“A Rickconvenient Mort” parodies Captain Planet by leaning — perhaps a little too hard — against its old staples.
This recap of Rick and Morty season 5, episode 3, “A Rickconvenient Mort”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Parodies of very specific cultural fixtures kind of live and die on the audience’s familiarity with what’s being parodied, so you have to wonder how many kids of the ‘90s are watching Rick and Morty. It’s worth asking, since the latest episode, “A Rickconvenient Mort”, spent so much time making fun of well-meaning but preachy environmentalist cartoons that it seemed confident everyone was in on the joke. I was, since I was growing up then, but will most be?
The version of Captain Planet we get here is Alison Brie’s Planetina, an obvious send-up that quickly – and welcomely – becomes a sort of perverse, psychopathic reinvention of the concept that is at best a tool to sell merchandise and at worst openly murderous. I liked the idea that Planetina eventually just took to killing everyone she thought had wronged the planet, though – it’s almost like a metaphor for a self-cannibalizing progressive culture that wants to eat and destroy anyone perceived to be insufficiently radical, but let’s not get waylaid.
Rick and Morty season 5, episode 3 naturally ropes Morty’s unending horniness into all this – Planetina is a woman, after all – and once again reminds him that everyone in his life is simply too amoral and possibly homicidal for him to have anything even resembling a normal relationship with them. On the other end of the spectrum – violence being one extreme – are Summer and Rick in a gross-out extra-terrestrial sex joke B-plot that’s a nice change of pace and has a few good gags but doesn’t really amount to much, not that this show necessarily needs to amount to anything to accomplish what it’s trying to do.
I’ll tell you what though, for a show so determined to avoid serialization, there’s a good amount of development occurring here if you’re looking for it. In some ways both plots of “A Rickconvenient Mort” highlight how the characters have progressed as a result of their many odd adventures; Mort is much more prone to violence, Summer is much more cynical, and that hasn’t happened by accident. But maybe it’s intentional that Rick and Morty season 5, episode 3, which explicitly traffics in nostalgia, is mostly content to lean on the edgy sex and ultraviolence that helped the show to become popular in the first place.