The Latest Rick And Morty Episode Raises The Question: Is There An Evil Summer?

For all the "Rick and Morty" haters out there, we're devastated to report to you that the newest season is really good. While even the show's writers will admit that season 5 was a bit of a weird period for the animated series, the first four episodes of this latest season have been some of the show's best. With the premiere being a Rick-heavy episode, the second episode being Morty-centric and the third episode Beth-centric, it makes sense that this fourth episode, "Night Family," shines an extra light on Summer. 

When the family uses a device that allows their sleep-selves to do various tasks at night, we soon find out that Night Summer is the leader of the unconscious "night family". When Rick refuses to let the family rinse their dishes to make Night Summer's job a little easier, she stages a violent rebellion that causes multiple massive explosions and ruins their neighbor's mini-garden.

Although the awake Summer is very much not in charge of the normal family, apparently there's a part of Summer's subconscious that makes her the natural leader of the night family. The less surprising revelation of the episode is that Summer resents Rick on a subconscious level, which ... yeah, that makes sense. The bigger mystery is why the rest of the family's subconsciouses don't hate Rick even more. Either way, "Night Family" has Night Summer and Day Rick going head-to-head, making for a fascinating episode that reflects on just how important Summer's become over the show's six seasons.

Summer and Rick's early relationship

In season 5's "Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion," Summer gives a tearful monologue about how she wants the family to stay together. "You guys [Beth and Jerry] are a couple, and Rick has Morty, but I'm the odd one out." It's an interesting, sort of meta moment for her, because since the very beginning, Summer was the most extraneous member of the family. Rick and Morty were always off on adventures and Beth and Jerry were busying arguing over their failing marriage, so season 1 Summer rarely got to do much beyond being a snarky teenage girl. 

Summer's resentment of her place in the family first becomes explicit in season 1's "Something Ricked This Way Comes," where she gets a job in a pawn shop run by the literal devil. When Rick tells Summer her boss is the devil, she responds, "So what? At least the devil has a job. At least he's active in the community." The devil is actually nice to her throughout (most of) the episode, something Rick rarely is. Perhaps more important is the fact that the devil lets Summer actually do things. Her job may technically be as literally evil as things can get, but at least she feels like her presence is needed. That's something season 1 Summer rarely got from Rick. 

Becoming Rick's trusted ally

But the thing about Summer is that she's someone who will push her way into a more prominent role whether you like it or not. "Summer is a very forceful and powerful personality," staff writer Siobhan Thompson once explained, "If you're a popular teenage girl and your little brother, who's a f***ing dweeb, gets to do all this fun s**t and you don't even get asked, of course you're going to get involved somehow."

This is why as much as Rick treats her like Meg from "Family Guy" sometimes, it becomes increasingly clear over seasons 2 and 3 that Rick trusts Summer with a lot of responsibility. In the purge episode, he calls Summer to help set off a device in their garage, not Beth or Jerry. In "Morty's Mindblowers," it's revealed that Summer regularly comes in to save the day when Rick and Morty's memory-wiping sessions get out of hand. In the season 5 premiere, it's Summer who's trusted to dive into the Mariana Trench and recover Mr. Nimbus's forbidden shell.

Things escalate to the point where by season 5's "A Rickconvenient Mort," Rick and Summer's friendship has escalated to the point where they're going to crazy sex-filled alien parties together throughout the universe. It's not a normal way for a teenage girl to bond with her grandfather, but by "Rick and Morty" standards their relationship in this episode is nearly wholesome. 

The dark side of Summer

Unfortunately, Rick and Summer's growing closeness as a duo isn't always a good thing. In season 5, Summer enables Rick's addiction to collecting giant combining robots with devastating results for all involved. The episode is basically a parody of a mafia movie, one in which Summer takes control at the expense of Morty and the other family members, only for Rick to eventually kick her out of the operation as well. "The danger with Summer is that she enables some of Rick's worst instincts," Siobhan Thompson told Mic, and that idea is definitely on full display in this episode.

The other unhealthy aspect of their dynamic is Summer's idolization of Rick. "He's not a villain, Summer, but he shouldn't be your hero," Morty tells her in the season 3 premiere, but it's become increasingly clear that Rick is in fact her hero. Whereas Morty is mostly tired of Rick's nonsense by this point, Summer is still thrilled to be a part of Rick's adventures, and his cynicism and casual cruelty has certainly rubbed off on her. 

One clear example is in season 4's "Childrick of Mort," where Summer goes on a Rick-esque rant against Jerry because he's trying to roast marshmallows with her and Morty. "Oh, you think this s'more makes you special? What, because someone said, 'good job,' to you once when you were 10?" she says to Jerry. It's easy to imagine Rick delivering the same line in nearly the same tone. 

Will there be an evil Summer?

So far in the show, we've seen an Evil Morty and an Evil Rick, both of whom seem to serve as reflections of the Morty and Rick we've been following this whole time. We don't know a whole lot about Evil Rick yet, except that he seems to be a warning sign of what Rick could've become without his family to ground him. We also know that Evil Morty basically shows us the natural endpoint of Rick's worst behaviors. If Rick continues to be a reckless, spiteful jerk to Morty with no consequences, it's very much possible that our version of Morty can go down a similar path. (This is why season 6 Rick is probably the nicest we've ever seen him.)

With that in mind, it makes sense for the show to give us a full-on evil Summer sometime down the line. The show has established that Summer is capable of being smart and ruthless like Rick, and this latest episode's proven that there's a part of her that's capable of performing evil acts towards her grandfather. Despite its episodic nature, "Rick and Morty" is a show that tends to follow through on the ideas it sets up, even if it takes its sweet time in doing so. "Night Family" establishes that there's a version of Summer that is in fact a worthy villain for Rick; it wouldn't be too crazy for the show to have this turn out to be important later on. 

Recognizing Summer's importance

In season 1, one of Summer's defining traits is that she wants to be more popular at school, something that season 6 Summer does not seem to care about at all because she's too busy acting out "Die Hard" in real life. The writers seem to have realized that Summer and Rick pair off especially well together, because Summer has snappier comebacks (which Rick respects) and she can hold her own in high-stakes situations without all the stammering and the constant questions.

If season 3's "The Ricklantis Mixup" happened in season 6, I'm not sure it could've worked as well because audiences would've been wondering: shouldn't there be a few Summers in this Citadel too? The show has evolved from the premise of "Rick and Morty go on adventures" to "the whole Smith family goes on adventures" over the past few seasons, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just as Beth and Jerry have grown more interesting over the years, Summer has grown increasingly complex and just plain entertaining to watch. Just as every Rick needs a Morty, it's become increasingly clear that every Rick needs a Summer too. 

"Rick and Morty" has plenty more seasons to go before it ends after all, so we may very well be living in the timeline where Evil Summer becomes a thing. There may be an Evil Beth and an Evil Jerry as well, but of the three non-titular family members in the show, an Evil Summer is clearly the most enticing. We don't know what will happen if the writers choose to go there with her, but it's almost certainly going be a lot of fun.