As flimsy as the Observer storyline itself is, the emotional throughline of this new episode is surprisingly strong. The Rick we meet at the beginning of the episode is depressed, drinking early in the day and too burnt out to go on any adventures with Morty. He’s still recovering from the events of last week’s climactic showdown with Rick Prime, and he needs something to snap him back to his old self.
In a lot of ways, it’s good that this week doesn’t really have its own full adventure storyline, because Rick wouldn’t have been able to handle it right now. He needed a silly, low-stakes conflict to engage himself with, nothing too crazy. When it comes to returning to those classic Rick and Morty adventures we love so much, Rick needed to dip his toes in the water first, not dive straight back in.
As far as an episode about rousing someone out of a depressive state can go, “Rickfending Your Mort” is remarkably unsentimental. The memories Observer picks from Rick’s life are not flattering, nor do they paint his adventures with Morty in a positive light. But much like season 2’s “Total Rickall,” another quasi-clip show episode where the Smith family is attacked by memory parasites, we know that Rick would never be swayed by memories that were too much on the happy side. It’s messy, chaotic, cynical reality that Rick truly loves, and this episode is all about reminding him of it and encouraging him to return. By the end of this episode, Rick is mostly back to his old self again, and it only took a few annoying omniscient aliens to pull it off.
New episodes of “Rick and Morty” release every Sunday on Adult Swim.