The list of reasons to praise Rick and Morty is a long and varied one. Perhaps top of the pile is how, week to week, the show consistently surprises. This episode? An anime mobster romp. With giant robotic ferrets. Yup. Not even Draft Kings offered odds for that.
Rick, Summer and Morty are on their way to Boob World. Like in season four’s ‘Rattlestar Ricklactica’, Morty again won’t get to go. This time the issue isn’t snakes, but Rick spotting something of interest on a nearby moon. He’s seen a blue Gotron Ferret, one of five animatronic ‘Voltron’-like mech that Rick is obsessed with. Morty wants to go to Boob World. Summer wants to curry favour with Rick. As daughter and grandfather walk away scheming, Morty’s voiceover foreshadows dark times, apprehensive of Summer’s gleeful encouragement of Rick’s excesses. Summers voiceover cuts his off. The two voiceovers bicker and our head starts to ache. No giant sperm this week y’all.
After Rick, Summer and Morty have assembled the other four Gotron – via the tubes we’ve seen in the opening credits this season – Beth and Jerry are strong-armed into joining them to battle an interdimensional monster. The giant Gotron, made of each family member’s Ferret, destroy the monster with ease. The Smith family are elated – except Morty, who, as Rick feverishly plots to unite every variant of Gotron Ferret owned by every variant of Rick, fears for his grandfather’s mania. Summer coldly shuts his concerns down.
Rick unites five variants of Smith at a BBQ, where – in a scene that parodies the Corleone summit of The Godfather – he, a selection of Ricks, all adopting the Mafia stereotype seen in said film, and his variant of Summer discuss business. Their attempt to strike a deal angers a Rick named Hothead Rick. The Smith family’s combine their Gotrons to form a gigantic Gogotron. More monsters are slain. Summer, now the apple of Rick’s eye, rises in the ranks. Jerry and Beth are fired by an increasing maniacal Rick, while Morty is demoted to a lowly engineer who works maintaining the swelled garage of Gotron Ferret mech.
At a nightclub built to hide from enemies, Rick announces his plans to build a Gogogotron. Morty, incensed, steps outside to cool down. There he’s kidnapped by the original anime pilots of the Gotron Ferrets, who the Ricks have been killing alternate versions of in order to obtain their Ferrets. They try to bribe him with Boob World currency in exchange for insider information about Rick’s operation. Morty resists and they try to kill him. When he gets back, Hothead Rick is trying to destroy the club with his Ferret. He kills a Rick. Then he’s killed. So far, so mech-mafioso.
Summer fires Morty. Then Rick fires Summer, subsequently hiring Kendra, one of the original Ferret pilots, to take her place. Summer arrives home and tearfully apologises to Morty and her parents for her recent arrogance and enabling of Rick. She confesses that her attachment to the family working together comes from a covert operation she’s undertaken in recent months, where she was asked to bond with her and Morty’s giant incest baby (and that sentence isn’t getting any easier to say). The aim was to meld the child into a weapon for the government. What resulted was a maternal bond, and a renewed importance placed on family.
As the Smiths plot their next move, Summer mentions her replacement, Kendra, and Morty quickly twigs that the pilots are planning to kill Rick and take their Ferrets back. But it’s not all bad news! We learn that Summer and Morty’s giant incest baby now has a name – Naruto – meaning that we never have to utter the phrase “Summer and Morty’s giant incest baby” ever again. Naruto easily defeats the original Gotron owners – who have taken Rick captive – Rick is rescued and, via voiceover, Morty and Summer tell the audience that life subsequently returned to normal. As they continue to monologue, Rick pulls alien worms out of their ears and kills them. As he does, he calls the parasites “voiceovarians”. Clap clap clap.
This might be our favourite episode of the season. It’s certainly our favourite post-credits scene, which is at once very clever, very problematic and very, very funny. One of co-creator Dan Harmon’s favourite tricks is to take two distinct genres and mash them together – if you’ve ever seen the season two episode of Community, you’ll now know what beloved 1981 comedy drama My Dinner with Andre might have felt like if it was directed by Tarantino. Sure, there’s an argument that this anime parody/mob movie mash-up isn’t really anime parody or mob movie, but it’s churlish to complain about this many good ideas (not Naruto) being lobbed onto screen.
There have been some fantastic musical numbers heard in season five, and this week, we’ve got Darren Criss – last heard as the voice of ‘Bruce Chutback’ – crooning the big band-esque “a bit of pasta with some anime combined” song you can hear atop one of the episode’s montages.
Pop culture parodies
Aside from the obvious homages to Voltron, The Godfather, and to a lesser extent, Goodfellas, there are nods to Scarface (Rick: “Say hello to my little me!”) and 2004 Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator. Oh, and here’s a deep cut. In one scene you can see Morty drinking a carton of “Hi-C Ecto Cooler”, a real limited edition fruit drink that was released for the original Ghostbusters in 1984.
Did you know?
This isn’t the first time the show has featured a Gotron/Voltron. Season three episode ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ sees Rick’s five individually coloured drones unite to create a very tiny Gotron/Voltron.