The two-episode season finale of “Rick and Morty’s” fifth season gave the viewers much of what they had been asking for all year. While the famously picky fanbase can never fully be satisfied, episodes nine and ten closed out the season with a bang, giving us plenty of adventure, excitement, and laughs while winding up several long-running plotlines and hinting at more of the characters’ mysterious backstories.
Episode Nine (“Forgetting Sarick Mortshall”) opens with Morty hopping dimensions, cleaning up messes he and Rick made during their travels. It is a solid indication both of Morty’s growing maturity and of the increased tension between him and his grandfather. Morty is sick of Rick’s shenanigans and has begun to see himself as the responsible half of the party.
He does a good job as far as it goes. On returning to the workshop garage, he attempts to top off the portal fluid the way a normal teenager might top off his old man’s whiskey bottles after taking a swig. It goes about as well as it usually does in real life, but the consequences are much worse: Morty accidentally opens a portal in his own hand.
That portal somehow connects to a man named Nick, who has a similar aperture in his thigh. Nick claims to be another victim of Rick’s emotional abuse, and they commiserate through the portal. Meanwhile, Rick discovers Morty’s use of the portal and says their association is at an end, replacing him as a sidekick with two ordinary crows. He says their relationship is obviously deeply flawed and that this is all for the best. Morty agrees and goes off to find Nick.
Nick and Morty’s adventure goes bad quickly. Nick’s story about having been Rick’s former friend turns out to be a lie: he attempted to rob Rick, getting blasted with the portal gun in the process and locked up in a mental institution.
They fight and Morty ends it by severing his own hand and tossing it down the other end of the portal in Nick’s thigh, creating a singularity that blinks his companion out of existence. It is a pretty impressive leap of logic and courage, more evidence of a more mature Morty who knows what he’s about.
Rick’s adventure with the crows also went bad, and he admits to Morty that choosing them as a replacement was just a bit, not a serious judgment. Nonetheless, after regrowing Morty’s hand, Rick clears out of the family home and goes off with the crows.
The final episode, “Rickmurai Jack,” aired immediately afterward and picks up the story of Rick’s continuing adventures with two crows, an anime-flavored space cowboy scene in which Rick wages endless war on behalf of crow-people and against owl-people. Morty shows up, middle-aged, pleading with Rick to come home and end his years-long exile. Rick declines, but after realizing his crows are out at night doing side-quests with his arch-nemesis (a scarecrow, naturally), he returns to the Smith family home.
But — plot twist! — Morty isn’t really 40 and Rick hasn’t really been gone for decades. He aged himself up to make his plea more effective and now needs Rick’s help to return to being 14. To fix the problem, they have to go to the Citadel of Ricks, the interdimensional hub for Ricks from infinite timelines. It works.
Here the episode gets into the long-running questions about Ricks and Mortys from other universes. The Citadel has been the scene of some previous episodes, but exactly what goes on there and who is in charge is the subject of speculation among the fans. Here, we get some answers.
Since their last visit, the Mortys have taken over, led by the one Morty popularly described among fans as “Evil Morty.” Evil Morty invites the two to dinner and scans Rick’s brain, giving him the final information needed to collapse the “Central Finite Curve” that holds the multiverse together.
The bit of jargon has been floating around since season one, but only now is it explained: when Rick created the Citadel, he separated the universes where he is the smartest man alive from those in which he wasn’t. Any interdimensional travel in the show is between only those universes. Evil Morty’s grand plan is to escape through that barrier into some universe where Rick isn’t a spacefaring genius, a place where a Morty can just be a Morty and not deal with Rick stuff.
As this is unfolding, regular Morty gets access to Rick’s brain scan, showing him the backstory that had only been hinted at. We knew already (or thought we knew) that our Rick (often called C-137 Rick, after his dimensional designation) witnessed the murder of his wife and child by a Rick from another dimension. We see now that he spent years scouring the universes for that killer, becoming a killer himself in the process.
The journey changes him into the Rick we know, creating the distance and logical remove, the callousness toward others’ lives, and all of the unpleasant qualities of the emotionally scarred protagonist. It also shows us the source of this season’s theme: Rick’s unwillingness to risk losing his family. Indeed, it shows us that he did lose that family, then hopped across the dimensions to find a family that had no Rick and took his place.
Even his separation from Morty in episode nine was less out of disregard for the family than out of concern for how abusing and unpleasant their relationship had become (and, let’s be honest, his fascination with his new crow companions.) Evil Morty offers Morty a chance to escape with him, but he declines, staying with Rick as the Citadel self-destructs. They escape, and the episode ends.
There have been some weird moments this season, but the final two episodes were hard to dislike. The mysteries solved and unsolved will spark conversation among fans as we wait for the next installment, the release date for which has not been announced. There were some good laughs with the crows and others, but these two episodes were pretty somber at times as Rick and Morty plumbed some emotional depths. It should leave viewers satisfied with what we’ve seen and curious about where Rick and Morty end up next.