This week Rick and Morty aired its season finale, after reappearing on our screens without warning earlier this year. We should have probably seen this return coming since Mr Poopy Butthole did predict season three’s air date almost to the day. However, a lot had changed in this year and a half hiatus. Once a show with a cult following, Rick and Morty has now truly entered the mainstream, and with new fans came new criticism.
It is Netflix we have to thank, or blame, for this new wave of ‘fans’ (and I use this term very loosely). With passwords to Netflix accounts being passed around more than a common cold, the show gained a much wider viewership. Unavoidably then, when ‘The Rickshank Redemption’ dropped as a potential hoax on April Fool’s Day, audiences were shocked, surprised, and often disappointed.
This criticism is often from the fi rst-time watchers of the show (rather than us hardened veterans), January converts who want the show to be something it’s not. People who yearn to see our antihero, Rick, simply develop from evil to good when [spoiler alert] it just isn’t that kind of show. Rick will remain a murderous sadistic terro-rick, whether you like it or not.
The writers, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, even tease us with a tragic backstory in ‘The Rickshank Redemption’, a cleansed Rick in ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ and the Simple Rick that fans wanted to see in ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’. But all these deviations from the nihilistic norm were either fake-outs or false dawns.
All we are left with is a Rick whose entire arc is to find the hallowed Mulan McNugget Szechuan sauce. A Rick who exploits the most tender memories to make biscuits for sale to his fellow Ricks. If our protagonists won’t even answer a “literal call to adventure” as in ‘Vindicators 3’, then they won’t answer fickle fan’s call for the show to change.
This season continued the dark humour, clever storylines and shocking character twists we have come to love. From erasing people’s memories to murdering alternate versions of himself and his grandson on an incredible scale, Rick emotionally (and physically) battles with himself and all those around him, dragging Morty along for the ride.
This season wasn’t without its faults however, with ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ being a markedly poorer episode and the finale not hitting quite as hard as that of season two. There were also some notable absences from this season, like Birdperson and Tammy not making any appearances, and ‘Morty’s Mind Blowers’ replacing ‘Interdimensional TV’.
Yet, let’s not forget that this season contained undoubtedly the show’s fi nest episode, ‘The Ricklantis Mixup’ which stunned even the harshest critics into silence. The twisted world of the Citadel, where divisions are exploited by the Rick’s at the top and paid for by the lives of Morty’s on the bottom is wonderfully crafted using shock, satire and a ‘Stand by Me’ parody. The mind-blowing return of Evil Morty after two seasons is just another hint towards the show having a greater narrative and another example of the writer’s incredible attention to detail.