If Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty hasn’t reached total plotlessness yet, it’s pretty close to it. Lacking defined intra-episode plot, however, is exactly what makes Rick and Morty so great.
Sunday night’s episode, “Mortynight Run,” is light on the central plot, allowing several smaller plots to emerge. We don’t even know the primary conflict until the episode is nearly halfway-through: After Rick sells a weapon to an assassin, Krombopulos Michael, so they can spend the day at the arcade Blips and Chitz, Morty feels guilty and goes to stop K. Michael. Rick and Morty crash into and kill K. Michael and then save an omnipotent gas called Fart (voiced by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords), whom they must return to his world. Meanwhile, they drop off Jerry, who accidentally joined them on the trip, at Jerryboree!, a daycare for all the annoying Jerries across the infinite timelines.
Rick and Morty is, obviously, not unique for its B-line plot – necessary for most sitcoms. What Rick and Morty does, though, is make its A-line almost secondary to the show itself, which, as a whole, is really the primary plot. Because Fart is not really our main concern, we learn about the Gearhead planet, sing some songs, and, most importantly, have fun at Blips and Chitz!
Blips and Chitz is an entire world in itself. The arcade’s most popular game, Roy: A Life Well Lived, is, quite literally, a self-contained plot. Roy is a virtual reality game, during which the player lives Roy’s entire life until he dies – Morty makes it to 55, and Rick takes Roy off the grid (“This guy doesn’t have a social security number for Roy!”). Briefly, we care about Roy and want to learn more about this next-level video game. In any other show, Roy would warrant an entire episode, which gives Rick and Morty its continued momentum.
It’s the small moments that fans want – there’s even a subreddit dedicated to analyzing the lyrics of Fart’s “Moonmen” song – and Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon deliver.