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Rick And Morty Season 6 Episode 1 Recap: A Rickturn To Continuity

Six seasons is a lot of anything (especially when your showrunner is Dan Harmon), and Season 6 of "Rick and Morty" kicks off with an episode that serves as both a payoff to the mind-bending Season 5 finale and a soft reset for the series. Titled "Solaricks," it leans on lore and plot from seasons past to remind us just how much time we've spent with Rick and his dimension-hopping family.

Evil Morty's plan in the Season 5 finale involved sabotaging portal travel, so when we pick up with Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) stranded on the remains of the now-destroyed Citadel of Ricks, things seem bleak. The abandoned Morties are killing each other, and Rick has taken to drinking his own urine while monologuing about their plight a la Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in "Avengers: Endgame." But an episode of television still needs to happen, so it's not long before Space Beth (Sarah Chalke) shows up to rescue our titular duo, equipped with a spaceship and some poorly timed quips.

The real plot kicks into gear once everyone is safely home. While attempting to reset portal travel, Rick instead accidentally resets everyone who has used portals. Not-so-shortly, Rick, Morty, and Jerry (Chris Parnell) have all been blipped back to their original dimensions. For Morty, that's the apocalyptic Cronenberg dimension he and Rick left behind in "Rick Potion No. 9," while, for Rick, it's the universe we've seen in flashbacks from other episodes, wherein his wife and a young Beth were killed by a rogue Rick.

Clearly, "Solaricks" relies heavily on backstory established in previous episodes. Despite the show's long-standing condescension toward canon or continuity, anyone who isn't fully brushed up on "Rick and Morty" will have some homework to do. With that said, let's break it down.

A return to the Cronenberg Universe and the return of Space Beth

Morty (or, more accurately, our Morty) originated in the universe he and Rick (C-137 Rick, that is) left after the events of "Rick Potion No. 9," wherein the entire population of Earth mutated into grotesque creatures reminiscent of a David Cronenberg film, so that's where he lands after the reset. It's still a hideous wasteland, and Morty finds that Jerry is now the only surviving member of the family. Feral Jerry, as we'll call him, is a changed man, less cowardly but also less empathetic, having at long last adopted Rick's selfish philosophy to survive his apocalyptic reality. At the first opportunity, he steals Morty's things and leaves. It's a dark reflection of the way Rick and Morty abandoned that version of their family in "Rick Potion No. 9" and sets up some of the thematic tension this episode wrestles with.

As a whole, "Solaricks" is about lost possibilities, the infinite versions of ourselves we leave behind with every decision. It's a theme "Rick and Morty" has successfully explored before, but here, it has the weight of five seasons behind it. These ideas are supported by the B-plot, in which Summer (Spencer Grammer), Beth, and Space Beth (one of the two is Beth's clone from Season 3) go to the now-destroyed Citadel of Ricks to help Rick navigate the multiverse without his portal gun.

With Summer seemingly preferring Space Beth, regular Beth chews Space Beth out for what she sees as an abnegation of responsibility, telling Summer, "She ran from our choices. I had to parent them." To Space Beth, she fumes, "I'm you with the patience to do laundry." Both versions of Beth resent the other because both believe their choice — regular Beth's decision to parent and Space Beth's to go on intergalactic adventures — was the correct one.

The return of Weird Rick

As established in the episodes "The Rickshank Redemption" and last season's "Rickmurai Jack," the version of Rick we've been following isn't from the Cronenberg dimension like Morty. He came there in search of Weird Rick, the version who originated in the Cronenberg dimension and who killed his wife and a young Beth. In "Solaricks," we're finally introduced to Weird Rick in the present tense.

Arriving in his original dimension, Rick is greeted by an AI version of his deceased wife, Diane (Kari Wahlgren), that he built to torment himself after her death. He's also locked the entire neighborhood in an infinite loop of the day she was killed, a dark symbol of his inability to move on — "I used to drink drink," Rick remarks.

Since portal travel is broken and everyone has been sent back to their dimensions of origin, Rick must travel through the rift we saw at the end of "Rickmurai Jack" to achieve interdimensional travel, using the beacon set up by Summer and the Beths as a focal point. But as the Diane AI points out, his nemesis is now equally trapped, so Rick charts a course for the Cronenberg dimension, where he finds Morty. The pair soon discover an elaborate trap set up by Weird Rick, who plays mind games with Rick, then appears, naked, in a glass tube that shoots away for Rick to chase.

