Well that was a heck of a lot to unpack. After a two-week hiatus, Rick and Morty was back Sunday with “The Ricklantis Mixup,” and the dark, intense episode was more than worth the wait. While the first half of the season has dealt primarily with the fallout of Beth and Jerry’s divorce, here we’re dealing with some other collateral damage at C-137 Rick’s hands: namely, the Citadel of Ricks, which was not actually destroyed in the season three premiere, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” and is now attempting to rebuild as a democracy after the Council of Ricks were murdered.
So instead of joining Rick and Morty on an adventure to the lost city of Atlantis (and being deprived of seeing Morty score some “mermaid puss,” apparently), instead we take a trip to the Citadel of Ricks, in an episode that plays out like some gritty Wire-like cop and government corruption drama. Tensions are now running high between disadvantaged Mortys and law enforcement, as well as between disgruntled Ricks relegated to menial labor and what are basically the “one percent” of Ricks.
The episode consists of several “Tales from the Citadel” narratives. One follows a jaded, beat cop Morty just assigned a new Rick partner, who makes the observation that it makes him sad to “hear a Morty cop call Mortys animals” when he realizes his partner’s complete disregard for his own people — making for some pretty on-the-nose racial parallels. Later, when the Morty cop incinerates the hideout of a gang of rouge criminal Mortys instead of arresting them and bringing them to justice, he bitterly remarks, “Same old story, Mortys killing Mortys.”
Another narrative involves a blue collar worker Rick who eventually loses it on the job at the wafer factory he works out, taking out his supervisor, while yet another follows a handful of Mortys just about to graduate from a Hogwarts-type school to be assigned to their new Ricks, depressed about their future.
So things are not going so great in the Citadel, but the presidential election provides a glimmer of hope. A dark horse, charismatic Morty candidate who comes out to challenge the Ricks running, making an impassioned speech at the presidential debate about the institutional divide created between Ricks and Mortys. He concludes by stating: “I’ve got a message for them, from the Ricks and Mortys keeping it alive. A message from the Ricks and Mortys who believe in this citadel, to the Ricks and Mortys that don’t: you’re outnumbered.”