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Rick and Morty vs Genocider spoilers follow.
Earlier this year, Rick and Morty expanded its already limitless multiverse even further with an anime short called Samurai & Shogun. Produced by Japanese studio Deen Digital, the episode was officially promoted by Adult Swim, which led us to wonder how new efforts like this could impact the main Rick and Morty show moving forward.
What we didn’t expect was a second anime episode which confirms some major fan theories while forever changing how we perceive Rick and Morty in the process. It really doesn’t get more schwifty than that.
The short in question was developed by Deen Digital once again, this time with Tower of God’s Takashi Sano on directing and screenwriting duties. Rick and Morty vs Genocider might only be just over eight minutes long, but it packs more pearl-clutching moments into its runtime than perhaps any other episode yet. Check the anime out below in its entirety, and then stop for a moment to take it all in.
Recovered yet? We’d bet a thousand schmeckles you’re confused by what’s just happened, and we were too at first, but a few rewatches make things clearer.
In summary, Rick C-137 (our Rick) is being hunted by Evil Morty and the Citadel of Ricks. Posing as a group called the Genociders, they’re destroying life itself by changing people’s memories, which in turn, shape reality. Morty goes to Japan in search for Rick, and notices that Tokyo’s citizens are disappearing at an alarming rate.
Morty soon finds Rick, who explains that this “genocider” technique has been developed using a substance excreted by alien parasites (which sounds an awful lot like the same species as Mr Poopybutthole). In an uncharacteristic moment of kindness, Rick reassures Morty that they’ll soon be reunited, and gives him a special potion which will turn his grandson into a “Rip Van Winkle” of sorts.
The conversation ends with Rick addressing Morty as “Rick Sanchez” before blasting off to become “Super Rick” and fight the Citadel. After he seemingly dies mid-battle, Rick returns to taunt Evil Morty and tell him that “his timeline sucks,” which goes some way to explaining why Evil Morty sucks so much too.
But let’s go back to what Rick said when he bade Morty farewell. As Rick called Morty by his own name, Rick’s reflection also overlapped Morty’s face. Does this mean that Rick and Morty are actually the same person?
At the end of the episode, Rick receives a phone message from Jerry telling him that Morty has just been born. Rick then takes a drink from his flask and puts down Morty’s potion bottle. The potion gives Morty all of Rick’s memories up until the moment Morty was born, and by doing so, this transforms reality, turning Morty into Rick C-137 while time itself shifts to the time of Morty’s birth.
And we thought the Space Beth stuff was complicated!
Basically, this all means that Morty must now live out the rest of his life as Rick, and it’s probably safe to say he has at least some memories left of his time as a young Morty.
For a show that doesn’t like time travel, the impact of this time loop is truly seismic, explaining most of Rick and Morty’s biggest mysteries in one fell swoop.
Fans have long theorised that Rick and Morty may in fact be the same person, but this episode goes beyond just confirming that, throwing in a number of other game-changing revelations too.
At the heart of all the dysfunction in the Smith family lies the cold hard fact that Rick wasn’t there for Beth in the years before Morty was born. This twist could explain why that might be the case, because that time didn’t actually happen due to the shifting effect of Morty’s own memories on reality. That might also explain why Rick is reluctant to talk about the picture where he holds baby Morty…
Still with us? Another implication is that Rick’s flask was never filled with booze, or at least, not all the time. Going by what happens in this short, it seems that Rick is actually dosing himself with the potion to maintain his Rick form and memories without reverting back to Morty.
And then there’s Evil Morty too. Where did he come from? Again, nothing is confirmed exactly, but it seems entirely possible that Evil Morty comes from a timeline where he didn’t transform into Rick. Perhaps his overall goal is to break the cycle and stop Morty’s from becoming Rick’s across the multiverse?
However, the most important question of all is does any of this actually relate to the main Rick and Morty show? Well, as co-creator Justin Roiland once said, “Technically everything is canon in an infinite multiverse.” This means everything that happened in Rick and Morty vs. Genocider could be “real”, and it’s also worth noting that the episode was shared by Adult Swim’s official account.
On top of all that, this wasn’t just any old version of Rick either. From Shrimp Rick to Wasp Rick, it’s been established time and time again that the multiverse is literally crawling with different Ricks, including Samurai Rick WTM-72 from Deen Digital’s previous anime episode. But here? This was our Rick, which means that Rick and Morty vs. Genocider could very well be an origin story for both of our so-called “heroes”.
Whether season five or future episodes beyond that ever acknowledge this is another matter entirely, although it’s worth remembering that events from the comics occasionally tie in to the show like this. While Rick continues searching for his szechuan sauce, we’re going to keep our eyes peeled for the true contents of his mysterious flask…
Rick and Morty season 4 aired Sundays on Adult Swim in the US, and aired in the UK on E4 and All 4 on Wednesdays.
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