When Rick tricked Morty out of pursuing his dreams in Rick & Morty’s season 4 heist movie parody, viewers could never have predicted how much darker season 5’s finale would make this joke. The titular stars of Adult Swim’s hit comedy series Rick & Morty have never had a balanced relationship. With Rick being a troubled super genius and Morty being a decidedly less-than-genius teen, there is an obvious power imbalance that sustains Rick & Morty’s comedy, as Rick can almost always be relied on to drag Morty into every hare-brained scheme he comes up with despite the child’s misgivings.
However, Rick & Morty’s dark season 5 finale saw the series subvert this dynamic after taking an entire season to deconstruct the show’s typical formula. Throughout Rick & Morty season 5, the two title characters went on more solo adventures and grew independently as characters before the finale revealed the terrible truth behind their partnership. This twist made many earlier episodes feel far darker in retrospect, in particular a heist movie parody seen in Rick & Morty season 4.
Rick & Morty’s “One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty” (season 4, episode 3) is one of the many more light-hearted episodes found in season 4. A goofy outing that subverts heist movie tropes, the plot of the episode gradually grows sillier and more surreal before eventually collapsing on itself when it is revealed that the many, many heists were all part of a long con perpetrated by Rick on Morty to ensure his grandson got sick of heist movies. Like "The Vat of Acid Episode"’s twist, this gag became much darker in the wake of the season 5 finale. When the episode first aired, the revelation that Rick’s entire plan was designed to “steal” Morty’s enthusiasm seemed like a silly meta twist on the episode’s heist movie motif, but the joke takes on a far sadder tone in light of season 5’s explosive twist.
Rick & Morty Season 4’s Heist Episode Explained
The episode opens on Rick and Morty confronting one of Rick’s many nemeses, a conman currently hosting a heist convention. This sets in motion a string of increasingly elaborate heists and eventually leads to Rick fighting an artificial intelligence he designed to pull off the perfect con. Much like Rick & Morty season 4’s Terminator spoof proved that time travel plots often fall apart under scrutiny, the episode soon proves that most heist movies are more interested in assembling crews and offering a postmortem after the crime is committed than focusing on the job itself. Fittingly, when Rick’s AI is defeated, Morty is free to take his meeting at Netflix and pitch the heist movie he has been working on throughout the episode — only for him to realize he has lost all enthusiasm for the genre, which is revealed to be Rick’s real plan was all along.
Thus, the episode ends with Rick happy that a now-disillusioned Morty wants to work with him once more and doesn’t even know his grandfather tricked him into this state. On first viewing, the joke is that, rather than hating heists as he claimed, Rick loves the genre and its machinations but loves taking advantage of the imbalanced power dynamic between him and Morty (and the free labor it provides) even more. It is a clever meta spin on the genre, but it is one that the season 5 finale makes much bleaker.
How Season 5’s Finale Upended Rick & Morty’s Dynamic
The dynamic between Rick and Morty was always imbalanced, but Rick & Morty’s season 5 finale illustrating that Mortys are interchangeable cannon fodder for Rick’s endless amoral adventures across countless realities made Rick’s tricking of Morty much darker. The heist episode’s ending no longer seems like an isolated incident and is more of an illustration of a larger pattern, reaffirming that Rick will go to incredible lengths to limit Morty’s ambitions if they infringe on his convenience. Much like the season 5 finale made the “Vat of Acid Episode”’s twist tragic, the twist also made Rick’s smug destruction of Morty’s ambitions much bleaker in the ending of the season 4 outing. The moment no longer plays as Rick getting one over on everyone and instead is more proof of the egotistical character’s callous disregard for the welfare of his loved ones.
How Season 4 Hinted At Rick & Morty’s Changing Dynamic
Rick & Morty’s season 5 finale permanently changed the power dynamic between the duo, but this shift began as far back as the season 5 premiere, wherein Morty defied Rick and went on an adventure of his own to pursue Jessica. However, even earlier than this, Rick & Morty season 4 hinted that a change was imminent by pointing out the holes in Rick and Morty’s relationship. The heist episode’s ending was only one example, with Rick & Morty also depicting Rick and Morty’s dynamic breaking down under pressure in both the underrated “Promortyus” (season 4 episode 7) and the meta episode “Never Ricking Morty” (season 4 episode 6).
Although plenty of Rick & Morty’s season 4 adventures followed the classic old formula (Rick takes Morty on an adventure, Morty means well but screws up, Rick saves the day and the duo escape), “Never Ricking Morty,” “Promortyus,” and “One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty” all subverted this setup. In “Promortyus,” Rick and Morty alike screw up, and it is Summer who is the unexpected voice of reason while, in “Never Ricking Morty,” Rick can’t outsmart the episode’s villain and ends up needing to rely on the lord’s intervention. Rick & Morty’s season 4 Christmas episode “Rattlestar Ricklactica” offers a much more recognizable story of Rick saving Morty from a problem he caused, but season 4 as a whole still made it clear that the dynamic between the duo would soon be changed.
How Rick & Morty's Season 5 Finale Improves The Heist Episode
Rick & Morty season 5 saw Morty confront Rick about the imbalanced nature of the adventures repeatedly, eventually resulting in the duo parting ways (albeit only for one episode). This character growth makes “One Crew over the Crewcoo's Morty” a more satisfying rewatch, as the contrast between Morty’s crestfallen emergence from his Netflix meeting and Rick’s smug satisfaction at a job well done foreshadows the eventual renegotiation of their working relationship. While far from the darkest Rick & Morty moment, Rick’s tricking of Morty in the season 4 episode is mean-spirited as a stand-alone occurrence and far more effective when rewatched with season 5’s revelations in mind. Thus, Rick & Morty’s season 5 finale makes season 4’s heist episode a deeper, darker outing upon a rewatch.
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