Rick and Morty Season 4 has literally gone off the rails after the latest Story Train episode, but Chris Parnell — the voice behind Morty’s dad, the beloved dope Jerry Smith — tells Inverse that fans have a lot to look forward to in the rest of Season 4, and beyond.
One of the few things we do know about Jerry’s future, based on the April 1 trailer, is that he gets involved in beekeeping later this season.
“I have a life too! I have dreams!” Jerry shouts in the trailer. He’s sitting at the Smith family’s dining room table with a half-eaten pancake and a jar of honey labeled “Jerry’s Own” in front of him. His protests fall on deaf ears, and Beth turns to ask Morty and Rick how Summer is doing.
Is this yet another one of Jerry’s failed business ventures? Like his poorly named dating app, Lovefinderrz? Or just a random hobby that brings him fulfillment?
“As I remember, it’s not a big plot point,” Parnell tells Inverse. “It’s something Jerry has taken up to occupy his time, a little hobby that he feels proud of.”
The scene might be a random joke from the opening to an episode, but the hint that Summer’s away somewhere means it could be the upcoming facehugger episode where Summer becomes their queen and Rick and Morty suit up in Gundam-style armor to save her.
And yet, Jerry is so often working an angle, trying to turn something into yet another business venture doomed for failure. Is this a hobby and a business? Does Jerry even know what the term "apiarist" means?
“If he tried to make it a business, I don’t remember,” Parnell says. “I’m sure it will go awry at some point.”
That’s Jerry for you. He’s the butt of a joke in every scene he appears in, and even though Jerry’s next blunder could happen any day now, Parnell wishes nothing but good things for him.
“It’d be fun to see him out on adventures more,” Parnell says when asked what he hopes for Jerry in the future.
Parnell revealed to Hypertext in an April interview that his favorite Jerry episode is “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy,” a Season 3 Rick-Jerry adventure in which they visit an amusement park where guests cannot die. The story spirals out into an assassination attempt on Rick’s life, but after experiencing a shared “cosmic apotheosis,” Jerry and Rick work through their mutual resentments.
“I like it anytime the show can have moments of human connection and sincerity in the face of the craziness and darkness in the goings on of the multiverse,” Parnell says, perhaps a nod to how shows like Rick and Morty continue to be a welcome respite from the stresses of reality. (Like most of us, he was surprised to see a timely coronavirus reference in the May 3 episode.)
Parnell explains there’s a “minimum” of a year between the time he records dialogue and when episodes are released, so he’s often genuinely surprised when he finally sees the finished product — especially given the notoriously long gaps between previous seasons.
“It’s been hard for Rick and Morty until the big 70-episode deal happened with Adult Swim, because it was start and stop and start and stop,” he says.
The official word from Adult Swim and the Rick and Morty team is that since the show’s future is cemented, there should never be a significant delay between seasons again. Previously, production would stop completely for months at a time before Adult Swim ordered a new batch of episodes, but now new seasons should be released at roughly twice the speed.
“The writers and everyone can have this momentum,” Parnell says, “and keep moving forward to keep developing ideas and say, ‘Oh no we can do that in Season 6 or Season 5’ if they think something doesn’t fit right now.
Parnell hasn’t seen the scripts for any Season 5 episodes just yet, but he’s not convinced Jerry will become more confident or capable, perhaps ever. Still, Parnell is hopeful that Rick and Morty will continue to be one of his most fun gigs for the next 60 episodes.
“It would be fun to see Jerry have some agency or to succeed and be good at something that’s not a joke or just in a virtual reality,” Parnell says.
Maybe Jerry’s Own Honey could be that success story?
Rick and Morty Season 4 airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.