Rick & Morty Season 4 Episode 5 Review

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After Two Mediocre Episodes, Ol’ Rick & Morty Finally Get Back to Form in this one, Bro! Oh Yeah, and It’s Got Space Snakes!

Rick & Morty have been on a bit of a roller-coaster this season, sort of like the rest of us. We’re halfway through Season four, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re operating at about 60% efficiency (Okay, maybe 75%). The last two episodes, three and four, if you’re counting, were not great. They were alright, but I compared episode three to listening to nails on a chalkboard because they wouldn’t lay off the ironic-yet-not-funny heist movie satire. Sadly, episode four, while not as bad, was also a misguided attempt to take the fantasy genre to task. So going into episode five, I wasn’t expecting a juggernaut.

And I didn’t get one. But at least I got a good old-fashioned Rick and Morty episode. And there were space snakes.

The Good:

There’s a lot to love about this episode. First, all three stories (A, B, and C) are connected by a nice thematic thread. The A-story involved Morty and the space snakes. The B-Story has Jerry floating helplessly through the air for most of the episode, and the C-story takes place on the space-snake home world. In fact, there’s actually a two-minute bit where not a word except “Sssssssss” is spoken, and yet, the editing is so good that it still keeps your attention. The pacing of the episode is good, the characters are all true to their classic selves, and again, there’s a nice common theme throughout. There are some callbacks, but they’re done cleverly. 

The whole episode also ironically pokes fun at the “time-travel” genre of sci-fi (a la The Terminator) while not overdoing it the way they did with the last two episodes. In fact, to paraphrase Philip Seymour Hoffman, in episode four, it took Roiland and co only half of the episode to accomplish what the previous episodes combined could NOT accomplish.

The Setup

The A Story begins when Rick and Morty head out on an unspecified adventure. While in space, Rick’s ship gets a “flat tire.” Yes, spaceships don’t have or need tires. Yes, Rick’s has them anyway—because of course it does—and it works well as a device to get this plot rolling. Of course, Morty wants to help with the repairs. Rick warns against it, because its a trope, but Morty goes out anyway. That’s where the space snake comes in.

Morty gets bit by a snake in a spacesuit and kills it. Upon analyzing the snake’s planet to find an anti-venom, Rick discovers that the snake planet is mildly-civilized, but locked in a never-ending race war. (Kind of familiar, eh?) Morty, then puts it together that the snake that bit him was their “Buzz Aspirin” (Aldrin). He feels bad for killing their only space explorer, so he does what any pet-sitter does when he kills the pet. He goes to the pet store and buys a look alike. 

That takes us to the C Story… Which we’ll get back to in a moment. 

The B Story:

Jerry’s determined to put up Christmas lights, but Beth (and literally everyone else) knows that if left to his own devices, he’ll hurt himself. Because Beth asked Rick to keep an eye on Jerry, Rick decides to zap him with a ray that makes him neutrally buoyant, so long as he keeps his shoes on. I mean, totally safe, right, “unless it’s possible for Jerry to fuck up wearing shoes…” See where this is going? Yeah, Jerry spends most of the episode in the air.

The C Story:

Once Morty comes back from delivering the fake snake-explorer, the focus of the A Story changes to Beth and Rick trying to save Jerry. 

Meanwhile, back on the snake world, that cool two minute sequence begins and we see the Earth-snake begin to inspire the other snakes to work together. Which leads to the whole Terminator time-travel satire.

Snakes from all different timelines start showing up trying to kill and/or protect Morty (depending on which side of the snake/machine war they’re on). The beauty of this is that by using snakes, they’re able to get to the heart of the problem with the Terminator style time-travel narrative. It’s a snake eating its own tale. Send one snake to kill, send another to protect, then send another to kill the protector, then send another to protect the protector… is this sounding familiar yet?

Rick & Morty Episode 5: The Theme(s)

This whole episode is about unintended consequences and about how sometimes when we think we’re doing the right thing, we’re really just making things worse. And it’s also about ignoring warning signs. Morty wanted to help the snakes—even after one bit him. Rick thought he was protecting Jerry, but he underestimated Jerry’s stupidity. Jerry refused to let Beth and Rick help him because of his pride, and he ended up causing a plane crash in the process. These themes fit nice and snug between a blanket motif of time travel because, of course, time travel is the ultimate vehicle for unintended consequences. 

The Final Verdict: 4.5/5 Comets

We had a few tasteful call backs in this episode. The nod to the plumbus was nice, and then at the end we saw the time-travel cops in action again. The whole episode explores its themes with three stories that are not in any way over-done or lacking. It’s a good, classic Rick and Morty episode. Stay tuned next week when we’ll be all caught up.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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