What the (burp) heck was that? It’s so stupid, Morty! Wh-why-why would I do anything for the President of the United States? I don’t care about him. I only helped out with the Cromulon situation because the Earth would have been destroyed. Do you know how disruptive that would have been to my work? Now I’m harrassing this jerk on priiiinciple? You said you didn’t want the selfie. Didn’t I just say that an adventure requires stakes and a way for me to benefit? And now I’m solving the middle east peace process for fun?
I mean… okay, but it’s not what I wanted.
Jordan here. I’m done talking like Rick. You are now hearing this in whatever you perceive to be my voice.
As much as I hated the ending of season three (a lot), the rest has been terrific. Hilarious, dark, thought-provoking, it’s really expanded the range of the Smith family. Morty has become incredibly jaded in Vindicators 3, Summer turned nihilistic during Rickmancing the Stone and unexpecedly trusted in Morty’s Mind Blowers, Jerry finds out how much further he has to go to hit rock bottom, and Beth… season four should be about Beth. I’ll get to that later.
The Rickshank Rickdemption
I must have watched this fifty times since it aired on April 1st. Something I noticed: in the beginning when Jerry folds himself twelve times and fails after number six, Rick guesses he’s in a Series 9000 Neuralizer. Confirmed by the Gromflomite, that’s all Rick needs to know to write the virus to take over the device. It’s silly to be awed by the improvisation of a god-level character, but that was neat.
Blowing up the Citadel of Ricks and collapsing the Galactic Federation was awesome, however. I didn’t think we were done with those two antagonists. How else are you going to constrain Rick besides an army of clones or the crushing weight of a galaxy-wide military? As we see in the rest of the season, Rick’s greatest enemy is himself.
Every time I watch the episode I get a hankering for chicken nuggets, Schezwan sauce or not.
Rickmancing the Stone
Wow, Beth really divorced Jerry. They had the traditional terrible television marriage that you expect to slouch along forever. I feel bad for Jerry, but thank goodness. Try going back and watching early Simpsons episodes without begging Marge to divorce Homer. It’s uncomfortable.
I loved the Mad Max World, the 20 year average lifespan, the trichinosis, maybe being one of the what-used-to-be-people living in what-used-to-be-Seattle. Summer’s nihilism was a great reversal from her normality in season two as Morty fills the role of reasonable buzzkill. I loved her romance with Hemorrhage and the weird heartbreak when he turned out to have the same frumpy facial features of the slave owner.
The best moment of that episode had to be Rick’s stunned face when his device confirmed the green glowing rock was 100% isotope 322. There are so few truly “cartoon” moments that they’re a treat to witness (another one is Rick stealing the last bit of isotope 322 as he abandons the universe).
RICK: "Hey do you guys use that Thunderdome or do you just put it up for decoration?"
GUY: "Uh, you mean the Blood Dome?"
RICK: "Save it for the Semantics Dome, E.B. White."
Here’s the first time I thought Rick was doomed. He can escape from anything or kill anyone, but as a pickle? Turns out, not a problem. I was shocked as Pickle Rick - while in a slim cockroach exoskeleton - taunts and kills a rat, then places its head on a machine which Rube Goldbergs him into a rat-augmented killing machine. If you watch the making-of video you’ll hear how they had to make the rats less cute so viewers wouldn’t be as horrified when Rick slaughters them. It’s still kind of horrifying. I hope Remy didn’t get hurt.
The action movie between Rick and Jaguar was great because it had actual stakes. How can Pickle Rick, even armed with a single-shot AA battery laser, take on a trained killer? The best part has to be Rick’s insistence that no, only he has infinite daughters, Jaguar’s is definitely dead forever.
I loved Doctor Wong in this episode, following the “grandpa turned himself into a pickle” thread to the core of the family’s dysfunction. She handled Rick’s monologue and did the best anyone has ever done at countering the mad genius.
Poor Mr. Goldenfold. Does he not like Wheat Thins anymore?
Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender
However much Dan Harmon hates it, this might be my favorite episode of the season. I enjoy the new Marvel movies and love seeing them as a lady comet, a monorail man, two assholes and a full alligator. The Vindicator’s “V” is even the Avenger’s “A” upside down. Alan Rails might be my favorite of the bunch. When wouldn’t you want to use a ghost train?
MORTY: "Is that the Vindabeacon? We're being summoned by the Vindicators!"
RICK: "I refuse to answer a literal call to adventure. Let it go to voicemail!"
MORTY: "Rick, is this a Saw thing? Are you seriously Saw-ing the Vindicators?"
RICK: "Morty I'm a drunk, not a hack."
DRUNK RICK: "Try to escape, break the rules or take too long and you will die, just like in (burp) Saaaaw!"
DRUNK RICK: "There is one thing the Vindicators have that's of any value to me. If you know what it is, place it on the platform. Guess wrong and the pl- the planet explodes and also maybe the solar system because I kinda eyeballed the neutrino bombs on this one."
This is also the episode where Rick’s hypothetical power reaches maximum. He kills Worldender while blackout drunk and yet he’s impacted by a hangover? Doctor Wong was right: it’s still his mind under his control. That’s the last frontier of Rick’s power.
The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy
Turns out a Rick and Jerry episode is really similar to a Rick and Morty episode. Rick brings a naive person to an unfamiliar environment, they get in a fight, people yell harsh truths to each other, and they vaguely make up by the end of it. We are in a new world for alien names, as the giant guy who persuades Jerry to kill Rick is Risotto Groupon.
I didn’t mind the B-plot about Summer’s gigantism and Beth’s “improvement” as a parent, it just didn’t do anything for me. Morty chewing out his mother about her similiarity to Rick was (I thought) a setup for Beth’s transformation in a season four that we’ll never get to see.
I guess we always knew Rick had cybernetic enhancements (“go go Sanchez ski shoes!”) but it was weird to see it acknowledged by other characters. How does the show generate tension when our lead is a guy who knows everything and can do anything? I think the answer is having him interact with characters he can’t (morally) mind control or subjugate, which apparently includes Jerry.
Rest and Ricklaxation
I’m starting to wonder if the “Rick” in almost every episode title is necessary. I guess the show revolves around him, the universe, and the Smith family, but it feels like early Family Guy where every episode had the word “death” in its title because they were sure they were going to be cancelled any minute. Joke’s on them.
I loved the obvious early subversion of our expectations with Rick’s “20 minute” adventure to get… something… in the Abodongo Cluster, followed by 60 seconds of wailing in Rick’s ship. It’s interesting that I didn’t feel cheated by not seeing their six-day adventure. We know how that sort of thing ends, right? Rick up against a giant alien force, overcoming it, getting what he wanted, and going home. More interesting to see a spa day.
Healthy Morty turns into a smooth-talking sociopath, but I don’t see what was wrong with Healthy Rick. He’s still a genius, he’s kind and considerate, he says “excuse me” after he burps, and despite his claims I don’t think he’s indifferent to Morty. Why else would he say “I’m really proud to be your grandpa?” Why else would he bug Morty about re-toxifying himself? Wouldn’t a Rick who doesn’t care about his Morty… not care about him?
Poor Stacy. She deserved better. I hope she’s able to recover.
The Ricklantis Mixup
Speaking of subversions, this is my favorite episode of the season. Give me the day-to-day life of people in a sci-fi universe over grandiose heroics any day. And man, that “Simple Rick’s” commercial might be the best 30 seconds Rick and Morty has ever aired (the alternate version being number two).
Turns out our Rick was right: the Ricks hiding here from the government became their own government, with their own schools, elections, capitalism, etcetera. What happened to these Ricks’ desire to explore the universe and adventure with their Mortys? Factory Worker Rick calls the Citadel a prison. Is it now, since it was teleported into one during the season opener? We don’t see any aliens, or indeed anything besides Ricks and Mortys living there. Why can’t they leave? Why are the smartest men in the universe prisoners?
