The Rick and Morty Season 5 premiere hints at something which fans were sorely missing in Season 4 of the show: continuity. The last installment of the Adult Swim series didn't touch on "Evil Morty," Beth's mysterious mother or any other tidbits that have gradually fleshed out the structure of the Smith-Sanchez family, and fans were hoping that this year's episodes would go back there. Season 5, Episode 1 "Mort Dinner Rick Andre" just barely grazed those concepts, and while it didn't give us anything new it did restore hope.
Warning: Spoilers for Rick and Morty Season 5, Episode 1 are ahead! The Season 5 premiere was mostly a Morty-centric episode, with Rick's rivalry with Mr. Nimbus relegated to the background. However, fans of the mad scientist will likely zero in on their dramatic confrontation around three-quarters of the way through the episode, when Rick tells Nimbus that he is embarrassed to have him as a nemesis. There, Nimbus references serialized storylines that haven't even been touched on since the Season 3 opener.
"Maybe you hate me because I am the only man to see how far you have fallen!" Nimbus says. "I used to fear you — respect you! Now, all that's left is pity for a sad, drunk shell of a man too afraid to see how alone he truly is. If Diane were alive today, what would she think?"
At this, Rick lashes out at Nimbus, saying: "Don't f—ing establish canonical backstory with me you Red Lob—." Interestingly, the scene cuts hard there with no transition, jumping straight to Morty waking up in the clutches of an alien race. It's framed almost as if Morty were dreaming the confrontation — as if he himself was curious about Rick's backstory.
Fans may remember that "Diane" was shown in Season 3, Episode 1 "The Rickshank Rickdemption," though Rick would later boast that the scene was not a real memory but a completely fabricated construct of his own mind. This brief insert from Nimbus doesn't give any new information but it does hint that the show is willing to flirt with an internal canon this year, unlike Season 4 which actively flouted the idea.
Rick and Morty Season 4, Episode 6 "Never Ricking Morty" seemed like a declaration to fans that no continuous serialized story would ever hold the showdown. It featured a throw-away scene where Evil Morty and an army of other fan-favorite characters simply disappeared when Rick uncharacteristically prayed to Jesus Christ to save him.
Even this can't be taken too seriously from the Rick and Morty writers, of course. The show planted seeds for Evil Morty and Rick's ex-wife in Season 1, then largely ignored those stories in Season 2 before reviving them for some grandiose call-backs in Season 3. Seeing them ignored in Season 4 did not necessarily mean they were gone forever — especially since Rick and Morty has at least 50 more episodes to go before it could end.
Rick and Morty Season 5 premiered on Sunday, June 20 at 11 p.m. ET on Adult Swim. New episodes will air at the same time every Sunday for the next ten weeks. You can watch the show on cable or on AdultSwim.com with a valid cable log-in. Cord-cutters can also stream the show on Hulu + Live TV with a free trial available here for new users.