TL;DR – This season elevates the show to heights I couldn’t imagine, the strongest season so far.
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
P.S. – Of course there are post-credit scenes
I can remember the first time I watch Rick and Morty, my brother had said I had to watch this weird cartoon that he had stumbled across. So the first episode I ever watched was Anatomy Park, which was this odd sci-fi romp with Hepatitis C being the good guy. It was a weird mess, which is to be expected when you jump in for one episode midway throughout a season. However, a couple of months later the whole season dropped on Netflix, and I thought I’d give it another go, and boy was it worth it. So today we are going to take a look at its third season which finished up over the weekend.
So to set the scene, at the end of Season Two, Rick (Justin Roiland) had turned himself in to the Galactic Federation in turn for letting his family return to Earth. After two seasons of consequence-free gallivanting across the multiverse, Rick had a choice, and in that moment we believe that he chose his family over himself. So the final shot of the season is Rick being interred in the Federation’s supermax prison, and then the question comes, how is he going to escape? I honestly wondered if they had written themselves into a corner, like Season Four of The West Wing. Thankfully we didn’t have to wait long to find out because in the first episode Rick is sharing a meal with his family at Shoney’s, but wait no, it is just a simulation. Rick is still trapped being interrogated by Cornvelious Daniel (Nathan Fillion), and Earth is still occupied by the Galactic Federation. Jerry (Chris Parnell) is a lackey working for the new administration, Beth is lamenting being abandoned by her father again, and that the Federation has made her job obsolete. On the other side, Summer (Spencer Grammer) is trying to find Rick’s secret lab to find something to use to help rescue him, while Morty (Justin Roiland) is trying to get her to realise that Rick is gone and she has to accept it. Now, of course, like all episodes, it all quickly starts to fall apart when portal guns are found, and Galactic Agents fall for the oldest trick in the book and thus Season Three is propelled forward. Now because we will be looking at the season as a whole, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead, especially for the season finale, so if you have not watched please be aware before continuing.
Rick and Morty has always been a show about pushing the boundaries, but not in a Family Guy kind of way, but in a way that makes you think, and makes you sit back in almost a state of shock that they actually went there. Take the first episode of the season The Rickshank Rickdemption, just when you think it has reached the top with regards to its intensity, it kept on climbing. First, you think tricking Cornvelious Daniel and escaping was the end goal, then it is recusing Summer and Morty from the Council of Ricks on the Citadel of Ricks. But no, for indeed Rick phase jumps the Citadel into the Galactic Federation prison, and then one of the most violent sequences in the history of the show plays as he runs through the halls as other Rick’s and Morty’s die around him. When I first watched the episode I was shocked at how intense it was, and that’s before we get to the conclusion of the episode when it is revealed that everything Rick did was to remove threats to his position in the family and thus the Galactic Government and Jerry are removed from the picture. Indeed, it is at this point that Rick is in the strongest position in the entire series with all major threats to his position in the family both external and internal removed, something we will come back to a bit later.
One of the highlights of the seasons for me were those episodes that flipped on themselves in unexpected ways, like for example in The Ricklantis Mixup episode. Here we spend the most time away from the characters we know as we spend time on the Citadel of Ricks which is rebuilding after the destruction wrought on it in the opening episode of the season. Here we get a mash up of homages from Training Day, to Election, to Stand by Me, even The Fifth Element and Harry Potter. Not only this, it is able to weave four distinct narratives throughout a ½ an hour episode and have them be complete and memorable, each having an arc, are with stakes that get resolved. Look there are many hour-long TV shows and feature-length movies that can’t pull that off. But where The Ricklantis Mixup works the best is a masterclass in dropping a big reveal. Much like the infamous Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones, you could feel it building towards something, but you could not quite put your finger on just what it was. Part of this is because Rick and Morty have a history of non-linear episodes that don’t go anywhere like Interdimensional Cable or this season’s Morty’s Mind Blowers, so you can never be sure until the very end if it just going to be an entertaining clip show, or something more meaningful. Now it doesn’t really matter whether or not you suspected it was Evil Morty before or while the Evil Morty theme was playing, at some point during the episode you had this “… no, it can’t be, can it? Goodness, I think it is” moment. However, no matter the case when that theme song played and as the camera pulled back I was in awe of just how well they had pulled it off.