I’m picking on this episode because I love it. I love the racist Morty cop, I love Slow Ri— Tall Morty, Severus Rick and Willy Wonka Rick and even Evil Morty. The election doesn’t make a ton of sense though. Can Mortys vote? If so, why isn’t this a shoo-in? If not, how can Evil Morty run for office? Is that why the Mortys are protesting in the streets, for sufferage?
Morty’s Mind Blowers
I’m not a fan of clip shows, or even Rick and Morty’s Interdimensional Cable. But this was a good episode and a novel way demonstrate character growth. I had thought about the benefits of a Men In Black-style Neuralyzer to make people forget trauma, embarrassment, or maybe even plan their own surprise party. Here it’s used to cover up what looks like decades of trauma. Seriously, how old is Morty that he has vials lining 80% of the walls in this room?
I liked Mr. Lumis, Rick saying “granite,” the alien collector, and the perfectly level floor. But the fact that they erased this entire episode and reset it was disappointing (though perfectly in spirit). How great was it so see Summer dispassionately dart Rick and Morty and drag them to the couch? I really appreciated her biting comment “no wonder you’re constantly fighting with each other and behind schedule” that ends the episode. Not subtle you guys, but still great.
The ABC’s of Beth
Froopyland blew my mind. The ground is bouncy, the water is breathable, waterfalls are literally rainbows. Of course Rick (all Ricks, really) makes a magical land to trap his daughter rather than take her to therapy because he hates therapy and Beth is exactly like him. Something else I wondered: wouldn’t Beth have gone into Froopyland multiple times? The show makes it seem like she only went there to trap Tommy, but Tiny Beth knew how they honey swamp worked. What did the non-mutated Froopyland creatures look like? Who built the castle? Did Tiny Beth go on tiny adventures as her genes compelled her to?
I loved this episode so much. The litany of evil devices Beth asked for (and Rick built, what the heck) was terrific. “A whip that makes people like you” was my favorite. Jerry’s plot didn’t do much for me, but I appreciated that male Croutabulons also have three breasts. Consistency in world building, right?
This episode also tantalized me with what I want to see in season four. I think even the writers acknowledge that traditional Rick and Morty adventures are stale and boring, considering the three we literally skip over in this season. Now that clone Beth is an option (in this brief space until the finale aired), let me tell you my dream for season four.
Jordan’s Season Four
In this reality, Earth Beth is a clone. She doesn’t get together with Jerry, who continues to have sad experiences as he dips his toe into the cosmos. Rick and the president don’t fight. Rick and Morty still go on adventures and have crises of sanity, most of which we never see. Phoenixperson exists and is Debbie’s puppet alongside the remnants of the Galactic Federation. The Citadel of Ricks is under the control of Evil Morty, who plans to hunt down and destroy all Ricks and Mortys. Or whatever, I don’t know quite where they’re going with Evil Morty. Summer graduates high school and gets a normal job on Earth.
But Beth has left her family to travel the cosmos. She has one of Rick’s old portal guns but none of his cybernetic enhancements or universe knowledge. Her adventures in the multiverse build her arsenal, connections, and herself. She occasionally comes across the ruins of Rick’s choices, as this journey is as much about her getting close to this side of her father’s life as it is making her own. We see her try to do good and help people as she did with Tommy, but the uncaring universe stomps on her idealism in much the same way.
Imagine Beth finding Blood Ridge on Glapflap’s third moon. Trying to talk to Phoenixperson or defuse Debbie. Seeing the despair in the universe now that the Blemflark’s value has dropped to zero. We could still have Rick and Morty-style adventures with someone who isn’t omnipotent and has the tiniest bit of compassion. Beth could pop back to Earth and grab Summer if she needs help. She could grow, learn the basics of how the universe works, and be constrained by reality.
Maybe season four will actually be that. Maybe Earth Beth is a clone. Maybe the slow fade-in on Rick as the episode ends is his unhappiness at continuing to lie to his replicant daughter.
Or maybe not.