“Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion” is more coherent and less try-hard than some recent episodes, but it still doesn’t feel like enough.
This recap of Rick and Morty season 5, episode 7, “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion”, contains spoilers.
One of the things I’ve intermittently complained about during this season of Rick and Morty is that it’d be better off not wiping the slate clean between episodes. Obviously, the show’s deliberately defiant nihilism kind of stands in open opposition to standard serialized storytelling, so the fact that the entire Smith family could be clones or whatever is part of the appeal. But Rick and Morty seems to work better for me when it calls back to previous events, and when the characters feel like they’re being meaningfully changed by those events. In that case, I should love “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion”. So, why didn’t I?
Rick and Morty season 5, episode 7 recap
It’s hard to put a finger on. All the requisite elements are there. It’s riffing on a pop-cultural touchstone and mixing it with a Mafia parody and eventually a big send-up of anime. It takes a simple premise and builds absurdist extensions atop it until the whole thing teeters. And it even continues Summer’s arc of wanting to be the favorite grandchild while wheeling out her giant incest super-sperm baby from “Mortyplicity”. What’s not to like?
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to like. The episode’s consistent and coherent and has a lot of gags that really land. It doesn’t lean too heavily on “edgy” lowest-common-denominator material. Rick getting obsessive about completing his GoTron ferret collection is totally in character, and the competing voiceover narration between Morty and Summer is both fittingly meta and a nice continuation of their rivalry. So far, so good.
I just never found myself caring. I was mildly amused but not exactly enthralled by the arrival of alternate universe Ricks or their Goodfellas theming, and all the doubling-down and escalation just felt kind of mandatory at this point. The problem with each episode operating on the same basic level is that what were once daring and imaginative contortions of a premise now feel like par for the course. Summer egging on Rick’s worst impulses for her own self-serving purposes is, I suppose, a nice character-based change, but it’s hardly a meaningful one, and it does little to make this episode distinct from the previous six.
What’s the problem?
The problem, I think, is confusing novelty with cleverness. “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion” has a clever premise, but the way it builds out from that premise isn’t particularly clever; it’s just the easiest, most obvious references stacked on top of each other. They’re funny because of the novelty, the juxtaposition of Voltron and The Godfather, not because they’re smartly implemented or have anything deeper or more meaningful to say about the plot or the characters. The episode pretends like Summer and Morty’s rivalry is essential to it, but then backs out at the last minute, instead using Summer being spurned by Rick to re-introduce the incest baby, which feels as though it should be a bigger moment than it ends up being.
The question that’s going to determine your enjoyment here is this: Are you happy for the show to just be funny and weird, or, after some of its finest (half-)hours, do you expect more from it? “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion” has the jokes and the outlandish premise and the nods to contemporary culture, but it doesn’t have more – it doesn’t even really have the darker nihilistic streak that made the show more popular in the first place. Part of the appeal used to be the idea that these adventures were actively and irreparably damaging the Smith family in various unpleasant ways. Maybe that’s still the case, with Morty’s burgeoning psychopathy and Summer’s desperate drive to be the favorite of an obvious madman. But even Rick doesn’t even seem that mad anymore.
What did you think of Rick and Morty season 5, episode 7? Let us know in the comments.