Rick and Morty: Promortyus
May 11, 2020 10:56 AM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Get off my face broh.

Rick And Morty get a little too close to some face-huggers (Zack Handlen for TV/AV Club; rating: A-)
I liked this one better than last week’s. It’s more conventional, but in the best possible way; “Never Ricking Morty” ultimately felt more invested in showing off its own cleverness than in telling a story, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but I’m always going to prefer something that doesn’t work quite so hard to remind us how sharp the writers are. There’s no deep message or theme, apart from reaffirming the essential Rick-and-Morty bond and reminding us that our heroes are kind of shitty, but also kind of defensible, and not really that much worse than we’d be under similar circumstances, provided we just didn’t get instantly killed. But it’s solid in a way I appreciate. There’s at least one terrific surprise, and the central conceit—a culture of face-hugging aliens who, on Summer’s advice, decide to expand their horizons—is a good one. The show has done “alien that takes over other people’s bodies” stories before (well, one at least), but this one distinguishes itself enough to avoid feeling like a retread.
Rick and Morty plays around with its story structure again but this time you can actually understand what’s going on! (Joe Matar for Den of Geek)
It’s good there’s some character development for the glorzo aliens because there isn’t much for our main characters. I’m being flippant when I say I’d like them to just get back into fun sci-fi adventures because, really, I’d like them to get back to fun sci-fi adventures with some meaningful character development. This is the burden the series continues to struggle with lately. Rick is cynical and all-powerful; Morty is pretty cynical now too; and Summer is, uh, disaffected, I guess. She’s still a pretty shallow character, despite having joined in on quite a few adventures by now. Anyway, none of what we know about these three changes in “Promortyus.”
posted by filthy light thief (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
(Knee)jerk reaction: this was a filler episode, change my mind.

I agree with Handlen's opening paragraph, about the visual quality being stunning, but I think back again to the idea that if a user is more engaged, the video quality matters less (PDF, 12 page academic paper). The story structure play was interesting, and amusing that Summer's attempt to find a "thing" to make her own ended up making her a major player in the episode, except Rick and Morty forgot she came with them.

So, as a story, it was interesting. But as Matar points out, no one was changed from it. I know, not every episode has to move characters forward, and not everyone is looking for character progression from Rick and Morty, but I felt like there was forward movement for a while.

(Upon further reflection: we did get that "let me into your mind more" exchange between Rick and Morty, so that was something.)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 AM on May 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

(Knee)jerk reaction: this was a filler episode, change my mind.

Does filler episode really have a meaning for shows like Rick and Morty ? I associate filler episodes with shows that are adaptations of books or comics, where the episode explores stories outside of the main story line of the source material.

Anyway, I liked the episode.
posted by Pendragon at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Getting all meta up in here, I think it depends on the purpose pr intent of this show: is there an arc or arcs, and do we see characters grow? Or is something that's using the characters as a way to tell different stories, not looking to change the characters, but instead use them as "story vehicles"? Is this more like Firefly, or The Simpsons?

Or maybe it's just something to enjoy while it exists (for it's apparent 101-episode run -- Adult Swim ordered 70 more episodes after the end of Season 3, which to that point brought the episode total up to 31).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:42 PM on May 11, 2020

Why can't it be both? Some episodes are heartfelt with real character growth. Some are fun sci-fi adventures.

I feel like the last episode had quite a few bits about how much more fun the randomness was. Every episode can't be interdimensional cable but making every episode have some lesson or message is maybe not fun either.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:03 AM on May 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was definitely filler. Enjoyable filler, jiving around with the premise of Summer changing an entire civilization with one of the stupidest of shticks (and I say that as someone who had a little-cigar phase in college) and flirting dangerously with Rick/Morty slash, but still filler. And that's OK. But not better than last week, no.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:25 PM on May 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ever since Rick started laughing about snake racists two episodes ago, I've been more and more inclined to read the show as a meta-commentary on the more unsavory aspects of its fandom, and maybe toxic fandom in general. Actually, even before that with the neverending Fascist alternate realities that Rick gets reincarnated into. Which is why I appreciated the Star Wars line as they go about merrily massacring face-hugger people left and right – a nice dig at black-and-white thinking about acceptable targets of violence.

I'd say that there's a character arc at least within the confines of this episode, where R&M start off bragging at the breakfast table about unnecessarily murdering thousands of people for fun, and by the end realize that even face-huggers are people and neither intrinsically evil nor guilt-free cannon fodder, to the point where Morty is apologizing for forcing them into their death-inducing reproductive cycles as they make their escape. (The fact that it was Summer who started them on their path to galactic domination to begin with also probably plays into that.) At the very end, when R&M try to forget and paper over this whole experience, they end up freaking out and shitting all over the living room floor – Harmon and Roiland's way of pulling these characters off whatever pedestal the Rick-is-a-role-model superfans have put them on.

Whether this moral lesson comes up again or ends with this episode is hard to say. But I wouldn't necessarily put it past the showrunners to refer back to it; past season-long character arcs weren't always obvious as they unfolded, but became much clearer in hindsight.
posted by skoosh at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

That's a good point, skoosh. Maybe not so much filler... if they follow up on that idea.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:36 AM on May 13, 2020

In past seasons there were episodes that made you think, even made you feel. I don't know that this season has done that so far for me.

It feels like they are trying to pack a lot in, not have music set a mood as much as push a genre (like the music in the heist crew episode). Closest was Old Man and the Seat, but that didn't resonate to the same degree.

Maybe I'm expecting too much though. It was enjoyable. Just not something that I want to make sure friends watch because it's great like with the first season.
posted by gryftir at 5:06 PM on May 14, 2020

this was not a good episode - low on ideas, low on engagement character-wise, low on lolz. pretty images tho.
posted by lalochezia at 9:36 PM on May 18, 2020

R&M has pretty much lost me. None of the character and world building they did in S2 has paid off as it should have, and I'm really tired of Rick and Morty ragging on Summer, even if it is "meta-commentary" or whatever. Summer episodes used to be great - "The Ricks Must Be Crazy" and "Raising Gazorpazorp" come to mind - but now she's just A Girl.

I don't want to watch a show that primarily focuses on how shitty its fans are. That's like going to see a coming who spends the whole time insulting audience members. It isn't funny, bruh.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:15 AM on May 19, 2020

It feels like Harmon and Roiland are telling us they want to lighten everything up: the character growth they show in this ep happens after they just blow the shit out of everything with no consequences. The aliens are parasites with no redeeming qualities, R&M get to show their superiority by not 9/11-ing them, but still have fun Pearl Harbor-ing them, and then after the fun is over, they bond emotionally.

It isn't until they get home and realize that a "real" life is at stake in the form of Summer that everything goes off the rails for them emotionally. They start sniping at each other again, because they have the real responsibility of saving Summer. And then at the end it turns out the aliens are just as subtle and faceted as humans, so it isn't fun to slaughter them wholesale any more.

The first half was fun, the second half was work. R&M hate work. And that's what keeps them from growing: having real responsibilities, doing the shit part of life. It's ironic in that it's such a bleak outlook, even though all they want is to have some fun.
posted by nushustu at 12:07 PM on June 29, 2020

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