Everyone’s favorite grandfather/grandson sci-fi duo came back for a fourth season. This time they adventures include Morty trying to ensure a life with Jessica, Rick getting revenge after someone used his toilet, Rick and Morty going on a heist, the pair getting trapped in a story train, and two adventures involving time travel.
Rick and Morty was a show that quickly earned a cult audience. It managed to have broad comedy, dark humor, a philosophical edge, and moments of emotional weight. The first three seasons were great, and it is a contender to be one of the best adult animated shows. However, the fourth season offered up more misses than usual.
The fourth season was split into two halves. The first half had more of the duds and there was a sense of lacking when watching. The episode “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” earned a reputation of being the worst episode the series has ever produced. That episode saw Morty getting a dragon, but the dragon gets attached to Rick. This episode took Rick and Morty into fantasy direction, centered around a giant sex joke, and had a rushed conclusion. But this episode doesn’t deserve this reputation – it wasn’t even the worst episode of the season. “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” at least had some funny jokes.
“The Old Man and the Seat,” and “Promortyus” were the worst offerings. “The Old Man and the Seat” was the episode where Rick gets revenge against someone who used his private toilet. The concept was funny because it shows how pity Rick can be, but it was enough to sustain a whole episode and the writers tried to force a poignant ending wasn’t earned. “Promortyus” was even worst. That episode started decently enough with a cold opening, but it suffered from a terrible combination of rambling deliveries and jokes that were intended to shock.
Even some episodes I really liked had problems. “Rattlestar Ricklattca” was a hilarious parody of The Terminator franchise and it was a way for the showrunners to disprove a theory that Rick was really an older Morty. But the episode was formulaic and seem to ignore some of Morty’s character development from the previous seasons because in this episode he tried to do the right thing but made things a lot worst. Season Three’s Morty was shown to be developing a dark side, but this was ignored in “Rattlestar Ricklattca.” The episode made up for this with the insanity of snakes re-enacting The Terminator and brings back the Testicle Monsters.
“The Vat of Acid Episode” also set out to disprove the use of time travel as a plot device. In that episode, Morty gets a device that can save certain points in time and allowed Morty to live life without consequences. But the episode had a dark reveal that only Rick and Morty could do.
The second half of the season was a lot better than the first. There was more consistency, ambition, and felt like the show that people fell in love with. The second half had two of the best episodes of the season: “Never Ricking Morty” and “The Vat of Acid Episode.” “Never Ricking Morty” was this season’s version of “Interdimensional Cable” and “Morty’s Mind Blowers” because like those episodes there were centered around clips. “Never Ricking Morty” was the most meta-episode in the show’s run because it broke down various writing tropes, the Hero’s Journey structure, and screwed with fans by erasing potential story ideas.
“The Vat of Acid Episode” had one of the best sequences in the show’s run. This was a montage where Morty got to act out his darker fantasies and he falls in love. It was this type of invention that helped Rick and Morty stand out as a show.
Even episodes that were more formulaic: i.e. “Childrick of Mort” and “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri”, they kept the family dynamic. “Childrick of Mort” was about the family going a camping trip to another planet and it was split into three adventures. Rick and Beth bond when building a society, Morty and Summer think they can survive in the wilds, and Jerry gets abandoned by his family. “Star Mort” was the season finale and saw the family having to work together to stop the Galactic Federation and explored the relationship between Rick and his daughter.
The first half of the fourth season was a big stumble for Rick and Morty, but it does improve a lot it the season half.