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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Rick And Morty: “M. Night Shyam-Aliens!”

Illustration for article titled iRick And Morty/i: “M. Night Shyam-Aliens!”
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Oh yeah, that’s a super convincing picture. Oh definitely. Great design. I’m really buying into this whole “web-page” concept, like it’s an idea that actually has meaning and isn’t just a sloppy simulation of content designed to sucker in gullible eyeballs to fuel the rapacious hunger of click-hungry advertisers.

Hello, and welcome to the start of TV Club coverage for Rick And Morty, a show about a drunken super genius and the grandchild he recklessly endangers on a weekly basis. We’re jumping in a little late here, because we at TV Club value the sweet, sweet art of surprise. In fact, maybe this isn’t a review. Maybe this is just a typing program that gained sentience in order to distract you long enough to absorb the contents of your hard drive? But it’s not, because that would be dumb. Anyway, we’ll pick up with the fourth episode because the time machine is on the fritz (keeps trying to have sex with Hitler’s mom, I’m sure I don’t know), and I don’t feel like waiting around for the universe to cycle through another iteration of existence. Thankfully, “M. Night Shaym-aliens” is a good episode to jump in with, provided you don’t really care about getting to know characters or grasping the premise.


Rick And Morty merges high-concept science fiction storytelling with dark humor in a way that finds the best in both; it’s a little like Futurama when that show was at its peak, only so far, at least, R&M doesn’t appear to have a lot of interest in sentiment. It’s also a bit darker, and far more relentlessly inventive with its plotting. “M. Night Shaym-aliens!” is a great example of this. “We’re in a simulation!” stories are a time honored sci-fi tradition, but the episode works to keep you off guard from the start, beginning the story after Rick and Jerry have been kidnapped, and folding itself in on itself over and over again. The con-game-that-turns-out-to-be-a-bigger-con-game-but-oh-look-you-just-exploded arc of the plot fits expectations to an extent; the restless nature of the show’s storytelling practically demands that the audience never take anything at face value, especially when watching an episode about not taking anything at face value. But the ending isn’t a disappointment. The script drags out the con as long as possible, and it’s satisfying to see Rick win out in the end, even if you can’t help but feel some pity for the Cygerians (Cigerians?), discolored butt flaps and all.

Jerry’s story, in which the schlub manages to to have the best day of his life inside a simulation operating at five percent processing speed, isn’t the same kind of entertaining, but it fits the character well. The mix of dark, existential comedy (Jerry is so pathetic that sex with a duplicate of his wife that doesn’t even take of its clothes or move is somehow the best sex of his life) and computer glitch jokes works well, and it’s impressive to watch such a complex balance of reference and humor still manage to be character-based. So far, the show’s knack for mixing legitimately exciting stories with strong character work is its most promising feature. I said there doesn’t appear to be a lot of sentiment here, but Rick, Morty, and Jerry are already clear, well-drawn (no pun) figures, which is really all the heart a show like this needs. Presumably, the rest of the family will get more to do as the weeks go on.

It’s odd to begin a review of the series with an episode in which one of the title characters doesn’t technically even make an appearance. Sure, Morty seems to be running around alongside Rick for most of the half-hour, but he’s just a dupe created by the Cigerians, a trick that Rick immediately figures out, even though he spends the episode acting like he doesn’t. But the Rick and Morty relationship remains the closest thing the show has to a soul, a scabby, bitter, selfish, arguably abusive soul, but a soul nonetheless. It’s a pairing that’s been done before, but show creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon refuse to offer the comforting illusions of your Marty McFly and Doc Brown, or Peabody and Mr. Sherman. The authority figure in control of this rocket ship, the guy smarter than everybody ready to show a kid all the wonders science and a diseased mind and conjure up—well, he’s not exactly nice. And it is definitely not a safe universe out there for anyone. When the lightning hits the clock tower, people will die.

Stray observations:

  • If this feature proves popular, we’ll eventually go back and review the first three episodes we missed. So tell your friends!
  • Nice guest work from David Cross in there. The Cigerians (Cygerians?) in general were fun, except for Kevin, who is creepy.
  • “Why would a Pop Tart want to live inside a toaster, Rick? That would be like the scariest place for them to live!”
  • “And now, here’s human music.”

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