RICK HAS NO MORTY!!!!!
by Charlie Esser
So, here we are talking Rick and Morty, a long long way from Infinite Buckies and the super heroic conundrum. But great stories are those that make us want to dig deeper into the tale than just the words on the page, and Rick and Morty are all about the digging deeper.
One can imagine that an X generation raised on Rodney Dangerfields and a slobs vs snobs dynamic would always find a deeper tale to tell, gaseousemission jokes aside.
And so we come to the Rickshank Redemption, season 3 episode 1 of Rick and Morty, and the moment one imagines when Rick and Morty moves from dance music to sit and listen to music. The jokes are still there, but now things get deeper and it's not just about nugget sauce.
When we open we see Rick discussing his amazing escape from the galactic federation prison, but of course that's a show as much for his captors as for us the viewers. Rick then asks Jerry to fold himself 12 times (a specific number), but of course Jerry incompetent as always only folds himself 6 times. From this we understands 2 things, Ricks have been here before and have found the flaws in the system.
Now we need to digress for a moment, our Rick doesn't have to be the Rick who experienced this history, just one of the infinite number of Ricks to thwart the federation, and carry his tale to the other Ricks. Even if our Rick is on the outs with the counsel, each individual Rick has the personal goal to spread their knowledge among other Ricks to keep dimensional porthole technology out of the hands of the federation. Since a single infinite federation hasn't conquered the multiverse we can assume that none of the infinite Ricks has broken and revealed the secret of multiversal travel.
But there are infinite Ricks and that brings us back to the Rickshank Redemption.
In the Rickshank Redemption we meet a different kind of Rick, a Rick who wore blue pants. Blue pants symbolizing innocence as both Morty and Jerry often wear blue pants.
But here is the thing. What we see in this moment is real. Everything except the formula he writes. Up until that moment it is Rick’s memory copied neuron for neuron. Because he does the Jerry test he knows the limitations of the machine he's been trapped in, and so he introduces his interrogator to the no doubt msg and sucrose infused solution called Mulan Szechuan sauce for him to consume and distract him fromany flaws in the simulation.
So while the interrogator is distracted from the flaws in the memory, we see the true Rick’s origin. He meets an alterna Rick from the Council, he passes on membership, and the Ricks (who are the only people with porthole technology) kill his Diane and Beth. This causes him to cross the rubicon of dimensional travel, and more to the point realize the dangers in the existence of the Council.
Now there is a lot to unpack here, but let's look at the obvious question, why should we think this memory is real. This is in truth an article of faith and good writing, and the show is under no obligation to make the show make sense in terms of a broader arc, but that said, we do see that memories, unchangeable memories, are just outside the Shoney’s window, we see Diane we See Beth and we see porthole technology. We know the the true memory includes these people and scenes, and we know his interrogator knows what to look for. When the interrogator looks out the window he knows right where to look, he isn't an amateur. It's easy to see bureaucrats as incompetent, but if the Galactic Federation were just incompetent they wouldn't be a threat to the Ricks.
So we have a real threat of the Galactic Federation, and a captured Rick who has deduced where and how he is being held. So he needs to make this work. Rick may well be cavalier in his actions, but clearly he is thinking ahead, making a plan, and it wouldn’t make much sense if the Galactic Federation were a threat to go cheap, at least not as cheap as they when they didn’t provide the top of the line machine for the interrogation.
So if we assume that the memory was a real recreation of his memory, then we can assume that (in a shout out to Sliders) the Ricks show up just before a Rick discovers inter dimensional travel, and offer membership in the council, and if they do refuse, they are dealt with. But in this situation it wasn’t the Rick who was dealt with but his wife and child, and thus he vows revenge.
The moment he finds inter dimensional travel he leaves. There is nothing in his world worth staying for, and now he has a goal, to destroy the Ricks. They took what mattered most to him, and now he must destroy them, which of course he does by the end of the episode.
From here our Rick’s story could be anything. He stops and lives a life at one point seeing a young Morty being a grandfather for a bit, but a man on the run can never linger. We see in Close Encounters of the Rick Kind, that the number of Mortys far out number the Ricks. So one can assume that a great deal of Ricks never make it to the council or at least never make it back. So all these Rickless Mortys are brought to the council and assigned to Ricks who both lived long enough to join the council but never had a Morty of their own. That the excess Mortys used in the torture shield did not alert the Ricks suggests that for most Ricks certainly Mortys are expendable, but more to the point, no Rick was Mortyless at that time. Suggesting that the infinite universes without Ricks are so numerous that Most Mortys never wind up on the Rick’s Radar, at least until the council shows up and takes them away.
We see in the story of Simple Rick, that he was the one Rick to understand the greatest thing he would ever create was Beth. The one Rick who was ever truly happy. But our Rick is his opposite, the Rick who came to realize this and had it ripped away by an unfeeling Council of Ricks.
But why would the Ricks commit such an act, perhaps to push our Rick to take the next step, or perhaps just in error as they attempted to kill our Rick. In either situation, a Rick who doesn't develop inter dimensional travel is a risk to all Ricks, as the potential remains within them, and outside the Council’s protection they run the risk of discovery by their version of the Galactic federation who would certainly use the technology to conquer all realities.
So in one action, one more Mortyless Rick secures his home universe from the local federation, and destroys those who took the greatest thing he ever made away from him, allowing him to retire of a sorts, with a Morty who wasn't his, but Morties are interchangeable, and a Beth he never made, but who is still the greatest thing he ever could make.
The evil Morty, current ruler of the citadel, is likely a version of the AI Morty we say in Rickmancing the Stone who became angry at Ricks, Morties, and all other things when his acquisition of sentience granted him no protection from deactivation. After all, why else would wires coming out of eyeball not be more problematic for a super smart AI?
Charlie Esser can be heard every week on the Capes and Lunatics podcast and the Superconnectivity podcast. Charlie is on Twitter @CharlieEsser (Look for the 2 “E”s for quality!)