Although Rick appears bent on risking his life if it means getting a shot at the man who killed his original family, Morty talks him out of it, reminding him that family isn't about origin stories. "I don't know [Weird Rick]," Morty pleads. "You're my grandpa, Rick." Ultimately, Rick puts his found family ahead of his personal vendetta and heads off with Morty to save Summer, Beth, and Space Beth.

More universes, more problems

After Rick and Morty return to the Citadel for a last-second rescue of Summer and the Beths, the family arrives home safely. Morty puts a cap on the episode's theme, saying, "I guess it doesn't matter where we're from as long as we're together." Summer chimes in, "This is everyone's original dimension now." It's one of those moments that "Rick and Morty" is uniquely gifted at creating, simultaneously ironic tongue-in-cheek and boldly earnest.

But their sense of victory is short-lived. The family finds their universe's original Jerry meandering about the Sanchez/Smith house. The Jerry they've had for years turns out to be the wrong one, a result of the mix-up that happened at Jerryboree in the Season 2 episode "Mortynight Run" (at the risk of sounding like a broken record, this episode runs on canon, to paraphrase Rick). This version of Jerry is the doddering fool fans will remember from early seasons, devoid of the character development current Jerry has undergone. He immediately complains about a weird, triangle-shaped creature named Mister Frundles that Rick keeps in the house, and lets it out of the cat carrier containing it. In typical Jerry fashion, this sets in motion the episode's final twist.

A new universe for a new season

Within minutes of Mister Frundles being set loose, the entire planet is laid to waste. As it turns out, Mister Frundles is one of those classic "Rick and Morty" creatures that are both hilarious and terrifying. He replicates by biting things, and whatever he bites turns into another Mister Frundles that also loves to bite things. Original Jerry is a goner immediately, and by the time the family piles into the car and jets back into space, Earth itself has become a Mister Frundles, with entire continents biting each other.

This time, the whole family must find a new dimension, so Rick hastily locates a reality where they all died at the same time, then the family dutifully buries their alternate selves in the backyard. There's a catch, in that people from this dimension say "parmesan" incorrectly, but it's otherwise a perfect copy of the dimension they just fled.

In an episode about lost possibilities and alternate timelines, the macabre burying of other selves serves to highlight how jaded the family has become to chaos and carnage. In Season 2, Morty nearly had a mental breakdown at seeing his mutilated corpse. But this time, only Jerry gags a bit upon being confronted with his own dead body. The Beths are so unaffected that they go back into the house and reconcile their differences, while Rick confesses to Morty that Weird Rick won't pursue them anymore because he's "the real deal," a Rick who truly cares only for himself. (That may not be true, as a post-credit scene sees Weird Rick kill Feral Jerry before setting off to find out what caused him to be trapped in his original dimension.)

When does Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 2 air?

"Rick and Morty" Season 6, Episode 2, "Rick: A Mort Well Lived," airs on Adult Swim on September 11, 2022, at 11 p.m. For a hint of what's to come, let's examine where Episode 1 leaves things. As established in the Season 5 finale, every episode of "Rick and Morty" has thus far taken place in a subset of the infinite multiverse where Rick is the smartest being in existence. These universes, known as the Central Finite Curve, were walled off by Rick when he created the Citadel of Ricks, which was an engine enforcing their separation. (The show's creators have warned us there'd be more continuity this season, as Season 5 was marred by the death of producer Mike Mendel, according to Dan Harmon). But with the Central Finite Curve being destroyed, Rick can travel to dimensions where there are smarter beings than himself.

However, it seems like the events of "Rickmurai Jack" and "Solaricks" have somewhat humbled the zany scientist. As his comments to Morty while they stand over the graves of their other selves at the episode's conclusion seem to imply, Rick has finally made some peace with his past and come to accept that his emotional connection to the family isn't necessarily the limitation he once thought it was. Perhaps with this new perspective, Rick will be able to accept no longer being the smartest thing in the multiverse.

Now we're off to the races, with an entire season of "Rick and Morty" ahead to present new dilemmas from Rick, how will he respond to future adventures? Will his newfound wisdom show us a new side of the character, or will he revert to his old ways when challenged? As "Solaricks" implies, it's the journey, not the destination that really matters.