Creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon pulled the ultimate April Fool’s trick by randomly releasing Season 3’s first episode and then making fans wait until the end of July for the rest. Whilst this was very in keeping with the creators’ chaotic and unexpected style, it does mean that The Rickshank Rickdemption feels more like a stand-alone episode than an actual part of Season 3. Furthermore, the episode only really functioned to get Rick out of prison so that classic Rick and Morty adventures could pick up in Episode 2. The only other significant moment was the reveal of Phoenix Person, but he failed to make an appearance throughout the entire season.
Phoenix Person wasn’t the only character teased and then forgotten as Evil Morty was re-introduced in The Ricklantis Mixup, but audiences were left disappointed when there was no showdown between him and Rick C-137. Perhaps Roiland and Harmon have bigger plans for him as last time we saw him in Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind, his plan to frame Rick C-137 was foiled. As Evil Morty has only appeared in Season 1 and Season 3, maybe the showdown won’t happen until Season 5, but we’ll probably have died of old age before that arrives.
There are a few phrases that define the season and I think that the third instalment of Rick and Morty can be summarised as: Szechuan Sauce and Pickle Rick. Both moments suggest that Rick Sanchez, and his show, are in fact unstoppable and omnipotent. Szechuan Sauce hasn’t been available since the 1998 release of Disney’s Mulan and yet the cult-like following of Rick and Morty were so inspired by his passion for the Chinese dipping sauce that they have been able to petition McDonald’s into re-introducing the sauce for a special one-day trial. Reports suggested the sauce ran out within hours and queues were out the door. Pickle Rick is a more direct reference to Rick’s power as the scientist literally turned himself into a pickle to avoid family therapy. I think this episode is one of the strongest of the season as the audience watch as Rick evolve from a simple pickle into a lethal killing machine relying only on his intelligence and scientific abilities. If you haven’t yelled I’m Pickle Rick at a friend, are you really a Rick and Morty fan?
The family therapy that Rick is so desperate to escape is part of the larger season arch of an exploration into the Smith family. We were warned of this as Rick berates Morty promising adventures with him and ‘sometimes your sister and sometimes your mom but never your dad.’ This season broke away from the typical style of isolated episodes of Rick and Morty adventures and the audience really got to know the Smith family as each was given their own focused episode: Summer in Rickmancing the Stone, Beth in The ABC’s of Beth and despite what Rick said, Jerry in The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy. This felt like the weakest aspect of the season. Part of the appeal of Rick and Morty lies in its lack of effort to make things matter, nothing in the universe is important. Trying to build on the family dynamic within the show, arguably to the detrimentally effect to the quality and quantity of actual Rick and Morty adventures shown, feels to ignore this philosophy that is so quintessentially important to its appeal.
This exploration comes to a head in the finale as Jerry and Potential-Clone-Beth are reunited. Roiland and Harmon have yet to confirm if the Beth we have been watching is the clone or not, perhaps she too will frustratingly fall into the wasteland of forgotten characters. However, the finale was fundamentally disappointing. Bearing in mind we left Season 2 with Rick in prison and Bird Person dead, what really happened in this finale? It felt like just another episode, not our final taste for maybe 2 years. The creators have said that this season was supposed to be 14 episodes long but to meet deadlines, it was cut to 10 episodes therefore the finale we saw WAS just another episode but had to be tweaked to actually act as a finale. This explains the anticlimactic feeling. In the after credits scene Mr. Poopy Butthole said that the next time we see him he may have a white Santa beard. This may have been a metanarrative comment on the long-time delay between seasons, or could it be a hint at a surprise Christmas episode either in 2017 or 2018? One can only hope it is the latter and if the creators had 4 episodes of material they weren’t able to use, perhaps they will be keen to give audiences another unexpected Rick and Morty fix.
Despite loving the show, one can’t help but feel this season was a little off-peak for the Rick and Morty we all know and love. There is hope as Beth promised a return to the Season 1 nature of the show and with the union of his parents, let’s hope Morty can go back to focusing on his adventures with Rick. Wubba Lubba Dub Dub, Rick and Morty fans!
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