“Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” gives Rick some real focus in a slightly overstuffed installment that at least has a sense of character.
This recap of Rick and Morty season 5, episode 8, “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort”, contains spoilers.
I’m not one to repeat myself, so I’m not going to reiterate things I’ve said in previous recaps about how much better this show is when it feels like it exists in a universe that has consequences for the characters. Luckily, I don’t need to go over that again, since “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” addresses it directly.
Rick and Morty season 5, episode 8 recap
Rick has always been the best half of Rick and Morty. Even if he wasn’t, he’s certainly the most important, since basically every episode is kicked off by his God-like meddling in space and time and reality, and at this point – sometimes to the show’s detriment – everyone has inherited his snarky attitude and cavalier approach to human life. Nobody changes all that much in this show, but Rick doesn’t change at all; he’s the same character now, more or less, that he was four seasons ago. This episode digs a little bit into why, as well as showing some softness and loyalty under his spiky exterior, not changing Rick but helping to explain why he is the way he is.
Rick’s best and perhaps only friend is Birdperson. Given all the show’s meddling in alternate realities and such, there are probably an infinite number of Bird People, but Rick is pretty adamant about saving just the one from an escalating sci-fi calamity that leads through several of Birdperson’s memories. It’s difficult to keep track of, despite Rick’s determined attempts at exposition, but I think that’s mostly the point; the randomness and weirdness that stems from this kind of adventure is part of the fun here.
That could be said of every episode, I guess, but increasingly in Season 5, this kind of thing has been there instead of character stuff, whereas “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” has a consistent thematic backbone. You can boil away all the excess and eccentricity and still find a story of friendship at its core. Because of that, the overabundance of explanatory dialogue doesn’t seem that harmful. The jokes that don’t land aren’t that much of a big deal. The barely-connected surrealist asides don’t need any cohesion, because all the necessary cohesion is in the relationship between Rick and Bird Person. It’s hardly complicated or unique storytelling, but it’s at least consideration for the essential principles of storytelling that Rick and Morty sometimes forgets or refuses to include.
It’s also kind of… sad? In a couple of ways, to be honest. Rick’s obvious loyalty for Birdperson isn’t necessarily reciprocated, and the way he gradually warms to a younger version of himself plucked from Birdperson’s memory of him is Rick not only letting his guard down but letting a sense of inevitability creep into his reality. For someone whose whole shtick is rewriting reality and interfering in the natural order of things, that’s a step in the right direction.