TV review: Layers of irony in ‘Never Ricking Morty’ derail narration, criticize show’s fanbase – Daily Bruin

Posted: May 6, 2020 at 7:51 pm


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Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Never Ricking Morty puts the meta to the metal.

Returning after an unusual four-month hiatus, the latter half of the shows fourth season debuted Sunday night. The first episode, Never Ricking Morty, introduces itself as an intergalactic train caper before derailing itself into a series of split-off, meta storylines based on the trains passengers with varying degrees of success. The train, a literal narrative device, is a promising premise that quickly turns tedious as the metacommentary becomes more concerned with pettiness than insightfulness.

With the fourth wall reduced to rubble, the episode reads as a petulant middle finger to Rick and Morty fans a warning sign that the show has parodied itself beyond recognition.

Never Ricking Morty begins deceptively like any other episode. Passengers recount brushes with Rick Sanchez such as bizarre Christmas stories filled with evil lairs, third buttcheeks and embarrassing family dinners. Unbeknownst to them, however, a disguised Rick slips through the train to meet his grandson Morty before being accosted by a pectorally gifted ticket inspector.

Shattering the window with gas containers of Continuity, Rick and Morty watch as the inspector is bloodily bisected and sucked into space. Meanwhile, the overhead speaker warns that the train is losing continuity due to the breach the first event in the episode that actually matters.

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None of the scenes leading up to this point are particularly important, a fact Rick is smugly aware of, as he says, stupid vignettes, imagine if thatd been the whole thing! in response to the passengers stories. And as the episode cuts away to an absurd amount of vignettes, it becomes clear that this schtick is indeed the whole thing. Creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland weaponize the meta nature of the storylines not to advance a character arc or provide meaningful growth, but to continuously one-up viewers with each added layer of irony.

However, from a world building standpoint, the meta elements are used to monumental effect. After both literally and symbolically breaking the Continuity of the story, Rick and Morty discover the trains path converges in an infinite loop meaning their stories will never stop unless they infiltrate the engine room and halt the train. The episode cleverly references classic story structures, like Rick crossing the threshold from Joseph Campbells The Heros Journey, to delineate the path the duo are expected to follow, heightening the stakes when they ultimately defy it.

But the shows world building has rarely been the issue. Atop the train, Rick asks Morty to think of a story that satisfies the Bechdel test a clear nod to criticism the show has sustained over questionable portrayals of women and male-dominated writing rooms.

Instead of using the episode to redress these issues constructively, Mortys narrative involves his mother and sister Summer discussing their periods and fighting bow-clad scorpions by shooting lasers out of their vaginas. Somehow, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes involved, dismissively referred to as that judge lady. Yes, Morty is a dim-witted, idiotic teenage boy but his characterization shouldnt be used as an excuse to double down on the sexist tropes the show been criticized for in the past.

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After Mortys story satisfies the Bechdel test, the pair reach the engine room and encounter the Story Lord, the trains impossibly buff captain. He straps them to a machine in an attempt to break the fifth wall, hurriedly pushing buttons to control levels of Narrative Energy, Marketability, Broad Appeal and Relatability.

Again, the world building of the control panels design executes the meta narrative far more successfully than Ricks pointed remarks at the fanbase and insufferable omniscience. As Rick and Morty shift in and out of scenes with Birdperson musicals and Abradolf Lincler, the trains controls remind viewers of the precarious balance between artistry and carefully manicured optics that Harmon and Roiland must maintain.

Unfortunately, the episode quickly returns to its holier-than-thou stance literally. An intensely ripped Jesus Christ appears before Rick and Morty after they realize they can defeat the Story Lord by praying, framed as an action they would never do. In a hopeful glimpse of self-awareness, Morty asks Rick if a Christianity punchline is a cheap shot at fans. Rick, of course, brushes this off alongside any redemption of the episode.

While Rick and Morty has always tested the flexibility of the sci-fi genre often in hilarious and visually captivating ways it rarely must contend with itself and its place within the genre. In Never Ricking Morty, however, Rick and Morty are relegated to shotgun side characters in their own story while Harmon and Roiland steer the train perhaps into the ground.

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TV review: Layers of irony in 'Never Ricking Morty' derail narration, criticize show's fanbase - Daily Bruin

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May 6th, 2020 at 7:51 pm

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