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How Rick And Morty Made The Case for the Mid-Season Finale Gambit

And How It Paid Off Big

By Jessica BaileyPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
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How Rick And Morty Made The Case for the Mid-Season Finale Gambit
Photo by Michael Marais on Unsplash

Gambling can be fun sometimes, especially if done safely, kids - and clearly, Dan Harmon Co-Creator of the series and writers of this episode, Albro Lundyand and James Siciliano are betting men. Season 7 episode 5 “Unmortricken” is the episode where Rick, or the Rick we follow at least - a parasitical grandpa/deadbeat father/Jerry tormentor gets everything he asked for. It has everything: lore, backstory, intrigue, revenge, and a dash of ghoulish overkill. Mainly of the spare ‘thematic’ Ricks. It’s very big, it’s very clever, but is it it? If any season of any show needed to prove itself, it is this one - and usually this is done by a traditional season structure. But since when has Rick and Morty played by the rules?

And neither should it, this is an animated series that is not afraid to be meta. But usually for a gag. Here, Joker and Batman have had their scuffle on a roof 15 minutes in, with Batman prematurely victorious, as Bruce, sans cowl. Surely this is too easy? By giving a very vocal audience exactly what it has asked for has Rick and Morty jumped the shark? Can Rick Prime really be so dead, so now? The show did need to pull off a magic trick- never before has a season been so embattled by its own fanbase, with all the hoopla around co-creator and lead voice actor Justin Roiland sparking many headlines and a six month search for a suitable voice artist replacement. This, coupled with the usual cliff that Rick and Morty loves to dangle us off at the end of season 6, where our Rick pledges with the usual spittle to deal with “The darkest shit I’ve ever had to deal with!” All served to heap expectations higher than a Great British Bake Off showstopper.

So lets rewind: how did the writers intend to scale this season 7 wall? Well, they could pull a season 3, episode 1, for example: “The Rickshank Redemption” - a true hero tour de force by Mike McMahan where Rick escapes high-security prison with a classic series of body switches, fake guns and stand offs - or classic for Rick and Morty, anyway. It was cinematic in its scope and scale, and immediate - before we knew it, we were whisked back, breathless and satisfied on familiar territory at the Smith household, ready for a new season to unfold. Similarly, Season 6, episode 1, “Solaricks”, written by Albro Lundy is another now expected opener, full of bluster, callbacks, trap doors, and the appropriate Prime Rick myth-building, sowing the seeds in its new tradition of TV structure. And they would have done that again, surely. But that would have been too easy.

It’s been years but here, in a seemingly innocuous spot, Rick finally ensnares his reason for continuing to just about live - with a catch. It is a stroke of genius that Rick’s obsessive search captures Evil Morty’s attention - proving that all Ricks and Mortys find their way back to eachother, as they work together to defeat Prime Rick’s Saw inspired trials and tribulations. Here, Albro Lundy and James Siciliano masterfully shuffle the cards by giving an audience that despite itself, its Tumblr posts, it’s comments under Adult Swim promotional Tik-Toks, exactly what it wants. With both barrels. It’s a ballsy choice, allowing Rick to achieve detente in a scene that unusually for the show, has no laughs. Even inappropriate ones. How Titus Andronicus of him.

Why? Well that’s something only Dan Harmon and the writers room know - but it has sparked many YouTube videos dedicated to ‘What Now?’ And ‘Was That Really The End of Prime Rick?’ - and so the gambit prevails, on many levels. First, as previously mentioned, it is unusual, eschewing its own patented reverse psychology of a finale mentality to its first episodes. Second, it retains its title as a live wire show - can’t be predicted, can’t be contained.

Third, it gives with the same hand it takes, daring to commit the cardinal sin of being self-referential - as the final moments of the episode show Rick in the same fugue state Morty was in way back in Season 1’s “Rick Potion Number 9”, simultaneously rewarding it’s fanbase even as it revisits its own scorched earth to make it evergreen again, with no eye-rolling in sight. And finally, what this episode of Rick and Morty proves is that it can break rules, change casts, rewrite and revisit its own origins and do so as one of the smartest shows on TV. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Who cares who’s voicing it? Are you not entertained? The answer is a resounding yes.

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About the Creator

Jessica Bailey

I am a freelance writer, playwright, director and lecturer from London. Self professed nerd, art lover and Neurodivergent, vegan since '16, piano player since 7 - let's see...oh and music, lots and lots of music

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