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Rick and Morty - The Ricklantis Mixup - Roundtable Review



This article was co-written by Louis Rabinowitz, Laura Markus, Milo M-J and Luca.

Overall Thoughts

Louis: In the immortal words of Morty, aw jeez. Honestly, I’m almost at a loss for words to explain what I thought would be a fun romp around the lost city of Atlantis. The title The Ricklantis Mixup doesn’t exactly connote a sober examination of a brutal and divided society slipping into fascism. But good lord, this was something else. The sheer density of this episode is astonishing - there’s about six different plotlines that all cohere around a single thematic point yet add their own valuable perspective, and every one of them is set up, developed and then concluded with a genuinely surprising and sad twist ending. The way in which this quietly wrenching anthology of Ricks and Mortys struggling to rage against the machine only to be broken by a world that only wants them to turn on each other and themselves then slots into an overarching story with a giant twist ending, one that massively upends the show’s mythology as we know it is, basically genius.

It feels like the creators threw a 13-episode prestige drama from Netflix into a blender and condensed it down to 22 minutes, yet somehow achieved exactly the same effect. Ricklantis, like the best episodes of the show, strikes a brilliant balance between off-the-wall structural experimentalism that takes apart what an episode of Rick & Morty should look like, and being profoundly emotional in a way that knocks the viewer completely out of their complacency (the return of the advertisement of ‘Simple Rick’ as the capper to the factory story has an essay’s worth of subtext about the commodification of rebellious sentiment and the way society uses it as a tool simply to strengthen its own oppression under a friendlier veil). To be honest, I’m kind of blown away by this one, even if that sounds ridiculously overwrought. It’s comfortably the best episode of a terrifically strong season, and it’s difficult for me to make an argument that wouldn’t put it, at the moment, as the strongest episode the show has ever put out, above even classics like Total Rickall or Rixty Minutes. Maybe I’m over-excited, and maybe it’s recency bias. But, in my defence The Ricklantis Mixup does have that instinctive feel of a legitimate masterpiece. Wow.

Can I send snacks to the writer’s office or something?

Laura: I…..uh…..what? No? No. How do I even begin to scratch the surface of this thing? Better, smarter people than me will capture every nuance and detail of this beauty. But I’m just going to sit here in shock and wonder how something like this even got made. We don’t deserve something so great, we just don’t. Not a moment of this episode was wasted, not a thread of it felt out of place. Everything was masterfully crafted as though it was sculpted in heaven and brought down for us to bear witness to. Everything we thought we knew and loved about the show got turned on its head in some form. While “Rest and Ricklaxation” poked fun at the idea of toxicity and sociopathy, everyone still had Eyepatch Morty in the back of their minds. And this episode continued to laugh in our faces. But nothing feels cheap here. There was no wink to the audience, no Seinfeld-esque theme song-laugh track-end credits moment.

It was all expertly building to an ending that should be regarded as one of the greatest twists of our time. I could spend hours delving into the class warfare of it all, taking the roles of Ricks and Mortys and turning them on their heads, but I won’t do that here. People will do that better than I can. All I can do is praise the writing team for what they have done here. This could very well be the best of the best that Rick and Morty has to offer. If someone wants to know why people speak so highly of this show, this episode is why! Every episode this season seemed to be parodying something, and maybe it was all building to this Willy Wonka parody. I don’t know. What I do know is the Cop storyline was genius, the four Mortys doing a Stand by Me thing was adorable, and I don’t even need to mention the election bit since we all know what they were going for there. It all came together like clockwork. Each piece of this puzzle was placed together, side by side, building to the big picture. And it did not disappoint. The hype could not be more deserved for this one. This is must-see TV. Also the expressions on the characters’ faces, especially Cop Morty, were supremely well done. I know I’ve gone all over the place with these “overall thoughts” but, overall, this episode has changed my life. I do not say this lightly.

Ditto the request to give the writers some snacks. Or all the praise I can offer. Which is a lot.

