Rick and Morty season 5 spoilers follow.
It’s fair to say that Rick and Morty‘s latest run hasn’t been as consistently squanch as past seasons. But when it does work, this show still blows our mind like Rick’s Mind Blowers on overdrive.
Looking back, the strongest episodes in season five have tended to be those that push the canon forward in ways that fans have long begged to see. Take the most recent episode where we finally learned more about Birdperson’s past (and that the original Beth is no longer with us!) Or how about the season-five premiere which provided us with new hints about Rick’s own back story?
Five seasons in, the need for serialized storytelling has become more and more obvious to Rick and Morty fans who have long grown tired of seeing the lore essentially reset each week. That doesn’t mean writers should always pander to their viewers, but in a story where nihilism reigns supreme, there needs to be at least some attempt to help us invest in these characters. What’s the alternative? Just more Giant Incest Space Babies and whatever else the writers will try and shock us with next?
Character development hasn’t always been at the forefront of Rick and Morty, and while that’s understandable to some degree — humor and escapism is arguably key to this show’s appeal — one early casualty of that approach came in the form of Jessica.
From the get-go, Morty’s classmate was barely a character at all. Instead, she simply existed as something for Morty to lust over and fantasize about. And although it’s Morty who comes off badly in these storylines, not Jessica, the fact that she’s barely developed at all doesn’t reflect well on the show itself.
It’s also rather telling that Jessica became less involved as time progressed. Prior to season four, she appeared in three to four episodes each season, but then even that was reduced to just two appearances in the fourth season. Jessica isn’t a core character, so of course she’s not in every single story, but it does look like the writers either tired of her flat persona or just struggled to figure out where to take her next.
And then season five happened. In the premiere, ‘Mort Dinner Rick Andre’, Morty and Jessica were pulled into a Narnia-like dimension where time ran much faster. After Morty pissed off the local inhabitants, they captured Jessica and trapped her in a crystal for many eons.
When she was finally released, Jessica’s perception of time itself had altered, essentially making her a “time god”. Gone was the old Jessica, an empty vessel of lust for Morty, and in her place stood a transformed deity, someone forever altered by their experience with another reality.
“I have nothing but time,” said Jessica at the episode’s end. “Endless time, madness, then enlightenment, then madness again… I wondered have I lived? Am I just an object in another story? Still time, no answer, time with no purpose is a prison… I think we should just be friends. F**k off, I’m a time god.”
It’s rather telling that even Jessica says that she’s been a mere object in someone else’s story up until now. This wouldn’t be the first time that the writers have acknowledged their own complicity in shaping the overall narrative either, and although it took a while to reach this point, this story certainly suggested that Jessica’s personal arc would now be heading in a more positive direction.
But then nothing happened. Most of season five came and went without so much as a mention of Jessica and the life-changing events that she went through in the premiere. Rick and Morty does have a habit of randomly dropping characters like this — where on Earth is Space Beth? — but this omission feels particularly disappointing given that the writers now finally have an opportunity to rectify their own mistakes with Jessica.
Yes, it’s entirely possible that Time God Jessica will end up playing a huge role in the season five finale, undoing some of what we’ve just said, but regardless, it does seem odd that Rick and Morty would still take this long to acknowledge her growth.
Still, what should we expect from a show that continues to sideline its main female characters or even kills them off without us even realising? But perhaps Rick and Morty will one day fix this at some point in the many upcoming seasons that have already been confirmed. To paraphrase Jessica herself, “we have nothing but time.”
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