“Mort Dinner Rick Andre” kicks off the fifth season of Rick and Morty with all the tropes you’ve come to expect, turning a familiar conceit on its head in the meantime.
This recap of Rick and Morty season 5, episode 1, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre”, contains spoilers.
It’s a while since we last saw Rick and Morty, but you’d never know based on the fifth season premiere, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre”, which is about as quintessential an episode of the show as you’re ever likely to see. Time travel? Check. Portals to other universes full of strange sci-fi weirdness? Check. Morty being unlucky in love? Check, check, and check.
It’s easy to be disappointed by an episode that is just all the stuff you love about a show, but surely that’s the wrong way of looking at it. In the absence of cliff-hangers and explicit serialization and all the other storytelling norms that Rick and Morty determinedly swerves, more of the same is exactly what you want. Rick and Morty season 5, episode 1 delights in all its samey conceits and well-worn gags, while still managing to sneak some fresh imagination in there as well.
It’s a busy episode, this, with a few competing dynamics. Most of it revolves around Rick’s nemesis, Mr. Nimbus, a hilariously, extravagantly sexual sea god with a penchant for wine and threesomes whom Morty needs to wait on while he negotiates amnesty with Rick. But Morty’s problem is that he has managed to get Jessica over to his house for dinner, and she’d like some of the wine, so Morty has to keep trying to retrieve it from a portal to another world full of sci-fi and fantasy conceits that continues to adapt to his interference every time he leaves and returns.
None of this is new, obviously, but “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” executes it in a wonderfully clever and confident way. There’s no real logic or sense of coherence to the world Morty keeps interfering with; it’s a vehicle for gags and action scenes and story beats that test the limits of Morty’s horny teenage desperation. He knows every time he returns that he’ll likely do more damage – at one point he jumps through the portal armed and ready for war – but his sole focus is on charming Jessica, who herself becomes an unwitting hostage of these people whose entire culture has been shaped around Morty. She returns a self-professed Time God, having seen entire lifetimes pass before her very eyes, and she still thinks she and Morty should just be friends.
Mr. Nimbus isn’t a good nemesis for Rick, which is part of the point. There’s a recurring gag about how he controls the police, even though it doesn’t make any sense for him to be able to do so, and that should clue you into the kind of contrivance we’re dealing with here. Rick just can’t be bothered with the whole thing, but a newly sex-positive Jerry and Beth are fascinated by his promiscuity and relentless hip thrusting and keep trying to sign a contract for a three-way to solidify their new sexually adventurous lifestyle. Early on in Rick and Morty season 5, episode 1, I resolved not to laugh at any of this because it seemed too obviously juvenile, but it turns out I’m not that mature after all because Mr. Nimbus’s flamboyant gesticulating had me chuckling a few times. And it builds to a solid payoff either way.
“Mort Dinner Rick Andre” isn’t the kind of premiere that suggests a new direction for Rick and Morty – as a matter of fact, it seems to confirm we’re heading in the old one. But that’s fine with me, and I’m sure it’ll probably be fine with most of the show’s fans since there has hardly been an overabundance of Rick and Morty stuff over the years. You can rely on the show to cleverly mess with longstanding sci-fi tropes and ideas, and to have fun doing it. You might as well join in.