Milo: Wow. Easily the best episode of the season so far, I loved it. I was sold from the moments they used The Eagles’ In The City from the opening montage, reminding me of Joe Walsh’s version from one of my favourite films, The Warriors. The way everything played out afterwards was so cool, putting regular Rick and Morty to the side in favour of exploring life on the Citadel in a way that only this show could. The darker turn of the series really came to an apex here with the bait and switch about Atlantis, instead choosing to focus on what the other Ricks and Mortys were doing by themselves. The multiple homages in this episode, to stuff like Stand by Me and more were all the more awesome, and the way the show developed all the different versions of both characters was fantastic. The look into how ruthless this show could be at times when multiple Mortys were discussing how they had lost multiple Ricks in the past and were waiting for replacement Ricks was something that was used to great effect, and the way they managed to bring back Evil Morty was unexpectedly cool.


Luca: It was one of the best episodes of the season, if not the best along with the Premiere. I loved how they turned us all around with the title and the promo, making us think it was about Atlantis and then going in a complete different way. Rick and Morty is a special show with an unprecedented sense of playing with the viewer, but kudos to Adult Swim here, who played along and made the payoff even better. They definitely deserve to have this gem on their roster. The way that The Citadel was depicted was amazing, showing us how not every Rick and Morty of the universe are as special as the ones we’re so lucky to witness every week, most of them actually live very simple and boring lives, with everydays jobs. It was incredible how Roiland and Harmon basically depicted a live city, a realistic city full of different characters, all while using… the framework of only TWO characters. If that wasn’t enough, the episode even had some meat to its storyline, bringing back Evil Morty all the way from Season 1 and in the coolest way, with him scheming his way towards being president of the Citadel. The scene at the end, where we find our Rick and Morty yet again also is pretty clear about his (Evil Morty) future involvement in their endeavours too. And that only magnifies the scope of the episode.

Character development

Louis: Really, C-137 Rick and Morty didn’t change a whole lot this episode. This is the least amount of time we’ve ever spent with those guys, and it seems as if what they did do while we hopped around the Citadel was more a fun afternoon out with ‘mermaid puss’ than a life-affirming journey. Not a lot of character development here. Disappointing.

Okay, I’m not going to sustain this bit for very long. Ricklantis Mixup doesn’t elucidate anything on our Rick and Morty specifically, but the dominance of their many, many copies over the episode fleshes out the characters in a fascinating way. Some of the revelations of life in the Citadel are obvious; of course the Ricks would establish dominance over the Mortys and shove them into subservience, and of course, those tenacious little Mortys would try to band together to establish some control, only to fail time and time again. But the episode goes a lot deeper than just taking Rick’s established relationship with Morty and expanding it out for a whole society. It’s the exploration of how these many copies, ostensibly identical in every way down to age and IQ, somehow form their own hierarchies that really makes this episode tick.

We’ve learned recently that these are two very, very toxic people, and the Citadel has a way of making sure that toxicity is aimed at each other. Ricks can’t tolerate the idea of not being at the top, even if they’re only displaced by themselves, but they’re also the only ones smart enough to figure out how to keep themselves in check - the only person who can disempower and defeat a Rick is… well, you guessed it. The result of this is, as Morty says, the same old story playing out again and again, because why wouldn’t it? These are all the same people. They’re always going to turn on each other.

It was also a lot of fun to see the outlier versions of each character that emphasises their less obvious characteristics, such as the relatively moral and good-hearted Officer Rick who ends up, in a clever twist on the Training Day scenario, as the wide-eyed rookie of his partnership, or the cynical and rebellious Slick who’s lost all of the vague and possibly misplaced optimism that defines Morty, embodying the nihilism that we see sometimes peek out underneath the aw-geez facade.

