Rick and Morty's Nonlinear Storyline Worked, Surprisingly | CBR

 WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for “Promortyus,” the seventh episode of Rick and Morty Season 4.

Throughout almost seven years and four seasons, Rick and Morty has established itself as a major milestone in adult animation. Although, as the series progresses, some fans may think that the same Rick and Morty formula is starting to feel tired. Luckily, the writers are not afraid to experiment, and this truly shows in the fourth season’s seventh episode, “Promortyus.”

“Promortyus” opens with Rick and Morty on a strange, new planet, walking around with monstrous aliens wrapped around their faces, like the face huggers in Alien. The duo seem to be under a trance at first, but they quickly come to and attempt to flee the planet, while of course wreaking havoc. The interesting thing about this episode is that at the halfway mark, it takes the audience back to before the opening of the episode to show us what led up to television’s favorite grandpa and grandkid walking around with parasitic aliens attached to their faces. The fact that this episode uses a nonlinear narrative structure is groundbreaking because it’s something that’s never been attempted in the series before.

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“Promortyus” still has the conventional Rick and Morty vibe, but is feels new and inventive because of its unique story structure. Plenty of episodes have featured Morty’s sister, Summer, going on adventures with her grandfather and brother, where things almost always go awry. However, we have never experienced such a mystery like we do halfway through this latest episode, when Rick and Morty do not know where Summer is.

The audience has not seen the beginning of the adventure, so we are just as clueless on Summer’s whereabouts as our lead characters. Having the pieces slowly come together proves to be an incredibly fun new way to experience a Rick and Morty episode.

Before the episode rewinds and Rick and Morty find Summer, she has become queen of the parasites. If “Promortyus” followed a linear structure, Summer’s arc in the episode would feel far less surprising. However, presenting Summer as a queen without context and then filling in the blanks later on makes for an original ride. After all, any Rick and Morty fan knows that Summer is someone very unlikely to become royalty, so this creates even more of a mystery about how she assumed this position.

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There are still three highly anticipated episodes left to air in Rick and Morty‘s fourth season, and an apparent 70 episode order was handed out before the fourth season began airing. Any fan knows there are usually year-long gaps between seasons. In fact, Season 4 was released in two waves that consist of five episodes each, with the first wave concluded at the end of 2019 and the second wave starting just this month.

This wave so far has given us the nonlinear episode and a different take on an anthology with “Never Ricking Morty,” the season’s sixth episode. The fact that the writers seem to be incorporating storytelling techniques never used before in the series is very important for the show’s future. Since there are large gaps between seasons, fans need a reason to keep watching. If a die-hard fan has to wait two years for the same exact formula, they may stop being so invested.

It would be exciting to see new story styles and structures in the fourth season’s final three episodes — maybe with a full-on musical or an episode where neither Rick nor Morty are the focus. Having another episode follow a nonlinear structure would also be a good idea. Whatever the series chooses to do next, it will always be a treat to see Rick and Morty doing what they do best.

Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, the second half of Ricky and Morty Season 4 airs Sundays on Adult Swim. Seasons 1 through 3 are available to stream on Hulu.

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After four successful seasons, the writers of Rick and Morty decided to try a new storytelling format, with quite promising results.

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