24th Aug2017

‘Rick and Morty 3×05: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy’ Review

by Steven Riley

rick-morty-305

While season three of Rick and Morty has undoubtedly got off to a rollicking start since returning a few weeks ago, it has felt like it’s been missing one thing that made earlier seasons so great – Jerry. While ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ had a few snippets of Morty’s father – the best parts of the episode in fact – we’ve seen nothing of the pathetic, downtrodden but ultimately endearing member of the Smith clan.

And while the episodes like Pickle Rick and Vindicators 3 have thrilled and amused with their over-top top, comic-style violence and dark humour, the lighter relief Jerry brings to the show’s dynamic has been noticeably absent. It was why there was great optimism when the episode five trailer was released and when Rick commented this was a “Rick and Jerry adventure!” and it didn’t disappoint.

On paper, the idea of Rick taking any companion to an immortal theme park staffed by aliens wanting revenge on the scientist would be a fun – if familiar – romp, but taking Jerry added an extra level as it offered a motive that the other characters wouldn’t have – a reason to want to see Rick hurt.

If Morty, Summer or Beth had gone along it would have been pretty safe territory for the show; every other member of the family idolises their genius relative and would probably just be along for the ride while Rick outsmarts his enemies and ultimately wins the day.

Jerry, however, has every reason to hate Rick. Beth’s father has spent the last couple of decades overtly mocking and despising Jerry for his spinelessness and lack of intelligence comparatively, ultimately ending with a divorce in the Smith family and Jerry being unable to see his family.

Which is why when he is presented with the opportunity to get rid of Rick once and for all and being baited while on the trip, Jerry takes it. He invites Rick to go on the ‘Whirly Dirly’ ride that episode is named after, which happens to pass through a small section outside of the park’s immunity field and offers a chance to catch the genius off-guard.

Having the sidekick be the one responsible for getting the duo in danger freshens up a formula which has arguably been taken as far as it can go over the past couple of seasons and offers a new dynamic should the show writers like to shake things up. Instead of Rick – usually the instigator of hostilities, or even the villain as in the last episode – was arguably the one with the good intentions in taking his son-in-law on an adventure while Jerry was playing the role of antagonist.

It also allowed us to see a new face of each character. We saw that Jerry was willing to get Rick killed in order to get his family back (albeit in his own cowardly way), while Rick admitted he was sorry for his part in the divorce in his most humanising moment this season and even made us sympathetic for his motives in doing so as he chastised Jerry for his parasitic nature – relying on pity to keep the people he loved close by and ultimately holding back Beth, something Rick clearly regrets.

The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy is undoubtedly the best for character development in this respect, again adding another new layer to Rick’s character and shining a little more light on Jerry, a character we rarely see out his comfort zone. The only slight drawback of this is that there were less punchlines than in previous outings, although the trademark Rick and Morty humour was still undoubtedly there with the alien customer service escapees and dark scenes once the immunity shield went down…

So all-in-all, episode five was a deeper 20-minutes than what we’ve become accustomed to but none-the-worse for it and offered us a chance to sympathise with two characters so often at odds with each other, and added a little balance to a season so far excelling at mixing sci-fi fantasy and grounded reality.

 

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