And then, oh boy, evil Morty. This was a loose thread that clearly needed tying up, but the episode still manages it in a way that’s surprising and thrilling. It’s a perfectly executed reveal, built up to in a way that feels inevitable, and there’s no need at all for clunky and obvious exposition when the show has such a well-established theme for this particular character that it can roll out for dramatic effect (the neat thing is that almost every viewer will understand this reveal without it ever being said or obviously shown). The election storyline is a smart way to bring him in, emphasising his brilliant ability to play exactly what both his own kind and Ricks want to hear and recognition of his own pleasant and unthreatening exterior as a diminutive 14-year-old. It’s fun, actually, to have a politically-themed storyline about a cruel populist outsider being elected to leader that doesn’t feel like it’s about Trump. Sure, it plays on some of the same themes, but evil Morty’s success lies in the way in which he can make everyone feel special in some way, appealing to all shades of the marginalised in society, rather than just one section. But, like Trump, evil Morty is ultimately the old in the guise of the new - promising a fresh dawn only so he can keep the wheels of a defunct and unjust society turning for his own benefit. It’s fitting that, in his quest to purge the Citadel of Rick’s influence, he uses some leftover versions of Rick to do his dirty work.

Evil Morty was always so much more interesting than a simple creative experiment because he actually felt real - it was, and is, possible, to see the lovable Morty we know being driven to that remorseless extreme. It’s great for us to have him back. And awful for everyone else.

Laura: Four words: “For the Damaged Coda”. God, I don’t even need to say anything else now do I? Before this episode I could put on that track and enjoy some smooth instrumentals enjoying that twist for what it was and trying to theorize when and how it will come back to haunt us. I was neither expecting it like this, or for it to come this soon. Yeah, I can admit I forked up all season long when I said C-137 Morty will be the one ~seeeeecretly~ revealed to have worn the famous Eyepatch, but you can’t be mad at me for theorizing. I was not alone in this assumption so I don’t feel bad. I will say that this was a genius move. Truly genius. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. And how could we? A Morty who just wants to see some change seems innocent enough, right? And he put on one heck of a facade. I know we’re all into analyzing the sociopathy of Rick, but let’s not sleep on the very likely psychopathy of Evil Morty, okay? This dude fooled EVERYONE into thinking he just wanted to help people. Kissing babies, participating in the election when the odds were stacked immensely against him. While this all sounds like another case of art imitating real life, we need to remember what this Morty did. He literally controlled a Rick, remotely, to have that Morty camouflage hideout and kill all those other Ricks. Is this his goal? Is this the motive, his driving force? Because, by the end of this episode, he did it all over again. Killed a bunch of Ricks and controlled others***. It’s disturbing. But let’s ask ourselves why we are disturbed. Is it because we are so used to seeing Mortys in the sidekick role? So submissive, so pure. I think this was inevitable. And I really think this will lead our Morty down a dark path. I have to wonder what the finale has in store for him and his Rick. I suspect this Morty could follow the Evil one. Or is this evil one even evil? If you really think about it, he’s just doing what he believes is right. Clearly he believes he is the voice of the minority, speaking for those disenfranchised. What exactly is so wrong or evil about that? Are Ricks the evil ones? Are we the evil ones? [intenseness intensifies]

(***It must be mentioned here that Evil Morty was not the only one in control of a Rick, as the entire production line of Simple Rick’s wafers is controlled by the happy goop of a Simple Rick. It’s just as slimy and gross as you could possibly think it is. So the plot of Regular Rick wanting to free him but then becoming controlled afterwards...it feels too real and very painful. So I’m just gonna gloss over that one.)

On that note, let’s jump into Rick for a hot minute, because - oh my goodness. Cop Rick had a lot going on that I want to mention. Let’s start with his desire to follow the rules. That’s totally a reverse from what we are used to seeing, at least from C-137. So much of this episode was dedicated to learning more about what is expected in the Rick and Morty role. Mortys killing Mortys, like always. Ricks killing Mortys, like always. Yeesh. It sends chills up my spine thinking about these facets of their lives. But the most fascinating part of this bit was when Cop Rick infiltrated the hideout of the Mortytown Locos. He goes into a room with a baby crib and a Morty looking defenseless and childlike. Most other Ricks would probably apprehend said Morty or even shoot him on sight, not knowing anything about him. But Rick goes in for the hug and ultimately wanted to protect this Morty like his own. Despite the awww-inducing act of this, when that Morty literally stabs him in the back, it shocked me. A lot of things in this outing shocked me. We’ve grown so accustomed to see Ricks do their thing and Mortys do theirs, but even when we know these are the exceptions, it’s still jarring to see them act outside of their preconceived notions. This is especially true when it came to Cop Morty. He had a Rick thing going for him too, but really he was the Rick and the Rick was the Morty. But maybe the whole point was to reverse them. This had to be what the episode was going for, right?

