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Nick Venable

Rick And Morty's Season 7 Finale Nearly Broke Me Emotionally, But It Might Be My New Favorite Episode

Rick and Morty coming out of Fear Hole in Rick and Morty Season 7 finale.

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched Rick and Morty’s Season 7 finale, so be warned!

For all the turmoil and conversational debates that surrounded Rick and Morty ahead of its seventh season arrival — largely centered on Justin Roiland’s firing and the pair of replacement voice actors — it was another fairly stellar year of familial strife, science fiction shenanigans, and bursts of nihilistic surrealism. And while I certainly expected the finale to be a big one, especially after episodes that featured Rick’s preconceived death by Bigfoot and Rick Prime’s Succession-esque shocker, I didn’t expect it to be such an emotional gut-thrashing. 

“Fear No Mort” wasn’t exactly a canon-expanding installment, while also straying far from being an adventure-of-the-week narrative. Rather than worrying about the larger whole, as it were, this seasonal conclusion instead offered up a slice of a character study centered almost entirely within Morty’s unaddressed fears, and thus felt all the more important as a standalone. From the unsettling humor to the emotional trauma, it’s a Top 3 episode through and through, and will possibly take over the highest spot as my favorite of them all. 

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Rick And Morty's Fear Hole Is An A+ Spin On The Twilight Zone 

From the jump, Rick and Morty set its Season 7 finale up to stand out, eschewing the usual cold open to start off with the credit sequence. Less than a minute later, they were already being measuredly accosted by a mysterious Rod Serling-esque weirdo voiced by Liev Schreiber, who introduces them to a place where they could tap into real fears beyond what any theme park gimmick might inspire: a Hole in the floor of a Denny’s bathroom stall.

Like some of the best Rick and Morty episodes, “Fear No Mort” builds up a particularly disturbing storyline and then pulls the rug out from under viewers with unexpected reveals, which recalls many classic Twilight Zone episode formats. In this case, Morty attempts to lock down the root of his deepest fear, which is made all the more complicated by the Hole’s reality-bending functionality. 

In the end, which follows a larger series of Hole-based fakeouts, it’s revealed that the fear-conquering experience wasn’t shared. Rather, the mentally taxing and time-bending journey was solely Morty’s, a twist that made the entire episode worth rewatching, with new contextual layers for each of the scenes with Rick within his grandson’s mind. Though maybe we shouldn’t think too hard about the gaunt nudity. 

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

Diane's "Return" Was A Heartbreaker

With each new nugget of truth revealed about Rick’s late wife Diane, from the details about her death to the sordid ways he tried to rectify that tragedy, Rick and Morty looks to be setting up a super-tragic endgame down the line. I admittedly thought that “Fear No Mort” would end up being a pillar of catharsis for the sadistic widower, and that he might make it through the Hole having fully come to terms with his grief. But was possibly more intrigued by it all being part of Morty’s mindframe. 

For one, it allowed the creative team to give (a version of) Diane a lot of screen time without her return being mired in time-travel hijinks and/or loads of interdimensional travel. And even though the reveal meant that that woman we witnessed wasn’t an honest representation, since everything about her was all presumably based on the teenager’s second-hand knowledge of his grandmother, this take on Diane was still vital for giving viewers a rare peek into Morty’s perspective on that span of family history.

In a similar vein, even though it wasn’t technically real, the Diane moments also gave viewers a Rick that had shed much of his sardonic thorniness and was (albeit reluctantly) closing back in on happiness, even at the cost of his own liveliness. I like to think that one of Morty’s smaller fears was Rick being lulled into falling for a false version of Diane, too. 

(Image credit: Adult Swim)

"Fear No Mort" Was Rick And Morty At Its Introspective Best

This deep into Rick and Morty’s run, there’s something to be said about its 71st episode avoiding any giant, canon-cracking arcs to instead put all of its focus on the terrified hamster spinning around in its wheel within Morty’s skull. It certainly makes the timing of Rick Prime’s midseason death more understandable, knowing that the goal was to wrap the season up by drilling as deep as possible into its youngest character’s inner workings. 

For me, Rick and Morty works best when the plots and jokes are character-driven, as opposed to putting all the attention on battling newly doomed alien races and the like. While also knowing that all the adventures help to inform Morty’s mental state and emotional depths, to be sure. To that end, “Fear No Mort” wouldn’t have worked nearly as well as a finale in the first few seasons, since the biggest jolts come from how familiar and lived-in the characters are at this point. I shared Morty's fears because I care about him. 

What's more, the writers even seemed to call back to earlier emotional montages from this very season, particularly through the "Morty getting older" sequence, which hilariously upended its wistful nature with the punchline that Morty's lifelong fear was turning into Jerry. To be fair, though, that's everyone's nightmare.

Now, I was also dealing with the death of a loved one in the hours leading up to Rick and Morty's last ep of the season, so I was probably already primed for emotional rawness and vicarious grieving. But regardless of why I think it's a great episode, "Fear No Mort" is a damned fine cup of coffee, er, 30 minutes of television. 

The Season 7 finale and everything that came before it is available to stream with a Max subscription. Knowing that Rick and Morty Season 8 is coming should help during the months-long hiatus until new episodes arrive in 2024.

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