Rick and Morty (Season 5): Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort (Episode 8) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of Rick and Morty, Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort, Rick (voiced by Justin Roiland) reunites with a lost friend and goes on a mind-bending trek to mend their bond.
Finally, this season tackles some season four story cliffhangers and while Space Beth (voiced by Sarah Chalke) is still MIA, the long-awaited return of Rick’s best friend Birdperson (voiced by Dan Harmon) finally arrives. The last time we saw Birdperson, he was changed into a cyborg by his former wife Tammy (voiced by Cassie Steele) and then salvaged by Rick to return him to his old form. With the Smith family heading on a cruise or something, Rick finally has the peace and quiet to deal with this Birdperson situation. We actually never even see the Smiths again in the episode and it’s solely focused on Rick and Birdperson’s reunion – oh, and also the voice of Rick’s garage. The A.I. in Rick’s garage was definitely on one this week with her wanting to suck people’s dicks for bargaining, but this joke is way too overdone and runs dry fast.
Thankfully, there isn’t much of that and the majority of the episode sees Rick head into the mind of Birdperson to awaken him from his coma. For multiple seasons, Birdperson has always been labeled as Rick’s BFF, but there hasn’t been much reason to see why. As Rick journeys through Birdperson’s memories, we actually get to see their friendship throughout the years. When they weren’t fighting against the Federation with their ragtag group of bandits, there was a real bond between the two and he’s probably one of the only people Rick doesn’t mind being around. They toked it up at big music festival, attend Squanchy’s (voiced by Tom Kenny) horrible stand-up routine, and console each other at Geardude’s, the older brother of Gearman, funeral.
There have been little dashes of Rick’s growth throughout the season with how he has more personal conversations with his family here and there, but we haven’t really seen Rick go through immense growth since last season. Here though, Rick’s cold, uncaring demeanor kind of melts away with how he not only forces himself to reconcile their friendship, but also deals with a younger version of himself. As he treks through Birdperson’s memories of them, which is styled to be a riff on Charlie Kaufman stories, he eventually runs into a younger version of himself that tries to help him.
For the most part, their banter goes through the usual sentience gaining nonsense this series is known for, but their interactions actually reveal something pretty heavy. As they talk, the younger Rick mentions that this Rick lives with another version of their dead daughter Beth meaning that Beth has actually been dead all along. They don’t really say much else about it, but maybe it speaks to Rick’s cowardice and inability to move on from it. It’s something that will likely be touched on more in the near future, especially if Space Beth comes back around, but for there’s actually some satisfying growth for both Rick and Birdperson.
Their relationship is another moment where Rick’s insecurities caused strife as Birdperson questioning his nihilistic outlook makes Rick distances himself. Thus, Rick is forced to be real here as he genuinely pleads with Birdperson to come out of his coma and return to reality. It’s a strong emotional moment for Rick and an even stronger one for Birdperson with how he talks about how all the death and destruction he’s faced has made him disillusioned and he simply just wants time to process things. However, with the mention of Birdperson having a child somewhere out there, who we see kick some ass in the post-credit scene, he agrees to come out of it. While Birdperson and Rick still separate at the end of things, their emotional journey here makes this episode a true stand out and feels like the kind of episode we’ve been waiting for all season. We may not see a pay off for Birdperson going to find his daughter for a while, but it’s a welcomed return that continues to make Rick have to be real and show that he genuinely loves the people around him.
The emotional growth and storytelling we get with the Rick and Birdperson reunion gives this season some much needed heart but doesn’t necessarily bring season five to the heights of a great Rick and Morty season. However, if this hour-long episode coming after this short hiatus can continue this episode’s momentum, this season could easily redeem itself well and go out on a noteworthy high.