Yeah, we could address Wonka Rick and Snape Rick and all the other Ricks until they’ve all been done to death, but another interesting point this episode might’ve wanted to make is that they’re all more similar than they let on. Earlier on in the episode there’s a nice shot (with great accompanying music) with a bunch of Ricks and Mortys walking around in unison like sheeple. It was eerie, but brilliant. There’s probably so much I am forgetting to uncover here. This is why Roundtable Reviews are great. Go read the other answers.

Milo: Whilst there was nothing here for any of the regular characters this week we got plenty of development for many of the other versions of Rick and Morty, with Evil Morty in particular stealing the show with the way he manipulated his way into office. The development of the different Rick and Morty factions and the way the split was handled between the two allowed the show to open into dark territory, particularly with the two versions of Cop Rick and Cop Morty. We had a rare, innocent Rick join up with a battle-hardened Cop Morty.


You know things are screwed up when a Rick thinks that a Morty has gone too far. The many different storylines that we got here were all designed to flesh out these characters very well, I don’t know how likely it is that we’ll return to them (presumably given the ending we’ll return at some point), but now that they’re in place as established characters should we see them again in the future it’ll be interesting to see how much they’ve changed when we next meet.


Luca: What character development, our Rick and Morty got to be on screen for basically 60 seconds and- oh wait. The WHOLE Citadel was basically our Rick and Morty, or at least a version of them. Since the framework of all the characters is really the same, an episode structured like this was also a cool way of showing us some aspects of Rick and Morty’s persona that is surely embedded in them but that maybe doesn’t get to show all that often on their regular adventures. So we see Police Morty being fed up with life, basically shrugging off everything gets thrown at him, resigned and practical at the same time, full knowing that no matter how it goes, it always ends the same. His partner, Police Rick, is a Rick we couldn’t have dreamed of before, a Rick that actually cares about people and is even willing to sacrifice himself for doing the right thing. And that was two of them in a city FULL of Ricks and Mortys.

Funniest moments

Louis: This feels like the least funny episode of the season, which isn’t an insult. It’s hard to imagine the rapid-fire zaniness of The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy slotting into the grimy Citadel. But, somehow, this episode still managed to be funny as hell when it set its mind to it. There’s the numerous hilarious takes on Rick and Morty, from ‘Farmer Rick’ (he’s committed to the bit) to ‘Tall Morty’ to ‘the Mortytown Locos’. Rick & Morty ignoring its own stated premises has become a new, fun trick, but the way in which the episode completely chucks Atlantis out the window after the cold open is still fantastic. Creepy Morty was funny, too, though I’d be quicker to put it into ‘most psychologically disturbing moments’ category.

Laura: The Game of Thrones joke had me in stitches. Seeing the Wonka and Snape Ricks. The final commercial for Simple Ricks. The “More lasers!” bit. The Creepy Morty strip club thing. “You’ll be happy to know the council’s gone now.” “Yeah, he knows, he murdered them.” The entire premise of this episode being a complete red herring, as many correctly predicted. And the fact that we all feel like idiots now for jumping to conclusions and not seeing this coming, at least not in this way. Now that is the funniest thing of all.

Milo: I definitely agree with Louis here in that it was the least funny episode of the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, far from it. The Citadel storyline needed a darker tone to work and in keeping with the darker tone of the season, it paid off spectacularly well. There were jokes though, Wonka and Snape Ricks of course, and The Game of Thrones joke too.


Luca: Not a lot of funny moments, that’s for sure. This had a darker tone and was aiming for something more, but there were laugh here and there, that’s for sure. The biggest one was for me the whole strip club thing, with all the Mortys dancing around and even cowboy Morty acting like a stripper would in a similar situation.

Easter eggs

Laura: How ‘bout that scene from the trailer! The four Mortys are escaping from the school window. I wasn’t expecting that one to be real; my money was on the Morty shop based on what this episode looked like. But this was a great little scene, and a great sideplot.

