The new episode of cult animation Rick and Morty was streamed, unannounced, for a short time on April 1st. Most thought it was an April Fool’s prank. It wasn’t…
Naturally, this will contain SPOILERS of the earlier seasons of Rick and Morty, but I will try to avoid major spoilers from the new episode.
There was months of speculation. There were rumours of severe creative differences. There was even talk of it being permanently shelved. Then, all of a sudden, this happened:
With no warning, no advertising, no build-up at all, a single tweet alerted the world that the first episode of the third season of Rick and Morty was being shown on the Cartoon Network. And it was awesome.
Before we get to that though, let me back up and briefly explain just what Rick and Morty is. Dan Harmon left the excellent sitcom Community after its second season due to issues with the production company, and when given the chance to create a new show for Adult Swim, he linked up with Justin Roiland. Years earlier, Roiland had made a series of short animated films based around outlandish and exaggerated adventures of Doc and Marty from Back To The Future, and this idea was developed into Rick and Morty. Rick Sanchez is a genius scientist who takes his grandson Morty on a series of intergalactic and pan dimensional adventures. There is one slight twist though – Rick Sanchez isn’t a good person. He constantly puts the naive Morty, and the rest of his family, in danger. The “adventures” are almost always criminal in nature. He drinks to excess. In fact, the only reason he takes Morty with him is because their brainwave patterns are synchronized, making them harder to track. Roilland voices both of the lead characters, alongside Chris Parnell (Archer) and Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), and the animation is provided by Starburns Industries, who were involved in making Anomalisa.
At the end of season 2, a fugitive Rick handed himself in to the Galactic Federation and ended up in prison. This allowed the Smith family to return home to Earth – although it was now an unrecognisable Earth, as joining the Galactic Federation had brought all kinds of alien technology – and tourists – to our home planet. That was eighteen months ago, and we have been waiting to see how Rick would escape ever since. And on April 1st, we found out…
“The Rickshank Redemption” opens with the Smith family sat together in Shoneys, a pleasant looking diner. Rick’s first line is “Anyway, that’s how I escaped from space prison” and asks “who wants to watch a mad scientist using handmade sci fi tools to take out highly trained alien guards”? It is soon revealed that this is just a ruse, as an insect being (voiced by Nathan Fillion) is using a brainalizer to try and unlock the secrets inside the mind of “the smartest mammal in the galaxy”. Rick has to use all of his mental capacity to turn the tables on his captors. Back on Earth, Jerry has been promoted six times (even if he doesn’t know what he actually does) and the Smith family is eating pills served to them by Conroy, their robot butler. Summer rebels against this ordered life though, invoking the spirit of her grandfather before Morty decides to show Summer what really happens during their adventures.
Beyond that brief outline, I don’t want to spoil anymore of the story for you. Let the episode unfold and you will love it. We visit the Citadel of Ricks (ok, one more spoiler!) which is an Easter egg-filled delight: so is most of the episode. You have probably seen screen grabs online pointing out various references over the last few days, so if you want to find them, you can quite easily, but I would recommend that you try and see the episode as spoiler free as you can. And of course there’s the Mulan Szechuan McNugget sauce, brilliantly referred to as Rick’s “one armed man”.
The first episode of season 3 is one of the very best of the whole series. The heavy, intelligent science fiction elements are present, as is the usual Rick and Morty brand of absurdist, low brow, high brow comedy. There also are touching and genuine family moments. There are too many references to mention, but the end of the episode is a great callback to the very first episode. If the rest of the season – arriving in the summer – keeps up this level, it will be a treat for the devoted fans who have been waiting for so long.
Was this worth the wait?
Until next time, stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
Rick and Morty seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix. What better time to get caught up?
PS As a special treat for reading all of the way to the end, my favourite line of the epsiode is “Employee of the Month, ladies and gentlemen”, closely followed by “there’s a solution here you’re not seeing”. Actual laugh out loud moments.