Rick and Morty: The Silent Season

Rick and Morty season seven courtesy Adult Swim

Rick and Morty is an adult animated sci-fi comedy series on Adult Swim. Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, it is, arguably, the channel’s hero product of the late 2010’s. The show is known for its adult humor and meta-commentary on pop culture and the sci-fi genre, constantly poking fun at common tropes of said genre. The plot of Rick and Morty for the last six seasons swings between the episodic misadventures of the titular characters Rick, his grandson Morty, his daughter Beth, his son-in-law Jerry, and his granddaughter Summer.

While the series is known for its more comedic episodes, which have given birth to popular memes, such as pickle Rick that is found on every T-shirt profile pic or clip on Twitter and the Sichuan sauce craze, the show is not scared to lean into more mature themes and take itself very seriously. One of the overarching plots for the majority of the characters in this series is their mental health and self-acceptance. The theme of seeking out and being better for the family begins in season three as Beth and Jerry divorce and the family starts therapy. Rick says that therapy is a worthless invention to keep people complicit, yet he is constantly back to meet with and talk to the family therapist, Wong. Seasons one through six deal with the ongoing problem of Rick finding Rick “prime,” the man who killed his original wife, Diane, from his own timeline. Seasons five and six build Rick “prime” up as the big bad of the series until season seven.

Before the premiere of season seven, producers announced that co-creator Justin Roiland, who is the voice of Rick and Morty and many of the background characters, would not be returning to this series, which left many fans stunned. It was revealed that Justin Roiland may have had inappropriate relations with an underage girl. With this revelation, the network decided to drop him from the show. It was later discovered from former writers and people who worked with the show that Justin Roiland, other than voicing the titular characters, did not have a great hand in writing or directing the show which was left up to his partner, Dan Harmon. This is all speculation, and it cannot be confirmed or denied. Many fans rallied behind Justin Roiland, saying that they were not going to watch a new show and were already bad-mouthing the new voice actors who weren’t even announced yet for the series. Usually big social media hype from fans and producers lead up to the premiere of the upcoming season of Rick and Morty, but with controversy surrounding Roiland not coming back, there was little to no social media hype about this season.

The controversy should not overshadow the quality of the latest season, which takes a more grounded approach to not only its characters, but how it’s going to move forward with the series as a whole. Every episode, except for one that focuses on the Smith family, carries the offbeat adult humor that Rick and Morty have been known for, but it leans more heavily into the more dramatized look into these characters that gripped some fans in the earlier seasons. We see Rick in the mid-season episode actually find Rick “prime” along with the help of his grandson and fan favorite Evil Morty. This meeting culminates in a vicious and bloody action scene between Rick and Evil Morty versus Rick “prime,” which shockingly kills Rick “prime.” The episode ends with Evil Morty taking a device that’s used to erase people from every timeline and threatening Rick, saying that if he troubles him again he’ll come back for him using the device. Evil Morty now has the upper hand against Rick and his family now. The episode ends with Rick back at home staring into the distance as the song, “Look on Down from the Bridge” by Mazzy Star plays in the background. This song is very familiar because it’s the same song that plays at the end of “Rick Potion 9.”. In both cases, the song illustrates a mental crisis for the characters.

Rick and Morty is known for its finale episodes. There is usually a combination of the canonical parts of the season and the episodic bits. The season seven finale focuses more so on the overarching plot of the characters. Rick and Morty have to confront their fears and to do so they must jump into this “fear hole” that’s at a Denny’s restaurant. The show spends the whole episode not knowing whether or not the things that are happening to Rick and Morty are because of them still being in the hole or not. It becomes evident when Diane, Rick’s dead wife who was erased from every timeline, shows up with a dead Rick, and alive Rick must confront Diane. At this point, the show makes it clear that they are still in the hole, but they do not know whose fear this is. Morty thinks it’s Rick’s fear of failing with new relationships. Rick thinks it’s Morty’s fear of him not needing Morty as much anymore. After many constant fake-outs, it is revealed that it is Morty that is experiencing this fear. In a shocking twist, Morty realizes that Rick never even jumped into the fear hole with him and says that his biggest fear is that Rick would not even jump into a hole after him to save him.

This season is not without its faults. There are some slow moments and it does take a moment to get used to the new characters. For someone who is a great fan of the show, while Justin Roiland’s voice may be missed, in animation and in writing, season seven is easily one of the best in the Rick and Morty franchise.

All seasons of Rick and Morty are available to stream on Hulu and HBO Max. Rated TV-14 for dark humor, violence, and adult themes, including drug use and sexuality.