Rick and Morty: Season 1, Episode 1
A drunken mad scientist drags his reluctant dim-witted grandson on dangerous and terrifying interdimensional adventures.
December 2, 2013
Executive Producer(s): Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland
Director: Justin Roiland
Writer(s): Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon
Starring: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke, Eric Bauza, Dan Harmon, Phil Hendrie, Brandon Johnson, Ryan Ridley, Kari Wahlgren
Distributor: Cartoon Network
Genre: Animation, Science Fiction, Comedy, Adventure
Rick and Morty is an American animated series created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Cartoon Network’s adult swim late night time slot. Inspired by an animated short created by Roiland entitled “The Real Adventures of Doc and Marty” (which in itself is based on the modern classic Back to the Future), Rick and Morty premiered on December 2, 2013 to rave reviews. The series went on to complete three critically acclaimed seasons for Cartoon Network. Rick and Morty has been nominated and won multiple awards including The Prime Time Emmy Awards, BTVA voice acting awards, The Saturn Awards, The Golden Globes, and many others. Rick and Morty’s third season (which concluded in October 2017) was awarded the title of Television’s #1 comedy series for adults 18 to 34. Naturally, with such a cult following and universal critical reception, in May 2018 Cartoon Network ordered an additional 70 episodes of this historic series.
As anticipation grows for new material, Rick and Morty lends itself well to multiple rewatches. Every episode is packed with fast paced humor, thought provoking concepts, and punchy one liners that can easily be missed. Upon rewatching the episodes, I have discovered hidden references, concepts, and quiet jokes that went seemingly unnoticed during my first watch. I invite you to join me to rediscover and/or introduce you to the series as I dive into and analyze every episode while we try to patiently wait for the new season.
*Content Warning: This show is intended for mature audiences*
Spiritual Content: Rick is a scientist who relies on the scientific method. Being a man of science, there is no room for the theory of God. He often refers to God as a myth or a fairy tail.
Violence: Mild violence. Rick and Morty fight over control of a vehicle. A character pulls a knife on another. Someone is frozen, then shatters into a million pieces. Rick and Morty are involved in a gun fight where multiple characters are shot and killed. Some body deformity (broken bones ect.) Animal Surgery can be witnessed.
Language/Crude Humor: The word “hell” is used often, along with a**, d*****, and crap. A character threatens to commit violet suicide. A character hides items in their anus to avoid detection.
Sexual Content: Rick offers to make Morty and his crush into the next Adam and Eve. In a dream, Jessica (Morty’s crush) opens up her shirt for him to touch. Morty touches the chest of his male teacher who allows it.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Rick is continuously drunk. Rick’s flying machine is full of empty beer bottles.
Other Negative Themes: Threats of genocide by use of a weapon of mass destruction. Rick believes school is useless.
Positive Content: A strong relationship between grandson and Grandfather is established. Morty stands up for himself.
Rick (voiced By Justin Roiland) bursts into Morty’s (also voiced By Justin Roiland) bedroom, waking him up. Drunk with beer in hand, Rick drags Morty out of bed and into his newly fashioned flying machine constructed from useless parts from their garage. He confesses to Morty as he is flying while intoxicated that he created a bomb to eliminate all life on the planet except for themselves and Morty’s crush Jessica in order for them to repopulate the earth. After a scuffle for control of the flying machine, Rick lands and exits the vehicle, allowing a multitude of beer bottles and cans to pour out of the machine. After admitting this was a ruse to make Morty more assertive, he passes out. The bomb is activated.
At family breakfast, Rick, Morty, Jerry (SNL alum Chris Parnell), Beth (Scrubs’ Sarah Chalke), and Summer (As the World Turns’ Spencer Grammar) sit at the dining room table as Morty falls asleep. His mother Beth accuses him of getting sick by using a pillow to practice kissing. Summer tells her parents Morty stayed out all night with Rick again. Jerry expresses his anger over Rick’s negative influence over Morty. Beth refuses to support Jerry while Rick explains there’s no God and school is not for smart people. Rick then showers his daughter Beth with compliments of her cooking, toying with her emotions.
Morty sits in the back of his classroom fighting asleep as Mr. Goldenfold (NTSF:SD:SUV’s Brandon Johnson) passes out a test to his class. As Morty examines his test, he falls into a dream where he is surround by numbers. He is approached by his crush Jessica (Kari Wahlgren). She expresses her love for him and partially undresses in front of him, inviting him to touch her. Morty takes Jessica up on her offer; however, it is then revealed Morty is in fact groping Mr.Goldenfold.
Morty stands at his locker and is approached by Frank the school bully, who explains he bullies other kids because he is rich. Just as Frank pulls a knife on Morty, grandpa Rick freezes Frank with his freeze ray. Rick convinces Morty to leave school and join him to help with an urgent matter. Rick and Morty leave school. Summer turns into the hallway and spots Frank. She gets nervous at the opportunity to talk to one of the popular kids in school. She approaches him to make small talk. Just then, Frank, who is still frozen, tips over and hits the ground—shattering into a million pieces.
Jerry visits Beth at work while she is performing heart surgery on a horse. Jerry attempts to convince Beth to put her father Rick in a nursing home. After Surgery, Beth refuses to put Rick in a home due to the fact her father just came back into her life. Beth’s handsome coworker interrupts, and Jerry threatens to commit suicide if she has an affair with him. Beth argues Rick is the only friend Morty has had in a long time. They get a call from the school’s principal requesting a meeting. Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie) tells Jerry and Beth that Morty has attended school for a total of seven hours in two months due to his grandfather removing him from class.
