Rick and morty often tries very hard to push the limits, but when Morty’s semen transforms into giant monsters that threaten the world, the end result is an absurd yet hilarious episode that will make you cringe.
Again, Morty’s excitement dooms almost everyone. After a serious and moving episode 3, “Rickdependence Spray” looks like a whiplash.
Season 5 Episode 4 is perhaps the most daring episode in the series, and it borders on obscene. Early discussions on Reddit make it clear that you either love this story for its sharp comments on genre dynamics, or you hate it for being too ridiculous and / or offensive and going too far off the rails. “Rickdependence Spray” is sure to be a memorable one.
The episode begins at the Horse Hospital where Beth works as a horse cardiac surgeon. Morty is anxiously awaiting a movie when he notices a device called a “breeding mount” used to extract “reproductive material” from horses. Morty has the same look on his face that we saw in “Raising Gazorpazorp” when he saw an alien sex doll, and it led to him having an alien hybrid son.
In a way, it’s so much worse.
After Morty has spent a week “volunteering” at the hospital to drop off his reproductive material, Rick ends up building a biochemical weapon to fight off the “Chuds,” the cannibalistic horses living underground.
Rick’s device turns on him because the DNA is so messed up. The levels of disaster that ensue are comparable to when Rick made a love potion, but the flu mutated him enough for Cronenberg to take place all over the planet. Sperm grow into huge dragon monsters with horrid teeth and enough intelligence to build a trebuchet, understand language, and eventually develop enough machines for the Sperm Queen to speak from an android body.
Giving her a voice and seeing her as a woman is a bang as it reinforces the theme of male shame at play here. There are moments in this episode that are a bit like Big mouth in his exploration of the shame associated with masturbation in adolescents. The Netflix series is known for presenting abstract ideas like shame, anxiety, and hormones as monsters that we can communicate with directly. There is a lot of value inherent in normalizing taboos, if only so that we can talk about them more openly. Is this Rick and morty the episode goes a little too far? Probably, but at least the show is pulling us in the right direction.
Co-creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland seem excited to generate a shock factor. Even at worst, Rick and morty is a smartly written show that maintains one serious rule: never take anything too seriously.
Sometimes that makes a mixed bag. Remember, the pilot episode has a bit of where Morty has to put a mega seed “up” in his butt. The series has also made several jokes about incest over the years. It’s programmed to make you feel uncomfortable, push boundaries, and push your limits.
This particular episode is lopsided, especially when the grand strategy for defeating the creatures is to embiggen one of Summer’s eggs so that they can be lured to Las Vegas. And the many Vegas performers are deputized and fight in an epic final battle. The off-track approach works here, especially when there are such brilliantly scripted moments and simple lines.
There is a really smart course of action on the failures of male bravado and the negative impact of toxic masculinity. The giant human egg is Summer’s idea, but one man takes credit for it. Then she and Beth play a pivotal role in the Battle for Las Vegas, where the Chuds also inexplicably show up to lend a hand – or a clog? One man caused this problem, and (almost) every man who gets involved only makes it worse. Apart from horses and sperm, Rick and morty says some really compelling things about gender dynamics and patriarchy.
It helps that we are in the joke from the start. Morty hides his shameful secret for as long as he can before being exposed and humiliated for his masturbating practices. And of course he bonds with his nervous monster sperm, even treating him like a pet. (Typical!) He gets his reward when that specific sperm fertilizes Summer’s egg, resulting in a giant mutant incest baby that is thrown into space.
One of the best lines in the episode – one that’s easy to miss – comes quite late when someone says they should kill the mutant incest baby. “It’s a human life! “The President said,” and this is an electoral cycle. So absurd and far from reality Rick and morty gets, he’s still astutely aware of the backward logic and absurdity inherent in the real world. The fate of the world being at stake, the POTUS is only concerned with its re-election campaign.
What could be more realistic than that?
Rick and morty Season 5 airs Sunday nights on Adult Swim at 11 p.m. EST.