After waiting two weeks after the premiere of the previous episode, “Rest and Ricklaxation,” the stellar Rick and Morty is back, and proves yet again why it’s one of the best shows currently airing on TV. With a focus on world-building, this new episode seamlessly combines four different storylines into one, laces each one with sharp political commentary addressing the numerous ills plaguing the Rick Citadel, and seems to finally continue the main cliffhanger from season 1 concerning Eyepatch Morty. Oh, and of course, it’s all punctuated with hilarity and fantastic voice acting on Justin Roiland’s part. What makes this episode unique, though, is that it accomplishes all this in the most Rick and Morty way: by using and expanding upon the infinite versions of Rick and the infinite versions of Morty to shape the world they reside in, and reflect our own society.
The episode begins with the main Rick and the main Morty, the ones who act as the protagonists for most of the show. They are preparing to go to Atlantis when another, nondescript Rick and Morty show up through a portal. Nondescript Rick asks Main Rick if he’d like to contribute to the Rick Citadel Redevelopment Fund. Remember that Main Rick is the one who destroyed the citadel’s Council of Ricks in the first place. Main Rick refuses, with Main Morty making some snide comments to accompany those of his grandfather. Nondescript Rick is slightly taken aback by how assertive Main Morty is, and then leaves the scene with Nondescript Morty. Main Morty is surprised to learn that Ricks and Mortys were still living in the Citadel, whereas Main Rick replies with, “Anyone continuing to explore the Citadel is either stupid, or one of the unfortunate millions held hostage by their terrible ideas.” With that, Main Rick and Main Morty then go to Atlantis, but instead of following them on their fun adventure, the focus of the episode shifts to the Citadel of Ricks.
Immediately upon entering the Citadel, we are introduced to the four main storylines of the episode, each of which signifying the socio-economical divide among either Ricks and Mortys, or among Ricks themselves:
Though each storyline involves a different group of characters, they are all influenced in some way or another by Presidential Candidate Morty, whose actions instigate or inspire many of the other citizen's decisions.
The episode wastes no time illustrating the the power divide between Ricks and Mortys, as you see the frustrated Campaign Manager Morty trying to get a taxi, but the taxi speeding by to pick up a random Rick in a similar outfit, much to Campaign Manager Morty’s distaste. You also see Cop Rick complete his training, and then a bunch of Mortys closing their lockers, all of which having a picture of Morty’s crush Jessica in them, as they amble off to class under the watchful eye of Teacher Rick. Then you see Factory Rick riding on a train to work, envying the high life of another Rick driving nearby. After an advertisement for Simple Rick’s Wafers, the news then announces that the campaign for the new, democratically-elected leader of the citadel is beginning, and that, strangely enough, a Morty was running for the position, much to the amusement of the newscasters, since a Morty can’t possibly beat a Rick in their eyes.
From the footage shown, Candidate Morty seems to be standing up for the civil rights of Mortys, who are constantly trampled upon or straight-up abandoned by their Ricks. The tension caused by this constant discrimination is steadily rising, marking a potential period of drastic change. The news footage cuts to Candidate Morty and his campaign manager watching the news. Campaign Manager Morty expresses his concern about the upcoming presidential debate to Candidate Morty. However, Candidate Morty is strangely confident about it, a reaction uncharacterized by most Mortys, who are often stereotyped as cowardly and weak-minded.
Following that, you see a Morty parade, and an onlooking rookie Cop Rick, sipping coffee and waiting for his partner to pick him up. His partner arrives, nearly running over some celebrating Mortys in the process. To Cop Rick’s surprise, his partner is a Morty, and a particularly ruthless one at that. When a Marching Morty announces that “Mortys Are Human,” Cop Morty screams at him and electrifies him, much to Cop Rick’s dismay. The two cops are called in to address a robbery in Morty Town, a dangerous ghetto, and head off.
Next we switch back to the Morty School, where Teacher Rick is instructing them how to be ideal Mortys. One Morty stands out - the Slick Morty, who talks with his friends Lizard Morty, Fat Morty, and Glasses Morty after class. They decide to go to the wishing portal on their last day together, despite the risk of ending up in Morty Town if they don’t show up for graduation. After that we cut to Factory Rick at his boring factory job, but in a turn of events, his boss announces that his position will be opening up. Factory Rick is hopeful, but then his boss announces that he hired another, completely unrelated Rick as the new boss, shattering Factory Rick’s hopes. Factory Rick raises his hand to ask why, and is completely ignored.
