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Rick And Morty Season 6 Episode 9 Recap: Fear No More The Heat Of The Sun

It's a medieval misadventure for Morty this week on "Rick and Morty." Strange men standing in takeout lines distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, but that's what happens to Morty (Justin Roiland) in the cold open for "A Rick in King Mortur's Mort," and it isn't long before chaos erupts across the solar system. While this penultimate episode of Season 6 doesn't manage the high notes of last week's "Analyze Piss," it does continue with the idea of Rick's (Justin Roiland) desire to be a better man while managing to touch on subjects of religion, war, and (for some reason) circumcision.

It's a simple episode by "Rick and Morty" standards, all building up to a single gag so facepalmingly good and obvious that to spoil it would be a disservice. And while this may not go down as a true classic in the show's canon, it still manages to bring plenty of laughs and avoids feeling like filler despite its lack of significant plot developments. But what really makes the whole affair is a clever gag which is best not spoiled, but will elicit both laughs and facepalms from longtime fans.

Let's fire up the portal gun and get into it.

An Arthurian roundtable of guest cameos

After reluctantly accepting a sword from some knightly looking men who call themselves Knights of the Sun (voiced by a truly monumental guest cast including Daniel Radcliffe, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, and Matt King), Morty is taken to their castle, which is indeed located on the sun. They claim to steward the solar system by guarding the sun, which Rick derides as an unscientific superstition. Despite Rick's protestations, he's ready to join their knightly order until they reveal that the final step in signing up is to castrate himself. Unwilling to part with that body part, Morty tries to leave, and is challenged to a duel by the Knights' king (Nolan North). Rick gives Morty an artificially intelligent sword, allowing him to win handily. This makes Morty the new king, but he's still not interested.

Between the blatant silliness of the knights, who believe that the solar system revolves around a scepter carried by their king, and an offhand comment by Rick regarding their scientific illiteracy, it's clear their order is a stand-in for centrally organized religion writ large. In that context, the gag feels like a soft punch below the belt. It's not surprising that "Rick and Morty" would lampoon the way religious beliefs can seem rather silly when viewed from the outside, or that the show would take issue with the practice of circumcision. It's not that the critique is wrong, per se, just that it's been said a thousand times before. It's the kind of low-hanging fruit that "Rick and Morty" usually prides itself on avoiding.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant

Unwilling to be king of the sun knights, Morty hops through a portal with Rick to ditch them. Back in the garage, he expects to get an earful from Rick. Instead, Rick apologizes to Morty, saying that he's sorry that his previous behavior has made Morty think so little of him. Even then, Morty assumes he's being toyed with, but Rick insists he's trying to repair their relationship, saying, "You took the stupid sword, and I was like, 'Holy crap, this is who I am to this kid? He just does the opposite of my advice now? I gotta fix that.'" Rick promises to be 22% nicer to Morty.

But their conversation is cut off by the arrival of the knights. Now that he's their king, the knights refuse to leave Morty's side. They're sworn to protect him and the scepter. Morty quickly realizes the only way to get rid of the knights is to disabuse them of their religious beliefs, so he gives them a presentation on the heliocentric model of the solar system, which works quickly to dispel their superstitions, especially when Rick enters with the scepter to prove that it doesn't control planetary movement.

In response to losing their faith and realizing that they castrated themselves for no reason, the knights all retreat to a nearby flophouse to become heroin addicts. Maybe it's not how most people react to a newfound atheism, but on the other hand, most people aren't immortal beings who live on the sun.

Flying too close to the sun

Though their beliefs were rubbish, it turns out the knights had a central role in maintaining peace across the solar system. Without them, a solar war breaks out. Factions from Mars to Jupiter believe that, without the Knights of the Sun, nothing can stop them from ruling the solar system. They begin slaughtering each other to gain control of the scepter. Due to the war, their primitive societies all make massive technological leaps forward, allowing them to commit ever more gruesome war crimes.

With Earth caught in the crossfire, Morty suggests jumping to a new reality, but Rick says he's still trying to be committed to something for a change. So instead, Morty decides to round up the knights again to restore peace in the solar system.

Speaking of Rick, it seems as though he's continuing to work on himself. His desire to change, which has been a major focus this season, especially in last week's excellent "Analyze Piss," is again at the forefront here. Throughout the episode, he lets Morty make his own choices, dumb as they may be, and apologizes for becoming the kind of person Morty would resent enough to rebel against. Morty is convinced that Rick's new attitude is a way to torment him for screwing things up (even asking Rick whether they're doing another "Vat of Acid Episode," which is incredible foreshadowing), but Rick assures him, "You can trust me when I say I'm just trying to do right by you."

Morty and Rick track down the knights to their heroin den, and Morty offers to reband them and accept the title of king. But he's still not willing to part with his penis, so Rick offers to help by giving him a fake member with multiple failsafes.

The sun sets on another Rick and Morty ad-vat-ture

With the Knights of the Sun once more at their post, the warring planetary factions end the war and destroy their weapons. But back on the sun, Morty is trying to sneak his fake junk through security. Before cutting it off, the knights use their new technologies to do three separate scans to make sure it's real. Rick sneaks him through the first and second ones, but the third one detects for witchcraft, and Morty's duplicity is found out.

Rick telepathically communicates with Morty and tells him to run, then leads him to the edge of a parapet that drops down to the sun's surface. They jump into the plasma, and then we cut to one of the knights (the one voiced by Daniel Radcliffe) telling children the story of Rick and Morty's sacrifice. He explains how the knights have reformed themselves in the wake of Morty's death and no longer make the newly benighted castrate themselves.

But then the knight starts describing a scenario that will be instantly familiar to longtime "Rick and Morty" fans. He says that after being burned, Rick and Morty's bones floated up to the surface of the sun, and that the knights checked with a ladle to make sure it was "real sun, not them just hiding beneath in a vat of fake sun." You guessed correctly: the entire episode has been an elaborate setup for a "vat of acid" gag.

Hiding right behind the bookshelves, Rick and Morty listen to the knight's hagiography. One of the boys finds them, and Morty tells him that, if he rats them out, his reward will be having to castrate himself. The boy wisely decides to keep it to himself.

When does Season 6 Episode 10 of Rick and Morty air?

"Rick and Morty" Season 6 Episode 10, entitled, "Ricktional Mortpoon's Rickmas Mortcation," will air December 11 at 11 p.m. on Adult Swim. We need not read the packaged episode description saying, "Morty's always wanted a certain gift for Christmas, but never gets it. This might be the year that Rick finally caves." It's clear this is going to be a Christmas episode. With that said, a Christmas-themed episode of "Rick and Morty" will certainly be much different than your run-of-the-mill holiday special. Who else remembers the sheer insanity of last season's "Thanksploitation Spectacular"?

Moreover, a Christmas special might just be the perfect way to cap off this season. Christmas is, of course, a time for family, and over the past nine episodes, we've seen Rick begin to focus on improving his relationships in a meaningful way for the first time. What better setting to explore how far he's actually come than during the holidays?

Looking back on "A Rick in King Mortur's Mort," it's clear that, despite Dan Harmon's concerns about character development, being nice for a change is working for Rick. In the original "The Vat of Acid Episode," Morty finds the plan stupid and Rick must concoct elaborate schemes to bring him around on the idea. It's one of the worst things Rick's done to Morty. Here, by contrast, when it comes time to fake their deaths in the same manner, Morty is fully on board because he's been allowed to try his own plans first and trusts Rick. But is a fully reformed Rick really going to stick around? Maybe he will, with a dose of Christmas magic.