Rick and Mondays – S4E5 “Rattlestar Ricklactica”

Morty won’t stay in the car and suddenly snakes from the future are destroying the universe.

SUMMARY

It’s Christmas time. A time for family. In that spirit, Rick (Justin Roiland) helps Jerry (Chris Parnell) hang Christmas lights by making him slightly lighter than air and his shoes slightly heavier, allowing him to jump higher. Okay, well, it’s less “in the spirit of family” and more “so that Morty (Roiland) can go on an adventure with him because Beth (Sarah Chalke) told Morty to make sure Jerry doesn’t die.” Jerry, naturally, immediately tries to show off this power and ends up floating to his doom. He refuses to accept help from Rick or Beth, insisting that he can take care of it.

S4E5 - 1Jerry.png
He looks so happy, you’d almost forget he’s one shoe from dying.

Meanwhile, on their adventure, Rick and Morty hit something and Rick goes out of the car to fix the spaceship. Morty follows, against Rick’s orders, and gets bitten by a space snake, which he then kills. Rick and Morty go to the snake’s planet, a planet filled with racist snakes (racist against other colors of snake), and Rick finds the antivenom and cures Morty. Morty, however, feels guilty and buys another snake which he drops on the planet in the spacesuit. The snake planet ends up realizing that this is a snake from another world, leading somehow to the snakes creating time travel and killer robots, resulting in an army of snakes attacking the Smith/Sanchez household to either kill or save the family. 

S4E5 - 2Terminsnaker.png
Termisnaker 2: Judgement Fang

Rick, realizing what Morty did, travels to the Snake planet in the present, only to be greeted by a future version of themselves that are pissed off at them. Rick and Morty end up traveling back in time to an earlier point in the Snake World history and give the snakes a book telling them how to develop time travel. This leads to even more rampant time-traveling until finally the Time Police notice and destroy the first intelligent ancestor of the snakes. This destroys the entire snake population. Jerry manages to save himself from floating to his doom, finishes the lights, and then breaks his leg on the way down from the roof. Rick and Morty are about to celebrate, only to run into future versions of themselves that force them to re-enact the other half of the events in order to avoid a paradox. Rick punches Morty for leaving the car.

END SUMMARY

Rick and Morty has mostly avoided doing a time travel episode and I guess they decided to do all of them at once to compensate, then avert the hell out of most of them. In another strange decision, they made snakes, a typical symbol of evil or Satan, into the focal point of a Christmas episode. The episode doesn’t shy away from making anti-Xmas statements, either. Rick claims his superiority to Jesus by saying that he wasn’t “born into the God business,” instead he earned it. Jerry, upon agreeing to sacrifice himself to spite Rick or look good for Beth, declares himself “the Jesus Christ of Christmas.” It’s like they looked back at their earlier Christmas episode in “Anatomy Park,” said “that was too sincere,” and decided that this one should have some less-than-subtle blasphemy. 

S4E5 - 3JerryChrist.png
I mean, he’s surrounded by Christmas Trees, so it’s a bold proclamation.

The snake world was one of the best parts of the episode for me. First, any sequence in which we have to figure out what’s happening solely through visual storytelling is amazing. Second, the sequence in which they bring in a linguist snake to interpret the speech of the Earth snake Slippy that Morty used to replace the space snake is hilarious. It’s a combination of references to A Beautiful Mind, Stargate, and Nell, the last one from the fact that the linguist snake realizes if he slows down the speech, the other snake is hissing just like they are. If you haven’t seen Nell, there’s a big part of the movie involving someone speaking English in a way that is perceived as a different language, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the snake is doing during that scene. 

S4E5 - 4SnakeLinguist.png
So is the Rod of Asclepius on that planet two humans wound around a stick?

The time travel elements contain a ton of fun and funny references. When we meet the first time traveling snakes, they’re clearly all a ton of variations on the Terminator franchise, with robots, robot protectors, cyborg protectors, etc. each showing up to thwart the previous one. It really drives home the absurdity of those kind of movies and reminds me of the Great Time War from Doctor Who, where after every battle, each side would go back in time and change the outcome to make their side win until eventually the battle didn’t occur in the first place. We see that taken to the extreme… with snakes. We also see the traditional plotlines of trying to save Lincoln and kill Hitler, with saving Lincoln ironically resulting in the US becoming Nazis. I feel like this is an allusion to Abradolf Lincler, albeit indirect and serpentine. At the end of the episode, when the Time Police eradicate all of the snakes, they bite their tails and transform into Ouroboros, a symbol of infinite that often represents the ending of a temporal paradox (because the causal loop is closed). 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, why are Rick and Morty so pissed at themselves? I mean, while they technically have to say whatever they heard themselves saying earlier in order to avoid violating causality, it’s clear by the end that they really are resenting their past/future selves, even though they know that they are bound in the same loop and forced to go through the same motions. Well, that’s exactly why.

S4E5 - 5Paradox.png
Very festive time travelers.

Rick and Morty telling themselves how to finish the adventure, particularly using a journal containing the secrets to time-travel, resembles the plot of the famously internally consistent time-travel story “By His Bootstraps” by Robert Heinlein. Of course, since this is Rick and Morty, the pair are massively pissed off at being dragged into a causality loop, requiring that they fulfill the actions that they already did in order to not get caught by the Time Police themselves. In other words, Rick and Morty, two characters who are usually allowed to do whatever the hell they want with no thought towards the consequences, are now unable to alter the course of their behavior in any way. That makes it feel less like an adventure and more like a chore. 

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, this episode was pretty funny, but I still expect more from the show. I am still anxiously waiting for the next half of the season when it comes back.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 34: Claw and Hoarder: Special Rick-tim’s Morty

NEXT – 37: Hell if I Know

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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