I don’t know how they did it, but Rick and Morty creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon delivered the goriest episode ever with the season 4 premiere, “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat.”
The opening half hour gushes with blood, guts, and interdimensional logic, a reminder that only Undone, a straight up trip, is working at Rick and Morty’s level of science-fiction psychedelia. Where else can you go for Fascist Shrimp Societies and laser guns that turn police cars into metal cubes with feet? The premiere delivered that bizarre image while also poking the hive of Rick’s problematic behavior.
To quote Rick, “There’s a lesson here, and I’m not the one who’s going to figure it out.”
But there’s a lot to appreciate in this premiere — including a set of details one really needed to pause to appreciate. Don’t worry, we did it for you.
[Ed. note: this post contains spoilers for Rick and Morty season 4 episode 1]
After nearly a two year hiatus, “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” finds Beth, Jerry, Summer, Morty, and Rick back at the kitchen table as one happy family. Now Rick has to ask before yanking Morty into a McGuffin-chasing adventure. The manners don’t matter: Morty is doomed the second he steps foot on a greyish purple planet where smugglers mine “death crystals” for cash.
In true Ricky and Morty fashion, Morty’s stolen death crystal cracks open reality and asks deep existential questions (in this case, predicting death and existing to die) laced with squishy gags. By the end, Morty goes full Akira, allowing Roiland and Harmon to stretch the animation quality in ways that feel like new dimensions for a show that I thought had been everywhere. Even through the ridiculousness of two Wasp Ricks rescuing Morty, I couldn’t help but notice the illustrated texture of black swirl wrapping around Hologram Rick. It’s art, man!
Season 3 deepend the show’s mythology, which should expand even more in season 4 and across Adult Swim’s 70 (!) episode order. While “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” didn’t push the larger story along too far, it did, like the best episodes, imagine endless possibilities of where Rick and Morty’s story might go. Literally, the death crystal’s window into the future allowed Morty to witness over one million endings to his own life. All gruesome, of course.
In interviews for both The Iron Giant and Ratatouille, Brad Bird has said that montage is one of the bigger challenges for an animation team. If you want to string along a bunch of moments, you can’t just film them in one location with different angles — you have to literally draw every single beat, even if it lasts one second. So I appreciated all the moments in “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” when Morty looked into the death crystal formations to find cloudy predictions of his own demise. People had to conceive, write, and animate all of that. To that point: those who write Rick and Morty off because of Szechuan sauce obsessed fans are missing some of the best cartoon craft on television. Animated comedy never gets its due in that regard.
If you caught the episode on premiere night, it’s possible you didn’t take my obsessive route and stop the episode to scrutinize the prophesized deaths that kept Morty on the path to an elder care Jessica (incredible post-credits reveal, by the way). Here’s what I saw:
- Morty cuts the wrong wire on a time bomb
- Morty eats fishman food which I guess is bad for humans
- A car hits a barrel of toxic waste which dissolves Morty’s skin
- Morty and Rick die in the trash compactor from Star Wars
- A middle-aged Morty dies of a heart attack while taking a shit and smoking a cigarette
- An old Morty dies from a drug overdose as a young woman performs CPR
- Morty is burned alive while gripping a fence, like in Terminator 2
- A wizard throws daggers at Morty, who’s tied to a giant wooden target
- A zoned out Morty is hit by a truck while crossing the street because he’s looking at his phone
- Morty eats poison berries off a tree and his head explodes
- Morty trips down a flight of stairs
- A flock of multicolored alien birds eats Morty
- A bearded Rick in suspenders plunges a pitchfork into Morty’s chest
- While reaching for a book on the very top shelf, Morty falls to his death
- A naked Morty walks an alien beach, then gets giant welts on his face (from the sun?)
- An elevator closes and decapitates Morty
- A killer plant eats Morty and Rick
- While driving in a tiny orange sedan, a long piece of metal flies off the back of a truck and stabs Morty through the windshield
- A man in a horned metal mask electrocutes Morty in an electric chair
- A guy who turns out to be the school bully smashes Morty’s head and his eyeballs ooze out
- Morty jumps from the “Enter” button to the “@” button on a giant keyboard — and fails
- Morty wants to hit on a woman ... who turns out to be a lesbian? ... and Morty shivers in fear over his social faux pas. (But doesn’t actually die?)
Later in the episode, Morty crosses path with the school bully, who is of no concern to his death-crystal-induced Zen state. Except that the bully doesn’t take lightly to New Age bullshit: after Morty waves him off, he threatens to end the dork’s life. From there, Morty gets a whole new set of visions.
- The bully chops Morty’s head off by pinning his neck down with a trash can and jumping on top of it
- The bully smashes Morty across the face with a fire extinguisher
- The bully sticks an extremely sharp object down Morty’s throat
- The bully sneaks up behind Morty in the shower and bashes his face into the shower head
Rick and Morty is a good show.