(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Season 5 Premiere of “Rick and Morty,” titled “Mort Dinner Rick Andre.”)
The last thing “Rick and Morty” fans probably expected to learn during the Season 5 premiere is the identity of Rick Sanchez’s “once and eternal foe” because, let’s face it, we’ve met about 100 different people who hate Rick more than anything. But the fifth-season opener, titled “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” of the Justin Roiland- and Dan Harmon-created Adult Swim series introduced us to the man, the myth, the legend who claims to be Rick’s one true nemesis: Mr. Nimbus (voiced by Harmon), the king of the ocean, whose most intimidating powers are he can “make the land wet” and “controls the police.”
While that hilariously underwhelming reveal would have been more than enough entertainment to watch in one episode, as Rick has to have Nimbus over for dinner and entertain him to appease him for Morty breaking their treaty by entering the ocean, the bulk of the installment is devoted to the snowballing mistake Morty has made in a pocket dimension that Rick opened just to age some wine quickly. (Rick wouldn’t exactly describe it as a “Narnia thing,” but yeah, he confirms it’s a “Narnia thing.”)
Morty had one job to do, of course, in going in to get the wine, and managed to ruin the life of Hoovey (Jim Gaffigan), a man who helped Morty carry the wine back to his dimension and reentered to find that enough time had gone by that his wife was dead and his son, who is now a grown man, kills him for abandoning them.
Things get worse from there, as Morty re-enters multiple times, terrorizing all of Hoovey’s descendants, at first completely by accident as he keeps going back to get more wine, and then because his crush, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), is sucked into the pocket, where she’s frozen in time for thousands of years until he comes to save her. But Morty fails, and then Rick comes and he’s about to fail, when Mr. Nimbus comes to the rescue, because he’s not going to let anyone else kill Rick. Then he gets Rick arrested by the police for trying to betray him by sending Summer (Spencer Grammer) to get his power-controlling horn — because he’s Mr. Nimbus.
As good as that premiere was, Roiland says the second episode of Season 5 was almost the premiere — and its plot is even crazier.
“There was a period of time where that was maybe going to be moved to the first episode spot, just because it’s so f—ing insane and it kind of would make a great premiere,” Roiland told TheWrap.
So why did they go with “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” instead? See TheWrap’s interview with Roiland below to find out.
TheWrap: How did you decide what episode you wanted to open Season 5 with?
Justin Roiland: We’ve got binders and binders of ideas going back to Season 1 of stuff that we couldn’t crack at the time or moved on from because of something else. And there’s a couple of episodes that come from that stuff this season, sort of come from older ideas that we knew we wanted to do at some point. Starting this season off though, it was tough because really there were two episodes and we weren’t sure which one should be the first episode of the season. And we kind of just kept the order that we had this whole time. We had a Mr. Nimbus episode, which is the official episode of Season 5, and that’s been the first episode this whole time we’ve been working on Season 5. But the second episode, there was a period of time where that was maybe going to be moved to the first episode spot, just because it’s so f—ing insane and it kind of would make a great premiere.
OK, now you need to tell me more about that second episode.
This is a season that has a lot of everything. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s some really big fan-favorite stuff that’s going to be in this season that people are going to be really excited about that’s really cool. And this season also has some of our favorite crazy episodic ideas that we’ve been wanting to get to. And then of course we’ve explored all the crazy pocket dimensions and time dilations and all that crazy stuff that we love doing on the show. It’s a pretty awesome season.
This episode introduced Mr. Nimbus, Rick’s “nemesis” (voiced by Dan Harmon) who is king of the ocean and “controls the police.” Why is this guy, of all people, Rick’s nemesis and why wait till Season 5 to introduce him?
I imagine Rick has a quote-unquote nemesis character sort of sprinkled in every nook and cranny all across the galaxy, all across the cosmos, the multiverse. To me, this is just another one. Like, it’s his “nemesis,” he calls him his nemesis, but this guy is just another in a long list of people that Rick has created a bunch of beef with. And that was what was kind of funny about it and that’s why we leaned into highlighting this character as his, quote-unquote, nemesis, like calling him like that and making it an official big thing because of how ridiculous this character is. Anyone watching would know that this guy’s not really much of a challenge for Rick. But with a character like Rick, who is just so invincible, it’s hard to write for a character like that where you have the audience going, ‘Oh, Rick can do anything.’ You’ve seen him basically get out of just about anything and he’s usually eight chess moves ahead of any opponent that he’s dealing with. And it’s hard to kind of pull that back and go, OK, well, let’s do an episode where that isn’t quite the case. He’s kind of got to play by the rules and not do any crazy s–t. But to me, the episode is less about Rick and Nimbus, although that is important, it’s more the Morty side of the story, is what I really love about that episode.
Let’s talk more about that. Where did the idea for Morty’s “Narnia thing” come from?
It’s this crazy time dilated pocket and such a cool idea. It’s just a classic, cool sci-fi thought experiment of time moving at different speeds. But it makes sense to age wine quickly! You open a time pocket and there just so happens to be intelligent life living there. And Morty, of course, is friendly with them and has no idea what he’s doing and then ends up just causing this whole society grief. We had an idea kind of similar to this a long time ago, but it wasn’t as elegant. It was basically a planet that moved at a different speed, it wasn’t another dimension, it’s way more elegant that it’s a pocket dimension. But we had this idea where Morty accidentally left a copy of “Beverly Hills Cop III” behind and then when they go back a few days later to get it, the society has progressed by like 4,000 years and their entire society is built around “Beverly Hills Cop III.” And it’s the same kind of idea. This society has literally progressed with one sole purpose, and that is to defeat this weird boy that keeps coming through this magic door and f–king with them. And then there’s believers, there’s nonbelievers. And then, of course, the ending, where their technology finally reaches up to actually be able to do something about it and then Jessica, the whole thing with Jessica is so good.
How did you pick Harmon to voice Nimbus and Jim Gaffigan as Hoovey, a man whose life, and by extension entire civilization thousands of years into the future, is wrecked by Morty’s carelessness?
We kind of fly by the seat of our pants. We have a really good casting team that we’ve had since the beginning. And those guys have always sort of been there to guide us and help us with casting choices and decisions. We’ll know if we have a character that’s a big character and we should figure out who we might want to get. But with Mr. Nimbus, right out of the gate, it was like, let’s just have Harmon do this guy. And I don’t know if it was because of his temp. I feel like he temped it and it was just really great. And I was like, let’s just keep him. And that’ll happen sometimes. But this show, I think this is almost across the board, I feel like we kind of fly by the seat of our pants in a lot of ways, with casting even. Sometimes we have ideas, we don’t always get the people we want. But sometimes we’ll hear from an agency or whoever, they’ll tell casting, “Hey, just so you know, Susan Sarandon really wants to do a voice.” And we’re like, holy s–t, OK, let’s put that in our back pocket and sort of see what we got when we get to it. That’s sort of the thing with Paul Giamatti [who voiced Story Lord on the Season 4 episode, “Never Ricking Morty”]. I’m pretty sure we knew he wanted to do a voice. So we had him on the table and we were just like, OK, well, let’s see where he lands in the season. And then as we’re going, we’ll sort of discover the character, like this would be great for him. And then it all clicks into place. And that happened with Jim Gaffigan. He’s awesome. There’s so many people we love and want to work with and he was definitely on that list.