Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez has made a number of enemies during his travels across the multiverse, and while many of them have fancied themselves his intellectual equal, he’s usually found a way to disabuse them of that notion before the end of each episode. But with Mr. Nimbus, a new character introduced in Rick and Morty’s season five premiere, things are different.
Though Morty is relieved when he accidentally crash-lands their ship into Earth’s ocean in “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” their location immediately alarms Rick, who never got around to telling anyone about why tries to stay out of the sea. Within moments of splashing down, the pair are greeted by Mr. Nimbus (Justin Roiland), a Namor-like king of the ocean (which ocean isn’t specified, and it feels safe to assume he claims all of it) who haughty traipses around like a fishy majorette in red banana hammock.
Utterly ridiculous as Mr. Nimbus is, when his arrival on land is preceded by an inexplicable wave of sea water and marine life, Rick takes him quite seriously in a way that confuses the rest of his family, who all have understandable doubts about the sea-dweller’s might. While Mr. Nimbus’ presence in the Smith household pushes Morty into yet another interdimensional adventure subplot and gives Summer a reason to go off on a solo adventure, the adults are all left to figure out just what the king’s skeezy deal is and what about him makes Rick so nervous. Nothing about Nimbus particularly reads as uber-threatening at first, and his assumption that Jerry has an “untamed” energy makes it seem like he might not be particularly perceptive about other people. But when Jerry, somewhat emboldened by Mr. Nimbus’ demeanour, tries to call the cops on him, he quickly learns what sort of dickish, Aquaman-like powers make him dangerous.
In the way that Mr. Nimbus openly propositions Jerry and Beth for a threesome, you can see Rick and Morty poking fun at Warner Bros.’ recent commitment to making its cinematic Aquaman sexy — and acknowledging the way that Marvel’s Namor has always been presented as having a distinctly sexual energy about him. But in a very typical Rick and Morty fashion, Mr. Nimbus also speaks to how, even with grimdark live action adaptations and heroic framing, aquatic characters like these have always been a little silly, particularly in stories that follow them on land where their control over fish often comes across comically.
What seems to frustrate Rick most about Nimbus isn’t the way that he wrecks the Smiths’ house or constantly shoves his junk into people’s faces, but the fact that everything other people say about Nimbus is pretty accurate. Mr. Nimbus is a weirdo and a creep with a questionable taste in fashion, and his power set doesn’t seem like it should be any match for Rick’s super science. But after Mr. Nimbus lets Beth and Jerry know that he’s down to show them the shape of water, they’re intrigued by the idea of it, and when Rick tries to force Nimbus out of his home, he can’t. It pisses Rick off when Nimbus refers to himself as Rick’s nemesis because, joke that Nimbus may be, for one reason or another, that’s the truth of what they are to one another, something that Rick at the very least implicitly recognised by avoiding him.
Rick and Morty has repeatedly touched on the truth of how, beneath his boorish, hostile exterior, Rick genuinely is lonely at times and seeks out companionship that he’d never openly admit to craving. As Rick attempts to tear Nimbus down with insults, it doesn’t take much for Nimbus to knowingly call out Rick’s behaviour for the petty, embarrassment-filled anger that it is, which only gives Rick reason to storm away in a huff.
The final moments of “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” further illustrate how Rick’s hatred of Mr. Nimbus is something worth considering in terms of where Rick’s at in his life, and what sorts of story developments the rest of Rick and Morty’s fifth season might have in store. Even if the character never makes another appearance, he’s now been established as an important piece of Rick and Morty’s lore, and another reminder than jokes at superheroes’ expenses can be fun.
Rick and Morty airs on Netflix in Australia.