Also, Evil Morty goes to visit a sick Trunkperson Morty in the hospital. That was nice.

Luca: Maybe it’s just a me, but in a strip club we see a bearded Morty sitting on a sofa while a shorts-wearing Morty dances in front of him. That seemed eerily similar to some of the Black Lodge sequences of Twin Peaks! Also, I’m pretty sure I saw a “Justin Roiland Morty” in that strip club too.

Mythology

Louis: See, I knew this section had a purpose! This was definitely the most consequential episode for the show’s wider mythology since… well, since we last saw the Citadel of Ricks, back in the third season premiere. As any great mythology episode should, Ricklantis Mixup both deepens the mythology and pushes it forward. The conceit of infinite Ricks and Morties living in unison is something the show introduced surprisingly quickly, but the personal and philosophical consequences of a hierarchal society of identical clones have never actually been explored until now, so this particular corner of the Rick & Morty multiverse feels all the more richer now we know how it actually works. And as for actual developments, there’s the small fact that the most powerful man/boy in the multiverse is Evil Morty. Look, this show is never going to have a conventional mythology you can map out like Game of Thrones, but it’s been very clear that the Citadel of Ricks, in the absence of the Federation that used to be their foil, is about as influential as it gets. It won’t be hard for them to track down, to name a completely random example, C-137 Rick and Morty. And considering the season finale’s title, The Rickchurian Mortydate, and all of its connotations about corrupt presidential candidates, it might not be long until we see that particular scenario play out in full. It’d be fitting for the show’s most serialised season to have a huge conclusion.

Laura: THEY DID THAT™. They really did the whole damn thing. I already mentioned it in the Character Development section of this review but it’s f*cking slick (ha!) how they chiseled Eyepatch Morty back into the main storyline. We still don’t know much about him, his upbringing, his motives, or much else, but I am positive we are going to find out, most likely in the season finale. Whew. I am most excited to see how they unravel his dynamic with his Rick, whoever he was. I love a good backstory and since we haven’t really had much of one with C-137 Rick (aside from the fabricated one in “Rickshank”), maybe this will be what we need to get one. Maybe their paths cross more than we think. Only time will tell. That should be it from mythology, though the Citadel has been shown once more, in a very different way since Rick completely obliterated it. I guess it’s nice to see that they rebuilt it? Or, at least they tried to...hehe.

Milo: The ending of course is the biggest gamechanger and the Evil Morty being brought back into the fray really sets things up going forward. It feels like too good of an opportunity not to spend more time with him in the future, but now that he’s in place and in a position of power at the Citadel, all has set the stage for an exciting return. The Rickhurian Mortydate seems only to hint at a Manchurian Candidate parody, and given that is all about political corruption, it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. Maybe we’ll see more parodies of real-world politics, perhaps? There’s plenty of material for Rick and Morty to draw from, to say the least…


Luca: This is definitely the best example, probably in the entire series, of an episode of Rick and Morty that actually follows the continuity. Evil Morty becoming President of The Citadel is obviously a big deal and something that the show will surely address in the coming episodes.

What comes next

Louis: Morty’s Mind Blowers! I’m glad they’re not doing Interdimensional Cable 3, given how disjointed and clunky the sequel was (despite the continued hilarity of the actual segments), and this idea of reliving Morty’s worst memories seems like a clever workaround to tell a similar kind of story. The concept reminds me of Community’s “Paradigms of Human Memory” in that it’s a blank canvas to hint at all sorts of adventures that have taken place off-screen, and given how fun that episode ended up being, I’m hoping this one will hit the mark. I mean, it’s Rick & Morty.

Laura: “We’re doing this instead of Interdimensional Cable”. Ahahahaha. Genius. I can’t wait for this one. Really. I can’t wait. Give it to me right now.

Luca: So, no more Interdimensional Cable, it’s time for Morty to face TEH TRUTH. It’s probably another episode with a non-linear structure of different stories glued together, and Harmon has shown in the past that he’s very good at this, so yeah, looking like another good one coming up (which is not very unusual for this show, I might add).

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