'Rick and Morty' Season 4 Episode 7 sees Summer reduced to a storytelling device, Beth and Jerry to mere props
‘Rick and Morty’ is right now in a very non-traditional space and it’s a great thing but sometimes, you wish it stuck (just a bit) to some of the things that made the show’s first three seasons great
Spoilers for 'Rick and Morty' Season 4 Episode 7 'Promortyus'
There was once a time, many years ago, when ‘Rick and Morty’ was about more than just the titular duo. It managed to focus on more than just the nihilistic, paranoid, alcoholic mad scientist and his weak-willed, underconfident, shy grandson. ‘Rick and Morty’ would also explore the lives of Morty’ sister Summer (Spencer Grammer), their parents Beth (Sarah Chalke) and Jerry (Chris Parnell), and a variety of side characters like Mr. Goldenfold, Principal Vagina, Birdperson, the president of the U.S. and many, many more.
But those days, it seems, are gone. It’s not as if the episodes don’t feature them at all -- they do. But they look like props more than actual characters. Jerry’s insecurity has caricatured itself beyond any more value now. Beth’s life now revolves around her children and her father only -- her horse surgeon career hasn’t seen mention in a while now.
And, Summer’s role in the show has been limited to a storytelling device now.
In season 4 episode 7, ‘Promortyus’, the only purpose Summer has, is to tell viewers what happened before Rick and Morty were taken over by the face-hugging parasite aliens of Glorzos. In fact, her recounting of the story barely includes much of her own story, but what she believes was Rick and Morty’s stories (she couldn’t have known what happened to them past the point when she was made the empress of the race).
This isn’t the first time Summer’s character has been used as a device like this. ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ was definitely an episode that did not use Summer’s potential at all. And it’s sad. Because even if minimal at times, Summer did provide a great addition to stories, like the one with the intergalactic music contest, or the one with Tiny Rick, or even the one with the Purge planet. Not to mention the number of times when Summer has been a central character, like the episode where Rick comes back and destroys the council of Ricks, the episode about the Planet Gazorpazorp, and many more.
In that vein, Beth and Jerry not being bigger parts of the show also feels bad. In many ways, they made the show more hilarious, especially Jerry and his crippling insecurities. Remember the episode about Pluto’s planetary status? Or the one about the Xigerians? What would those episodes be without Jerry? Beth and Jerry’s bad marriage has driven the plot a lot in earlier seasons. It bred conflict. It gave the story color.
But as Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland steadily move towards a more radical approach of storytelling, it would seem that they no longer care for the plot. After dissing anthology formats in the previous episode -- an episode that was widely considered as one the show’s best, most iconoclastic episodes -- the duo has surprisingly stuck to the anthology format of absolutely unconnected episodes with very little central plot.
It seems like an odd choice, honestly. But one can’t help but wonder if they played the big card too early and if the rest of the season is likely to be lackluster. ‘Rick and Morty’ is right now in a very non-traditional space and it’s a great thing but sometimes, one wishes if it stuck (just a bit) to some of the things that made the show’s first three seasons great.
‘Rick and Morty’ Season 4 airs Sundays at 11.30 pm EST only on Adult Swim.