'Pickle Rick' encompasses everything that makes Rick and Morty so great: it is hilarious, action-packed, surprisingly thoughtful, and completely off-the-wall batshit crazy.
It’s no surprise that the trailer for Rick and Morty‘s third season opened with the premise of this episode, as Rick (hilariously voiced by Justin Roiland) turning himself into a pickle to avoid family therapy pretty much sums up the animated hit in a nutshell: it’s mad, hilarious, and thought-provoking all at once, and (despite the ridiculousness of the idea) makes sense within the wider context of the series given each character’s motivations. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably crazier than your average Rick and Morty outing (Pickle Rick emerging out of a toilet in the middle of some top-secret security agency/bad guy complex being one of its many “WTF” moments) – but the way it relies upon and utilises the series’ sci-fi elements, outrageous humour and the philosophies of each of its characters to convey the story produces one of the show’s greatest episodes to date.
Appropriately enough – given that the idea behind ‘Pickle Rick’ is completely bonkers and was probably made as a joke – Rick turning himself into a pickle it serves to provide the majority of the episode’s most hilarious and ludicrous moments, such as fighting off an army of sewer rats after salvaging the body of another rat to form arms and legs (“You were special to rats – now they’re dead. I guess it was me you should’ve impressed,” he coldly tells the alpha rat), or becoming the feared “pickle man” – or “Solen’ya” – from old wives’ tales (“He crawls from bowls of cold soup to steal the dreams of wasteful children”) as he takes down foreign-sounding secret agents. It’s during these most bizarre encounters that ‘Pickle Rick’ is at its most entertaining, with writer Jessica Gao producing ever more ridiculous ideas to keep the episode ever more side-splittingly funny (my personal standout being the moment the blackmailed criminal Jaguar (Danny Trejo, funnily enough) switches sides to join Rick in escaping the agency building and finishing off the Agency Director in a blaze of glory: “Farewell, Solen’ya.” Perfect).
Of course, ‘Pickle Rick’ isn’t just about Rick’s escapades as a pickle – the group therapy session that Rick tries to avoid features heavily in the episode (sharing almost as much screentime as Pickle Rick himself), and although that might sound boring at first, it actually contains some of the most thoughtful moments within the whole of Rick and Morty, in addition to providing a couple of laughs along the way. Dr Wong (Susan Sarandon) is in many ways Rick’s greatest antagonist – and as Beth (Sarah Chalke) takes off a lot of her dad’s characteristics, hers too. She raises the flaws in each character’s outlook on life, and gets to the bottom of what makes each member of the Smith family tick, providing the audience with a deeper understanding of the people we are watching. Dr Wong probes into how each character works – how Rick and Beth see emotional dependence as weakness, for example – and it’s uncomfortable for them, sometimes producing hilarious results as they wriggle out of tough situations. It’s fascinating to watch, providing ‘Pickle Rick’ with a whole new edge, and one just as engaging as Pickle Rick’s adventures in the sewers and agency building.
So yes, ‘Pickle Rick’ is ridiculous, but it’s also witty, exciting, and provides an interesting look at the characters of Rick and Morty and the relationships they have with each other. And if nothing else, it’s the idea that has spawned a million memes. With three episodes down, Season 3 of Rick and Morty is so far proving to be its strongest yet, with ‘Pickle Rick’ at its pinnacle, making me very excited for what’s yet to come. Wubba lubba dub dub!
(Also, stay for the post-credits scene. I promise you it’s worth it!)
Rick and Morty appears every Sunday on Netflix in the UK. Check out a sneak peak below.