Will Rick And Morty Season 6 Double Down On The Show's Most Controversial Episode?

When it comes to throwing a game-changing plot development into your season premiere, you'd think "destroying the entire Earth" would be a step too far. Most shows couldn't continue after such an event, but the new "Rick and Morty" episode "Solaricks" does it almost as an afterthought. Jerry accidentally lets one of Rick's aliens loose, and the adorable alien ends up destroying Earth within about 30 seconds of screen-time. The episode treats this as Jerry's fault, but honestly? This one's on Rick. After Morty's light switch mishap in season 3's "Morty's Mindblowers," Rick should really know by this point to label his things.

But there's no point in dwelling on the past. Within another minute of screen-time, the whole family has found another dimension and successfully replaced their alternate selves. As far as Rick lets on, this reality is almost exactly the same as the previous one, with the key difference being that the people here pronounce "parmesan" weirdly. But then again, Rick admits that this reality jump is "a bit of a rushed job," indicating that there may be more differences between the two than we might think.

This all raises one big, unsettling question for the season looming ahead: will the giant incest baby exist in this new timeline too?

We regret to remind you...

You may remember the infamous season 5 episode "Rickdependence Spray," which starts with Morty discovering the breeding mount at the horse hospital where his mom works, and he quickly realizes that the machine isn't just good for horses. Later, when Rick decides to use the hospital's horse semen for some sort of experiment, Morty's ... interference with the material accidentally leads to the near-apocalypse. The rest of the episode is an absurdly fast-paced, chaotic story where mankind has to work together to fight off the millions of giant, flying mutated sperm roaming the Earth. 

Working with the President, Summer gets the idea to extract and enlarge one of her eggs in an attempt to attract all of the sperm to one location. However, Morty then confesses to his part in the disaster, and the final act revolves around everyone trying to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. They nearly succeed, but one scrappy sperm cell slips through and a giant incest baby is conceived. The President decides to launch it into space, where it quickly grows into a gigantic baby. (Oh, and the baby can breathe in space by the way. No need to worry yourself over how or why.)

The episode was not well received. AV Club's Zack Handlen called it, "the dumbest episode of 'Rick and Morty' I've ever seen." At the show's subreddit, the most upvoted comment on the episode's discussion thread was: "Morty and Summer canonically having a child is just f****** weird and kinda gross, not funny." Another top comment didn't mince words: "I even liked the slut dragon episode, but this was just obnoxious. It isn't completely worthless (it is still amusing for it's sheer weirdness), but this felt like a crude, pale imitation of 'Rick and Morty.'"

The season 5 writers double down

I honestly didn't mind the episode. I can't tell if this makes me more or less mature than most viewers, but the sight of giant angry sperm floating around for an entire episode didn't really gross me out. It was fun watching Jerry find his calling as a water pourer, and Keith David's performance as the President is always wonderful. His response to finding out about Morty's shameful sin ("We were all 14 once, but it's called self-control!") is one of the best line deliveries of the season. 

Yes, the episode wasn't the strongest of the series, but there was nothing about it so terrible it would damage the whole show. I figured the characters would simply move on, never mention the disgusting incest baby storyline ever again, and viewers would forget all about it within a couple weeks. But just a few episodes later, they made it into a major plot point again. "As you guys recall, and as a lot of people keep bringing up, Morty and I did accidentally create a giant incest baby, which the government did launch into space," Summer tearfully explains to her family. "And I'm not sure how to tell you this, but it is still alive, and I have been in contact with it." 

Summer names the baby Naruto and teaches him to be more than just a government weapon, which I suppose is kind of sweet. Naruto ends up playing a major role in the final act of the episode, serving as a defiant middle finger to the many, many fans who simply want to pretend as if "Rickdependence Spray" never happened. Like it or not, Naruto is part of the Smith family, and he'll likely show up again down the line. Or will he?

To forget or not to forget

Now that the Smith family is in a whole other reality, this provides the perfect excuse for the writers to abandon the Naruto storyline altogether. Considering everything Rick takes into account when finding a new reality to jump into, it makes sense that the existence of Naruto wouldn't factor into his decision at all. 

But for now, Naruto still exists in this new timeline until proven otherwise, and that might not be a bad thing. As weird as it got, season 5 of "Rick and Morty" forced us to continue thinking about the episode's weirdness, for better or for worse. Was it a good choice for the show? Probably not. But it definitely was the best choice for the legacy of the episode itself. The more the show returns to Naruto, the more fans will be forced to reflect on "Rickdependence Spray," to look at it again once they've gotten over their initial reaction to the episode's grossness. 

Many fans will find that their initial response still holds up, but other fans might find that the episode has some admirable qualities beneath the surface. Perhaps over time the episode will be seen as something of an underrated gem. And as despised as "Rickdependence Spray" was, you almost have to admire the show for following through on the premise. When Summer later reveals her relationship with Naruto, it feels like the show proudly telling us that yes, they do stand by the episode, and there's nothing we can do or say that will make them disown it. It takes a certain sort of courage to stick to your guns even though the whole world's telling you not to, so if Naruto returns in season 6, I'll welcome him back with begrudging respect.