SPOILER ALERT: Do not read until you have watched “Rick and Morty” Season 5, Episode 1, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre.”
Clumsily taking the inspiration for its title from “My Dinner With Andre,” “Rick and Morty’s” fifth season opening “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” introduces the audience (and the family) to Rick’s “nemesis,” Mr. Nimbus (voiced by Dan Harmon), explores the latest development in the Beth and Jerry relationship, and evolves the Mort and Jessica relationship, if you can even call it that. Or as co-creator (and voice of both Rick and Morty) Justin Roiland’s official description for the episode explains: “Big man comin for dinner, broh. Better check the booze.”
Opening on a classic Rick and Morty adventure on a planet full of crystals that reveal alternate versions of the titular duo—including one where they’re Blades—things are obviously life and death business as usual. In this particular case, while both are battered and bruised on this planet, Morty takes the reins, as a weak, possibly dying Rick waxes on about being a “silly small man.” It’s “Rick and Morty” doing hacky action at its best to kick things off, and naturally, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
But it’s in Morty’s bravery in this moment — as he flies them back to their dimension, on a course back to Earth — that the episode provides its first (but certainly not last) portal-based issue, as the portal closes just as Rick and Morty go through it. As the ship hurtles toward Earth, set to crash and burn — and it’s a very nice touch for the steering wheel to just pop right off — Morty makes a death call that really sets this whole episode into motion. It’s a call to his forever crush Jessica, which ultimately ends up working in his favor and getting him a movie date night with her that night. That’s all the inspiration Morty needs to live, which leads to the water landing on the ocean that summons Mr. Nimbus, the “big man” from the episode synopsis and Rick’s nemesis.
Considering all of the enemies and foes of Rick that we’ve been introduced to over the course of the series, the fact that someone as weirdly unassuming as Mr. Nimbus is officially dubbed Rick’s “nemesis” in this episode clearly has to hold weight. And it’s a weight that the episode intentionally undercuts from his presentation, as everything about Mr. Nimbus suggests that surely something is amiss if this character is somehow Rick’s nemesis. Even Jerry, of all people, isn’t impressed by Mr. Nimbus at first, and he’s Jerry. But according to Rick, Mr. Nimbus is king of the ocean and “a piece of shit.”
Mr. Nimbus is unassuming because he’s a “strange, horny ocean man” who says his name a lot, but it quickly becomes clear that he wields plenty of power and is highly respected as king, as well as one heck of a charmer when it comes to the “sex positive” crowd. (The epilogue ends with Mr. Nimbus, Beth, and Jerry having a threesome.) He’s also clearly a jerk. He sips fine wine and then throws the still full bottle at the wall, demanding another. Maybe that’s not exactly the stuff on an “ice cold dick killer” that Rick repeatedly calls him in this episode, but he’s not someone to mess with.
While Rick ends up having dinner with Mr. Nimbus to stall him with the promise of a bogus peace summit — while he has Summer dive into the ocean to steal the shell that gives Mr. Nimbus his powers — Morty once again sets out to have his own adventure, this time in the form of his movie date with Jessica. Instead of returning with an episode about a Rick and Morty adventure or a whole family adventure, “Rick and Morty” uses the Jeff Loveness-penned “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” as a vehicle for another Rick and Morty tiff. In this case, Rick is upset with Morty for summoning Mr. Nimbus, so he decides he can’t trust Morty to be his right hand man. (This is why he tasks Summer with the retrieval mission.) Instead, he gives Morty the simple task of bringing the wine whenever Mr. Nimbus calls for it, storing the wine through a portal where time moves faster—like “a Narnia thing.”
Even though he concedes to doing this, Morty declares that he wants to do something in his life other than favors for Rick. It’s an early reminder that Rick always ignores anything about just how selfish he is, with Morty asking him, “How many enemies do you have to have?! Why is everything a fight with you!” Rick replies with the “lesson” for his grandson that “life is a fight.” Morty, unfortunately, has to learn that the hard way here.
Despite Morty learning up top with his death call that he should just be up honest with Jessica, it’s his continued need to impress her that turns everything into a centuries-long blood vengeance story, with him at the center of it. If he had just told Jessica he couldn’t get her wine, things wouldn’t have ended up spiraling, because it’s no big deal if a teenage boy can’t get his crush wine when his entire family is in the house, entertaining some weird ocean king. But because Morty just can’t get out of his own way when it comes to Jessica, we have this plot.
Knowing how “Rick and Morty” works, the whole earnestly touching moment between Morty and Hoovy (Jim Gaffigan) — an anthropomorphic cow on whose land the wine was stored — is one where you just wait for the other shoe to drop. In this case, it seems like the shoe is simply Hoovy returning to his world, missing decades in the life of his wife Bova and his son killing him to avenge his mother. That could be it, and the episode would never have to address the fact that Morty ruined this family’s life again.
But Mr. Nimbus still needs more wine, and Morty is still determined to get Jessica some wine. Even if Morty shut down the latter in this episode, the former would still be an issue, so it would always lead to this. But it wouldn’t have been surprising at all had the show just ended this particular story thread right there.
However, it does not. Instead, “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” takes the audience on a journey, through this dimension’s various technological eras, charting the rise of a civilization based solely on getting revenge on Morty. Because of his focus on Jessica—and his weak toothpick arms—Morty creates an entire dimension of nemeses. In true “Rick and Morty” fashion, this avoidable issue is one based on confusion (Morty spends a good portion of time thinking Hoovy is trying to get revenge on him for reasons he can’t figure out) and Morty being Morty. Which is why it’s especially funny every time Morty actually decides to fight back — still not realizing why they’re after him in the first place — whether it’s him shooting up a medieval civilization that now has people wondering if he was ever real, or him going to save Jessica and ultimately beating up (and bullying) an A.I. clone who’s just trying to get through his “stripped-down Sundance sci-fi bullshit”
Naturally, Rick and Morty reunite to try to solve this problem together. Only, in this case, Rick has no solution — he’s not the deus ex machina. That ends up being Mr. Nimbus, who, as this episode reveals, was Rick’s good friend before he became Rick’s sworn nemesis. It’s always interesting to see which plot threads end up lasting past their initial episode because as “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” reveals, Mr. Nimbus knew Diane, Beth’s mother and Rick’s ex.
Rick shuts down him “establish[ing] canonical backstory” in this case, but one can imagine that it’s a sign that this season will delve deeper into said backstory. Possibly with more Mr. Nimbus, who reconciles with Rick in this very episode… only to return to nemesis status upon the realization that Rick had Summer steal his shell. Ending this episode with Rick cut up (from the other dimension), beat up (from a very jacked Mr. Nimbus), and sent to jail (because Mr. Nimbus controls the police) is one way to start this season, but what happens next?
The same can be asked about Jessica, who ends up having a character-changing revelation. To quote Jessica, by the end of the episode, she’s a “time god” who realizes she’s long been “the object in another’s story.” Morty’s unrequited crush on Jessica has always been part of “Rick and Morty” but never a must-see part. But after having Jessica end up in a stasis that allowed her to witness centuries pass in the other dimension, to “[glimpse] into the mind of eternity,” the show has created the most interesting version of Jessica we’ve ever seen. She still wants to be just friends with Morty, but now she has thoughts of time and the universe weighing on her mind non-stop.
Or this could be the farewell to Jessica’s character altogether, as she has moved on to her own story. The possibilities are endless, as is “Rick and Morty’s” way.