If anyone ever asked you, "What's so great about Rick and Morty?" you could probably respond with a variety of answers. The biting social commentary, the irreverent humor, the zany twists on sci-fi, the deep cut references and Easter eggs, or maybe the rich mythos and multiverse of characters Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have created. Rick and Morty's Season Four premiere is here to remind fans and newcomers alike that this series delivers all of the aforementioned elements, with the end result being an episode that feels chock-full of goodies for longtime fans making a return, but one that could be too deep of a plunge into the Rick and Morty experience to win over newcomers on this episode alone.
Titled "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat", the Season Four premiere introduces yet another powerful crystalline item that Rick wants and drags Morty into scavenging: Death Crystals, which don't kill things (as the name might imply), but rather allows one to see the ever-changing flow of futures leading to one's death. Against Rick's warning (naturally), Morty begins to interact with a death crystal, and becomes full-blown addicted to its precognitive visions, when he discovers a future in which he gets to die as an old man, in the loving embrace of his crush Jessica. Morty's obsession with this timeline spirals dangerously out of control, and when Rick becomes a casualty of Morty's madness, it kicks off a resurrection protocol that unfortunately doesn't run as smoothly as Rick planned.
Rick and Morty's Season Four premiere is everything that has come to define Rick and Morty, all crammed into one episode. A lot of it plays organically and delivers the necessary laughs — but there's also a slight hint of change to the show's foundations. Rick and Morty is now "a thing"; the show has major investment behind it as a brand, and exponentially more awareness going into this fourth season. The premiere inevitably feels a bit like it's trying too hard, with an (over)abundance of callbacks to iconic staples or moments from the show, fan-favorite characters popping back up for gimmicky cameos, or the slew of new alternate versions of the titular pair, which are destined for merchandising glory. It doesn't matter which type of Rick and Morty episode is your favorite (serialized stories, the demented clips shows, or high-concept eps like "Total Rickall") — the Season Four premiere throws a little of all of it at the wall and gets most of it to stick. It's a total fan-service endeavor that does, in fact, serve the fans — which is exactly why it's strange to see. Rick and Morty has seemingly never cared about fan-service, at all, but popularity inevitably changes any series over time.
Indulgence in fan-service aside, "Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat" still manages to tell a good story that has thematic depth, and does so in a totally outrageous and irreverent way. For longtime fans, the Season Four premiere also has the benefit of moving the more serialized character arcs forward without weighing us down in continuity. In true Rick and Morty tradition, there are also some clues dropped that foreshadow what could be crucial story points in the future, or could be red herrings that Roiland and Harmon never intend to address again (pay attention to those Death Crystal visions...).
Rating: 4 out of 5