Welcome back, Birding Man attendees! Rick and Morty has returned to form with “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort.” This outing is, hands down, the best one since “Mortyplicity.”
Admittedly, Season Five has felt … off. Not a significantly drastic plunge in quality, but in comparison to other seasons, this one isn’t quite up to par. But there’s still time to turn it around, and this episode is a start.
Get ready for all the Charlie Kaufman bullsh*t because we’ve got an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-themed dilemma on our hands.
Ready to delve into “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort”? Let’s get to it.
We open with the Smith clan leaving for a boring family vacation sans Rick (voiced by Justin Roiland). Rick has a “million things” that he’s put off — one of which includes reviving Birdperson (voiced by Dan Harmon), his dead bestie. Rick’s AI garage system (not the garage itself) discloses that Birdperson’s mind is all kinds of forked. Well, more like his subconscious. Ergo, he’s stuck in a coma.
Next, Rick jumps into Birdperson’s mind. It’s no Pickle Rick adventure, but it’ll have to do. We travel to where Birdperson and Rick first met … Birding Man! Naturally, Rick’s got illegal drugs on his person. Our Rick asks where the older version of his friend went, and he’s directed toward the portajohns.
Then, Rick finds Birdperson and his younger self holding meetings for the impending Battle of Blood Ridge. Young Rick spots him fishing around for a metacognition scanner. While naked, of course. We learn that YR is Birdperson’s faulty recollection of who he is.
For example, he understands that Rick’s portal gun creates a “green circle,” but not an actual portal. YR decides to follow our Rick. However, our Rick shoves YR into a storage container.
Finally, Rick tracks down Birdperson as the latter observes a happy memory of him and Tammy (voiced by Cassie Steele). He knows Rick is there to bring him home, but he refuses to leave his own mind. After a while, YR finds our Rick again. You can’t keep a good Rick down.
Meanwhile, we see Rick and Birdperson are foaming at the mouth while unconscious in the real world. Rick’s AI system calls out to a passerby for assistance. As it turns out, he’s an avid Marvel fan and thinks of her as “Jarvis.” In true Dan Harmon fashion, she openly mocks him. It’s nice to see that his opinions about Marvel haven’t changed since Community.
Then, we hear a truth bomb that has the potential to rock Rick and Morty to its core. Rick’s real daughter, Beth, is dead. He lives with an alternate version of her. Thus, Morty is his “hypothetical” grandson. Holy motherforking shirtballs. This is huge.
Later, both Ricks wander into a gigantic, formidable-looking red structure. It signifies the memories the Federation eradicated when Birdperson became Phoenixperson. We see the memory of Tammy shooting Birdperson at their wedding. Oh, and another contains an image of tiny baby hands surrounded by feathers. Birdperson has a Birdbaby! More on that in a bit.
Now, Rick wanders into a chamber representing his brain with various tubes that are labeled by emotion. “Disdain,” “depression,” “fear,” etc. This episode brilliantly conveys mental health, and the trauma one endures when experiencing abuse and loss.
Birdperson is trying to commit suicide. He blows himself up. Rick reunites with YR as the pair race to save Birdperson before his neural pathways erode.
Next, both Ricks descend into the “PTSD Station,” which harbors Birdperson’s memories of the Battle of Blood Ridge. They see another version of Rick delivering a speech to their squad pre-battle. There’s even a Squanchy present!
After the triumph over the Federation, Rick attempts to befriend Birdperson but is quickly rebuffed.
Then, our Ricks invade a memory of Tammy at her home with Birdperson. He asserts that he died at his wedding, so he’s merely waiting for it to take effect. That’s when Rick reveals that Birdperson’s a dad. He needs to live for his kid. The persuasion works. Birdperson and his cheerful memory of Tammy join the Ricks as they all look for an escape route.
Of course, since Birdperson blew himself up earlier, his mind is in a state of erosion. Rick and his crew enter Birdperson’s recollection of the former’s garage, searching for a memory device. The said device helps recreate memories that Rick and Birdperson share.
Well, with an emphasis on anger and sadness. There’s Gear Dude’s funeral. Squanchy’s short-lived (and torturous) stand-up phase. While this memory doesn’t appear to be particularly sad, we even see Rick and Birdperson introducing their band, “The Flesh Curtains.”
Finally, they arrive on a floating rock. A crazed Tammy is there to greet them. Young Rick scuffles with her so the rest can escape. Suddenly, a black, seemingly gooey creature materializes, threatening to swallow them all whole. Birdperson’s memory of Tammy stays behind while Rick and Birdperson flee.
Success! The pair wake up in Rick’s garage. Birdperson is alive and whole again. He asks whether Rick would have mentioned his child if it didn’t suit our mad scientist. Probably not. Birdperson departs so he can spend time with his progeny. Rick’s AI garage system declines the passerby’s offerings of “energy storage devices.” Even though Rick reassured her, she would live on for years without him!
Next, Rick finds Young Rick hanging out in a childhood memory that he didn’t have. Rick offers YR a chance to become, well, real. Exist outside of Birdperson’s mind.
End-credit scene time! We see Birdperson and Tammy’s daughter is locked away on a prison asteroid. She’s eating in a cafeteria. Suddenly, a fight erupts. The girl is ultimately crowned champion as she beats the crap out of her opponent. The correctional officers drag her away.
“Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” introduces a bevy of plot points that’ll hopefully impact the Rick and Morty universe as a whole. From the revelation about Beth to Birdperson’s resurrection and the reveal of his daughter, these have the potential to spawn new stories for seasons to come. What happens when Morty discovers that Rick’s not actually his grandfather? That Beth’s not really his kid?
This episode is equal parts humorous and heartfelt. Thought-provoking, even. We’re back, baby, and better than ever. Here’s to maintaining this momentum for the last two episodes of the season.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11 pm on your Adult Swim affiliate.
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