Next, the Cop Rick storyline is continued, and we finally get to see what Morty Town actually looks like. It bears an uncanny resemblance to real-life lower class city neighborhoods: hardened Mortys running amok, homeless Mortys sitting by the fire they made in steel canisters, and vaguely threatening music playing in the background. Cop Rick is utterly dismayed and despondent, while Cop Morty is callous and indifferent. They arrive at the store that was robbed, where Owner Morty tries to give them information. Unsatisfied, Cop Morty approaches some random Mortys on the street and violently coerces them into revealing the identities of the criminals. Cop Rick points out that Cop Morty violated many codes, but Code Morty doesn’t care, and the cops leave.
Following that, we are shown the Presidential Debate, where we see Candidate Morty face off against the entourage of Candidate Ricks. The latter all have fairly stupid and incomprehensible answers, but they still get applause based on the fact that, well, they’re Ricks that still sing praises for the Citadel despite its awful state. Despite this, Candidate Morty gets the hardest question to answer - "how will he fix the intense divide between Ricks and Mortys?" - and is made fun of before he even answers the question. Candidate Morty, on the other hand, wins everyone over, by answering with, “The division I see is between the Ricks and Mortys that like the citadel divided, and the rest of us.” His argument is supported visually by a montage showing Morty-Rick tensions in the previously-introduced storylines. Most significantly, Factory Rick gets fed up with his stagnant job position and shoots his boss, then runs to the Flavor Core and hides. Candidate Morty wins everyone over, and Campaign Manager Morty is fired.
Whoo, that’s a lot of information. And we’re only halfway through the episode. Hang tight there, reader!
After the commercial break, we see Factory Rick resisting arrest, demanding a portal gun to take him off this “prison.” We then cut to a reporter dismissing Factory Rick's arguments and reassuring viewers that Factory Rick's concerns are unworthy of consideration. The news then switches to the election, and it is announced that Candidate Morty has become the favored candidate to win. When asked about his original reality and original Rick, Candidate Morty states that he can’t remember, though I was unsure how genuine this answer was. Perhaps he had a connection to the episode Close Rickcounters of the Rick Kind. Candidate Morty is seen watching this news broadcast. My suspicions were furthered when Detective Rick gives Campaign Manager Morty some incriminating files related to Candidate Morty.
Then, we see a gang of Mortys in Morty Town watching Candidate Morty on TV, where they talk to Rickman, who appears to be constructing something for the group. Cop Rick and Cop Morty bust down the door, and Rickman tries to escape with his bootleg portal gun, only to fail. Cop Rick searches the place, where he comes across a crying Morty. Cop Rick pities this crying Morty and picks him up to take him to safety, only for Crying Morty to literally stab him in the back. Cop Rick throws Crying Morty off of him and shoots him. Cop Morty walks in and explains to him that Mortys sometimes do that to emotionally manipulate Ricks, while bandaging his wounds. Cop Morty tells Cop Rick to go back to the car, and with Cop Rick’s back turned, Cop Morty disintegrates the building they were just in, killing the gang of Mortys inside.
Next we see the group of school Mortys searching for the wishing pool. In their journey, they encounter a farm growing exotic fruit. They try to pick some fruit, but are chased away by the owner of the farm, Redneck Rick. At night, we see the friends talk about what they think they’ll find at the wishing portal. Slick Morty is the most pessimistic, and reveals that his Rick gave him a drama implant, who makes everybody sad and down. His friends comfort him. Afterwards, we see Campaign Manager Morty attempt to assassinate Candidate Morty, because of the information on the incriminating files Campaign Morty received earlier.
Following that, Cop Morty and Cop Rick go to the Creepy Morty, a bar and dance club. They meet up with drug lord Big Morty, who claims to “contribute to keeping the peace in Morty Town,” but clearly just wants the town clear of his enemies. Cop Rick states that, even though Morty Town is bad, as cops, they shouldn’t be stooping down to their level. Cop Rick tries to arrest Big Morty, but Cop Rick does not comply, resulting in a gun fight that kills both Big Morty and Cop Morty, the latter by Cop Rick’s hands. Cop Rick exists the bar and turns himself in, saying, “The same old story. Ricks killing Mortys.”
Next we cut back to Factory Rick, who receives his portal gun. To test it, Factory Rick unplugs Simple Rick and tosses him into the portal, but as it turns out, it was a portal to the Blender Dimension. Factory Rick screams at the cops that he’s the Rickest Rick, and to come get him, until the owner of the factory comes out and pardons him...only to force Factory Rick to take Simple Rick’s place as the source of Simple Rick’s Wafers. Afterwards, the group of Mortys come across the Wishing Portal, where each friend gives up something important for the hopes of gaining something better. Slick Morty wishes that life on the citadel would change, and sacrifices himself to the wish portal - or, as we learn, the garbage dump.
After that, we see Campaign Manager Morty explain his attempted assassination to the cops, only to realize his efforts were fruitless, as Candidate Morty lives, and is now President Morty. Campaign Manager Morty is cast out into the endless abyss of space. We then see Cop Rick freed from imprisonment, who wonders why he hasn’t been cast out into space. He is told that it’s because there are new departmental codes, so therefore he hasn’t violated anything. Then, we cut to the group of friends, who come to a changed school with no graduation. They celebrate how Slick Morty’s wish must have come true.
Finally, and most importantly, we are shown President Morty’s meeting with a council of businessmen Ricks. The Ricks all talk about how they don’t care who’s in the seat, since they’d been running the citadel long before the council came along. Then, President Morty orders the execution of all the dissenting Ricks, leaving the indifferent Ricks completely bewildered and terrified. He ends the episode with the line, “Speeches are for campaigning. Now, is the time for action.” We see a shot of all the Ricks and Mortys that died over the course of the episode, and then the credits roll, with foreboding music playing in the background (“For The Damaged Coda” by Blonde Redhead if anyone’s interested).
If you stay until after the credits, though, the depression and tension are diffused with an entertaining scene featuring Main Rick and Main Morty happily recounting their time in Atlantis. Morty does wonder what’s going on in the citadel, but Rick says that it will have no bearing on their lives whatsoever, and the episode ends.
There is so much information to unpack in this episode that it honestly astounds me, and all of it is presented in twenty-two measly minutes. Allusions to the real world are clearly made, including but not limited to Morty Town’s resemblance to the Hood, the struggles of the working class, the way school tries to beat the uniqueness out of its students, dirty cops literally getting away with murder, how businesses secretly control everything, and, most importantly, how politicians can target and exploit societal divisions for their own personal gain.
The episode is very clearly a commentary on how racism and classism can distort the lives of everyone involved, whether it be the Mortys forced to live in a slum or the Ricks being disappointed in themselves for not living up to the potential that has supposedly been imposed on them. Both sides are displayed to have both strengths and weaknesses: the Ricks are smart, but callous and oppressive; The Mortys are the underdogs and are clearly victims of a cruel system, but they can still manipulate and control the system in negative ways. If this divide didn’t exist, then both sides might be at peace, but the issue lies in the Ricks continually attempting to suppress the Morty population. Everything can be traced back to, shall we call it, the “Ricktriarchy.”
The most important character of the episode appears to be President Morty, since the incriminating documents Campaign Manager Morty had reveal that President Morty is actually Eyepatch Morty, last seen from the episode “Close Rickcounters of the Rick Kind.” Why is this important? Well, in that episode, Eyepatch Morty is revealed to be the mastermind behind the framing of Main Rick. It would then make sense that President Morty would want to control the citadel: he obviously has a huge bone to pick with Main Rick, and if he gains power over an army of Ricks and Mortys, then he can easily exact his revenge.
In spite of the connection to Main Rick, the true evil of this episode is the way that President Morty gains power: he exploits the clear divide between Ricks and Mortys by promising all of them happiness, while never actually explaining how he will accomplish this or showing his real personality to everyone. His supporters are caught in a daze of despair, and President Morty suddenly gave them hope, and he won the support of the masses who don’t think critically or have any skepticism of what might actually happen in the future. This shows just how diabolical people can be.
While the actual content is definitely the most intriguing aspect, I think it is also worth praising Justin Roiland’s incredibly versatile voice acting in this episode. It’s amazing to think that he is the sole person behind the microphone, since he provides the voices for all the Ricks and all the Mortys here. He gives each individual Rick and Morty slightly different tones and word choices, like how Cop Rick is more soft-spoken than most Ricks, how Slick Morty sounds a little more depressed than your average Morty, and how President Morty speaks with loads of confidence and is very articulate, without any sort of the classic Morty stammer. How someone has the talent to convey different interpretations of the same character so subtly and effectively is beyond me.
Overall, “The Ricklantis Mixup” is now my new favorite episode of the entire series. It is the most ambitious and smartly written, it contains phenomenal voice acting, it provides biting political commentary, all its new one-off characters feel defined and real despite getting very little screen time, the Citadel of Ricks feels like a tangible place with conflicts and hardships, and is still hilarious when it needs to be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode combine so different storylines in in such a short run time and manage to make every single one work. All I can say is, the excruciating gap between Season 2 and Season 3 was definitely worth it, if not solely because we got this masterpiece of an episode.