Comedies often have a rough first season as they attempt to find their footing, so keep that in mind when I earnestly say that the first season of Rick and Morty was one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever seen. The dual creators Justin Roiland (voice of both Rick and Morty) and Dan Harmon (creator of Community and Harmontown) put together a show that not only delivered bizarre acid-fueled dimension-hopping sci-fi insanity week after week, but also surprising thematic and character depth. It’s a balancing act they manage to pull off without either element feeling forced.
The show follows Rick, a retired alcoholic mad scientist who’s moved in with his daughter’s family, and his grandson Morty, who joins Rick on their “high concept sci-fi rigmarole” mostly with reluctance. Also in attendance are Rick’s daughter Beth, her loser husband Jerry, and Morty’s teenage sister Summer. It’s a show that intentionally tries not to maintain a lot of story continuity from one episode to the next, such that you could probably jump in with next week’s season 2 premiere and feel like you’ve missed relatively little. And honestly, you should probably just watch season 1 because goddamn it’s so good. But if you don’t want to do either of those things, here’s what went down on the show last year.
- The school informs Morty’s parents that Morty has missed a full semester’s worth of classes due to his misadventures. But Rick convinces them their son is a genius, and so they give Rick a free ticket to take Morty out of school whenever he wants. (Even though he only appeared smart due to the side effects of Mega Tree seeds that dissolved in his rectum. It’s a weird show.)
- Rick and Morty traverse into the dreams of the school’s math teacher to convince him Inception-style to give Morty a better grade.
- Rick gives the family dog Snuffles a helmet that makes it more intelligent, but the dog finds a way to advance the device’s powers and build himself a robotic suit. To prevent a dog uprising, Rick invades Snuffles’ dreams to convince the dogs to travel to a more sympathetic dimension where they can live peacefully.
- Morty teleports Rick into the body of a homeless man, where he’s been building a Jurassic Park-style Anatomy Park. But when various deadly diseases escape their enclosures, Rick has to destroy the man and the park inside.
- A group of aliens capture Rick (and maybe Morty?) inside a simulation to trick them into revealing one of Rick’s secret formulas, but he tricks them into destroying themselves.
- Rick gives the family a “Meeseeks Box,” which generates an infinite number of self-destructing Meeseeks to solve their problems. When Jerry gives one the impossible dilemma of taking 2 strokes off his golf game, an increasing number of confounded Meeseeks try to kill Jerry, until he finally does improve his golf performance.
- Rick gives Morty a love potion for him to use on his crush, but the concoction goes airborne via the flu and infects the entire school. A series of attempted antidotes only turn the school, and eventually the entire world, into horrific monstrosities. Rick can only think to solve the problem by teleporting Rick and Morty to an alternate dimension where they died and they can take the place of their alternate forms.
- Morty accidentally gives birth to a Gazorpazorpian via a sex robot, a quickly-maturing species hellbent on destruction. He tries to contain it, but the creature eventually breaks free and writes a memoir about his isolated childhood.
- In one of the best TV episodes I’ve ever seen, Rick installs a new cable box that lets the family watch infinite television from infinite dimensions, including shows like Ball Fondlers and commercials for companies like Real Fake Doors and Ants-In-My-Eyes Johnson’s Electronics. The family wishes they’d followed their alternate lives, and when Summer threatens to leave, Morty reveals he replaced a dead version of himself and convinces her to stay.
- Summer gets a job literally working for the Devil, selling cursed items, but Rick starts a competitive business that removes the negative components of their magic powers. The Devil relaunches as a web startup, and a dismayed Rick and Summer get swole to beat the living crap out of him.
- Rick and Morty get arrested by the Trans-Dimensional Council of Ricks, as they are suspected of assassinating Ricks from various dimensions. They find the real culprit and destroy him, but his evil Morty sidekick gets away.
- While Beth and Jerry are away on a novelty Titanic replica cruise, Rick throws a crazy party with attendees like Bird Person and Abradolf Lincler. With the house left trashed afterwards, Rick freezes time so he, Morty and Summer can clean before Beth and Jerry return.
And that’s about it for season 1! Season 2 starts up Sunday, July 26 at 11:30pm on Adult Swim. And be sure to check back at Nerdophiles, where I’ll be writing weekly recaps as the season progresses. A hearty “wubba lubba dub dub” to you all.