On April Fool’s Day a couple of weeks ago, Adult Swim totally flipped the script on their fans and dropped the season three premiere of Rick & Morty in several places at once without advanced warning. The joke was for us, not on us this time. Since season two ended in fall of 2015, all of us diehard fans have been fiendishly salivating for a new episode like Kalaxian Crystal addicts twitching for our next fix.
One of the only ongoing gags between show runners Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland and their fans has been how impossibly long it takes to make each season. Every few months a new release date rumor circulates, and they tell us “no, wait longer.” So the surprise release was a way of paying back the fans for their patience. The only issue now is: the rest of the season won’t come out till this summer, so as rewarding as it was, it is still a major tease.
For anyone who has been living under a rock or who doesn’t like funny TV shows, Rick & Morty is a sci-fi comedy cartoon that airs on Sunday nights on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block. It follows the adventures of awkward and dumb teen Morty Smith and his super genius grandfather, Rick Sanchez. Through Rick’s inventions that allow interdimensional travel, the duo find themselves in dozens of hilarious adventures on alternate Earths, in space, or in their own neighborhood. The linchpin of the humor is often based in Rick’s over-the-top Nihilism and utter disregard for everyone in the multiverse who is not him. Or when he faces off against the consolidated power of The Council of Ricks, he even disregards versions of HIMSELF that are from different time lines. Bottom line is the show is hilarious, self-aware, and as twisted as it gets for cartoons these days.
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So far, the show has been predominantly made of self-standing episodes with limited continuity to string them all together. The exceptions so far are the way season finales all lead directly into the next season’s opener and the impact of the Kronenberg episode. In that one, titled “Rick Potion #9,” Rick destroyed all life on Earth C-137, in his original reality; so he just took Morty and moved them to a different Earth, where that disaster never occurred. At the end of last season, Grandpa Rick had turned himself into the Galactic Federation under the pretense that it was the only way for his family to live without “Imperial entanglements.”
We opened season three with Rick undergoing interrogation by the Galactic Federation in a “Brainalizer.” The powers that be are trying to dig out of his subconscious mind the secret that powers his famous interdimensional portal gun. Rick is able to take over the mental space and escape into the body of his interrogate just as his own body is destroyed. Kind of a casual thing for a guy who ditches entire universes on a whim: “New body, big deal. I’m going to take a shit” is basically his attitude. The irreverence is meta. As is usually par for the show, all the best jokes reek of Dan Harmon.
Morty and his older sister Summer Smith lead the Council of Ricks to their Rick, and the Council dispatches “Seal Team Ricks” to infiltrate the Federation base to kill Rick C-137. He’s already switched bodies and is soon pirating an alternate Rick body to make his escape back to the Citadel of Ricks. By the end of the action, our Rick is back on top, having destroyed the value of the Galactic Federation’s currency and completely destabilized the power of the Council of Ricks.
In the last moment of the episode, Rick confesses that he only saved Summer and Morty in the climax only to earn Beth’s trust back. (She is their mother/his daughter.) His diabolical goal to usurp the Galactic government and Morty’s dad is complete. His real “one-armed man,” as he puts it, is the McDonald’s Szechuan McNugget sauce that was available only in 1998 as a cross-promotion for Mulan. He vows to spend the season hunting for said sauce as Morty cowers in confusion & fear, asking, “What are you talking about Rick?” over and over.
Sound a bit weird, funny, and effed up all at once? Yeah, that’s Rick & Morty for you. Tune in this summer for season three, or fill your spring with the first two seasons, which are available now on Hulu.com.