, a la “Stand By Me”. To a “Training day” esque. story of a beat cop on the take of the local crime syndicate trying to push his rookie partner to accept the status quo. Those tale’s were all pretty amazing but not the one I want to talk about today.
This one is just stupid good. And it is a testament to Dan & Justin’s art that only upon reflection do you realize you’ve just watched what is essentially a clip show sans flashbacks. What an amazing concept to have an entire city made of two people. To recap the Citadel is a massive city sized space station made of all the Ricks’ & Mortys’ across the multiverse that have decided to take up common cause. They struck some sort of pact to work together and the city is the result of their labor. But as happens all too often in life what looks good on paper can cause trauma and heartbreak in practice. These little details are swept under the rug by those who hold power to uphold the illusion of a functioning system. Thus is the basis for much of our human existence not to mention this episode. Maybe it’s Rick who summarizes it best when he says “Whoever is still exploring the citadel, is either stupid, or one of the unfortunate millions held hostage by their terrible ideas.”
But wait Jim, Didn’t you just say they were set free?
That’s true, Back in S3E1 Rick C137 transported the entire citadel into the middle of an alien prison. This resulted in the murder of all council members along with many of the city’s citizens essentially setting the city free. But freedom is not as simple of a concept as we would like to believe. The power vacuum always gets filled and there is never a guarantee that it will be filled by a benevolent leadership. This takes us to the main thread of this story. With the council’s elimination the city becomes Democratic. It’s election season in the Citadel, and the candidate’s are unremarkably similar. (sound familiar?) They are especially so in this scenario being all the same person, all Ricks’, and all too willing to tell the public exactly what they want to hear.
They are all this way except for one. There is one candidate that stands out. The Morty party candidate.
Quickly voted “Most adorable” by the Rick pundits it’s clear that he is not taken seriously, even by his Campaign Manager. But after a barn buster of a speech during a publicized debate about class warfare the and divisive tactics being waged on both Ricks’ & Mortys’ alike it’s also clear that he is the dark horse underdog. Candidate Morty promptly fires Campaign Manager Morty. Who, now depressed, finds himself drinking his woes away in a shady dive bar when a shadowy anonymous Rick hands him a dossier full of incriminating evidence against his former employer. Distressed by this information CM Morty tries to assassinate the Candidate, shooting him in the chest in broad daylight with hundreds of witnesses.
The next we see Candidate Morty he is now President Morty. Having miraculously survived his assassination attempt, along with miraculously surviving his election. His true nature is immediately apparent. We have seen this Morty before. He is the only Morty with that much certainty, cunning, and confidence. He is the only Morty that never stutters. He’s the only Morty that can stand up to a Rick’s sheer intelligence not to mention force of will. That’s right.. Cue the Blonde Redheads. Evil Morty is Back!
This is literary genius, Not only was his character played perfectly but it has been so long since we last saw him that I never thought for a second that it could actually be Evil Morty until I heard that song. This story arc is shaping up to be the protagonist/nemesis dynamic that defines the series. He is easily the most dangerous and cunning villain the C137 duo have faced yet. Add to that the fact that C137 Rick & Morty have been sloppy with their game recently and you end up with a pending cage match that will showcase exactly what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.
Not much more to say except that the political aspect of this episode really hit home for me. The hopelessness of the Citadel residents, trapped in a prison of their own creation. The way Ricks’ inevitably stereotype, manipulate, ostracize or flat out use their peers, who are not alike to them but literally ARE them. The utopia illusion, forever close yet forever out of reach. All too bleak.. all too real..
But.. wanting to write about it made me start this blog so maybe a silver lining after all 😀
9/10 (would be a 10/10 but I’m holding out to see if the end of the story arc is a better episode.)