Rick and Morty is off to a nice start after a revealing season six premiere that’s now been followed up by the series’ “Die Hard” episode that pays homage to John McClane’s feat, while also exploring a bit more of the grandpa and grandson duo’s relationship.
Indeed, showrunners Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon had hyped the Die Hard parody as a perfect example of how Rick and Morty’s creative process often unfolds, with this entry lining up with the show’s self-contained style, rather than the pure story bits delivered last week. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say “Rick: A Mort Well Lived” would do McClane proud as the original movie’s funniest moments are perfectly thrown into the Blips and Chitz arcade.
The idea of alternate Ricks and Mortys is definitely not new to fans of the show, especially once their nature got further development in last season’s finale, however, here the concept gets a new spin put into it as viewers enter a universe where everyone talks like Morty. The twist is that none of this is real, it’s actually all an extension of the season two arcade game, “Roy: A Life Well Lived”, where Morty is now stuck due to a power outage that allowed terrorists to take over the precinct.
That’s about as far as it goes in terms of setup, with Rick assuming the role of Roy to try to rescue Morty’s fractured psyche from the game, while Summer goes off to do her best try at pulling off a Die Hard, without ever seeing Die Hard. Now, suffice to say, the so-called Christmas movie is an absolute action classic and Summer really seems like the perfect hero to step into John McClane’s shoes against a group of alien villains led by a Gruber-like terrorist who’s just as obsessed with Die Hard, who happens to be voiced by Peter Dinklage.
Rick and Morty endlessly plays on Summer’s Die Hard ignorance, as she basically stumbles her way past some of the movie’s most iconic scenes with her cute alien walkie-talkie, despite the villain’s disdain over the 17-year-old’s lack of 80s cinema culture. Whether it’s the sight of Summer wearing a gun sling or hiding under a table, Gruber shooting a hostage, or the two’s final encounter, it’s clear the writer had a lot of fun making this one.
Elsewhere in Roy’s world, after a few standoffs that between the leading Morty fraction, Marta, as well as having to clean up Rick’s image from the cult-like status it’s attained, the fractured Mortys suddenly have a change of heart of not wanting to go back teen reality. The reason is simple, even if a life of simple pleasures like pizza and teenage body exploration is nice, a part of Morty’s conscience hates to feel that Rick sees him as an object, with grandpa’s reluctance to tell any of his video game grandsons that he loves them being the last drop needed to trigger an all-out war in the Mortyverse.
Considering last week’s Rick and Morty episode toyed a little with this idea, the showrunners clearly want to give Morty more agency and self-determination, even though it’s now been established that mainline Morty is Rick Prime’s son and that the family’s multiversal origins really shouldn’t be important to Rick as stated by Morty himself. It’s hard to call this a power play on Morty’s behalf, especially since it’s not exactly clear how much of him was left behind in the video game, but the episode’s intent seems clear.
Besides Die Hard, the episode also provides slight nods to Inception with how the time mechanics work in Roy’s game world, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League gets called out by Rick for having around 8% of the films made up of Batman’s Knightmare dreams. Still, the bulk of it all is Die Hard, and luckily towards the end Summer gets a quick briefing on what she’s supposed to do thanks to alien Gruber’s copy of the Nakatomi Paradigm, an obvious callback to Nakatomi Plaza.
Overall, the episode is a fantastic entry by itself, because there’s a reason why the Die Hard plot continues being used in some shape or form to this very day, and it also does a fantastic job at continuing to establish Summer as Rick and Morty’s muscle. Naturally, after watching this, many will be inclined to give the original film a shot, although Die Hard with a Vengeance also makes a compelling movie choice that’s also referenced here, with Die Hard 2 being the easter egg black sheep of the first three movies for Rick and Morty.
The show’s sixth season will play out as a mix between story progression and Rick and Morty’s accustomed one-off episodes, yet, regardless of that, “Rick: A Mort Well Lived” proves even the latter can do wonders for the character’s development. More importantly, the first two episodes offer fans a solid start compared to Rick and Morty’s divisive past season, which really makes the show feel like it’s back in all its glory.