The ninth episode of Season 4 of Rick and Morty saw the titular inventor and grandson go on a guilt-trip journey to a distant planet to care for some children that look like Gumby fucked Clayface, and honestly, I’m not mad at it. It’s an extremely OK episode – one that is perfectly fine and funny but that I will forget about completely in a few weeks. But it does finally bring the whole family together for the first time in The Other Five, hitting some familiar beats in the process that I feel we’ve been missing from this batch of episodes.
The episode begins with the Smith family on a roadtrip to some undisclosed location when Rick gets a message from an intergalactic baby mama asking him to come see his children. Beth insists, and Rick begrudgingly takes over the vacation to fly to the distant planet Gaia, which turns out to be the mother of his probable children. Yep, Rick fucked a planet. We’ve danced with this idea before, in the Unity episode from Season 2, but it’s funny to see Rick’s family force him to deal with the thousands of children he may or may not have created with nothing more sophisticated than a collapsible trampoline. (Beth catches a few of Rick’s wayward children with a trampoline Jerry packed to celebrate their first catching of a fish, because Jerry is forever lame.)
The episode spirals from there – Jerry is adamant about completing the camping trip he had in mind, so he takes Morty and Summer off with him to pitch a tent in the alien wilderness. Summer devastates him with a tomahawk dunk about his lack of influence as a father, and Jerry wanders off to tumble into a river and get assimilated into the planet’s population of “unproductive” inhabitants, because he absolutely cannot do anything right. Jerry wins the unproductives over with his knowledge of S’mores and camping. Meanwhile, Rick and Beth guide the main population into an incredible age of techological advancement and enlightenment. The episode essentially becomes a war between the two societies, with Jerry deliberately keeping his people primitive while Rick and Beth push their citizens into the 21st century and beyond.
The episode is ultimately very emblematic of Jerry’s attitude towards Rick – he would rather live in mud huts and prevent his followers from developing their intelligence than live in a society that Rick constructed. Even when Rick’s way is the correct, functional, and healthy way to go, Jerry would rather strap on a loincloth and storm the walls of the capital than admit that Rick’s way of doing things was better. We get a lot of supremely pathetic Jerry in this episode, and while I normally enjoy laughing at his character, “Childrick of Mort” presents us with a Jerry that is extremely hard to root for, even from a comedic standpoint. We always want Jerry to fail, but this was the first time that I was actively wishing for harm to come to him. It’s sort of part and parcel with the series – Jerry will have to become more and more obtuse as the show’s storylines get more fantastic – but he willingly participates in the detriment of a society in this episode, in a way that I believe would get you executed on Star Trek.
Morty and Summer find their way to a derelict spacecraft that seems to be powered by video game controls and decimating bong rips, and after Summer gets impossibly high, they crash their ship through the skull of the planet’s actual baby daddy, a huge Zeus-like god figure. (Rick tries to fight him but gets his asshole beaten open in the process.) Before Morty and Summer unceremoniously blast his god-brains out of his eye socket, Zeus bestows divine power on Jerry and his people, which precipitates a massive battle with Beth’s society that essentially becomes an extension of his fight with Beth over her dependence on Rick’s approval.
“Childrick of Mort” is a solid episode that reinforces several of the characters’ relationships with one another, but ultimately I found it to be extremely forgettable. It doesn’t hit any series highs like Pickle Rick, it only makes us hate Jerry exactly the same amount that we already hated him, and its premise feels like a retread of earlier episodes that had a little more to say. It’s not one that you’re going to come back to, but when it comes up on your Blu-ray or Netflix queue during a rewatch, you’ll be like, “Oh, I remember this one! It’s funny!” Personally, I’m waiting for the Rick and Morty that threw challenging science fiction at me that blew my mind at the same time as it made me pee myself laughing. This episode was too much of a retread to get me totally on board, but I never get tired of Rick and Morty’s brand of subversive humor. Hopefully the next episode (the last of this season) introduces something more substantial than just another checkmark on the list of reasons to kick Jerry in the balls as hard as you possibly can.