No Rest for the Rick-ed: ‘Rick and Morty’ Season Five Premiere
Sometimes your oldest enemy is the only one who understands you. The season five premiere of Rick and Morty dwells in the show’s bread and butter: exploring dynamics and neuroses of the Rick and Morty family. But now they shoehorned a revelation about Rick’s past… he has a mortal enemy, a “once and eternal foe.” Um yeah, somehow this never came up before. In this season premiere, we see the invincible, always prepared for any danger, super-genius Rick Sanchez has to deal with an adversary of comparable might and power. Also, Morty has a chance at fulfilling a dream.
Stop… Spoiler Time
The episode begins in a mid-action frenzy where Rick and Morty are fleeing from some space caper in Rick’s spaceship. Morty’s driving and Rick is badly hurt. Barely surviving, Morty sets the craft down upon a calm ocean and instantly this creature appears, Mr. Nimbus. Rick is uncharacteristically alarmed and actually scared!?
Turns out this guy is Rick’s nemesis; a true and equal enemy of sorts. Now we know Rick has enemies all over the multidimensionscape, such as Evil Morty, the US President, Phoenixperson, other versions of himself in the Council of Ricks, and many more. But this Mr. Nimbus was never mentioned before. So his out-of-the-blue appearance makes him little more than a gimmick, but a fun gimmick indeed.
They took the trope of the comic book underwater monarch (closer to Marvel’s prickly Namor the Submariner than DC’s friendly Aquaman) and added in some omni-sexual Caligula decadence. He has an icky yet goofy presence. He’s so arrogant around Rick that he dares to call him “Richard” and even shows knowledge of Rick’s late wife, Diane, which really pisses Rick off. But to Rick he’s more of a colossal pain in the ass than an actual foe. Rick respects his power enough to have him over to the house to iron out their differences. But since Rick usually just dispatches his foes quickly without having to “discuss terms,” we see that this person is one to take seriously, even though he’s such a pompous shmuck.
The fun twist in this episode is that the Mr. Nimbus story, for all it’s implied import, is actually the B-story. And Morty’s side mission is the meatier story. He has to fetch wine for this Rick-Nimbus summit from a dimension with a faster, Narnia-like time flow. Morty has the date of his life with his uber-crush, when Jessica agrees to come over the house and hang out. Morty is beside himself of course for this dream come true. Things get interesting when a friendly being from the fast-aging dimension (hereafter referred to as the Fast Zone) helps Morty and subsequently dies back in his world, for no fault of Morty. This inspires a generational blood feud with the Fast Zone denizens against Morty. Of course, Morty is oblivious to this all until he returns for more wine and has to fight his way out against increasing aggression each time.
One of Rick and Morty’s go-to maneuvers is to take an innocent cliche from sci-fi/fantasy/comic books worlds and stretch it out and explore all the ugly corners and bizarre depths there are to discover. The Fast Zone’s story of basing their entire civilization for many eras and ages on getting revenge on Morty is a fun idea. And it results in misery for Morty.
When his crush is taken prisoner and exists in the Fast Zone for, well, a very long time (time flows super fast there!), she loses interest in romance with Morty. Her consciousness is expanded while spending eons in the Fast Zone. She becomes wise beyond her mortal age, unstuck in time, attaining a Zen-like level of perception. Jessica’s words: “I have glimpsed into the mind of eternity, perhaps the mind of god, and found nothing but silence.” Sucks for Morty!
In the end, Rick is actually bested by Mr. Nimbus. He gets his ass kicked and he is arrested by the police, just regular earthling cops. Rick has destroyed the mega-powerful Citadel and battled galactic empires. He’s even gotten in fistfights with gods. Here he ends up in regular handcuffs like a common perp. How the Rick-ly have fallen.
Even though this is such an unusual thing to happen to Rick, it doesn’t seem to carry much weight. I bet the next episode won’t even acknowledge this happening. What’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised if we never seen Mr. Nimbus again. His one-trick-ponyness has probably exhausted his usefulness on the show. And the show has basically abandoned large story arcs since season three.
Since last season, Rick and Morty has become more episodic, as in each installment is self-contained and the complicated mythos that the show grew through its first three seasons has been almost completely ignored. Remember Evil Morty? He seemed to be the true nemesis of Rick and company, but has had only one tiny reference since season three. Even the monumental Council of Ricks/Citadel was only mentioned once in season four, and only in passing.
So, the mysteries of Rick’s origin and multidimensional Rickoverse that they’ve built-out and teased over the first three seasons are not important anymore. I imagine Harmon, Roiland, and other producers took a long look at the first three seasons when they were renewed for the fourth, and thought that things had gotten too complicated, too messy. It was time to keep it simple, and go back to the basics storywise. They had a new, much better deal with Adult Swim (they held for the serious money, and good for them) and have a few dozen episodes to deliver. So going back to Evil Morty, etc. was not the most fruitful path.
The title of this episode “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” is a reference to the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, about a long and deep conversation between two friends. I guess that relates to the Rick/Mr. Nimbus summit meeting at the dining room table. But nothing important is really accomplished at that table. I gotta say this episode is not worthy of a My Dinner with Andre reference.
“You might wanna learn this early Morty. Life is a fight.” -Rick
Enemies come around no matter what you do. Rick spells it out early on: We see an entire civilization base their way of life on getting revenge on Morty because of a simple misunderstanding. Rick has innumerable enemies. And after forty plus episodes they plop in his “ultimate” enemy. Mr. Nimbus is a lark with his fabulous, fishy antics. But his hamfisted entrance into the world undercuts the gravity of the show. Hey, I’m sure there will still be dazzling fight scenes next week!