Rick And Morty Season 6 Reminds Us That This Animated Comedy Is The Most Horrifying Show On Television

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "Rick and Morty" season 6.

The latest episode of "Rick and Morty" is filled with callbacks to season 2. The most obvious one, of course, is the VR videogame "Roy," which Morty was introduced to in the 2015 episode "Mortynight Run."

"Roy" is such a memorable callback because of the way the show introduced it to us: Without much explanation, Rick throws a helmet onto Morty, and then we cut to a little kid named Roy waking up at night from a bad dream. He vaguely remembers an "old man" in the dream, but quickly forgets about it and moves on with his life. We see the kid grow up, fall in love, get married, have kids, get cancer, survive cancer, and live what feels like a very full 55 years before dying in an accident at the carpet store where he works.

That's when the game ends, and Morty realizes that none of that was real. All those years of hardships and triumphs, all those meaningful connections with his friends and family, were just a part of an alien video game. One of the first things Morty says in those disoriented moments back in the real world is a sad, stammering "Where's my wife?" 

It's devastating. Or at least, it would be a devastating moment, if this were any other show. But because this is "Rick and Morty," it's just a one-off joke that has barely any bearing on the rest of the story. It takes only a few seconds for Morty to remember what he was arguing with Rick about earlier, and soon his fake wife and kids are firmly in the rearview mirror. It's hilarious precisely because of how messed-up the whole situation is. 

"Rick: A Mort Well Lived" throws Morty back into the game, except now the show has upped the ante.

A new horrifying scenario

In "Rick: A Mort Well Lived," the same game has malfunctioned as a result of a terrorist attack that happened while Morty was playing, and now Morty's consciousness has been splintered across the billions of fake people living inside it. Rick enters the game as Roy to spread this information to everyone within the world: their lives aren't real, and in order for them to return as one being in the real world, they all basically need to kill themselves. 

There are a lot of bumps along the way to get the population on board. Much like how Morty himself is often conflicted about Rick, the citizens of this world are divided as to how they feel about Roy's plan. This world's President of the United States, for instance, gets the sense that this Rick doesn't treat this Morty particularly well in the real world, which is a fair guess. There ends up being lots of war and bloodshed in this virtual world, and millions of people (parts of Morty's soul) end up dying before Rick can get the rest of the population on board to leave. 

Just don't think about it

How does it feel to be Morty in this situation? What's it like to learn that your whole life is part of a video game and that your soul has been splintered into five billion parts, and that the only way to go back to the real world is to essentially kill yourself? What's it like to have faced death and come out the other side as another person? What's it like to have lived billions of different lives within the span of a few hours? Unsurprisingly for "Rick and Morty," we never really find out. When Morty returns to the real world, he's shaken up a little, but it's unlikely any of this will have any major repercussions down the line.

The writers' apathy on display here is part of the show's charm. Things happen on "Rick and Morty" that would absolutely destroy a normal person. What Morty's just gone through should probably have broken his brain, but there's only a minute left in the episode, so it's important that he simply gets over it. Stuff like this has been going on since the pilot, most notably when Morty watched an alien grow from a baby to an old man and die within just a couple seconds. "Don't think about it!" Rick tells Morty, and sure enough the alien is never brought up again. From squirrels secretly running the world to Rick accidentally turning the whole planet into "cronenbergs," we've learned along with Morty that it's usually best not to dwell on the things we see.

The very, very thin line between horror and comedy

There's a reason why the horror-comedy genre is so popular — the only real difference between the things that make us laugh and the things that make us scream is the tone in which they're presented. The situation in last night's episode could've been a hard-hitting animated episode of "The Twilight Zone," if not for the fact that all the main characters were voiced by Justin Roiland

On another note, sometimes we laugh because it's the only way to escape the existential terror of what we're watching. In the premiere, when Mr. Frundles takes over the world, it's horrifying. The adorable Mr. Frundles is basically a zombie on steroids, infecting not just living creatures but inanimate objects, and at a shockingly fast pace. If it existed in the real world, humanity wouldn't stand a chance. It's a moment that reminds us of just how absurdly fragile life is on this show; a world-ending alien is just sitting in Rick's garage, waiting for an ignorant Jerry to open its cage. An entire planet of living beings is destroyed due to a random event far beyond their control or understanding; the horror of it all is so overwhelming, and all we can do is laugh.

At the beginning of season 3, Rick told Morty that this would be their darkest season yet, and he was mostly right about that. (The show has definitely gotten a little kinder in seasons 4 and 5.) But season 6 opens with two delightfully messed-up storylines in a row, so it's worth wondering if this will take season 3's place. Will season 6 be the most horrifying season yet? With bated breath, we'll just have to wait and see.