Rick & Morty‘s season 5, episode 4, “Rickdependence Spray,” has earned a lot of ire from both critics and fans alike online, but why is the episode so hated? Since the show’s inception, Rick & Morty has never been shy about pushing the boundaries of good taste. The Adult Swim hit began life as a Back To The Future parody that featured the two leads performing some truly obscene acts and has continued in this same vein even as the show gained mainstream acclaim.
However, one recent Rick & Morty episode has been singled out for an inordinate amount of hate, and even viewers who enjoyed the outing will likely be able to understand why. “Rickdependence Spray” sees Morty accidentally create a race of killer sperm in a freewheeling plot that soon ends up somehow parodying the classic ‘80s cult horror movie CHUD with a subplot about horse cannibals. It is a deeply silly, uneven outing, and one whose most shocking joke put some viewers off the episode entirely.
Thanks to a string of laughably absurd incidents, Morty’s giant sentient sperm ends up impregnating his sister Summer’s enlarged egg and producing what the characters on the series soon dub a “Giant Incest Baby.” Even fans who enjoy both the silliness and gross-out elements of Rick & Morty’s humor can likely see why this plot went too far off the rails for some fans, whether it was because of the sheer absurdity or the vulgarity. The giant incest baby may be used to set up a pretty perfect 2001: A Space Odyssey reference, but it is understandable that most fans find the idea of Morty and his sister Summer inadvertently producing a child together to be pretty grotesque.
It is the sort of gross-out humor that South Park is famous for but even that infamous show’s most outre moments have generally stopped short of giant, sentient sperm eating people alive and two siblings unintentionally having a kid, so it makes sense that the sheer shock value and general squickiness of the episode put some viewers off this adventure. However, the episode does also have its ardent defenders, with some fans of the series claiming that it is a parody of overblown action cinema (like the titular reference implies), as proven by the seemingly cool action hero Blazen being revealed to be deeply immature. In this context, the silliness becomes more understandable, and the fact that Rick & Morty season 5 has parodied all manner of classic movies makes this explanation believable.
However, the divisiveness of the episode is likely not one that will be solved by one faction of fans accepting that the outing is secretly genius or the other contending that it has gone too far. Earlier episodes like the meme-spawning “Pickle Rick” (season 3, episode 3) proved equally divisive, and that outing at least attempted to illustrate a deeper meaning behind its initial silliness. Ultimately, the qualities that make some fans cherish episodes like “Rickdependence Spray” are the same things that make some Rick & Morty fans abhor them—gleeful silliness and audaciously crude humor.