Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Rick And Morty Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: Night Family

"Rick and Morty" Season 6, Episode 4 opens with a quote from the T. S. Eliot poem "Fragment of an Argon" that talks about waking up from a nightmare. When it comes to setting the tone, the snippet is effective — though choosing Eliot is puzzling on some level. It's hard to tell if the quote is meant to be taken fully seriously, or if it's a joke. But as the episode properly begins, those poetic lines start to make sense. Rick (Justin Roiland) has a machine that lets people program themselves to do things while they're asleep, and even though he insists it's dangerous, the family all want to use it. Apparently, they've learned nothing from the Meseeks box, to say nothing of the myriad other devices Rick has warned them about in past episodes.

Things quickly begin to escalate. The family's nighttime selves, tasked in part with washing dishes, develop a grudge against their daytime counterparts, who don't bother to rinse their plates before putting them in the sink. As both versions of the family go to increasing lengths to get what they want, hijinks and hilarity ensue. You know the drill. On the whole, it's one of the simplest premises for any "Rick and Morty" episode to date, which at times can make it feel like a sketch dragged out for an entire 20 minutes. It feels especially lightweight coming on the heels of last week's uproarious clone romance

On the other hand, the plot moves quickly, and the jokes come at a fast enough clip, to make "Night Family" a breezy, entry-point episode. Let's start at the beginning.

Rick brings home yet more dangerous tech

"Night Family" opens on Beth (Sarah Chalke), who goes downstairs when she can't fall asleep, only to find Rick doing sit-ups in the living room. No one has ever done sit-ups as creepy as these. Rick looks like a zombie, his eyelids drooping and his jaw slacked. He doesn't seem to hear her when she asks what he's doing, and shuffles out of the room. The whole thing is unsettling and funny in equal measure.

When Beth asks Rick about his strange behavior at breakfast, he explains, "That was my night person," and shows off a new device he picked up in space that allows him to program tasks to accomplish while he's asleep. It's called a Somnambulator (one of the best-named devices we've seen on this show, a portmanteau of the Latin "somnum," meaning sleep, and "ambulatus," meaning walk), and Rick has been using it to get washboard abs, hence the sit-ups. A "night person" is the unconscious body of the Somnambulator's user, he explains.

The whole family immediately wants in on the action. Rick warns them the tech is too advanced for them, but gives in without much of a fight. The Somnambulator takes their blood samples and each family member programs their desired goals. Morty (Justin Roiland) wants washboard abs like Rick's, Summer (Spencer Grammer) wants to learn Spanish, Beth wants to learn the trumpet, and Jerry (Chris Parnell) decides to use his night person as a pen pal.

Rise of the night family

At first, things seem to be going well. Summer speaks fluent Spanish and is an honor student, Beth can play like the band, and Morty has abs strong enough to punt a bowling ball into the air (he and Rick have started an abs-themed podcast together and are hoping to get Nancy Pelosi as a guest). As for Jerry, he and Night Jerry have struck up a friendship as pen pals.

While recording their podcast, Rick and Morty are interrupted by Jerry, who has been informed by way of Night Jerry that the night family, one of whose tasks is doing the dishes, would appreciate it if the day family rinsed their dishes before leaving them in the sink to be cleaned. Rick is infuriated by the request, insisting, "Our job is not to make the night people's chores easier ... They exist to do the s*** we don't want to do." The next morning, he awakes (via a comically morbid alarm clock that hatches and then rapidly ages a rooster) and heads downstairs to find that the night family has smashed all the dishes in the house. But Rick refuses to give in. He heads to a remote planet where a giant alien manufactures a set of indestructible dishes.

Rick has been plenty stubborn in the past, but even so, this time feels different. He's digging in his heels to save a few seconds of dish rinsing, which, while not outside the realm of Rick's usual hardheadedness, is certainly pushing its upper bounds.

