09th Aug2017

‘Rick and Morty 3×03: Pickel Rick’ 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.

303-pickle-rick

As a series which thrives on both over-the-top violence and absurd humour with deep character development while also exploring issues of morality and discussion, the third season of Rick and Morty was always going to be a difficult balancing act. The first episode featured space battles, the destruction of a galactic government and Szechuan sauce and was lauded as one of the best episodes of the zany sitcom as it was dropped on us out of the blue.

While last week’s episode was by no means a slouch the general reaction has not been as impassioned, as it provided us with a more reserved affair as the Smith family dealt with the divorce that has rocked their world more than floating heads in the sky and a massacre at a wedding.

Thankfully for fans, Pickle Rick is a return to the ridiculous; a combination of a ludicrous plot, over-the-top action scenes and hilarious parody.

The episode sets its stall out early in terms of an outlandish premise; in order to avoid a family counselling session after Summer has been caught sniffing glue while Morty has been peeing in class (worryingly the latter doesn’t seem to raise to many eyebrows). Never one to have time for ‘quack’ therapists however, Rick attempts to avoid the situation by turning himself into a pickle. Beth, unwilling to chastise her father for the lengths he’s gone to in avoiding family time, decides to take the syringe containing a serum to reverse the effects and heads off with Morty and Summer, leaving Rick to survive the day rooted to his workbench.

A lack of opposable thumbs, stimulating activities is the least of Rick’s problems as he is batted onto the street by a cat and washed down a drain. From there he must battle cockroaches, rats and more before transporting himself via a toilet into an agency containing Russian agents culminating in a fiery showdown. The family meanwhile head to the school where they see Morty’s teacher, Mr Goldenfold (who reveals an unfortunate eating habit) before Ms Wong aims to tackle the pile of issues facing the Smiths. Beth immediately becomes hostile to the counsellor’s line of questioning regarding Rick however, while both Morty and Summer seem to have a better grip of the situation.

The episode is definitely at its best when Rick is gradually building his way from inanimate pickle to a laser-toting half rat-half pickle juggernaut. The way he manipulates a cockroach for transportation, lures a rat to his death with an ingenious contraption and then baits his friends to a slaughterhouse is classic for his character; a mix of clever quips, smart inventions and an inflated ego that refuses to bow down even when faced with an enemy with a million dollar arsenal and combat-trained troops.

While the scenes in the office do not reach the highs of the exaggerated violence and hilarious 80s action parody (the references to ‘Solenia: The Pickle Man’ returning and Danny Trejo’s gruff Jaguar character are worth watching for alone), Susan Sarandon is perfect as Ms Wong lecturing both Beth and Rick while remaining deadpan in the face of the ridiculous scenario presented to her, while it will be interesting to see how Beth deals with her issues as she seems to have less of a handle than her children (who both went some way to addressing their feelings in the last episode).

While there will likely be more tender and downbeat moments as the season progresses to balance the ridiculous highs, we’ll be hoping for more adventures like those in Pickle Rick are still to come.

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