Rick and Morty Season 5 finale recap – “Forgetting Sarick Mortshall” & “Rickmurai Jack”

September 6, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

Rick and Morty’s fifth season bows out with a two-parter that challenges some of the show’s long-held ideas, even if it can’t quite escape its newfound inconsistency.

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3.5

Summary

Rick and Morty’s fifth season bows out with a two-parter that challenges some of the show’s long-held ideas, even if it can’t quite escape its newfound inconsistency.

This recap of the Rick and Morty Season 5 finale, two episodes titled “Forgetting Sarick Mortshall” and “Rickmurai Jack”, contains spoilers.


This season of Rick and Morty has had its fair share of ups and downs, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what to even make of the show, let alone where to stand on it. You love its enthusiastic rejection of formulaic storytelling norms and then realize in some instances it’d work better for abiding by them; you want the grand madness of a constantly escalating sci-fi premise until you realize it’s too convoluted and out-there for any actual drama to exist within it. And so on, and so forth. The whole thing’s a mess of contradictions and mixed messages; making us wait a month for the two-part finale just seemed like further proof that the audience getting to enjoy the episodes is something of an afterthought.

Even the finale barely resembles one, comprising two episodes, “Forgetting Sarick Mortshall” and “Rickmurai Jack”, that are kind of connected through a plot thread but don’t have much resemblance to one another, thematically. Both are peppered with funny gags, some clever ideas, and some cool visuals, but even the worst episodes have those things. By and large, and taken together, I think the two work as a fun outing of Rick and Morty, but I’m not sure they do as any kind of meaningful coda to such a bizarrely inconsistent season.

Rick and Morty Season 5 finale recap

“Forgetting Sarick Mortshall” feels more like classic Rick and Morty fare, with a pointless argument about Morty’s usefulness spinning out into a couple of deranged ideas. The first is that Rick, thanks to a wheel of random things he could theoretically replace Morty with, replaces his grandson with two crows who teach him not only about empathy but a dense hierarchy of crow society and history, which Rick becomes rather taken with, realizing, in the process, that his relationship with Morty has historically been predicated almost entirely on abuse and exploitation. The second is that Morty, thanks to an accident with a portal gun, ends up with a portal on his hand that connects to one in the leg of a guy named Nick, whom he springs from an asylum for a spiteful anti-Rick adventure.

There’s no denying that, as weird as this is, the sincerity both ideas are treated with helps to elevate the entire episode. The portal thing doesn’t have much thematic backbone, but it’s a good excuse for very creative and clever gimmicks – just when you think the episode has run out of ideas, it reveals another, in the form of a joke or an action beat or both. On the other hand Rick’s discovery of an unexpectedly complex society – by no means a new idea in this show – is almost entirely about unpacking essential themes. It’s a welcome change for Rick and Morty to earnestly explore ideas of empathy and understanding, both in terms of Rick and Morty’s relationship but also their relationship to the various alien (or animal, or whatever) societies they stumble into and kill indiscriminately in almost every episode.

Fittingly, then, “Rickmurai Jack” builds on the crow stuff to explore more of Rick and Morty’s relationship directly, as well as Rick’s backstory and some of the show’s long-held ideas about continuity and canon. It’s breaking its own rules, of course, but that’s part of the appeal; the fact that Rick is still dismissive of his tragic backstory even as it’s being revealed, and his persistent resistance to serialized storytelling even as the show calls all the way back to the first season, are an acknowledgment that you can’t just throw out the rulebook forever if you want a show and its characters to be sustainable long-term. Those characters don’t have to be happy about it – and Rick and Morty certainly aren’t – but all the smart sci-fi premises in the world need some human drama at their core.

The crow link, by the way, is that between episodes Rick has become an anime character who’s basically in a sexless relationship with his two crows, and spends his days fighting their complicated and never-ending cultural battles until he realizes he was just a rebound from CrowScare, who has been carrying on with Rick’s crows behind his back. Dejected, Rick returns to Morty, who used an aging serum to convince Rick that he had abandoned him for decades and missed most of his life. Fixing him requires traipsing through a litany of call-backs and an especially dense Evil Morty plan, while also laying out Rick’s backstory and what has been going on with the Rick and Morty dynamic throughout various universes.

The Rick and Morty Season 5 finale handles all this at a breakneck pace, often through montages, which makes genuine worldbuilding feel like cutaway gags and earnest characterization feel a bit confounding. There’s some detail to Rick’s backstory, for instance, that just gets lost in the execution, and while the joke that his backstory really is a classic “dead wife” one suggests we’re not supposed to pay much attention to any of that detail, why include it in the first place then? The same can be said of Evil Morty’s plan. There’s obviously something interesting about the idea of Rick and Morty’s relationship being cyclical and unavoidably predatory, but it never really amounts to much beyond an acknowledgment of that basic truth. As ever with Rick and Morty, anything that’s confusing is deliberately so, and anything left half-finished or improperly explained probably didn’t need to be as it’ll promptly be forgotten about completely.

Will it, though? Now that the show has acknowledged that you can’t just sweep five seasons of grandiose sci-fi plotting under the rug, it’d be weird for it to return to determinedly episodic weirdness as though none of that ever happened. If the sixth season can find the right balance between spectacle and this kind of serialization, I honestly think it has the potential to truly invigorate the show after what has been, if we’re frank, easily one of the worst – and certainly least consistent – outings in its history.

You can stream the first eight episodes of Rick and Morty Season 5 on Adult Swim’s website.

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