Rick and Morty Season 5 Finale Review
Though they’re both about testing the strength of Rick and Morty’s relationship and the first does directly lead into the next by virtue of… crows… these really are two separate episodes with two different focuses and tones. This first one is closer to a “normal” season five episode. Sure, it’s got Rick pissing Morty off so much that he goes off on his own anti-Rick adventure (with a dude fittingly named Nick), but, for the majority of the runtime, it’s not handled like it’s all that big of a deal.
Regardless, the inciting incident here of Morty accidentally getting portal juice on his hand, thus creating a portal in his hand that connects to Nick’s thigh is a really clever one. It’s unfortunate that an odd side effect of a series with a premise that allows for infinite sci-fi possibilities is that many concepts, no matter how much creative effort is put behind them, feel like retreads that fall into a similar category (e.g., the season premiere with its Narnia world that evolved at hyper-speed felt not entirely dissimilar from the sequence of Morty living an entire life in “The Vat of Acid Episode” which, in turn, felt not so dissimilar from that time he played Roy: A Life Well Lived). However, this portal in the hand thing feels totally new and fresh.
They get some good mileage out of it too, with some cool action sequences (like Jackie Chan!) and inspired moments like Morty making a dude eat shit, literally, by transferring the contents of a chamber pot by way of the hand/thigh portal system or when Nick takes control of the car Morty’s driving by sticking his hand through Morty’s portal hand. It’s also used smartly in the most effective dramatic moment in “Forgetting Sarick Mortshall” when Morty chooses to destroy his portal connection to Rick by placing his hand on a train track so that it’s severed off, and then drops the hand-portal into Nick’s thigh-portal to kill him. It’s all very clever, well-executed stuff, though, typing it out, it sure sounds weird.
How Morty comes to the decision to sever his hand and connection to Nick is less well-executed. It unfortunately brought to mind the episode with Planetina, perhaps the worst of season five, as in both episodes Morty realizes the person he’s spending time with ain’t so great because—shock horror—they’re cool with killing innocent people! Yes, Morty has a moral core, so it’s not like it doesn’t make some sense, but it’s just that, with the amount of people he and Rick murder out of petty anger or just by happenstance all the time, it feels like they need to sell his change of heart a little more.
The other half of this episode is about Rick replacing Morty with two crows, at first as a joke, but then he gradually comes to realize crows are actually cool and can teach him about empathy. The idea of it is that this “two crows” thing is engineered to be a silly, one-off inanity, but then the joke becomes so much more as the writers sincerely explore the concept. However, it never really successfully elevates itself above its initial inane premise. I still just found myself thinking “What is this crow bullshit? Why crows?”
It’s also becoming a bit of a predictable Rick and Morty staple that characters that appear incidental at first actually have a whole society and way of life we get to learn all about (the face-huggers, the Narnia people, the Chuds). It’s an obvious plot device to return to seeing as this is a sci-fi series about visiting new universes and alien worlds all the time, so it would be irrational to suggest they stop doing it altogether, but did this particular plot really need to go in that direction? The introduction of the crow society comes out of nowhere and it isn’t convincing that Rick decides to follow a path of empathy with his two crows right after he just killed a whole bunch of other crows. Anyway, the only thing that makes the crow plot “interesting” is that the writers commit to it so hard it carries into the next episode.