Dan Harmon Says Rick and Morty Are Finally A Real Partnership, ‘Kind of Like Ernie and Bert’

‘Rick and Morty’ meets ‘The Muppets’ wasn’t a comparison we considered after the Season Seven finale
Dan Harmon Says Rick and Morty Are Finally A Real Partnership, ‘Kind of Like Ernie and Bert’

Following the events of the Season Seven finale of Rick and MortyDan Harmon says that the title characters are finally in some version of a positive, symbiotic relationship, similar to a couple of Muppet roommates. No one should ever go digging around in the backyard at 123 Sesame Street.

When “Fear No Mort” first premiered back in December, Rick and Morty fans immediately recognized that this season finale was completely unlike any of the previous six. Instead of capping off the year with an almost obligatory canon-dump full of betrayals, character kill-offs and expository monologues, “Fear No Mort” tangibly changed nearly nothing in the Rick and Morty multiverse — besides the implications of the post-credits scene and Mr. Poopy Butthole’s nefarious cliffhanger. In the well-received finale, Harmon and his writers chose to focus on the emotional inner-life of Morty Smith as he underwent some supernaturally-assisted introspection in regards to his relationship with his grandfather and interdimensional mentor Rick Sanchez. 

For the first time since Season Seven’s end, Rick and Morty co-creator Harmon and showrunner Scott Marder spoke about the significance of Morty’s epiphany in “Fear No Mort.” Reflecting on the relationship between Rick and Morty at this point in the show’s canon, Harmon told Variety, “This is kind of a final step in turning them into a partnership. It’s certainly not an equal partnership in every way, but they’re friends, they’re roommates — they’re kind of like Ernie and Bert.” I think it goes without saying that, in this comparison, Squanchy is Elmo.

In “Fear No Mort,” Rick and Morty encounter a “Fear Hole” in the bathroom of a Denny’s that challenges them to face their subconscious’ greatest terror. Seemingly, the pair jump in together and take down some typical horror movie monsters before climbing out and continuing on with their lives, only to quickly discover that they’re still in the hole and their greatest fears are still lurking. “Fear No Mort” brought back the visage of the late Diane as Rick seemingly succumbs to the seduction of the psychological experiment, and Morty struggles with his self-imposed task of saving Rick from himself. In the end, it turns out that Rick never actually followed Morty into the hole, and the most traumatized 14-year-old in the Central Finite Curve faced his fear of being completely reliant on Rick and ultimately being replaceable to his grandfather.

“I think the biggest fetish for me was making sure that it felt like a symmetrical inversion of Morty becoming indoctrinated into absolute nihilism by burying his body,” Harmon explained in reference to the existentially terrifying twist in the Season One episode “Rick Potion #9, presumably ignoring the fact that Harmontown listeners know his biggest fetish to be that infamous mannequin leg that’s even been name-dropped in Rick and Morty. “That’s why we wanted to do the same needle drop, because this Rick is now just as lost in an emotional sense as Morty was in a philosophical sense at that moment.” 

Harmon said that, with Rick Prime out of the equation, “There’s such a futility to (Rick’s) goal of basically beating himself to death with his barbaric fists that we’re leaning into the futility of it; it’s a thing that he needed to do, and now it’s done. And that is not necessarily a wonderful thing that then makes him able to relax.” 

“What we’re assuming with this story is this concept that we’ve fallen back on many times where Rick considers Morty replaceable,” Harmon said of the turning point that tipped Morty off to his actual torment when the fake Fear Hole Rick called him “irreplaceable.” However, when Rick returned to the Fear Hole and took a picture of Morty out of his wallet to place on the bulletin board of the challenge’s champions, it established the tenuously symbiosis of their relationship, showing that, despite Morty’s fungibility, Rick’s still his guardian grandpa.

For fans who felt that “Fear No Mort” didn’t move the needle on the show’s canon nearly enough, Marder offered an ominous teaser about the show’s last remaining multi-season antagonist-turned-anti-hero, saying of Evil Morty, “We can expect to see him in the future. We certainly have plans and grand designs with him, for sure.” 

I imagine Jim Henson said something similar about all the primeval horrors he unleashed in The Dark Crystal.


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