‘Rick and Morty’ season 4 episode 5: all the callbacks, Easter eggs and pop culture references in the mid-season finale

From snake Abraham Lincoln to Chris Walken's celebrity voice package – how many did you spot?

Rick and Morty had time for one more crazy escapade before it breaks for Christmas last night, and Rick and Morty season 4 episode 5 was one of the year’s best. Our favourite adventures are always the silliest, and this week we visited a planet populated entirely by snakes, before it collapsed thanks to human time travel-meddling. Morty’s dad, Jerry, meanwhile, had one of his most humiliating misadventures yet, mostly stuck floating in the sky like a sad, lost party balloon.

One of the best parts of watching TV’s wackiest animation is trying to spot all the callbacks, Easter eggs and pop culture references hidden in the background. Here’s what we noticed this time around – plus a handy explainer for the obligatory post-credits scene.

  1. The episode title, obviously

‘Rattlestar Ricklactica’ is, of course, a reference to Battlestar Galactica, the sci-fi series that saw the small crew of aged battleship Galactica protect a small civilian fleet – the last of humanity – as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth. Rick and Morty often uses intentionally bad puns as episode titles (also see: ‘The Rickchurian Mortydate’). Battlestar had humans trying to evade aliens called Cylons, though here Rick and Morty are hunted by space snakes.

  1. Sort it out, Siri

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It’s possible this joke went over the heads of Android users, but when Siri responded to Jerry’s request to set an alarm with “Playing: The Beatles”, it was a reference to the iPhone assistant’s notoriously dodgy hearing.

  1. Christopher Walken error report system

You could be forgiven for missing the identity of Rick’s spaceship’s “celebrity voice package” – “flat tire? You… should be… Walken” – as the Christopher Walken impression wasn’t too hot (surely they could have persuaded the man himself?).

rick and morty season 4 episode 5
Rick and Morty’ episode five. Credit: Adult Swim

  1. “I’ve seen this movie, two guys leave a ship, one goes spinning away”

GravityThe Martian… take your pick – Rick has spotted a common space movie trope here.

  1. ‘Saturday Night Live’ takes a hit

Rick performed a vicious takedown of long-running sketch show Saturday Night Live, claiming that it “dreams of removing all the air from your body and making you float around it for eternity as a mummified corpse.” This is presumably a reference to how, in the YouTube era, SNL is absolutely everywhere, impossible to escape given its virality.

  1. “Morty’s starting to look like a ’90s Japanese ghost”

Or an early 2000s Japanese ghost, maybe? Those creepy beings with distended eyes and prominent veins you get in movies like The Ring (2002) and The Grudge (2004) (Ringu and Ju-On if we’re talking the Japanese originals). 

  1. Jeff Foxworthy (no, us neither)

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This was definitely this week’s most niche gag. Jeff Foxworthy is a comedian, most popular in the ’80s for his jokes about rednecks hence Rick’s “you might be a type zero civilisation-neck” line. A type zero civilisation, meanwhile, is a grade on the Soviet-created Kardashev Scale that denotes a civilisation that hasn’t fully harnessed its planetary and galactic resources.

  1. “This white guy can jump”

The 1992 Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson comedy White Men Can’t Jump was nodded at here, along with how it might be seen as problematic in the woke culture of 2019.

rick and morty season 4 episode 5
‘Rick and Morty’ episode five. Credit: Adult Swim

  1. “Everyone has a plumbus in their home”

It seems Rick has been relaxing with a little inter-dimensional cable TV again, as we see him asleep on the sofa while the how-it-got-made episode about the nonsensical ‘plumbus’ plays for the second time in the show’s history (First appearance: ‘Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate’).

  1. Another game of Downbeat?

The Smith family play Downbeat at one point, a fictional board game that first appeared in the season three episode ‘Rickmancing the Stone’.

  1. What’s a Devil’s Teat?

Not a reference but an interesting factoid: the dive bar Jerry visits is called the Devil’s Teat, which was a term for the clitoris used in medieval times.

  1. Many, many ’80s action movies references

All the scenes involving the warring snakes have a strong ’80s vibe. We’re thinking the Terminator and Robocop franchises in particular.

  1. Back to the Future, with snakes

A poster for the snake equivalent of Back to the Future is glimpsed in the episode, a fitting reference given the characters of Rick and Morty echo those of Doc and Marty McFly. In fact, our titular heroes actually started life as Doc Smith and Mharti McDonalds in a parody series, prior to being commissioned as Rick and Morty

rick and morty season 4 episode 5
Rick and Morty’ episode five. Credit: Adult Swim

  1. Abraham Lincoln, as a snake

‘Rattlestar Ricklactica’ had some fun with time travel (I guess Rick finally put that ‘time travel stuff’ box in the garage to good use), as the pair journeyed back to 1865 to watch ‘snake Abe Lincoln’ deal with an assassination attempt from – yup, you guessed it – ‘snake John Wilkes Booth’.

  1. Yet another fascist planet

It’s a running joke in the show that many alternate realities harbour fascist societies, with a similar thing happening back in this season’s opening episode, ‘Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat’.

  1. 4D Time Cops

These creatures have popped up in the show before. Of course, Schleemypants is voiced by Keegan Michael Key of US comedy duo Key & Peele, while “schleem” is a made-up word the creators seem to enjoy throwing in scripts whenever they get an opportunity.

  1. The post-credits sequence

In addition to providing a little season’s greeting before Rick and Morty goes on hiatus, this moment served to fill in a plot hole: how future Morty ended up getting a black eye.

‘Rick and Morty’ airs on Adult Swim in the US and on E4 in the UK

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