*DISCLAIMER: This article contains spoilers for the new season of Rick and Morty. If you have yet to watch the new season, please watch it, and then come back.*
For nearly two years, Rick and Morty fans eagerly awaited the show’s third season until Adult Swim released “The Rickshank Rickdemption” on April Fools’ Day which led many to believe it was just a prank. The episode turned out to be legitimate and is arguably the best of the entire series. The intricacy of the animation far exceeds anything seen in previous seasons, setting a high precedent for the following episodes. Rick toying with Cornvelious Daniel (Nathan Fillion), as he takes him on a fabricated trip down memory lane, stands as one of his best “I’m smarter than everyone” moments. This launches a hilarious body jumping sequence that destroys both The Council of Ricks and The Federation.
Unfortunately, this story-line is not explored again until episode seven, “The Ricklantis Mixup,” and is completely forgotten in the last three episodes. Thankfully, this episode is another high point in the season and explores the Ricks and Mortys left on the citadel in a multitude of ways. From the Stand By Me-esque coming-of-age story, to the flipped dynamic of Rick and Morty as cops, it is an alluring watch from start to finish and feels as though it is over far too quickly.
While “The Rickchurian Mortydate” was a quality episode, it felt far too underwhelming to be the finale for such a hyped season. The first season had Rick and his grandchildren freezing time to clean up after an inter-dimensional house party, while the second ended on a more sombre note with Rick turning himself in to The Federation. Both were great endings that got fans anticipating the show’s return and offered a cohesive starting point for the next season. The third’s ending only provided an unearned reunion between Beth and Jerry, as well as a fourth-wall break in the dialogue explaining that everything would be like the first season again. Even though a return to fundamentals would be a welcome change after this season’s lack of focus, it just feels like a cheap cop-out, especially since we will likely have to wait another two years before the show returns.
To craft a more compelling ending, “Rickchurian” should have been reworked as a regular episode with “Ricklantis” stepping in as the finale. This would sandwich regular Rick and Morty adventures in the middle of the season, with the Citadel story-line occupying both ends. The numerous unanswered questions in “Ricklantis” would keep fans guessing over the break and promote further exploration of Evil Morty and The Citadel next season. The fourth season may still do this, but with the current ending, it would not feel as fluid.
The finale is not the season’s only issue as it is plagued with lacklustre episodes and a general lack of focus. Fans had to wait nearly three months for this season’s sophomore episode, “Rickmancing the Stone,” which might be the dullest episode of the series.
Another snooze-fest is “The ABC’s of Beth” which is a Rick and Beth focused episode with Jerry and the kids filling a secondary story-line. Splitting a mere 22 minute run time into two stories is something the show has had success with in the past, as is the case with last season’s “Big Trouble In Little Sanchez.” Most of the time, though, it results in two underdeveloped stories like it does here. Not even Thomas Middleditch’s appearance can make Rick and Beth’s journey to Froopyland interesting, and Jerry’s alien girlfriend feels like an afterthought.
The biggest waste of potential is “Morty’s Mind Blowers,” which serves as this season’s replacement for “interdimensional cable.” Since the pair both get their memories wiped regarding the incident, they could have introduced dramatic irony through some sort of important revelation between the two. The episode does show Rick’s insecurity with his intelligence, due to him keeping memories of his own blunders, but we already knew he had personal issues through his blatant alcoholism. The sketches themselves are mostly bland and lifeless, especially when compared to the improvised humor of the “interdimensional cable” episodes. For an episode that revolves entirely around memories, it certainly isn’t very memorable.
Part of what makes Rick and Morty so special is the plethora of wacky side characters like Krombopulous Michael, Squanchy, and Mr. Meeseeks, just to name a few. “Total Rickall” and the “interdimensional cable” episodes offered a larger array of these characters, some engraving themselves in your memory with only one line. This season, however, majorly lacks that iconic supporting cast which is a significant detractor from its re-watchability. The Vindicators were a clear attempt at this with characters like Crocubot and Million Ants, though they are dismal when compared to Scary Terry or Photography Raptor. The same episode even has Noob-Noob, who is very similar to the series’ most iconic side character, Mr. Poopybutthole. He has been an inspiration for other characters before like Stealy and Ball Fondler’s member Benjamin, so doing it for a third time seems tired and excessive.
After a disappointing sophomore episode, “Pickle Rick” was a much-needed recovery. Rick turning himself into a pickle is the ultimate Rick move, and shows just how far he will go to get out of things he doesn’t want to do–in this case, family therapy. His adventure through the sewers, as he scavenges upgrades for his cucumber-based body and subsequently topples a foreign intelligence agency, stands as one of the most entertaining stories of the whole series. It also features the most memorable side character of the season, the incessantly campy Jaguar, who is appropriately voiced by Danny Trejo.
The third season of Rick and Morty failed to live up to its predecessors due to its blatant lack of consistency. It features some of the best and worst episodes of the entire series, whereas the previous two seasons rarely missed a beat. It will likely be a long time before we see the fourth season so, hopefully, they get back to the fundamentals and make the show great again.
“The Rickshank Rickdemption”
“Rest and Ricklaxation”
“The Ricklantis Mixup”
(Featured Images: Rick and Morty, Adult Swim)