The following contains spoilers for Rick and Morty Season 6, Episode 1, “Solaricks,” which debuted Sunday, Sept. 4 on Adult Swim.
The Season 5 finale of Rick and Morty was full of unexpected developments. Evil Morty escaped the multiverse and upended the former status quo. The new season picks up in the aftermath of that action, and sets the stage for the future — partly by revisiting the past of the often-delayed Adult Swim comedy.
As the show readjusts in the Season 6 premiere “Solaricks,” it finds time to return to an important setting from the show’s first season. This blast from the past gives Morty a surprising chance at closure. It also provides closure to Rick and Morty fans by tying up a plot thread that’s been dangling for several years.
Thanks to the multiversal nature of Rick and Morty, the titular characters have hopped around realities with little consequence. It’s been an established element of the show that even when they mess up big enough to ruin entire realities, they simply relocate to a new, similar timeline and carry on their lives. This first occurred in Season 1, Episode 6, “Rick Potion #9,” which saw most of humanity transformed into inhuman creatures. Dubbed the “Cronenberg Reality,” this was Morty’s original timeline… but “Solaricks” confirms it wasn’t the home reality of Rick. Instead, it was the original home for Weird Rick — the villainous variant of Rick who murdered his family and set him on the path to become the amoral super-genius he is today.
After the events of Season 5, Rick is forced to perform a hard reset on his Portal Gun — which sends everyone in the multiverse back to their home realities. This includes Morty and Weird Rick, who return to the Cronenberg reality. There, Morty ends up finding some unexpected heartbreaking closure with that world’s Jerry — the last surviving human on the planet. In Season 3, Episode 1, “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” the Cronenberg reality’s versions of Jerry, Beth, and Summer were frozen solid. Jerry reveals that after some time, a kindly creature freed them… but only Jerry survived the thawing process, leaving him to travel the ruins of his world alone. Jerry is finally “cool” in Morty’s eyes — which enrages him. He steals Morty’s supplies and abandons him, finally convinced that Rick’s attitude of solitary survival was right all along.
The episode ends with Jerry dying at the hands of Weird Rick, setting up the character to become Season 6’s new overarching threat now that Evil Morty has escaped the multiverse. But on top of that, “Solaricks” really does close the door on Morty’s original timeline. The characters’ abandonment of this reality in Season 1 was a game changer for Rick and Morty, establishing self-reflective nihilism and existentialism as the primary tones of the series. The return visit in Season 3 was a pleasant surprise, but the world’s fate remained unresolved. Now the Cronenberg Reality is more or less ended on a dour note. All of the humans of this timeline — save Weird Rick and Morty — are dead.
The roaming creatures who used to be humans still exist, but have seemingly lost any means of communication, according to Jerry. Any future visits to this reality will likely only focus on Weird Rick and his machinations, meaning the lingering thread of Morty’s original family has been abruptly and brutally concluded. While the prospect of Cronenberg Jerry and Weird Rick teaming up was an interesting idea, it’s more fitting for Weird Rick to simply execute Jerry and move onto his next plans. In the process, a plot thread from one of the show’s first ever episodes ends on a truly tragic note — confirming that the Summer, Beth, and Jerry audiences were first introduced to are dead and gone.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11:00 p.m. on Adult Swim.