“Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” opens the fourth season with style, energy, and hilarity, as Rick and Morty proves to be operating at the peak of its powers.
This recap of Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 1, “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat”, contains spoilers.
Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon are famously content to take their time with Rick and Morty, their Adult Swim animation that has, over the last few years, become a cultural phenomenon in fewer episodes than most shows need to even find their feet. One gets the sense that the show could go on forever, and there’s still, apparently, plenty of it left to enjoy, the only caveat being that we have to wait a good while to get it. That seems a fair trade, though, when Rick and Morty can open its fourth season with an episode as wonderfully clever, frenetic and inventive as “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat”.
Most sci-fi shows would be perfectly happy to run with some of the ideas that Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 1 just plays around with in its opener, such as Rick (Roiland), the endlessly cynical and irritated madcap genius, having installed an auto-response chip in his brain just to blag family dinners. But within a couple of minutes the real setup of the episode reveals itself, as Rick whisks Morty (also Roiland) away for a galactic jaunt to harvest extra-terrestrial precognitive rocks.
Even before Rick and Morty get their hands on these “Death Crystals” there’s plenty to be getting on with; a crash, a shootout with poachers after the same crystals, Rick’s death. The space-rocks show one their own impending demise, or at least a version of it, and the end-of-life visions soon begin to drastically complicate matters – and that’s without the constant dying and resurrecting in various alternate realities as Rick attempts to save or perhaps replace himself time and again.
It’s Morty who suffers from his knowledge of all the potential timelines that lead to his death; most versions don’t end well and almost entirely because of his grandfather. But there’s one outlier in “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat”, in which he dies old in the company of his love Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), and that’s the outcome he pursues, giving himself over to the Death Crystal in order to do so.
This plot skirts risky territory as Morty becomes gradually unhinged, doing uber-violent battle with first school bullies and then soon the police and military. Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 1 regularly and gleefully erupts into creative science-y gore, delighting in its perverse reimagining of a rogue lone shooter as a near-brainless but also near-unstoppable cultural deformer. Like all such Rick and Morty A-plots, this one builds to a pretty great payoff.
“Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” saves most of its actual gags for Rick, who continues to reawaken in the clone cellar of various alternate-reality Ricks that range from fascists to crustaceans to wasps and various combinations of the above. It’s an utterly anarchic whatever-next ideas overload tied together with trademark meta-humor and cultural references, which again builds to a great climax; what’s arguably best about this show is how familiar it is with both its audience and itself, and what both would like Rick and Morty to be. The fact it can be all or none of those things seemingly whenever it feels like it is proof that the show is operating at the peak of its powers, drawing from an endless font of cultural weirdness that it continues to find itself at the center of.