Rick opens up a dimension portal using a dimension portal device. Rick and Morty enter through the portal and arrive at dimension 35-C. Rick explains the dimension provides the perfect climate for a tree called the Mega Tree which provides Mega seeds. These seeds are invaluable to his research. After being chased by a creature, Rick and Morty discover the location of the seeds. Rick gives Morty anti gravity boots in order to retrieve the seeds. Morty attempts to walk down the side of a steep cliff using his gravity boots, but falls. At the foot of the cliff, both of Morty’s legs are horrifyingly broken. Rick explains he failed to turn them on. Rick uses his portal gun to travel instantaneously to and from a dimension which has advanced medicine. Rick injects Morty with a serum which heals his broken legs.
With his legs now mended, Morty climbs the Mega Trees and retrieves the seeds. Rick confesses to Morty that even though it seemed as if he spent mere moments in the advanced dimension, he spent months there which led to his portal gun loosing charge. Rick tells Morty in order to get back home, they will have to go through interdimensional customs. Rick continues to explain traveling interdimensionally with Mega seeds would be illegal. Rick begs Morty and convinces him to hide the Seeds in his rectum.
At interdimensional customs, Rick and Morty (with the seeds hidden) await their turn in line to be checked in. An announcement is made of new advancements in technology to detect hidden items in rectums. Rick and Morty make a run for the dimensional portal. They are chased by customs police. They reach the interdimensional portal. Rick types in the coordinates and instructs Morty to shoot the guards. Morty explains he doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Rick assures him they are robots. As Morty shoots, he severely injures many guards. Morty is horrified as Rick explains the term robot was a figure of speech. They both then jump through the Portal once the coordinates are punched in.
In the school cafeteria, a portal opens up and Rick and Morty fall out of it. Morty’s parents catch them and agree to move Rick into a nursing home due to his influence on Morty. Morty comes to the defense of Rick. His father explains he is not smart enough to understand why Rick is being kicked out. Rick explains Morty is smarter than they think. Rick instructs Morty to solve advanced mathematical equations. Morty involuntarily spouts out the answers proving Ricks influence is in fact positive. Jerry and Beth agree to allow Rick to stay along as Morty stays in school. Once Rick and Morty are alone, Rick explains to Morty that super intelligence is a side effect of the Mega Seeds dissolving in his rectum. He also goes on to explain that further symptoms are loss of brain and motor functions for 72 hours. As Morty drops to the ground with no control of his body or wits, Rick goes off on a tirade about how many adventures Rick and Morty will go on to have.
On the surface, Rick and Morty seems like a cheap Back to the Future rip off. However, upon viewing the pilot for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the balance of high brow intellectual comedy with traditional slap stick bathroom humor. Rick and Morty’s series pilot successfully establishes what we can expect in the following episodes. We are introduced to the cynical, genius, sociopath scientist Rick and his shy, dim witted, introverted grandson who is reluctant to join his intoxicated Grandfather on his crazy and wacky adventures. Morty’s parents’, Jerry and Beth, ongoing dysfunction is clearly established by Jerry’s belittling of Beth’s profession as a horse surgeon, and Beth’s dismissal of any of his authority. As successful as Rick and Morty’s pilot is in establishing its world, it also successfully breaks some of the traditional tropes of a series pilot. We are introduced to Frank, who clearly fits a series adversary to our main character Morty, and kills him off within seconds. This is a perfect example of how this show will keep you on your toes; anything can be expected, and yet nothing is to be expected.
Rick and Morty is dense and full of existential meaning. Every scene is full of quick jokes, pop culture references, and scientific wit. As silly and crude as some of the subjects are, many of the themes and plot revolve around deep sophisticated scientific humor. At times it can feel as if one would need a PhD in theoretical physics to catch all the jokes and hidden references. As Rick and Morty run from the guards in customs to avoid galactic jail for smuggling contraband in Morty’s rectum, Morty encounters an intelligent creature whose entire life span spans over the length of time of a few of Morty’s paces. From birth to death, this creature’s life is subsequently meaningless as the chase continues. This brings up the question: What is the meaning of life, or is there such a thing?
There is a level of familiarity in the unfamiliar. We enter into this seemingly normal world complete with a teenager’s room full of pop culture posters to a classic dining room surrounded by a typical American family and a school full of inept teachers. Suddenly we are thrust into a world where all logic is nullified. Creatures’ physical forms are irrationally impossible. At galactic customs, in spite of the alien world and strange creatures that surround Rick and Morty, they are still subjected to security measures similar to our TSA. These are some of the contrasting elements riddled throughout the show.
Traditionally, animation is a carefully structured medium where dialogue and images are crafted together with precision. However, Rick and Morty feels very much like an improvised animation. The quick dialogue and seemingly unstructured rants breathe life, freshness, and unpredictability to the series. This is due impart to Roiland’s improvising during his voice over sessions for the show which for the most part are added into the episode.
Rick and Morty is one of the smartest, yet crudest, television shows currently running. It appeals to both intellectual viewers and those more attracted to bathroom humor. There’s no surprise Rick and Morty has become one of the most watched comedy series today. With a cult fan base growing exponentially, and its popularity spreading to all forms of media from video games to comic books to podcasts, more episodes of Rick and Morty seem to be constantly in demand.
+High concept humor
+Thought provoking narrative
+Lack of value of life