Despite the lack of any connecting plot thus far this season, many of Rick and Morty episodes have recently felt too convoluted or complex for their own good, last week’s episode being a prime example. “Promortyus” was more than refreshing to watch, considering it was a more traditional Rick and Morty story told in an unconventional way.
The episode begins with Rick (Justin Roiland) and Morty (Roiland) telling the story of their latest adventure at the breakfast table in which the two narrowly escape a planet of face-hugging parasites called the Glorzo, while getting to blow off some steam and bond more as grandfather and grandson. However, when asked where Morty’s sister, Summer (Spencer Grammer), was during the adventure, it becomes apparent that the two have been acting as unreliable narrators.
In reality, Summer had visited the planet with the titular duo before they fell under control of the Glorzo while Summer, with the help of a toothpick she now keeps in her mouth as a self-described “character trait,” resisted control. She then convinced the Glorzo to value themselves more instead of self-destructing every half hour to lay more eggs, leading to a humorous yet strangely emotional song, “Glory to Glorzo.” The song plays as the Glorzo society transforms, showcasing impressive vocals by show co-creator Dan Harmon.
The formula of Rick and Morty stumbling upon an alien planet and then transforming its society — for better or for worse — is a common one but is kept fresh by Summer’s more active role in the plot and the episode’s experimental use of nonlinear storytelling. Between each character’s different accounts of what actually happened, the viewer starts to piece together the plot like a puzzle, but one that’s actually satisfying and coherent, unlike the last episode.
One of the most notable improvements from season four has been its advancement in animation quality. Although the show has always looked distinguished, the diverse locales and fluid movements of character and set pieces continue to impress in “Promortyus,” with the flesh-colored Glorzo planet providing plenty of both stunning and disturbing displays. In an industry where too many adult-oriented cartoons seem to strive for the ugliest art styles, Rick and Morty emerges with one of the best.
Sunday night’s episode isn’t anything particularly special and won’t likely be revered as a classic, but it remains entertaining and engaging throughout. It’s a classic Rick and Morty story turned on its head just enough to remain interesting, and the exploration of the Glorzo planet provides plenty of both intrigue and uncomfortable laughter.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.