The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty S6E5 “Final DeSmithation”
Rick and Morty S6E5 “Final DeSmithation,” pivoting from supernatural horror into a different sort of horror altogether, opens in a Panda Express. For some reason, every time the show drops our characters into a real location (especially if said location is a focal point), it ends up being one of the funnier episodes, and this one is no different as everything about the chain is put on frequent blast. The main target here is the very banal, generic nature of the fortunes such as “hard work often pays off.”
The family, dissatisfied with their fortunes, turn to Jerry, whose fortune is much more…unique. “You will have sex with your mother,” he confidently reads, before his face falls in worry and everyone in the restaurant turns to look at him. It’s hilarious to me that the inciting event of this episode is that simple, especially considering the insanity that it leads to.
Jerry, naturally, cannot let go of the idea and the fear that the deed is going to happen. The man is fixated on this fortune for whatever reason, but it turns out that his concern this time is actually well-placed. In a low-tech experiment, Rick writes Jerry’s mom’s name on the inside of one of two shoeboxes, has Jerry say which one he would stick his penis in, switches the boxes while Jerry looks away, and then asks again. Each time, Jerry somehow picks the box with his mother’s name. With Rick getting increasingly agitated, he concludes that something is up with these fortune cookies.
Rick is under the impression that Panda Express is a front for these fortunes, and they’re trying to get Rick’s attention. After a huge shoot-out in which most of the employees end up dead, Rick and two of the remaining employees realize that it’s all a big misunderstanding, because they thought Rick was DEA coming after their meth ring. They all have a laugh and one of the gang members tells Rick that the cookies come from a company called Fortune 500, led by a transparent spoof of Gwyneth Paltrow named Jennith Padrow-Chunt.
It turns out that Fortune 500 has captured an alien that feeds on chaos, but has a digestive disorder that strips randomness from space-time and poops out pockets of energy (the fortune cookie) that bend reality towards certain outcomes. Not all fortune cookies have this effect, which is why you’ve got a 90% chance of getting some bullsh*t on your next fortune from Panda Express—but the genuine, entropy-bending fortunes are where the company profits. Earlier in the episode, Summer stated that fortune cookes only come true if you eat the cookie first—which ends up meaning that if you eat the cookie, the fortune must come true, and until it is, it is an unresolved fortune and its owner is immortal.
This episode once again leads up to an excellent and creative action sequence. As he always does, Rick constantly has another trick up his sleeve. Jennith Padrow-Chunt authorizes her militia to use specal fortune cookies that give each of them special abilities, and Rick uses the fortunes’ dubious phrasing to outsmart his foes, eventually creating a black hole of chaos and causing the facility to implode, ending the fortunes. He’s been more or less an alcoholic Inspector Gadget these past few weeks, and this week he pulls out all of the stops with various bionic implants for both surveillance and murder that make the sequences that much more entertaining.
Jerry continues to be developed beyond a target for ridicule this week. After the adventure, he presents Rick with a new “fortune,” which is simply a handwritten “Thank you” (with a smiley face). He refers to Rick as a friend, which infuriates Rick since that resolves Rick’s previous fortune of making a new friend and renders him mortal. Rick bellows his displeasure at Jerry until the latter retreats, but Rick expresses remorse after slapping Jerry, and takes another look at the thank-you note Jerry gave him before going inside. There are a couple of times this week where Rick seemingly is warming up to his son-in-law: this whole adventure is predicated at least in part by Rick respecting Jerry’s concerns about his fortune, and even relinquishing the prospect of absolute power to save Jerry from his incest fortune.
Rick and Jerry is a pairing that continues to pay off in terms of fun adventures, and their dynamic is consistently hilarious as Jerry is still the least jaded of the Smith family. It also appears that taking away the portal travel was one of the best storytelling decisions Rick and Morty could have made, as the lack of a deus ex machina forces the writers into more creative avenues. Rick and Morty fans are eating good this year, and if I dare say so, I’m seeing a significant reduction in some of the toxicity that has been prevalent in the fanbase. In fact, the response to Rick being less of a lunatic and Jerry getting more development has been largely positive. And while I do like the older seasons and earlier versions of these characters, their growth has been a healthy and positive direction for the show to take, and it’s still as funny as it’s ever been.