In order for Rick and Morty season 7 to achieve success in its overarching Rick Prime story, it must defy the renowned “Big Story” rule set by co-creator Dan Harmon.
As Rick and Morty has evolved since its December 2013 debut, it has adhered to a storytelling rule established by co-creator Dan Harmon. However, in order to move forward, the beloved Adult Swim series must depart from this approach. The show initially embraced an anarchic and darkly comedic tone, satirizing sci-fi tropes. While these aspects persist, Rick and Morty season 6 witnessed a deeper exploration of character drama, granting audiences a reason to genuinely care about the show’s protagonists. With a reduction in shock humor and an increase in emotionally poignant monologues, the later seasons of Rick and Morty have even ventured into dramatic territory.
However, there have been instances where this pattern has been broken. One notable misstep in Rick and Morty season 6 was the decision to commence the season with an explosive episode that unveiled Rick’s true nemesis, his motivations, and his tragic backstory. While this served as a suitable continuation from the groundbreaking finale of Rick and Morty season 5, it ultimately left Rick and Morty season 6 lacking direction for subsequent episodes. The remaining episodes of Rick and Morty season 6 primarily consisted of standalone adventures that felt inconsequential and, unfortunately, were a letdown following the gripping series premiere. Regrettably, it appears that Rick and Morty season 7 will continue to adhere to this flawed formula.
Dan Harmon’s “Big Story” Rule Typically Serves Rick & Morty Well
Rick and Morty’s Season 7 Must Break Free from the Constraints of the “Big Story” Rule
In a recent interview with Premiere, executive producer Steve Levy and Adult Swim president Michael Ouweleen acknowledged that only one episode per season adheres to the canon-centric storytelling approach, following co-creator Dan Harmon’s “Big Story” rule. Harmon’s intention was to reward dedicated viewers by including an episode each season that delves into the overarching narrative. This technique proved successful in seasons 1 to 4, delivering surprisingly emotional finales. However, starting from Rick and Morty season 6, this formula has resulted in the majority of episodes feeling like mere filler content.
The departure of co-creator Justin Roiland from the series due to domestic abuse charges has added to the ongoing changes within Rick and Morty. While his absence will likely be more manageable for the lighter comedy series Solar Opposites, where Roiland also played key characters, Rick and Morty faces significant behind-the-scenes revamps. Nevertheless, for the upcoming Rick and Morty season 7, it is crucial to break away from the existing “Big Story” rule, as adhering to it has proven detrimental to the series throughout seasons 5 and 6.
Unveiling the Weaknesses of Rick and Morty’s “Big Story” Rule
Rick and Morty’s “Big Story” Rule Disrupted the Season 5 Episode Balance
In Rick and Morty season 5, the equilibrium between lighthearted, stakes-free episodes and weightier, character-focused outings was thrown into disarray. Silly episodes like “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” (episode 6) clashed heavily with darker, introspective installments such as “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort” (episode 8). The series premiere and finale, which embraced the show’s overarching narrative, felt jarring alongside the widely criticized “Rickdependence Spray” (episode 4). While these comedic episodes might have thrived in earlier seasons, they lost their purpose when Rick and Morty’s more serious episodes repeatedly hinted at a more significant story just around the corner.
Rick and Morty’s Earlier Seasons Prioritized Character-Based Plots over an Overarching Story
In the earlier seasons of Rick and Morty, the focus was rarely on teasing a grand, overarching narrative for the series. Instead, any allusions to a larger story were primarily centered around character development. Seasons 1 and 2 subtly touched upon Rick’s suicidal thoughts in a few episodes, but this served more as an aspect of his character rather than a storyline guaranteed to be resolved at a later point.
In contrast, the expectation grew among viewers that Rick’s personal vendetta against Rick Prime would eventually lead to a climactic confrontation between the two. This anticipation made low-stakes episodes feel somewhat frustrating, as the desire to witness this epic showdown overshadowed the standalone adventures. Episodes like “Something Ricked This Way Comes,” which parodied Stephen King’s work, were only truly successful when the presence of a significant overarching story did not act as a distraction.
Rick & Morty Season 6 Exposed the Obsolescence of the “Big Story” Rule
The Limitations of the “Big Story” Rule Became Glaringly Apparent in Rick and Morty Season 6
While the issue first emerged in Rick and Morty season 5, it became impossible to ignore as season 6 unfolded. Only the premiere and finale episodes of Rick and Morty season 6 focused on advancing the big-picture narrative. In episode 1, “Solaricks,” the introduction of Rick Prime set the stage, while episode 10, “Ricktional Mortpoon’s Rickmas Mortcation,” confirmed Rick’s ongoing search for him. Consequently, everything in between felt like interchangeable filler, leaving potentially intriguing developments, such as Dr. Wong’s return, feeling like missed opportunities. The constant presence of the “Big Story” overshadowed deeper insights into Rick and Morty’s characters until the season finale.
The culmination of this issue reached its lowest point with the widely criticized episode 9, “A Rick in King Mortur’s Mort.” In this installment, Rick exhibited an unusual display of humility as he refrained from criticizing Morty’s mistakes and instead attempted to assist his grandson in resolving a problem caused by Morty himself. However, the episode lacked the dynamic interplay that makes Rick and Morty’s central characters compelling to watch. Subsequently, “Ricktional Mortpoon’s Rickmas Mortcation” provided an explanation for this absence. It was revealed that Rick had replaced himself with a more emotionally stable clone, resulting in the co-lead of the show being absent for one of the ten adventures in season 6. Such twists further reinforced the notion that there was little purpose in becoming emotionally invested in the majority of Rick and Morty episodes.
Rick & Morty Season 7 Requires an Amplified Presence of “Big Story” Episodes
The Unpopularity of Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 9 Highlighted the Season’s Broader Issues
While it’s understandable that episode 9 of Rick and Morty season 6 received negative feedback from viewers, the problems within that episode reflected the overall issues plaguing the entire season. With the motives of Rick Prime and Evil Morty addressed, the show can no longer disregard their presence for another full season. The major antagonists of Rick and Morty, along with the revelation of Rick’s shocking backstory, have been unveiled, rendering typical adventures to feel like purposeless distractions. Ultimately, the show cannot undo its most significant twist, and its attempts to brush this fact aside have resulted in the mixed reception and uneven storytelling evident in season 6.
Rick and Morty Season 7 Must Embrace a Refreshing Shift: Prioritizing the “Big Story” with Select Comedic Episodes
To deliver a more fulfilling and weighty experience, Rick and Morty season 7 should depart from its customary formula. Instead of teasing a single episode solely dedicated to Rick Prime (possibly the finale), the season should invert its approach. By devoting the majority of season 7’s episodes to advancing the overarching “Big Story” of the series, while interspersing a few lighthearted comedic adventures, the show can strike a better balance. This new approach would infuse Rick and Morty season 7 with greater dramatic significance, allowing the less frequent comedic episodes to serve as delightful respites. By embracing the concept of “less is more,” Rick and Morty season 7 has the potential to demonstrate the wonders that arise when the show breaks away from its conventional approach to the “Big Story.”