Rick and Morty has been, from the beginning, a fantastically funny show that showcases cartoons’ unique brilliance perhaps even better than South Park or The Simpsons in their prime. The show’s take on the absurdity of life, expressed through the contrast between its monologues on freedom that mirror the words of Sartre and its insistence on punctuating profundity with farts and burps, is truly Beckettian.
It’s known for expertly turning darkness into comedy and this series is no different; a young boy accidentally kills his sister in a game of tag, a Rick has his happiest memory play on a loop in his head so other Ricks can harvest it to make biscuits, and Beth’s long-lost friend survives in an imaginary world by eating his incestuous children, yet it all manages to be hilarious!
“a fantastically funny show that showcases cartoons’ unique brilliance”
Season three’s chronicling of family breakdown allows for the rich development of the characters. Rick’s rant casts Jerry in a whole new light as he is exposed as a parasite sucking the life out of his family, juxtaposing his previous depiction of loveable idiocy. Summer, far from being the fairly one-dimensional (no pun intended) accidental child becomes a rebellious, angsty young girl suffering from the common neuroses of modernity. Beth, it turns out is closer to her father than it would first appear. As a child she was so sociopathic that Rick felt it was less effort to build a universal playpen than bother cleaning up after her. Their arcs also match thematically with both considering human freedom and paradoxes of choice. Rick becomes a pickle just because he can (which we all would, if we could, but we can’t) and Beth is faced with an existential quandary over whether she should travel the universe, leaving behind a clone or stay in her boring, but comfortable life, meaning she can no longer deny the facts of her existence as it would finally be a life she chose.
Despite what Rick says it still remains open as to whether or not the Beth we see experiencing an identity crisis is the real Beth or her clone. This will almost certainly be revisited in a future series, perhaps as part of a wider plot seemingly building beneath the surface of some episodes. Season three has left us with some particularly intriguing cliff-hangers that have spawned an industry of desperately clickbaity fan theory videos, and the occasional one that I really hope is right.
A post-credit scene revealed that the remnants of the galactic government revived Rick’s friend, the now slightly better named Phoenix Person. And, the fantastic episode ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’ satirises recent political events through the election of a demagogue, the ever-intriguing Evil Morty, to high office in the inequality-stricken citadel. These loose ends might see Rick and Morty transition from self-contained episodes to longer arcs. A change that I for one would welcome, as it would allow us to get to know more about the insane universe Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland have created.
“season three has left us with some particularly intriguing cliff-hangers”
This series has certainly been polarising. Harmon and Roiland have bitterly commented on complaints they received suggesting any decline in quality is due to new female writers. While there have been dips in this season; the toxicity episode was slightly subpar and ‘The Rickchurian Mortydate’ wasn’t that strong for a season finale, some of the best moments in its catalogue, including the opening episode, ‘Pickle Rick’, and the aforementioned citadel episode all took place this season, so there was hardly the drastic drop-off in quality that some claimed.
I think the show’s meteoric rise to the mainstream was bound to attract criticism. The Rick and Morty fans who view the integration of women writers as the cause of a perceived drop in the show’s quality should most certainly be ignored. There is no sign that the show has compromised for a bigger audience, and while you are entitled to your opinion on the direction the creators follow, blaming women for other people liking ‘your’ show is a more than a little pathetic.