Rick and Morty: The Ricklantis Mixup review
Recap Rick and Morty's latest episode with our spoiler-filled review.
Season three began with the destruction of The Citadel of Ricks, a government paradoxically formed by a group of anti-government types. It feels fitting then that we're going to end things by coming full-circle with a rebuild. That said, this time the puppet master of this new Ricktopia may, in fact, be a Morty who's much more than meets the eye.
Amusingly, it's established quite early that this adventure is populated with only alternate Ricks and Mortys. Our favourite duo, protagonist Rick C-137 and sidekick Morty C-137, nope out of a charity drive to help rebuild The Citadel 2.0. While they go off to hook up with mermaids in Atlantis, we're introduced to a series of surrogate Rick and Mortys locked into a construction montage of this new Ricktopia. I must say that the decision to build said city with rock 'n' roll (The Eagles) was much appreciated.
Outwardly, Citadel 2.0 is a full-fledged, well-developed place that's much more advanced than the space station of last time, but it's already plagued with a bunch of social and economic issues. Some of these are hilarious; others are a little too close to home. Essentially, this new metropolis is something that C-137 correctly fobs off as “a place filled with stupid people, or millions of unfortunates held hostage by terrible ideas.” Case in point: the enslavement of Simple Rick, a variant who once achieved a moment of pure, unadulterated satisfaction – an emotion that a Willy Wonka Rick now harvests from him via some grotesque Matrix mind-prison. Self-completion is a delicious biscuit filling, folks, and that confectionary is sold to millions of other down-trodden Ricks.
Our four main plot threads follow Campaign Manager Morty, an inquisitive type who's displeased with the upcoming presidential election and the double-standards that heavily favour Ricks; Recruit Rick, a newly-minted cop partnered with a Morty who's been on the streets too long; Factory Rick, a clock-punching worker who's noticed some Ricks have it way better than others; and a group of Mortys about to graduate from a Hogswarts-style finishing school for sidekicks.
In the world of Citadel politics, it's a closely run race between Retired-General Rick, Private Sector Rick, Juggling Rick, Rick Guilt Rick and Reverse Rick Outrage. There's also an outlier in the form of Politician Morty, a potential dark horse with zero Rick support or even any faith put in him by Campaign Manager Morty. Despite these odds, and the Rick farts that punctuate his speeches, Politician Morty turns the tables by speaking with clarity: their financial crisis is inextricably tied to the fact that nobody but the 1% are truly happy in this place. The Rich (P)Ricks are profiting by making the lower castes hate and kill one another.
Elsewhere, we have a flip side where a Rick is the underdog without power. Recruit Rick, an uncharacteristically sensitive and moral Sanchez variant, is getting browbeaten by a veteran Cop Morty. They travel to Mortytown, the skid row for Rick-less Mortys (known by the racial slur “yellow-shirts”) whereupon Cop Morty becomes Denzel Washington in Training Day. Police codes are violated, innocent Mortys are abused alongside Delinquent Mortys and a simple shoplifting case becomes something more sinister when The Morty Locos Gang gets implicated. The bust that follows almost gets Recruit Rick killed when he trusts an innocent-looking Morty asking for the hug. The little bugger turns a family affection into a shivving.
My favourite thread is the Stand By Me send up that has four graduating high school Mortys making a rite of passage excursion to The Portal of Wishes, a near-mythical place of unexplained significance. Slick Morty, Lizard Morty, Fat Morty and Glasses Morty get up to hijinks and are also chased by a robot dog who's presumably named Chopper and has sensors that specifically target balls. Later, in a hallmark moment around a campfire, Slick Morty reveals he's been surgically augmented to be more dramatic than every other Morty. Yeah, that's probably not going to end well.
Last but not least, the drudgery of Factory Rick's job (stamping Simple Rick biscuits on an assembly line) is interrupted by an announcement from Supervisor Rick. After five years he's leaving his role for a slightly less unfulfilling job as Regional Manager Rick. Rather than grant a promotion to Factory Rick, or one of his ilk, the new boss is revealed to be Rick K-83 aka Cool Rick, a Citadel newcomer who earns the position via sheer charisma, sweet sunnies and well-timed bird flips. This doesn't go down well. In a moment of biscuit-stamping-gun violence, Factory Rick becomes a murderous Terrorick, locked in the flavour vault of this facility and surrounded by a response team of SWAT Ricks.
Before you know it, every thread reaches a violent conclusion. In an amusing scene set in a strip club called “Creepy Morty's”, Cop Morty reveals himself to be on the take from a local drug dealer, Big Morty (the moniker is figurative). A shootout ensues and it culminates with Cop Morty poised to execute the dealer in order to silence him. Heeding his superior's earlier advice to “just trust the right Morty”, Recruit Rick lowers his weapon and gives Cop Morty a chance to do the right thing. No such luck. Big Morty becomes Hole In The Head Morty, and as Cop Morty whirls to kill his partner, he's put down for good.
The Stand By Me Mortys finally reach the end of their road, too. They all throw items of personal value into The Portal of Wishes, hoping for a cosmic favour. Fat Morty throws in his panini maker, wishing for a million sandwiches. Lizard Morty throws in his surfer necklace, wishing for something better in return. Glasses Morty throws in a piece of technology, wishing for incest porn to be more mainstream (he's wishing for a friend, though). Slick Morty's drama kicks in and he expresses his wish for life to change for Mortys everywhere. He hopes that what he throws in is valuable enough to achieve this then commits suicide via portal. It's a poignant scene ruined by a burping automated Rick who states that this is, in fact, a garbage dump.
Meanwhile, Factory Rick has somehow been able to negotiate his way into an untraceable portal gun. He unhooks Simple Rick from the flavour extractor, shoves him through their escape portal, and is suddenly showered in his blood. Apparently the SWAT Ricks rigged the portal gun to The Blender Dimension. Before the stand-off can conclude with Factory Rick going out in a blaze of glory, Willy Wonka Rick appears to exonerate his employee. The violence must end, he says, and he then proceeds to walk a free Factory Rick past his cheering co-workers to a brand new luxury car. Just as the keys drop in Factory Rick's hands, he's frozen in time by Willy Wonka because an uplifting sense of freedom achieved by breaking the great illusion is damn tasty, folks. Sometimes that's just the way your cookie crumbles.
Speaking of clever and amusing callback jokes, the true masterstroke of this episode is delivered via Politician Morty. Campaign Manager Morty has learned a terrifying secret about this President Elect, something serious enough to make him go all in on an assassination attempt. It fails, of course, and he's unceremoniously blown out an airlock by some wisecracking Secret Service Ricks. Elsewhere, Politician Morty makes the transition to President Morty by dropping his folksy facade and purging the council of Ricks out the very same airlock. As their corpses lazily drift off into the infinite, we finally spy the contents of Campaign Manager Morty's folder of evidence. A sinister, but familiar, music theme begins to play.
President Morty is Eyepatch Morty.
I never dared to hope that we'd ever see this mysterious mastermind after Season 1's "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”. Rick Sanchez C-137 now has a powerful antagonist lurking out there in the multiverse. We may finally have a Dr Mortyiarty to our Sherlrick Holmes.