[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty, Season 5, Episode 4, “Rickdependence Spray.”]
Last week’s episode of Rick and Morty may have retreaded some old ground, but it also provided a new side of Morty Smith we hadn’t seen before, the vulnerable teenager who can still get his heart broken by a girl despite seeing horrible things on the regular. Well, any emotional growth teased last week was done for and forgotten, because Rickdependence Spray is back to caring only about horny jokes at Morty’s expense.
The episode opens at Beth’s horse hospital, where Morty discovers a breeding shed used to “collect reproductive material” from the horses. Morty then volunteers to work at the hospital for… reasons, and spends the next week having sex with the machine. Of course, just as Morty is getting comfortable with this new arrangement, Rick uses a vat full of what he thinks is 100% horse semen to creative a bio-weapon against his latest enemy, a race of underground-dwelling cannibal horse people, or CHUDs (the first of many references to the 1984 cult film). Given that the vat also contains Morty’s DNA, Rick accidentally creates an army of giant sentient sperm hellbent on destroying everything and everyone.
It feels weird to say that a show with only 45 episodes under its belt is already repeating the same story beats, but that’s Rickdependence Spray‘s biggest issue. We have already seen episode after episode play out Morty’s horniness and blowing it out of proportion for comedic purposes before, going all the way back to that time he knocked up a sex robot and became a father in season one, but we haven’t seen the show surpass this since then. Episode writer Nick Rutherford does try to provide some commentary about America’s weird aversion towards sex and the lengths they’ll go to avoid mentioning it — as seen here by the increasingly ridiculous excuses Morty and even Rick go to admit what really created the giant killing sperm. At one point Rick, who believes he’s the one responsible for the sperm, tells the president (a returning Keith David) that the sperm came from space, and are simply the real thing behind many myths, monsters and legends like the chupacabra, yeti, Stonehenge and ancient Rome.
The problem is that the attempt at commentary gets buried under a ton of crude and low-hanging jokes that are neither smart nor funny. Not that Rick and Morty was a particularly smart show that required a high IQ to be understood, but this episode, in particular, is full of jokes that you’d expect from a Seth McFarlane cartoon, rather than from the show that has given us bleak and emotional moments like Morty’s “come watch TV” speech or the brilliant insanity of the clone episode. Even when Rick and Morty has resorted to gross humor, it’s always been for some larger purpose, mostly for an ending joke where Rick reveals it’s all been a trick to teach Morty something, but not here. Rick never discovers that it was all Morty’s fault until he comes out and says it, and there is no clever comeback, no last hurrah, just a joke about a giant incest baby, that’s it.
At least Beth and Summer’s subplot has a bit more substance, as they are stuck having to witness the president and his men’s stupidity and stubbornness over ignoring any ideas that come from a woman, with the president going as far as wanting to nominate a guy for a Nobel Prize for an idea Summer had said 10 seconds earlier. Sure, this isn’t new ground for TV or even for this show, but it’s better than the dozens of tired jokes about sentient semen. Plus, this subplot gives us the one good joke of the episode, where the president refuses to kill a giant incest baby because it’s an election year.
After five seasons, you can’t blame Rick and Morty for the occasional lazy episode or bad jokes, but with nearly 30 episodes left to go before the show’s order is up, something like Rickdependence Spray doesn’t inspire much confidence for the future of Adult Swim’s biggest hit.
Interdimensional Lost & Found
- This week’s big cultural reference goes to C.H.U.D. but there’s a pretty decent Battle of Helm’s Deep homage in there too.
- So far, the weekly political jokes have felt a bit forced and out of nowhere, but the one about pro-life politics was golden. More Keith Davis, please!
How long can you, or your convictions, survive alone in a jungle?
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