‘Rick and Morty’ attempts to contain its dragon with mixed results in episode 4

A talking dragon and a talking cat are the stars of the latest 'Rick and Morty.'

Jan 2, 2020, 11:35 am*

Internet Culture

Michelle Jaworski 

Michelle Jaworski

rick and morty

Rick and Morty/Adult Swim

This post includes spoilers for Rick and Morty episode 4. Click here for last week’s recap.

Despite their vast appeal in pretty much every high-fantasy epic, dragons aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. They’ve got their own whims and wishes, and sometimes, their own archaic set of rules and guidelines. But other times, it’s just a lot of nonsense.

Rick and Morty’s latest offering, “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty,” is a bit of both. It kicks off with a simple wish from Morty: He wants a dragon of his own—he even agreed to grab a purple glowing cube for Rick in exchange for one—and will keep bugging Rick for one until it happens. As we’ve previously seen, once Beth catches wind of it, Rick can’t get out of it, which leads Rick to arrange for Morty to sign a soul-bonding contract to get a dragon.

rick and morty Rick and Morty/Adult Swim

For Morty, the reality of owning a dragon is something of a disappointment. Balthromaw (Game of Thrones alum Liam Cunningham) will do whatever Morty commands, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it. He’s lonely and depressed, so naturally, when Rick goes in to check on him, they hit it off quickly. And that’s when things get weird.

The episode starts off on familiar territory. Morty gets something he wants and Rick finds a way to make it all about himself while also ruining it for Morty; we just saw this play out two weeks ago. To be fair, that does happen once Rick encounters Balthromaw and the two of them quickly hit it off on a bender.


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But as things start to wind down, Balthromaw and Rick’s souls begin to bond, a sequence that’s both psychedelic and sexual, the latter of which increases when Morty and Summer find them.

rick and morty Rick and Morty/Adult Swim

And the sexual nature of soul-bonding—which also includes the ability for Balthromaw and Rick to feel what the other is feeling—isn’t a coincidence, especially once the wizard who gave Morty the contract slut-shames Balthromaw for bonding with more than one person before taking him away. It only gets even wackier from there as Rick, Morty, and Summer go after them to rescue Balthromaw from his death.

Paired off with a tame (in comparison) subplot where Jerry meets a talking cat (voiced by Matthew Broderick) who urges him to fly down to Florida to live a little, “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty” is a little uneven in its pacing. The cats wants Jerry to just have fun and not to question anything, even though Jerry is obsessed with learning how the cat talks, a gentle dig at the viewers who watch something for nothing but to solve mysteries.

Like almost every fan-driven question, the answer isn’t what it seems, and for Jerry, the ultimate answer is so horrific and gruesome that, after learning about it, Rick erases it from Jerry’s memory, and he’s ultimately satisfied for the half-assed answer of “the cat is an alien.”

rick and morty Rick and Morty/Adult Swim

Meanwhile, Rick, Morty, and Summer’s rescue of Balthromaw leans in on its weirder impulses that include a masturbating dragon and a 10-creature soul-bonding sex orgy—compiled of the four of them and the other dragons exiled for being “slut dragons”—to defeat the wizard. It’s just as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds, but visually, it looks great.

But even a soul-bonding dragon orgy can end awkwardly. And when the episode’s two stories collide, it’s through its creatures. Rick and Morty no longer want Balthromaw around while it’s just too painful to continue hanging out with a talking cat when you know why it can talk, leaving them just as lonely and messed up as Rick himself. It’s a recurring outcome in Rick and Morty, and as we get further into the story, we’re bound to have even more creatures joining that particular crew of outcasts.

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*First Published: Dec 10, 2019, 9:24 am