NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Rick and Morty” are present in this review
Rick and Morty has delivered a memorable, if slightly uneven fourth season so far, and it’s now departing from the airwaves almost as quickly as the series made its triumphant, overdue return this Fall. Even if we currently have no indication as to when Rick and Morty will return to air the remaining five episodes of Season Four however, the show at least closes out its 2019 run on a high note, with, “Rattlestar Ricklactica” pulling double duty as both a Holiday special, and midseason finale. Even beyond that though, this episode packs in a brilliant storyline that would have shone anywhere in Rick and Morty’s season order, as Morty’s latest self-made adventure quickly has dire consequences for the world, yet again.
This episode is divided into two storylines, with the core storyline surrounding Rick and Morty themselves, while Jerry finds himself separated into an equally amusing subplot. Rick and Morty end up removed from the Christmas festivities at the Smith household, but they nonetheless find their own troubles, after Morty joins Rick in a trip to space, only for Rick’s ship to get a ‘flat tire’, somehow. After disobeying Rick’s orders to stay in the ship, Morty then travels outside, only to be bitten by a ‘space snake’, resulting in Morty killing the creature, and Rick having to go to a nearby snake planet to synthesize anti-venom.
The genius behind this storyline is that it really should have ended there. Morty learned a valuable lesson about not carelessly stepping into space, and Rick got what he needed. The joke and overall theme behind this story excellently comes in at this point though, namely the fact that Morty just can’t leave well enough alone. Despite Rick claiming that the sentient snakes of the planet he visited with his grandson will soon fail as a society, and there’s nothing Morty can or should do about it, Morty ends up buying a snake from the pet store on Earth, drawing on it with magic marker, and then sending it back to the snake planet, masquerading as the snake he killed. After the snakes nonetheless deduce that Morty’s impostor snake is not from their world however, in a hilarious extended montage that’s done entirely through hissing, without actual dialogue, they unite under a shared umbrella of xenophobia, resulting in the snake society not only pulling itself together, but making scientific achievements far beyond their ability to manage!
This ends up culminating in a hilarious Terminator parody, wherein snakes from the future suddenly appear on present-day Earth, to try and assassinate or defend Morty, the accidental savour of the snake world. This particularly funny plotline also marks another momentous occasion for Rick and Morty as a series, since it’s the first time that the show has thrown out its restrictions on time travel storylines! Previously, the showrunners didn’t want to feature time travel as a story element on Rick and Morty, for fear that it would make things too absurd and complicated. It seems that they cracked the secret behind placing time travel in Rick and Morty however, since the extended battle against the snake invasion is incredibly funny, as is the ultimate payoff of Rick giving the snakes time travel knowledge several decades in the past, ultimately provoking the Langolier-esque ‘time cops’ when chaos inevitably ensues.
This episode plain and simply had everything in the core Rick/Morty storyline. It was very clever, very funny, and once again brought back some fan-favourite characters from the series’ past. The time travel element also worked flawlessly, without really betraying the core enjoyment behind a great Rick and Morty episode. Even the Jerry subplot, while quite simple in execution, ended up soaring, as Jerry is given localized buoyancy by Rick, which leads to Jerry constantly suffering on account of trying to prove that he doesn’t need Rick to manage his newfound ‘powers’. Despite this being another subplot that largely exists to hammer home how pathetic Jerry is, it nonetheless worked well in having Jerry make one of his most dedicated efforts yet to attack his own image, one that played beautifully with more recurring season motifs, such as the snake time travelers accidentally creating yet another fascist world. These winking, self-aware moments continue to serve as some of the best elements of Rick and Morty, meshing very well with the commentary behind a core plot that wonderfully satirizes people who just don’t know when to leave a problem alone.
It’s bittersweet that Rick and Morty is once again vanishing for now, presumably to return for the rest of Season Four’s episodes at some point in 2020, but at least the show managed to conclude the current season’s front half with another smash hit episode. “Rattlestar Ricklactica” made the bold decision to explore one of the series’ only pre-determined restrictions, and in doing so, it led to a storyline with just as much cheeky thematic resonance as it did absurd, over-the-top laughs. The Jerry subplot was also highly satisfying, even as it seemingly goes through the motions, once again leaning into the comical hopelessness behind Jerry and his severe character struggles. There may have been minimal Holiday festivities to enjoy in Rick and Morty’s Christmas-set midseason finale, but at least the show nonetheless kept viewers on their toes, with another unexpected battle for humanity that leaves pretty much everyone on the naughty list, and I’d expect nothing less.
- Genuinely inspired time travel mayhem
- Hilarious snake planet sequences
- Jerry's latest pathetic misadventure