Rick and Morty to Alt-Right Fans: Go fuck yourselves

Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat is the first episode of season 4 of Rick and Morty. The show has been off the air for over two years and the fans have been very excited for the new season to finally start.  Some portion of those fans will not be happy with what they got.

The episode follows a familiar arc: Rick and Morty go to a strange planet in search of an obscure item (in this case Death Crystals, which allow you to see how you will die).  Then things go awry and the outrageousness escalates and escalates and escalates. Morty uses one of the crystals and sees that he has a chance to die old in the arms of his beloved Jessica. He decides to do whatever is necessary to ensure that that is the death he gets. This leads to the demise of Rick when Morty crashes their spaceship. A Rick hologram attempts to walk Morty through re-animating Rick, but that path seems to lead away from his death with Jessica, so Morty refuses. Morty becomes a slave to the crystal, and that leads him into a spiral of violence and destruction. In the meantime, Rick’s DNA gets re-routed to other universes where he is resurrected as a  series of clones. Eventually Rick ends up in his “real” body and his original universe and calms Morty down.

The episode works comedically from start to finish. What’s actually interesting, though, is what it has to say about the show’s fans.  The show’s co-creator, Dan Harmon, likes to say that R&M got so popular that a quarter of the fans are Nazis. Those are the fans that are the loudest. They drown out the normal nerds, geeks, and regular people who enjoy the show. The Alt-Right, Gamer Gate choads ruin just about any discussion of Rick and Morty. This episode is about that.

As Rick bounces from dimension to dimension, each one turns out to be a fascist dystopia (“Goddammit, when did this shit become the default” Rick asks at one point).  Nazi Morty demands that Rick just go on adventures, stop asking questions and stop doing meta-comedy. This is a dig at both the worst of the show’s fans and what American politics have become in the age of Trump. Harmon, like most of us, is sick of this shift trying to be the default.  This is Harmon and Roiland insisting to the Nazis that they don’t get to dictate the show. They don’t get to spoil it for everyone else.

Elsewhere is the episode there is a pointed joke in which a newscaster demands to his female co-worker that “gaslighting doesn’t exist, you made it up because you’re crazy”. This is a beautiful moment in which we see what it’s like for a woman to be gaslit by someone insisting that gaslighting doesn’t exist. This isn’t the only moment in the episode aimed at misogynists. At the end, Summer gets berated for ruining the season 4 premiere. This mirrors the way the worst fans claimed that adding a woman show would destroy the show. Those same fans went feral when Summer started playing a larger role in some episodes.  

From top to bottom this episode is a scream at the terrible people that want to claim R&M for themselves at the expense of the rest of us. This is Harmon and Roiland giving us their rendition of Nazi Punks Fuck Off and it is beautiful.