04th Aug2017

‘Rick and Morty 3×02: Rickmancing the Stone’ Review

by Steven Riley

Spoiler alert: This review was published after Rick and Morty aired in the US on Sunday evening. Do not read unless you have watched season three, episode two, which airs in the UK on Netflix next Sunday.

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Rick and Morty returned to our screens this week, much to the delight of its legions of dedicated following. After an 18-month hiatus only punctured by the surprised unveiling of the season premiere The Rickshank Redemption on April Fool’s Day, fans were eager to see how the Smith’s adventures would play out after something of a shock ending that saw Jerry and Beth finally separate after two seasons of fighting.

In truth, this episode felt a little more subdued than the premiere, instead choosing to tackle family issues which are sure to present themselves over the season than the huge high-concept action sequences or battles against galactic federations that wowed us four months ago.

That’s not to say the show was completely devoid of action; post-apocalyptic world was filled with the outlandish characters, gratuitous violence and tongue-in-cheek references that have become synonymous with the series and provided the perfect escape for both fans looking for their cartoon fix and the Smiths dealing with turmoil back home. But rather than delving too deeply into the cannibalistic, Mad Max-style surroundings Rick, Morty and Summer found themselves in for the majority of the episode, we focussed instead on how each was reacting to the parents’ divorce.

While some would argue that some of the family’s actions were out of character for them – Morty going along with his roided-up, bloodthirsty giant arm as a result of Rick’s injection, or the man himself fighting to get his grandkids back home – it instead points to how multi-faceted and emotionally layered each of the Sanchez’s and Smiths are; particularly for a cartoon.

Looking back it’s perfectly natural to expect Morty and Summer to act stramgely and wish to escape their family life. Both have seen countless extra-terrestrial lifeforms and strange planets, but this is the first time their home has seemed truly alien to them as well, even with Beth and Jerry’s comical disgruntlement and resentment in the past. Of all the characters however, it’s Rick that still intrigues the most. Even this far in we struggle to know how much of the nihilist scientist’s actions are through self-preservation or love for his family. Even in this episode we saw both as he not only took Morty and Summer to the alternate wasteland dimension (arguably exploiting their need to escape for personal gain in the form of a powerful crystal) but then fought to bring them both back for the sake of keeping the family together.

It’s a theme we are likely to see unfold over the course of the next eight episodes – particularly as we’ve been told this season will delve further into Rick’s character and perhaps inform us of why he chooses to act as he does. Is he doing it for what’s best for him, genuinely not caring for others as he so often insists? Or is he doing what he feels is best for his daughter and grandkids by removing the Jerry from the equation.

In terms of pure comedy at least, it was the hapless father who had some of the best parts of the episode. Whether he was reasoning with a lone coyote with a hunger for his unemployment checks, questioning the occupation of scantily-clad ladies or simply being mocked by Rick, watching the world beat him down and his pathetic reactions to it was as funny as it was crawl. Hopefully we’ll continue to see a lot more of Jerry, although it would make a nice change to see him thriving without Beth rather than struggling.

Bar that, there was still the signs of that hallmark humour; the hilarious bath-time surprise and android Morty’s existential crisis both standing out. While it wasn’t the huge action set-piece of episode one, this episode had more than enough to get us excited for the rest of the adventures the season has to offer.

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