It was only a matter of time before Rick and Morty turned its attention to spoofing the Alien franchise. Honestly, it’s surprising it took this long. “Promortyus” gets about as much mileage out of that premise as it possibly can, lampooning both the obvious tropes and pushing the parody in some pretty wacky and unexpected directions. But as with pretty much every episode that commits itself to a singular pop culture spoof, the novelty factor eventually starts to wear off.You do have to credit this episode with making the most of the Alien parody in terms of plot structure. The decision to kick things off in the middle of the story rather than the beginning helps kick things off on an amusingly disorienting start. We’re left to wonder how the duo got themselves into this mess and whether this phallic, slimy, HR Giger-inspired nightmare is the main focus of the episode or simply a launching point. Watching Rick and Morty utterly annihilate the Glorzos and drop plenty of self-aware meta-dialogue is entertaining, but the real payoff comes later when they realize they left Summer behind. Immediately, it becomes clear we only saw part of a much bigger and more disastrous adventure.
Unfortunately, despite that fun twist, this episode starts to lose its steam after the return to Glorzoville. The flashback to the origin of the mission is fun, especially with the payoff to Summer’s newfound obsession with toothpicks. But after that point the whole concept starts to unwind a bit. This episode sort of has the opposite problem of last week’s “Never Ricking Morty.” That episode tried too hard to keep piling new layers on its mind-bending premise and ultimately sputtered a bit at the finish line. Here, by comparison, it feels like there should have been one or two more wrinkles involved before the Glorzo conflict reached its climax.
This is one case where the lack of a B-plot actually hurts the show a bit. Sometimes the minor asides featuring the other members of the Smith family just get in the way of the real story, but this is one case where the episode really could have used a subplot simply for the sake of variety. Especially because Jerry has really been underutilized in Season 4. His new “career” as a beekeeper might have been worth exploring in greater depth. Though you do have to admire the economy with which Jerry’s story is told in this episode. Not counting the post-credits stinger, Jerry is only in the one scene, but the disinterested reactions and the fact that he seems to have simply taped his name onto a sore-brand bottle of honey tells us all we need to know about his latest hobby.If the Alien parody eventually runs out of steam, this episode partly makes up for that by aiming big with gross-out humor and a general willingness to push the boundaries of good taste. The scene where Rick narrowly avoids causing an alien 9/11, only to gleefully launch into a recreation of the Pearl Harbor attacks, is definitely the funniest moment of the episode. And not for nothing, but the animation in that sequence is really impressive. It’s a testament to how far the series has come in that regard over the past seven years.
Other little moments (like that over-the-top Bruce/Steve kissing scene) are entertaining reminders Rick and Morty can and sometimes will go for shock value. It’s always nice to see another animated sitcom compete on South Park’s level.