Instead, Season 4 feels like an intentional return to basics in many ways. The Season 4 premiere helps re-center the series around the concept of a mad scientist and his grandson getting into zany sci-fi adventures. At the same time, never does it feel like Rick and Morty is resting on its laurels or failing to innovate. The premiere is one of many episodes that veers into unexpected territory, even finding ways of exploring Morty on his own terms rather than as Rick’s befuddled sidekick. One of Rick and Morty’s finest qualities is the way it still functions as a great, high-concept science fiction series if all the jokes are removed, and Season 4 continues that trend.
Occasionally the show tries a little too hard to keep outdoing itself and add new layers to already complex premises. The midseason premiere “Never Ricking Morty” is one example of an episode that doesn’t know how to quit while it’s ahead. But plenty of other Season 4 installments like the heist movie spoof “One Crew Over the Crewcoo’s Morty” and the Jerry-heavy “Childrick of Mort” show just how far the series can take a clever story idea. And perhaps no episode better speaks to Season 4’s ability to break the mold than “The Vat of Acid Episode.” After multiple attempts to recreate the novelty of Season 1’s “Rixty Minutes,” the series finally manages to put a fresh spin on the anthology format again.
Rick and Morty: The 10 Biggest WTF Moments
The worst that can be said for Season 4 is that the quality never remains very consistent. Season 4 tends to seesaw between great and mediocre. “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” is easily the season’s biggest misfire – the rare Rick and Morty episode that settles for being bizarre and irreverent rather than actively funny. “Promortyus” is another weak link in the chain. It starts out as a hilarious parody of the Alien movies with an unexpected twist, but that episode peaks early and never really manages to build from that point.
There are times when Season 4 takes a style over substance approach, but that’s not always a bad thing. The animation quality has improved to the point where sometimes it’s enough to simply revel in the epic carnage and the intricately crafted battle sequences. The revamped Season 4 intro sequence illustrates just how much the show’s visual fidelity has improved in recent years, especially when new scenes are juxtaposed with the handful of holdovers from Season 1. The spectacle really benefits episodes like “The Old Man and the Seat.” While that episode is fairly unremarkable in terms of plot, the gorgeous animation and the copious amount of celebrity guest stars help elevate the fairly pedestrian material.
Inconsistent or not, Season 4 ends with what is easily the series’ strongest finale episode yet. “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri” captures so much of what makes the series great – the impressive animation, the hilariously outlandish sci-fi concepts, Rick’s deep-seated self-loathing, Jerry – and blends it all together in an episode that manages to pay off on some long-standing loose ends and add far more depth to Rick and Beth’s relationship. That episode hints at some major status quo changes to come in Season 5, changes that can’t be ignored as easily as those introduced at the end of Season 3. No doubt we’re in for another long wait, but at least Season 4 proves Rick and Morty is in no danger of overstaying its welcome.
Watch the trailer for co-creator Justin Roiland’s animated comedy Solar Opposites below:You can find links to IGN’s individual Season 4 reviews below:
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 1 – “Edge of ToMorty: Rick Die Rickpeat” Review
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 2 – “The Old Man and the Seat”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 3 – “One Crew Over the Crewcoos Morty”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 4 – “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktims Morty”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 5 – “Rattlestar Ricklactica”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 6 – “Never Ricking Morty”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 7 – “Promortyus”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 8 – “The Vat of Acid Episode”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 9 – “Childrick of Mort”
- Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 10 – “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri”