Rick and Morty Season 5 Episode 5 Review: ‘Another disappointment in a season with more misses than hits’

Rick and Morty season 5 episode 5 continues the show’s unfortunate recent preoccupation with beating one joke until its inevitable death. In last week’s episode, the focus was almost solely on Morty and the giant sperm he’d unwittingly created. In episode 3, Rick and Summer’s depressing space vacation tried to force laughs with gross-out alien sex. In episode 5, we now have Hellraiser-esque fetishists gaining pleasure out of Jerry’s embarrassing behavior. As has been the case throughout this season, it’s a decent concept for an episode stretched way too thin, and with few laughs to justify its premise.

Rick and Morty season 5 episode 5 ‘Amortycan Grickfitti’ review

rick and morty season 5 episode 5 review recap ending explained

Amortycan Grickfitti follows Rick and Jerry on their unlikely “guy’s night.” Ostensibly a time for Rick and Jerry to bond, it is inevitably learned that Rick is only sharing time with Jerry as a result of him pleasing a race of sadist Cenobites, who derive pleasure from the Smith family patriarch’s embarrassment. Beth eventually joins the duo on their travels, where she learns that Rick is using an unwitting Jerry — who is pleased to find a race that seemingly likes him — in order to appease the murderous Cenobites. Though she initially plans to stop this mocking of her husband, the Cenobites’ reference to her as the “cool” one taps into her Sanchez narcissism, with her joining the Cenobites as they casually berate Jerry.

Rick and Morty has stumbled when it’s come to sentimentality in season 5, with it having spent so long telling us not to care about these characters, only to suddenly pull a 180 this season and trying to get us to care about them too much. This is the case here, as the once-nihilistic Rick is once again — and this time very easily — convinced into being sincere with his family and admitting his love for Jerry.

This character development is distinctly not in keeping with the way Rick has been written in previous seasons, as the viewer has repeatedly been reminded that Rick might not necessarily have any familial fondness for his actual family, let alone his son-in-law. Though we’ve seen glimmers and signs of Rick appreciating Morty, Summer, and Beth, it has always been hard-earned and ambiguous. This sudden shift in the character in season 5 feels far too audience-pleasing, leaning way too much into sitcom territory in the process.

But Rick’s awkward characterization could be somewhat overlooked if it served as the conclusion of a solid episode. However, as has been the case with much of this season, Amortycan Grickfitti takes one joke and drags it all the way out. I was reminded of South Park’s frenzied writing, with Trey Parker and Matt Stone often focusing on one running gag in an episode given their famously tight turnaround for episodes, but Rick and Morty has always been far too considered to rest on its laurels. Much to fans’ chagrin, the show has typically taken a lengthy amount of time between seasons so Dan Harmon and his writing team can get it just right. As another episode with very few laughs and a relatively straightforward plot, it contributes to this season feeling comparatively rushed.

The B-plot features another take on what it means to be “cool” or “cringe,” with Morty and Summer trying to earn the respect of Bruce Chutback, the new kid in school with an air of mystery surrounding him. This leads the siblings into an adventure in Rick’s sentient spaceship, which finally takes the reins and leads the trio on a turbulent journey that sees the craft going on journeys it doesn’t get to do with Rick around. This includes killing a planet-eating Galactus monster and also attempting to lose its virginity to a Transformer.

Unlike previous episodes, the B-plot here was stronger than the central conflict between Rick, Beth, and Jerry, and while the ship’s over-the-top actions didn’t quite rival the famous ‘keep Summer safe‘ scene from season 2, it being aware of its place in the universe was a fun twist that went to some suitably dark places. The conclusion that Morty and Summer were projecting their own insecurities onto the slackjawed, emotionally vacant Chutback was also a nice sidestep away from the typically violent reactions the Smith family has to those standing in their way, subverting expectations in a way that has been otherwise lacking this season.

Rick and Morty season 5 episode 5 ending explained

Amortycan Grickfitti concludes with Rick and Beth acknowledging that their feelings of superiority over Jerry don’t make them “cool,” while Morty and Summer also learn that they shouldn’t project their own insecurities about being popular and desired onto Chutback.

The entire episode tackled self-image, an increasingly prominent concern thanks to social media and the inevitable feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment that come from it. However, its pointed exploration of this topic across both its plotlines felt lost in stretched-out and half-hearted gags. There’s still time for season 5 to up the ante, but Amortycan Grickfitti was another disappointment in a season that’s had more misses than hits.