Rick and Morty Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, August 9, 2021

Rick and Morty Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort

[Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty, Season 5, Episode 7, "Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort."]

It took the return of Birdperson for the source of many of the problems with this season of Rick and Morty to click: the show has mostly forgotten about characterizations and instead focused on empty sci-fi spectacle and bizarre concepts. After the premiere episode hinted at some actual character growth and consequence for the characters, every episode of season 5 since then has tried to one-up the previous episode with sci-fi shenanigans, whether that's a turkey president, a giant incest baby, or a Voltron parody.

Thankfully, Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort remembers that the show is at its best when the sci-fi craziness feeds a character-driven story, as it not only gives us huge revelations about Rick, but about the lore of the show, all in casual conversation.

The episode starts with Rick being left alone in the house while the family goes out on vacation, and he ponders the possibility of another solo adventure a la Pickle Rick. Just like that episode, Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort features an entertaining and bonkers sci-fi premise and outstanding fight scenes that also compliment some significant character development. Turns out, Rick has been slowly building Birdperson back in his garage after he was turned into Phoenixperson and seemingly killed last season. The only problem is that Birdperson's consciousness has retreated deep into his mind, so Rick pulls an Inception and heads inside his friend's mind to bring him back from the brink of death.

The episode's title is a reference to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as Rick explores memories of Birdperson's past, from his planet being conquered by the Galactic Federation, to the happier days when Rick and Birdperson were freedom fighters. The episode shows many events that were previously only alluded to, like Rick, Birdperson and Squanchy forming a band, in the closest Rick and Morty has got to a pure flashback episode. The animation is striking, and we see dozens of inventive alien designs, as well as a stunning action sequence near the end. Before he finds Birdperson's consciousness, Rick teams up with a 35-year-old version of himself, one without any of the narcissism and nihilism, but with all the love for sci-fi mayhem. It is genuinely shocking to see a version of Rick free of his drunk self-hatred, one that just hung out with friends he respected, which adds to Rick's overall characterization.

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Indeed, this is arguably the best characterization of Rick we've seen in a good while, one that is more than just a caricature of a genius asshole we saw in previous episodes and even Space Jam 2. This is a more complex Rick, one that genuinely cares about his friend, but for all the wrong reasons. He says it himself near the beginning when he recognizes that he could just go to another universe and pick up a Birdperson that wasn't on the brink of death, but for some reason, he cares about this one. This culminates in the emotional climax of the episode, another event we've previously heard get mentioned: the Battle of Blood Ridge, which Rick described as Birdperson's "big day" at his wedding.

After a stunning action scene in which Birdperson and Rick literally soar through the air mowing down Federation mobs, Rick asks Birdperson to run away with him to explore the galaxy. When Birdperson rejects him, it genuinely hurts. Even if Rick finds that everything is meaningless as he can go to a different universe, he does care about individual people like Birdperson, and the rejection changes him.

Rick and Morty is often at its best when it explores the crux between endless possibilities for sci-fi fun, and the misery that means for the characters. Birdperson rejecting Rick is the emotional gut-punch that has been lacking on the show this season, and it's nice to see this season finally remember that it can deliver big emotional moments without having to resort to Family Guy-style jokes.

And then there's the bombshell lore drop, which is delivered in an incredibly casual manner: Rick's original daughter may be dead, and no, it isn't the one from the Cronenberg universe. This is hinted at earlier in the episode. During one of Birdperson's memories, we see him and a younger Rick fighter a group of other Ricks, presumably from the council. One of them shouts "killing us won’t bring her back."

Naturally, the assumption is that they are referring to Beth's mother, Diane, but when older Rick explains who Morty is, young Rick confronts him: "You're one of those creeps who moves in with abandoned adult Beths," and when Rick says it's more complicated than that, young Rick doubles down: "You live with a version of our dead daughter."

Now, this has huge implications for the show, and fans are already rushing to see if this lines up with the supposedly fake flashback from the Season 3 premiere and how widespread the death of Beth is among Ricks. For one, it would be a huge reveal for Beth, who already went through enough with the whole clone ordeal — which makes more sense in retrospect — but it also adds to Rick's entire attitude towards his family and especially towards Morty. It may also explain why Rick is so nonchalant about moving to a different universe when things go south.

Of course, Rick and Morty is not likely to follow on any of the implications of this, at least not for a few years, but this ought to fuel enough fan theories to pass the time before the season 5 finale airs next month.

Interdimensional Lost & Found

  • This week's big cultural reference: Rick explaining Shrek to young Rick, who seems genuinely perplexed. See also: Rick's garage AI wishing she was like JARVIS in Iron Man.
  • I guess Rick is essentially Walter from Fringe now?
  • Man, I missed Squanchy, even if his standup routine sucked.
  • Rick's confession to Birdperson was not a platonic thing, right? It felt like a romantic confession, and given what we've seen of Rick, he seems pretty omnisexual.

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