I Was Wrong About Rick and Morty Season 7
After watching the entire season, it’s clear the show is only getting better in its post-Justin Roiland era.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. I absolutely stand by my original review of Rick and Morty Season 7. At the time, Adult Swim only provided the first two episodes of the new season, and I maintain today what I said back then: those two episodes were mediocre at best. They failed to stand on their own merits and didn’t push the overarching plot forward either. It was enough to make me worried for the future of Rick and Morty.
But Season 7 quickly got way better. By the time we got to Episode 10, it was clear that not only is Rick and Morty still operating at a high level, but the show is actually evolving both emotionally and intellectually in its post-Justin Roiland era.
Rick and Morty Season 7 really hit its stride in Episode 5, which finally delivered what fans had been waiting for: a showdown with Rick Prime.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Rick Prime is a multiversal variant who murdered Rick’s wife and then used sci-fi technology to erase her from every single universe in existence. Getting revenge on Rick Prime has been our Rick’s main focus since Season 1, though it wasn’t fully explained until much later. In Season 7, it finally happened, but with a couple of clever twists.
Episode 5 opened with a scene that turned out to be the origin story of Evil Morty (another iconic variant), an early warning to expect the unexpected. By the end of the episode, Rick only manages to get revenge thanks to Evil Morty’s help, which makes his blood-soaked victory feel totally empty. This catapults us into the back half of Rick and Morty Season 7.
With Rick’s “victory” out of the way, Rick and Morty could get back to some classic shenanigans that actually felt earned, but the show went in a different direction. The immediate next episode took a classic series concept (the fake clip show) and turned it on its head, putting our main characters on trial in a cosmic space court for repeating the same plotlines too often. (By Rick and Morty standards, this was actually a pretty subtle bit of meta-criticism.)
They weren’t all winners. Bringing back “Ice T” for an entire Rick-free episode that was basically a Star Wars knockoff was just okay. And an afterlife-focused episode that somehow included Vikings, Bigfoot, and the Pope was an overstuffed misfire. Then again, another episode in which Summer and Morty merge into a disturbing Kuato managed to be a series highlight thanks to a Total Recall parody that kept us guessing.
However, it was all building to the season finale, which delivered on years of hints at the story of Rick’s dead wife while redefining the show in the process. If you haven’t seen the finale yet, I won’t spoil it any further, but it’s a poignant examination of love and loss told through the lens of a character who we all wrote off as toxic years ago but might be something more.
As Inverse’s longtime Rick and Morty expert Corey Plante has pointed out in his weekly reviews of Season 7, the show is finally starting to reveal the results of a minor plot point from a classic episode: Rick’s decision to start going to therapy. Originally used as the setup for “Pickle Rick,” the concept of therapy has transformed Rick from a nihilistic douchebag into… well, he’s still that, but he seems to be a little more self-aware, honest, and even periodically kind.
It’s the kind of emotion-driven storytelling that defines series co-creator Dan Harmon’s best work (namely, Community), and it’s the kind of thing we didn’t think Rick and Morty was really capable of. Sure, a few early episodes managed to pull at the occasional heartstring, but it was wrapped up in so much cynicism and internet meme energy that the emotions could never be the main attraction.
Whether it’s a coincidence that this is happening in the first season of Rick and Morty that doesn’t feature Justin Roiland remains to be seen. The writers are often multiple seasons ahead of the show itself, so it’s doubtful they have time to completely pivot Season 7. But then again, Roiland’s penchant for ad-libbing during recording sessions transformed the show in ways we may never know.
Either way, with the gift of hindsight, I’m happy to admit that I was wrong about Rick and Morty Season 7. Hopefully, this new version of the show will carry through as Dan Harmon makes good on his promise of 100 episodes.