Rick and Morty’s Cast and Crew Talk Season 7’s Triumphs—and What’s Next

Rick and Morty’s Cast and Crew Talk Season 7’s Triumphs—and What’s Next

With just one episode remaining in Rick and Morty season seven, it’s officially time to celebrate: fans need not have worried about the show’s future after the high-profile departure of co-creator and key voice actor Justin Roiland. Though every episode wasn’t solid gold, there were some serious standouts, including the season finale (we’ve seen it, but no spoilers!).

Ahead of episode nine, the afterworld adventure “Mort: Ragnarick” (which aired this week), Gizmodo got a chance to speak with executive producer and showrunner Scott Marder and executive producer Steve Levy, as well as actors Ian Cardoni (Rick), Harry Belden (Morty), Chris Parnell (Jerry), Sarah Chalke (Beth), and Spencer Grammer (Summer).

First up, we had to talk episode five, “Unmortricken”—a canon-exploding episode that saw Rick defeat his greatest rival, a sinister variant of himself known as Rick Prime. Morty also came face to face with his own alt-version, the intellectually superior (and also sinister, as the name suggests) Evil Morty. It was an episode Rick and Morty has been building toward for some time now, and to call it a game-changer would be putting it mildly.

“I thought it would be a fun, surprising spot for a canon episode,” Levy said about the decision to put “Unmortricken” at the mid-season mark. “We had gotten into this groove of doing them either as the premiere or the finale, and we wanted to keep the audience on its toes—have it be totally unexpected surprise and to let them know that any episode can be anything, including a giant canon episode.”

Screenshot: Adult Swim

Marder felt the same way. “We did it because we just didn’t want people to get comfortable with the pattern of expecting things in the same spots,” he said. “We were very excited to catch people off guard because it was important to us to show the aftermath of that event. Rick’s whole agenda has been this revenge story, and suddenly it kind of happened unexpectedly. It kind of wrapped up. And now, what is life beyond this thing that he has [had as his] focus for his entire life?”

For the new voices of Rick and Morty, “Unmortricken” posed an exciting challenge; both Cardoni and Belden had to play not just their usual characters, but also hone the subtle differences required for Rick Prime and Evil Morty. “We had a lot of fun recording that one,” Cardoni said. “I would say it was my favorite one to work on—just vocally interesting with the different iterations of Rick in that episode, and the demand placed on the heightened emotions in that episode. It was a dream come true as an actor to pick up that script and to be able to really sink my teeth into it.”

Belden had a similar experience. “I loved playing Evil Morty because he’s been one of my favourite characters on the show. But as far as nuances go, I think just for me it was about bringing that mentality of ‘I’m better than you.’ Cold, calculating, always in control—[it’s] Rick’s version of Morty, taken to an extreme. So I just had an absolute blast playing Evil Morty.” Though Belden—who was a fan of Rick and Morty before being cast—said in a November interview with the Hollywood Reporter that he’s been avoiding looking at reactions to his performance, he admitted, “I’m not made of stone … I’ve definitely seen a lot of great things, which obviously fills me with such joy and gratitude that the fan base has so overwhelmingly accepted [Ian and me] as the new Rick and Morty. It just makes me really excited to continue telling these fantastic stories so that people can enjoy them the way I enjoyed them when I was a fan of the show.”

Screenshot: Adult Swim

As Beth and her clone, Space Beth—who’s carved out her own place among the Smith family on Earth—cast veteran Chalke has also embraced voicing two versions of the same character. “It’s like Harry was saying about doing Evil Morty—it’s really fun to take a character and make sure that you maintain who they are, but then having a real twist on it,” she said. “When we record, we actually do all of Beth and then do all the Space Beth stuff, so we don’t go in order. [We] record them as two separate characters and we always do Space Beth second because she has a little more, like, rasp or gravelly [quality to her voice]. She just has more of an edge and is tougher and cooler.”

