This Rick and Morty review contains NO spoilers.
Rick and Morty Season 4 Episode 1
Hey, did you know it’s been just over two years since the season three finale of Rick and Morty aired? I know, what? It seems so long ago… before all those lives were lost in the great Szechuan Sauce Wars. I thought they said they were going to be releasing this damn show more regularly. I mean this isn’t even the start of the full season! We’re only getting five episodes and then another hiatus of indeterminate length.
But, whatever. It’s not like they’re just sitting on their hands over there at Rick and Morty HQ. These nerds never phone anything in. They really do intensely labor over this show, coming up with unique sci-fi premises and then developing intricate and insane plots that, on any other series, would probably be split into a three-episode special. They’re also acutely aware that, to make the long wait feel worthwhile, when they do come back, they really have to punch the fans in the face with some crazy shit.
And punch you in the face “Edge of Tomorty: Rick, Die, Repeat” certainly does! This is the most breakneck, batshit, violent premiere yet. Remember all the plot crammed into the season three premiere? Well, this one gets the edge as the most madcap, densely-plotted start to a Rick and Morty season so far. It makes for a fun, intense, and somewhat bewildering ride, though the sheer amount of stuff happening does come at the expense of the emotional character moments the series can also be great at.
What makes the season three premiere the best start to a Rick and Morty season ever is that it hardly ever stops to take a breath but still sneaks in some great characterization between Rick, Morty, and Summer. “Edge of Tomorty” teaches us a thing or two about Rick and Morty’s relationship, but there’s an overall callousness to how the characters treat each other, necessary to keep the machinations of the ambitious sci-fi premise chugging along.
However, that premise is extremely cool and clever and is what elevates “Edge of Tomorty.” It takes the episode in a direction that puts the titular duo at odds, splitting them up for much of the runtime in a way that doesn’t feel like a retread of previous conflicts. Further, as touched upon previously, an episode of this show isn’t content to come up with a cool premise without fully exploring and developing it and the way this one escalates (and escalates and escalates) without ever becoming incoherent or unfollowable again demonstrates just how masterful the writers really are.
The premise does, however, become temporarily unwieldly enough that the comedy suffers. A little over halfway in, you’re watching complicated events unfold with the jokes coming less frequently, or at least they just don’t land as well. It’s nowhere near as dry as the season two premiere, “A Rickle in Time,” which got lost so far up its own premise it had no space left to be funny. “Edge of Tomorty” does regain its comedic footing later on, but there was probably a solid five minutes where I didn’t find much to laugh at.
While we’re on the topic of stuff that isn’t funny, this episode is just a bit too swear-heavy. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not offended by Rick and Morty dropping copious f- and s-bombs. It’s just, when so many sentences are peppered with so many bleeps, it feels, well, lame somehow. It was funny and boundary-pushing way back in 1997 when Kyle unleashed a huge string of bleeped-out profanity in South Park’s pilot episode, but now it comes off as a comedic crutch. Or otherwise it makes you feel like Rick and Morty doesn’t really belong on basic cable and you’d be better off waiting for the season to release on Blu-ray, where the fucks and shits can run wild and uncut.
Those issues aside, however, it can’t be stressed enough that the plot absolutely soars. It’s a genuinely brilliant premise (mostly) brilliantly executed, the kind of cool sci-fi junk that makes you say “oh, cool!” out loud. And if the episode comes up a little short on characterization and comedy, it makes up for it with other Rick and Morty staples, like truly unsettling gross-out violence and fourth-wall breaking humor that, this time, takes some of the series’ shittier fans to task (maybe you haven’t heard, but some of the Rick and Morty fan base is kind of shitty).
“Edge of Tomorty: Rick, Die, Repeat” may not fire on all cylinders but it fires on four out of five of them. And, after a two-year-long wait, it’s the good, solid, sci-fi punch in the face we all needed.
The Rick and Morty season 4 premiere airs Sunday, November 10th at 11:30 PM ET/PT on Adult Swim.
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Joe Matar watches a lot of cartoons and a lot of sitcoms. He’s obsessed with story structure so that’s what all his reviews are about. Joe also writes about video games on occasion. He has an MA in English if you can believe it. Read more of his work here. Follow Joe on Twitter for more fun @joespirational!