Executive Producer(s): Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, Delna Bhesania, Keith Crofford
Director: Bryan Newton, Pete Michels
Writer(s): Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon, Ryan Ridley, Eric Acosta, Tom Kauffman, Wade Randolph
Starring: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, Sarah Chalke, Steve Agee, Phil Hendrie, Tom Kenny, Vatche Panos, Rob Paulsen, Ryan Ridley, Cree Summer, Kai Wahigren
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 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 for 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. On May 15, 2019, Cartoon Network announced season four of Rick and Morty will begin airing on Adult Swim in November 2019 to many fans’ delight.
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 in rediscovering and/or introducing 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: None
Violence: The giant falls and hits his head on a table and dies in pool of his own blood. An army of Meeseeks fight and kill each other.
Language/Crude Humor:Sexual Content: Some curse words are peppered throughout the episode, such as son of a B***h and B***h. The principal’s name of Summer’s school is Principal Vagina. Morty is sexually assaulted inside a restroom. A character jokes about the size of the tavern server’s bust.
Drug/Alcohol Use: Beth drinks wine while at brunch. Rick orders Scotch Whisky in the tavern.
Other Negative Themes: Beth contemplates divorce as the answer to her problems.
Positive Content: Rick exhibits care over Morty after he falls victim to sexual assault.
After returning from an alternate dimension, Morty complains to Rick of the dark nature of their adventures and wishes for a more light hearted quest. Rick agrees to allow Morty the choice of their next adventure. Beth, Summer, and Jerry ask Rick for his assistance in everyday mundane tasks. Rick introduces them to the Meeseeks Box which is used to produce a short lived creature whose sole purpose for existing is to fulfill one request. Once that one request is fulfilled, the Meeseeks creature stops existing. Rick advises the family not to give the creature too difficult of a task. Beth uses the Meeseeks box to request to be a better woman, Summer requests to become more popular, and Jerry requests to improve his golf game.
Morty chooses to travel to a medieval dimension in search of an adventure. The townspeople tell Rick and Morty of a rich giant who lives in the clouds while the townsfolk reside in poverty. Rick and Morty sneak into the giant’s home. The giant enters the room and senses the presence of intruders. Just as the giant is about to investigate, he trips and hits his head on the corner of a table and dies. Rick and Morty are arrested and charged with murder.
Mr. Meekseeks holds a rally at Summer’s school in order to campaign for Summer’s friendship. After a resounding reception from the entire school for Summer, Mr. Meeseeks disappears from existence. Meanwhile, Beth is at a restaurant with her Mr. Meeseeks as she pours out her emotions regarding her dissatisfaction with her marriage. She comes to the realization she should get a divorce and attempts to kiss the creature just as Mr. Meeseeks disappears. Jerry and his Mr. Meeseeks are on the golf course. In spite of the creature directing Jerry on how to hit a golf ball, Jerry fails to improve. Meeseeks expresses the need for him to complete the task requested of him in order to fulfill his purpose after Jerry quits. The Meeseeks uses the Meeseeks box in order to request aide from another Meeseeks to assist him in improving Jerry’s golf stroke.
Rick and Morty are in court just about to be found guilty of murder as their lawyer gets their case acquitted due to a technicality. After leaving the courthouse, Rick and Morty enter a tavern full of odd creatures. Morty excuses himself to the restroom. Morty encounters a character in the bathroom who attempts to rape Morty in the stall. After struggling with the creature, Morty manages to fight the creature off and escape his attacker. After winning money from gambling, Rick and Morty return to the impoverished town and donate the sum of their winnings to the people. Rick and Morty return home through a dimensional portal.
Beth and Summer arrive home to find the house full of Meeseeks assisting one another in the improvement of Jerry’s golf swing. Beth and Jerry decide to go out for dinner, abandoning the house full of Meeseeks as they beg for him to improve his golf game. The group of Meeseeks who have now existed longer than their normal natural life span begin to become psychotic and violent due to their unnatural length of existence.
The Meeseeks are now an army attacking themselves. They come to the realization the only way to fulfill their purpose of improving Jerry’s golf game is to eliminate Jerry altogether. The army of Meeseeks invade the restaurant where Jerry and Beth are dining in order to kill Jerry. Jerry and Beth hide as the Meeseeks begin to take hostages. Jerry uses a makeshift golf club to hit a tomato into a cup. The Meeseeks cheer and implode out of existence.
Episode five of season one, entitled “Meeseeks and Destroy,” is arguably one of the series’ best episodes to date. It encapsulates the entirety of the series. In this single episode, Rick and Morty tackle subject matters that will become staples of the series such as space travel, alien battles, interdimensional travel, existentialism, family drama, parody comedy, dark humor, and subversive expectations. The series perfectly matches over-the-top, wacky, and unsettling situations with intellectual and philosophical ideas.
Although at a glance the episode seems like a cacophony of nonsense, its writing is brilliant. The character of Mr. Meeseeks allows for a look into the human condition of meaning and purpose. As humans, we long to discover the meaning of our existence. Many of us may spend years searching for what we are called to do and find our place in this world. Many of us may go through our entire lives never discovering that role. The Meeseeks character finds ultimate fulfillment in completion of their lives’ purpose. However, when the Meeseeks encounters Jerry who is challenged in finding meaning and purpose in his life, the Meeseeks fails at his task. Unable to assist Jerry in the mundane task of improving a golf swing, Meeseeks understands his purpose, but is forced to fail at its life goal. This ultimately leads to a multitude of Meeseeks living well beyond their normal life span which leads to violence and murder. One may conclude the inability to achieve one’s purpose can lead to despair and chaos.
Subversive expectations is a common theme throughout the series. This episode is arguably also one of the darkest in the series. One of the ways Rick and Morty subverses expectations is by introducing a version of the Jack and the bean stalk fairytale complete with an evil giant, only to reveal upon the death of the giant he was a husband and father. By revealing the family now broken by the death of the giant’s husband, a consequence to the heroes’ actions is rarely shown.
Morty’s desire to experience a safe adventure leads him to a fairytale town. Although it seems like Rick and Morty’s quest to defend the medieval town from the giant in the clouds comes right out of a children’s storybook, after the death of the giant, Rick and Morty are subjected to a modern judicial system complete with a court room, lawyers, and a judge. One of the most graphic scenes which subversives expectations occurs within this episode. Morty encounters a giant jellybean-like character who proceeds to sexually assault Morty in the stall of a bathroom. Shortly after, Morty learns his attacker is in-fact the town’s king.
Although this episode may seem childish, over-the-top, and dark, it is one of the series’ best to date. By embracing all of the series’ troops in one fantastic episode, it is a great episode to introduce yourself and others to the series. Episode five is one of the best written and conceptualized episodes, making it perfect for multiple rewatches.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a good episode to start watching Rick and Morty, then Meeseeks and Destroy is perfect for you. By touching on all the different tropes the series is widely known for, it is an excellent episode to watch to discover what to expect for the rest of the series.