Rick & Morty’s Birdperson episode secretly references Major Villain
Rick and Morty’s rescue of Birdperson from his own mind secretly references a comedic villain with his lava monster, giving Rick a new foe.
Warning: Contains spoilers for Rick and morty Season 5, Episode 8, “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Death”.
In ‘Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort’, Rick and morty apparently just acknowledged the existence of a terrifying comedic villain in the series’ televised canon, creating major future problems for Rick. The episode sees Rick finally restoring Birdperson to true biological life. Having been shot by his wife Tammy during their wedding, Birdperson was resurrected by the Galactic Federation as a cyborg before being overpowered and ultimately cured by Rick, who enters his friend’s mind after discovering that his self. conscious refused to wake up.
What follows are the events of “Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Death,” which sees Birdperson agree to come back to life after finding out that the Galactic Federation has imprisoned her child. But that comeback only comes after Rick and Birdperson escape the latter’s subconscious, flying free from a giant, bone-filled birdcage, pursued by a lava demon with a beak and multiple eyes. At first glance, this monster appears to be just a mental construct representing their need to escape, but he actually looks like a being from Birdperson’s comedic origin story.
In Rick and Morty Presents: Birdperson # 1 – by Alex Firer and Fred C. Stresing – fans see Birdperson’s teenage years on his home planet of Flipflap-12, as a ritual of virility is interrupted by Rick and the Galactic Federation. During the events of the comic book, Birdperson is apparently killed twice. The first time, when a ship containing Rick crashes on his planet, he wakes up to meet a demonic being who calls himself “Vulture person.” Vultureperson reveals that it is a supernatural creature that feeds on the souls of the Birdperson species. Ejecting Birdperson from the afterlife, Vultureperson reveals that he intends to fatten his soul, allowing him to explore the galaxy and grow as a person before dying on his wedding day in front of everyone else. ‘he likes. Demon brings Birdperson back to life, swearing to kill anyone who tries to steal his eventual “perfect death”.
Vultureperson is true to his word, returning later in the comics when Birdperson convinces Rick to stab him, prompting Vultureperson to manifest in a huge, towering form made of fire and devastate the forces of the Federation. Birdperson comes back to life and Vultureperson reiterates his intention to claim him after his murder on his wedding day. It’s a fun story that delves into the very beginning of Rick and Birdperson’s friendship, recontextualizing some key moments in the series (for example, Birdperson apparently suspected he wouldn’t survive his marriage to Tammy), including the end of ‘Impeccable Rickternal Friendshine of the Mort.’
In the context of Rick and Morty Presents: Birdperson # 1, it makes sense to read the Lava Monster in this episode not just as something on Birdperson’s mind, but as Vultureperson himself. By fully resuscitating Birdperson after his death on his wedding day, Rick stole from Vultureperson his “Fattened soul”, steal the greatest prize from the demonic being. With multiple eyes and a long beak, the lava monster certainly seems destined to evoke Vultureperson, whom the supernatural entity is directly trying to prevent Rick’s attempt to restore Birdperson’s “spirit” to, or just a manifestation of Birdperson’s knowledge that he is cheating the demon into truly coming back to life and there will likely be consequences.
So far the Rick and morty the comics played a distant second fiddle at the show, filling in the blanks but rarely bring new ideas to the canon of television. But while Vultureperson is not recognized by name, the visual similarity and obvious relevance of the comic story to Birdperson’s return to a non-cyborg life suggests that this is a true piece of cross-media continuity, and that sets up a future threat for the comics or the show to explore. By bringing Birdperson back to his thought and sense of self, Rick presumably stole his soul from Vultureperson, giving a demonic bird demon good reason to hate him. It would be foolish to try to guess where a franchise like Rick and morty might pick up on that idea afterwards, but it’s a funny detail that enhances the episode, suggesting that Rick isn’t just saving Birdperson from his own mind, but from a horrific supernatural fate.
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