Now every season has that episode/s that explode out into the general pop culture environment and no conversation about Season Three could happen without looking at the episode Pickle Rick. So as the title alludes in Pickle Rick, Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of a family theory session. All would have been fine, as he had set up a syringe on a timer to drop after the family left (which you can see in the wide shots before the big reveal). However, Morty spots the syringe and Beth removes it because “Well then you don’t want to get pierced by a needle full of liquid unrelated to your situation”. Thus the family leaves, Rick is left alone to muss on how he ‘messed’ that up, and thus starts an almost Rube Goldberg-ish like series of events collimating in the end of the episode. Now a lot of the episode is a homage to actions films of the past and present like Die Hard, Rambo and John Wick. Indeed, it is not the only episode that does this, Rickmancing the Stone is a love letter to Mad Max, Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender is like if you smashed Saw and The Avengers together. So what pushed Pickle Rick into the mainstream consciousness, well it would have to be Pickle Rick himself. It is such an absurd scenario, that makes no sense scientifically or any other way really, but in the world of Rick and Morty, it just works. This is because of the writers, even when they are writing something truly absurd, commit completely to their premise. In this case, it is that Rick is a pickle, and that’s it, he has no arms or legs, so if he wants to move around he has to make it, and in this case, it means cannibalising several cockroaches. It also highlights the wonderful guest actors that the show has gotten this season, with the Agency Director voiced by Peter Serafinowicz, Jaguar voiced by Danny Trejo, and Dr Wong voiced by Susan Sarandon. These are all fantastic actors, and they do a great job here, and it is the kind of casting where you would have expected just one of these actors in an episode, not all three. However, once you get past the Pickle Rick aspect of the episode there actually is an emotional core to the episode, and this is the heart of what makes Season Three work as well as it does.
As we mentioned at the end of the first episode of Season Three, Rick is at his highest point both within and outside of the family. Well by the end of it, if we could add a subtitle to Season Three it would be ‘The Fall of Rick Sanchez”, as by getting everything he wanted, he puts in motion events that lead to him having the least power of any point so far in the series. This is an arc that I didn’t really see until I watched the finale of the season The Rickchurian Mortydate for the second time and it all fell into place. All of this is triggered by Rick pushing Jerry out of the family for daring to suggest that they turn him into the Galactic Federation. Of course, that is not the only reason for Rick’s animosity towards Jerry, which he summed up in The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy as “You shot 20ccs of liquid dream killer into my daughter”. With Jerry out of the way Rick wanted to become the de facto patriarchal head of the family, and before you get upset this is literally a quote from Rick “I’ve replaced them both as the de facto patriarch of your family and your universe”. However, all this does is make Beth start to focus on the incredibly unhealthy dynamic in her relationship with Rick and by extension her family. From the start of the series, it has been clear that Beth has been letting things slide with Rick because she feared him leaving her again. These abandonment issues, coupled with other unhealthy dynamics, very clearly shown by Dr Wong, end with Beth reconciling with Jerry. The reason this works is that Summer and Morty side with the family over Rick by the end of the season. While Rick has shown some improvement with them since the days of A Rickle in Time, he continues to devalue them, as we see in Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender where Blackout Drunk Rick spends the entire episode destroying something Morty believes in just because he can. All of this culminates in The Rickchurian Mortydate when Rick is too busy focusing on his battle with The President (Keith David) to realise that Morty didn’t actually want a selfie, and that he had left Rick to take his family into hiding. For the first time we actually see consequences for Rick’s behaviour, consequences he didn’t plan for in advance like the supermax prison. This creates an emotional undercurrent to the season, and gives all of the main cast a clear arc.
In the end, look Rick and Morty is not for everyone, and that’s fine. For me, once you get past the spectacle a lot of people latch onto there is a lot going on that makes me think, and I like shows that do that. However, if people could shut up about that Szechuan Sauce now that would be great.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Season 3 yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Rick and Morty
Directed by – Juan Meza-León, Dominic Polcino, Anthony Chun, Bryan Newton, Anthony Chun, Dominic Polcino
Written by – Mike McMahan, Jane Becker, Jessica Gao, Sarah Carbiener, Erica Rosbe, Ryan Ridley, Tom Kauffman, Dan Guterman, James Siciliano, Justin Roiland & Dan Harmon
Created by – Justin Roiland & Dan Harmon
Starring in Season 3 – Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer & Sarah Chalke with Nathan Fillion, Tony Hale, Joel McHale, Susan Sarandon, Danny Trejo, Peter Serafinowicz, Christian Slater, Gillian Jacobs, Logic, Lance Reddick, Thomas Middleditch, Keith David, Dan Harmon, Tom Kenny, Maurice LaMarche, Nolan North, John DiMaggio, Tara Strong & Jennifer Hale