WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Rick and Morty's Season 4 episode, "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty."
Rick and Morty has often taken shots at world politics, especially on issues such as climate change, espionage and experimentation. They haven't shied away from the entertainment industry either, and Season 4 finds the duo -- or Rick, a least -- turning their attention to a major problem in pop culture these days: toxic masculinity and caustic fandom in general.
However, rather than addressing keyboard warriors alone, the series tackles the debacles that have started happening at comic conventions -- by using the only slightly veiled metaphor of Heist Conventions.
The episode, "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty," starts by focusing on a convention called HeistCon, which Rick absolutely abhors. After one of his treasures is stolen by Miles Knightly in a parody of Ocean's Eleven, Rick furiously deems him a scam artist who has only built credibility as a thief because of toxic fans at cons that feed his ego.
Throughout the episode, heists stand in for anything, whether it's comics, video games or movies, that elicit such abusive behavior from franchise lovers. And it's no surprise that we see the majority of attendees at this convention are male.
Rick and Morty don't want to pay to go in because they don't like the air of entitlement at Cons, so they fake being professionals and sneak in. Rick's goal is to wage war on heist fan culture and offer payback for their vitriol. He thinks toxic fans are obnoxious and hurt the heist industry, especially for genuine fans and creatives trying to make money. We've seen numerous cases of this in real-world pop culture, and Rick harbors deep hatred for how the animosity at past heist conventions has led to bullying both online and off -- clearly a dig at incidents such as Star Wars' Kelly Marie Tran being attacked and forced to leave social media.
The mad genius schools Morty on why he's pissed off and Rick eventually encounters Miles in Hall G (a clear shot at the famous Hall H panel) with his followers. Rick claims Miles stole his prize because he just had to remind Rick he exists, and pokes fun at people like him who are constantly stirring up trouble and taking it overboard with fandom, some condescendingly and some angrily, just to assert their dominance.
This leads Miles to slander Rick as someone who hates the heisting arts because he's petty. Then, as the fans boo him, Rick takes a huge jab by telling them, "Your boos mean nothing. I've seen what makes you cheer!"
He and Morty don't care about the people who want security to stop them because they cut the question line, they're in pure anarchy mode. Rick makes a move he thinks is for the greater good, though, when he challenges Miles to a heist-off, which Rick wins after tricking Miles' crew.
Miles thought he had Rick double-crossed but it turns out this was all part of Rick's plan using Heist-O-Tron, a robot he created to come up with thefts. Earlier, the robot shot mind-control darts into Miles' crew so Rick could manipulate them, and in his moment of crowning glory, Rick has the 'bot shoot all the toxic males in the audience. However, when he tells them to complete the biggest heist ever and steal the convention, instead of taking the booths and such, they go after its heart and soul: themselves.
That's right, they tear each other apart, starting with Miles. Rick can't help but think this is poetic justice. While Morty might be a bit scarred from watching these men kill each other, Rick enjoys the moment, believing it's natural selection at work.
New episodes of Rick and Morty air Sundays at 11:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.