The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty S6E1 “Solaricks.”
I had to take a bit of a refresher on last season of Rick and Morty, because Season 6E1 “Solaricks” picks up some time after the explosive last season finale in which Evil Morty broke the Central Finite Curve (the “wall” separating the universes in which Rick is the smartest man in existence, and those in which he is not) and breaks portal travel, stranding Rick and Morty. Also, the Citadel is destroyed again! That thing just can’t catch a break!
Of course, as always, it doesn’t take long for Rick and Morty to get out of a scrape, and this time it is Space Beth that rescues them. Rick immediately sets about resetting the portal fluid to re-enable portal travel, but as he often does, makes a mistake and makes things worse. He instead resets all portal travelers, meaning that everyone who has portal traveled from a different universe will be sent back to that original universe.
This forces our protagonists to confront their pasts, calling back to episodes in the first two seasons and really tightening up some of the messy lore of the show. Morty gets sent back to the Cronenberg dimension (where he abandoned his original family to the hellscape apocalypse), and runs into his father, who is the only remaining survivor of the family, if not humanity. Jerry, far from the naive idiot Morty knows, is a hardened man who has finally accepted Rick’s outlook on life and rejects all of Morty’s attempts to apologize and reconnect. There’s no fixing what Morty has done here.
This isn’t the first time that our characters are forced to confront the reality of the destruction left in their wake and the lives ruined by running away from their problems or trying to fulfill their wants and needs through an “easy” method, or just simply jumping to a different dimension. There are plenty of examples in which the show reveals the massive body count as a result of Rick and Morty’s antics, but this is the uncommon and satisfying instance in which the consequences have direct ties into actual character development.
Oh yeah, and Jerry gets reset because Rick and Morty accidentally retrieved the wrong Jerry from the Jerryboree in S2.
Rick gets sent to his original dimension, where Rick Prime killed our Rick’s family and made him the bitter, nihilistic man we’ve known. Rick, in order to torment himself, has programmed the house to haunt him with the voice of his late wife; a voice always in the next room, just out of reach, constantly reminding him that he failed her and their daughter. What’s more, Rick has set the universe to repeat the day of his family’s murder over and over; however, Rick forgot about aging, so everyone (including the earnest and kind Mr. Goldmanbackmajorian) stuck in the time loop here feels the physical effects of aging, but cannot die. “Oh yeah,” remarks Rick. “I used to drink drink.” It is both horrifying and remarkably on-brand that Rick morphed this dimension to punish himself with no thought to the broader consequences—although thankfully, after realizing his gaffe, he puts the denizens of his purgatory out of their pain.
The big kicker comes here: the Morty we’ve been with all this time is the grandson of Rick Prime–and our Rick stationed himself on our Morty’s universe because he is still, after all these years, determined to kill Rick Prime. This doesn’t do any favors to the strained relationship between Rick and Morty, as Morty once again feels like he’s merely bait, but Rick is taking the chance to finally kill his nemesis. He can’t portal travel, but he can utilize the rift left behind by Evil Morty to travel between universes. When faced with the opportunity, he instead decides to go save the Beths and Summer. In the mid-credits, Rick Prime encounters Jerry in the Cronenberg dimension, confirming this to be Prime’s original home (and he our Morty’s grandfather). I was expecting Rick Prime to accept Jerry’s offer to team up against Rick and Morty, but Rick Prime instead kills him, ending the life of what is so far the multiverse’s most accomplished Jerry.
The end of the episode finds the family happily reunited in a new universe, original Jerry in tow. Season 2 Jerry, still in the midst of a rough patch with Beth, comes downstairs and chastizes Rick for the adorable pyramid-shaped alien in the cat carrier. Rick warns him not to release it, but he’s too late—the alien bites Season 2 Jerry on the ankle—which promptly sprouts its own adorable face, crooning “Mmmm, I’m Mr. Frundles!” Mr. Frundles apparently has the ability to bite anything, even inanimate objects, to continue the spread. Amidst a growing chorus of objects saying “Mmm, I’m Mr. Frundles!” the family escapes once again as, in a matter of minutes, Mr. Frundles has consumed the entire planet. It’s a hilarious and fairly terrifying little sequence that got the biggest laugh from me for the week. And of course, we’ve come full circle, with the family having to once again travel to a different timeline, murder the versions of them in that timeline, and bury them in the backyard.
So what’s next? In a refreshing twist, portal travel still hasn’t been fixed by the end of the episode. Rick says he’ll get to it eventually, but it’s interesting that portals weren’t quickly resolved and as long as they’re out of the picture, I’m sure there are going to be some time and space shenanigans as workarounds. I also really liked how both Rick and Morty had to confront emotional turning points in their pasts, and how they were incorporated with lore from the show’s early days.
It’s hard to know for sure how much the coming episodes will form a more structured narrative. It does seem like the show is going to ease up on the trolling since this episode was pretty straightforward, but of course it could just be the first episode of a season that will get back to poking fun at the fanbase. I’m guessing it’ll be a little more balanced, since there was vocal disappointment in not directly following canon, but as a fan of either type of episode, I’m just happy that the show is back, and continues to exercise unbridled creativity in its writing and animation, as well as emotional growth from our characters.