Though we didn’t see too much of Beth and Jerry alone together this season, both Chalke and Parnell agreed the couple’s marriage is finally in a good place. “I think they’re doing pretty well, especially compared to the rocky road they’ve had in the past,” Parnell said. Added Chalke, “It’s fun to have them in that place. They’re in a good place and, I think, enjoying each other.”

Jerry’s relationship with Rick, his father-in-law, has also improved over previous seasons; episode two, “The Jerrick Trap,” actually saw them do a confusingly weird mind-swap before temporarily and terrifyingly melding their bodies into a single organism. “It’s fun to have that not completely contentious relationship with with Rick and actually be harmonious—sometimes, you know, be on the same page,” Parnell said.

Screenshot: Adult Swim

In recent seasons—including season seven’s Total Recall-inspired seventh episode, “Wet Kuat Amortican Summer”—Morty’s older sister Summer has undergone an evolution that’s allowed her to showcase her more badass tendencies.

“My favorite part of the ‘Kuato’ episode is when she’s on the table and she’s trying to figure out how to access her ponytail device to save her—and then she’s like, ‘arrive-dead-chi.’ I really like when there’s a lot of these puns, almost kind of silly words that we have. I feel like an action hero or an action star when I get to say them. I really, really love that aspect,” Grammer said. “That’s probably what I love about Summer’s evolution. She’s always been very independent and wildly committed to her needs as an individual. But I really love that she’s so capable. She’s still feminine and she’s still a rebellious teenager, but she’s also a really capable human being you can rely on.”

While there have been great moments with Beth, Jerry, and Summer, season seven overall has put most of its focus on Rick and Morty—and especially Rick. That was necessary to serve the Rick Prime storyline, Levy explained. “The introduction of Rick Prime in season six—officially calling him out as being real and a big part of Rick’s backstory—definitely moved Sauron’s eye kind of toward this bigger canon story about these two Ricks,” he said. “When we dove into season seven, we’re coming in off of Rick being in continual therapy and having taken control of the family, [and also having] let go of the family. He’s been trying to find his place amongst these people but by this point, he’s definitely adopted each of these versions of his family as his own. And I think that’s the flag that he’s planting. So when we move into the Rick Prime world, it’s an internal struggle for Rick to have to pick a path of, ‘Well, what’s more important to me: my vengeance to take out this guy that destroyed my original family, or to keep focus on the people that I’ve adopted as my family, the ones that are in front of me, the ones that I’ve been having multiple seasons of adventures with?’ That was kind of the essence, the energy of where we were moving in season seven.”

Screenshot: Adult Swim

Rick’s struggle with the aftermath of killing Rick Prime is not an issue that Rick and Morty is going to sweep under the rug after season seven, Marder added. “We’re in the middle of writing [season] nine right now; it’s something that we’re still exploring.”

Season nine, you say? We couldn’t get anyone to divulge too much detail about future seasons, of course, but here’s some good news for fans of Rick and Morty’s much-loved “Interdimensional Cable” episodes: “It’s an episode that I love; I love both of them. I plan to give people another one,” Marder promised. Season seven had a variation of sorts in episode six, “Rickfending Your Mort,” which skewed the idea of a clip show in a very Rick and Morty way.

“A lot of those sketches are are ultimately episodes that weren’t strong enough to run the marathon on their own,” Marder said. “Like, [the ‘hot aliens’ bit in ‘Rickfending Your Mort’] is one that we aspired to, kept trying to crack as a full episode, and it kind of kept feeling like a South Park because it required so many people in the world to be weighing in on, like, who’s hot and who’s not. It just didn’t feel like our show, exactly. But it made a great sketch. So a lot of times they kind of boil down perfectly for—I like doing anthologies on the show. It’s a good way to squeeze a lot in.”

As for next season—season eight—Marder says this: “I could have confidently told you when we were going to see it before all the strikes this year sort of pushing everything. I can tell you that we’re working on them all right now. We’ve got a plan, we’ve got a plan for some things up through season 10 already. So there are a lot of chess pieces that are moving, and I’m excited for everyone to see where they fall.”

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