“The Rickshank Redemption” Review: Rick and Morty Surprises Fans With Season Three Premiere

By Alisa Pierce
Assistant Web Content Manager

Although April Fool’s Day is usually fraught with practical jokes and lame attempts at trickery, this year the day was defined by a surprise appearance by everyone’s favorite narcissistic scientist. Quietly, and only hours before the day was over, the first episode of season three premiered in a continuous loop without more than a tweet from Dan Harmon, the show’s co-creator, to kick off the occasion. The surprise premiere follows over a year of internal strife between Harmon and Rick and Morty’s other co-creator, Justin Roiland, which the former has credited to differences in script writing. Despite the long delay, “The Rickshank Redemption” delivered an action-packed beginning to the third season with enough content to hold fans over until the rest of the season aires in the summer.

For those who haven’t watched the previous seasons or missed the April first premiere, it might be wise to read this article at a later time. From this point on I’ll be delving into spoiler territory, so if you continue reading, ye be warned. Season three jumped back into the story of season two without hesitation, and followed Rick’s decision to surrender to the multi-galaxy police force that is the Galactic Federation. Rick’s decision to turn himself in to free his family from living as intergalactic outlaws was not only surprising, but heartwarming, as Rick has never been the traditional “family man”. Throughout the series Rick has always exhibited a very limited amount of love and respect for his family, but at the end of season two we found him dealing with the loss of his best friend, Bird Person, the loss of his freedom and also the troubles that come with living on the run. This left Rick in a more vulnerable state than what we’re used to seeing, and despite whatever amount of charm can be found in his usual cold demeanor, it was nice to see Rick feeling for his family and the chaos his actions put them in. His surrender and eventual imprisonment might have been hard for die-hard fans to watch, but Rick’s apparent emotional catharsis was refreshing enough to ease the pain of season two ending in a cliffhanger.

Those bittersweet feelings of seeing Rick in turmoil were not forgotten, as the episode wasted no time in jumping back into the previous season’s plot. Although there was an eighteen month hiatus between seasons, “The Rickshank Redemption” flawlessly threw the show back into its routine with Rick fighting back against the Federation attempting to scourge his brain of any useful secrets. The Federation’s scientists attempted to trick Rick with an imitation of a reunion with his family in a Shoney’s restaurant, but as per usual Rick proved a hard target to manipulate and spent more time creating farting butt mugs in his mind than sharing important information. Despite the setbacks Rick provided, the Federation’s bug-like scientist within his mind continued to pry on and Rick showed the scientist the now infamous McDonald’s Szechuan sauce that has taken over the internet. Although the saucy gag was intended to be a small joke, many have begun to demand the return of the discontinued sauce. If fans of Rick and Morty were concerned about the script writing differences between the co-founders, the popularity of the Szechuan sauce has proven that the show continues to deliver jokes that can last, even “if it takes nine seasons”.

Rick follows this by showing the scientist his “origin-story”, which depicted the death of his wife and, at the time, young daughter Beth during an experiment involving a much meaner future version of himself. During this he reveals the secret of creating a portal gun, which allows him to travel between dimensions. After showing the information the Federation wanted Rick is sentenced to death, but because Rick is, well, Rick, he is able to pass his consciousness from body to body and avoid death. Through this he reveals his plot to take down the Federation and the Council of Ricks at once, which included surrendering to the force previously. This effectively rids fans of the notion that at any point he felt guilty for his actions, which I admit was a little bit disappointing. Rick’s selfishness is far from surprising, but I found myself upset that the depth he gained at the end of season two was washed away in one, action-packed swoop. Although it was satisfying to see Rick eliminate his enemies, I still felt bad for the state of his family at the end of the episode.

While Rick was exhibiting a fair amount of badassery, Summer and Morty were pondering the meaning of a life without their grandfather. Summer was faced with the dilemma of trying to justify Rick’s horrible behavior while Morty began to look on the upside of the situation. It became a possibility for the Smith family to finally find normalcy and even happiness without Rick, and Morty attempts to show Summer this by showing her the Cronenberg Universe he used to inhabit. This showed the writer’s talents in revisiting past story lines, and also delved into darker territory. When Rick eventually reemerges Morty isn’t exactly happy to see him, as Morty is again pushed to his emotional breaking point by Rick threatening to kill Summer to aid his goals. Morty chooses to kill Rick instead, which shows Morty’s ever-crumbling mental resolve. However, Morty’s decision to kill his grandfather proves to be apart of Rick’s plan as well, and Morty is left feeling confused despite Summer hailing Rick as a hero. What’s more is that when Rick arrives at the Smith home to find Beth and Jerry swearing to be done with him, it takes him no longer than a few seconds to convince his daughter that he belongs in the family. Beth’s constant need of approval from her father drives her so far to even divorce Jerry, who finally shows enough self-confidence to ask her to choose between himself and her manipulative dad. This enables Rick to become the true patriarch of the family as his only competition leaves the home.

The new dynamics of the family are interesting, and many fans find themselves anxious to revisit Morty in the upcoming episodes. At the end of the premier we find Rick showing qualities even more selfish than usual, and Morty feeling extremely vulnerable. Morty has been forced by Rick to do a multitude of moral crimes over the series, and now Morty finds himself in an environment that applauds his grandfather for his life-ruining habits. The episode ends on this dark note, which wraps up a pretty satisfactory way to introduce the new season.

Featured image by Willaim Tung via Flickr.

Space picture by Douglas Tofoli https://www.flickr.com/photos/douglastofoli/27982633715/in/photolist-JCJj6Z-Cs7u6s-Df46Cu-CR1PaD-DhmMnx-DhmasB-CR8fb8-DheVYK-DpC5r4-CXp59s-DncwY5-DpvNgF-Dncwr3-CseDvp-DeWH6h-Cs8bve-Cs8bbX-CXoSyd-DpvMdZ-Cs7Cbe-Cs7RFb-CXoqJN-DncptL-DheNwR-DpvGs6-DnbTjC-DhmFWc-DpvBzv-Cs86Qn-DeWz71-DncjzN-DpvGTM-Cs7A2z-DnbUdG-Df3Y7Y-Cs817P-CXovHW-CrZYm9-CXovZ7-DpCn54-CrZtML-CXoi2y-PNesYs-DnbJAq-CXoVGY-CXoQhu-CXv5oy-Dpv94P-Cs7vuu-CR1aHV

Asia Daggs

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