We're now five seasons into Rick & Morty and there are at least a few more to come, so it's not surprising that the series will keep repeating itself. Look at the number of times The Simpsons had to change the origin story for Homer and Marge to accommodate the show's shifting timeline. Fans can only hope that Rick and Morty continue to explore new ways of approaching familiar sci-fi tropes. There's no reason to be worried if "Mortyplicity", is any indication.
This episode is actually quite surprising considering its conceptual similarity to "The ABC's of Beth" Season 3. We have again a storyline that revolves around Doppelgängers and the question of whether Smith/Sanchez can ever be sure they are real. The end result should not feel like a boring retread. However, the execution of "Mortyplicity", however, proves to be a ridiculous and violent addition to the season.
"Mortyplicity," a story about mysterious, squid-like aliens hunting Rick, excels in keeping viewers off-guard with its premise. The story evolves gradually from one about Rick being hunted by mysterious aliens looking like squids to one about a Battle Royale between many decoy families. We don't have to touch base with each family for too long before we move on to the next. This chaotic, fast-paced approach works well. This episode builds on its little gags in amusing and clever ways.
Although "Mortyplicity," is mostly Rick-oriented, it is worth noting that this episode is one of those episodes in which Jerry manages to steal center stage whenever he takes the spotlight. Jerry's self-serving cowardice is always entertaining. Ventriloquist Jerry is the show's most entertaining Jerry sidekick. This scene, with the Queen needle drop, is simply amazing. It only adds to the absurdity of Jerry's existential predicament.
Unfortunately, "Mortyplicity," as the title suggests, has a common problem. It really needs one final big twist in the finale. It ends up that the various families end up killing off each other and that's all. The episode needed more to make it stick. There is still uncertainty about whether the last survivor is the real deal, or just a decoy family who happens to be on-world. But that isn't enough to create a satisfying conclusion. Rick has been through so many dimensions, and has been killed and rebuilt so many times, that it's no longer relevant to ask if he is "real".
This is highlighted by the fact that Space Beth appears briefly at the ending. Although this episode does not rehash the Space Beth storyline, it is odd that the episode doesn't more directly refer to those episodes or make the Beths a larger part of the plot. The writers almost never seem to use Beth, so this episode could have made a big difference. Perhaps during the next Asimov Cascade.
"Mortyplicity", despite its attempts to re-create Rick and Morty's territory, manages to stand out from the rest. With its bizarre premise and constant shifts in narrative, this episode manages to keep the viewer on edge. Jerry is once again the show's most hilarious character, even though he's not the main focus. Although the finale lacks the one final twist that will keep the momentum going throughout the episode, the episode is a welcome reminder that the show can still succeed despite having to return to old tropes.