Rick and Morty “did a Die Hard” in hilarious fashion this week, with Summer turning into John McClane to stop terrorists taking control of the arcade where her family is trapped.
Die Hard kicked off its own action sub-genre in 1988. The story of one man fighting a group of terrorists in a skyscraper inspired scores of films in which one man fights terrorists in a specific location.
Under Siege was Die Hard on a boat. Passenger 57 was Die Hard in a plane. Speed was Die Hard on a bus. And Sudden Impact was Die Hard at a hockey rink.
With Rick and Morty combining hard sci-fi with pop-culture spoofs, it was inevitable that the cartoon would get around to it, but surprising just how much Die Hard is peppered throughout “Rick: A Mort Well Lived.”
Let’s start with the A-Plot however, which finds Rick and Morty trapped in a video game called Roy: A Life Well Lived.
Morty’s identity has splintered into all the non-playable character, meaning everywhere you look, every man, woman, and child sounds like Morty. Which is deeply unnerving. But it’s also a blast meeting President Morty, then watching a sea of Mortys debate and argue with each other.
Rick enters the game as Roy – the one playable character – with a plan. He wants to gather the fake population of Mortys together, blast them into fake space, and go past the edges of the game to force a reset, at which point the pair of them will be kicked out.
But all does not go according to that plan, and soon enough, the Mortys are waging war against each other.
The boys are trapped because alien terrorists have taken over arcade Blips and Chips and… well, it’s never properly explained, but that doesn’t matter as their plan is simply an excuse to give us Die Hard in an Arcade.
Rick realizes what’s happening early in proceedings, and tells Summer to “do a Die Hard”, even though she’s never seen the movie. But she has help, as the Hans Gruber-esque head terrorist – voiced by Peter Dinklage – is following the Die Hard playbook, and even reading an actual book called The Nakatomi Paradigm.
So glass is shot. Ode to Joy is heard. A gun gets taped to a back. And Summer shouts Die Hard over and over and over again in her efforts to save Rick and Morty.
The two stories converge in the episode’s final few scenes, and Summer saves the day in brilliantly Die Hard fashion, making this an entertaining – if slight – installment.
But the big question posed here concerns Rick and Morty’s relationship, with the many Morty’s unsure if Rick really, truly, cares about them.
It felt like he did at the end of last episode “Solaricks”, wherein Rick halted a revenge mission to embark on a rescue mission. But it seems actions aren’t enough for Morty this series; he needs Rick to tell him he loves him, and actually mean it. Which feels like it could become the central conflict as Season 6 continues.
For now, they made it out of the game in one piece, the episode ending with a brief post-credit scene that has a dig at Die Hard with a Vengeance. Obvs.