Dawn of the night family

That night, Rick is awoken by smelling salts to find himself strapped to his bed with the rest of the night family standing over him. Night Summer reveals that she's taken control of the night family. They all answer to her. Rick is unfazed and still refuses to rinse his dishes, so the night family hold him down while Night Summer scrapes the grime off a dirty plate into his mouth. "I have always been here, Rick," she says, "deep inside the mind of your grandchild, waiting to come out. Your machine allowed me to steal the night, and soon, I will seize the day."

The next morning, the house is stripped bare of furniture. Night Rick has also locked Day Rick out of his tech, so he improvises by building a force field generator out of household trash while hatching a plan. He then builds a sleep deprivation suit for Summer. Among its features are: air horns hooked up to each ear, hooks pulling her eyelids open, an iPod Nano, forks stuck into her back, a pair of stilettos to make walking uncomfortable, and a feeding tube filled with Mountain Dew and DayQuil. The plan? Summer will stay awake, impersonate Night Summer, and plant a deactivation device on the Somnambulator.

Over the past few seasons, Rick has become (in his own words) basically Inspector Gadget, so it's fun to watch him wind up in a situation where he has to improvise from scratch. While the sleep deprivation suit doesn't hold a candle to Rick's DIY skills in "Pickle Rick," it's still an impressive bit of on-the-fly engineering.

War for the night family

Summer follows the night family under the garage, where they've set up a giant version of the Somnambulator to extend its range beyond the house. She plants the deactivator, drawing only minor suspicions from the night family, then wakes Rick. He deactivates his force field, and the family is about to celebrate with pancakes at Shoney's when Summer reveals she's been Night Summer all along. A trio of killer robots takes the family hostage.

For weeks, the night family keeps the day family as slaves (their tasks involve burning movies with "Day" in the title and, of course, cleaning dishes). Before bedtime, Jerry leaves a note to Night Jerry under his pillow asking for his help. Night Jerry obliges, breaking them out under cover of night, but things go sideways when Morty makes a run for Rick's car and trips a laser that denotates the car and sets the killbots upon them. The bots can only fire tranquilizer darts, so the family piles into Beth's car and she guns it down the street.

In the ensuing chase, it's a game of whack-a-mole, with family members being put to sleep and woken back up. Eventually, the whole family crashes into a ditch at the side of the road and, after turning everyone but Rick back to their night selves, the night family gives him one final ultimatum: rinse the dishes, and all of this can be over.

We don't see Rick answer, but the episode cuts to Night Rick with a tranquilizer in his chest as the night family heads back home. To the bitter end, Rick remains stubborn, even if it means giving his family up to their nighttime selves.

When does Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 5 air?

"Rick and Morty" Season 6, Episode 5 will air October 2 at 11 p.m. on Adult Swim. Titled "Final DeSmithation," the provided episode description reads "Fortune cookies, broh." The title is a clear reference to the movie "Final Destination," in which someone who avoids their fated death after a premonition cannot escape that fate forever. "Rick and Morty" has never shied away from parodying popular movies, but the show tends to put its own zany spin on the material, as emphasized by this season's "Die Hard" episode.

While the ending of "Night Family" implies that the night family has taken over the Smith-Sanchez family for good, the regular gang will be back next week. A post-credit scene reveals that the night family spent all of the day family's money on vacations, concerts, and "night-centric streaming subscriptions," leading the bank to freeze their accounts and repossess the car. Night Rick shoots the Somnambulator, returning the family's bodies to their regular selves. They come back to consciousness, only to find they've been possessed by their alternate selves long enough for the Klondike Choco Taco to be discontinued. Too soon, "Rick and Morty," too soon!

Justin Roiland has promised a good mix of canon-driven and self-contained episodes, and "Night Family" falls firmly in the latter category. As Roiland told Global News, "I still think every season should have a good amount of point-of-entry episodes." In many ways, it's a bottle episode, and while it doesn't reach the heights of similar entries, such as Season 2's excellent "Total Rickall," it's still a lot of fun, and feels grounded enough to bring some new fans on board.