30th Aug2017

‘Rick and Morty 3×06: Rest and Ricklaxation’ Review

by Steven Riley

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As Rick and Morty season three reaches it’s halfway point, we have had already seen the different directions the show can go in…

With ‘Pickle Rick’ and ‘Vindicators 3’ we had the more classic Rick and Morty adventures as the writers set up ridiculous yet riotous premises and followed them through with sharp writing and gratuitous violence, all ramped up to an insane level. Episodes like ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ and the ‘Whirly Dirly Conspiracy’, meanwhile, focussed instead on the dynamics between the characters and how the implications of that colossal first episode had affected the Smith Family.

While most shows would likely flit between the two extremes or struggle to find a balance in the middle, Rick and Morty instead took the show in a different directions. Both Morty and his genius grandfather instead ended up looking inside themselves – resulting in one of the best episodes of the season so far.

The episode opens with how so many of those crazy adventures have done so far. Morty standing by his locker, longing after his crush before Rick – completely uninterested in his grandson’s wants – drags him off on a cosmic quest. Rather than this lasting for the whole episode however, we are only treated to a short (albeit fantastically-animated) action scene with little context before the two break down and come to a realisation; they are in desperate need of a holiday.

At their retreat they come across a machine that completely removes the toxins – or at least what they consider to be harmful to their wellbeing – in theory allowing them to leave as readjusted, healthier versions of themselves. We are then transported into the world where such toxic beings reside with an even more spineless and fearful Morty than we’ve seen before (though not too different from his father, it must be said) and an even angrier, foul and egotistical Rick than we’ve ever seen before.

The treatment appears to be an immediate success as Rick apologises to a member of staff he had bitten the head off earlier while Morty appears much more confident in himself. The two enjoy a pleasant journey home, playing songs on the radio and letting each other know how much they care.

We soon see a shift in the dynamic of the duo however, with one adjusting slightly better to their new personas than the other. Morty – so often the submissive of the two – begins to take a lead in both his school and home life as he charms his classmates and even wins a date with Jessica, while Rick seems far more conscious of leaving their evil alter-egos trapped.

Rick soon decides they need to reverse the changes but Morty – whose failed date with Jessica doesn’t put him off as he soon moves onto another girl named Stacey at the bar – is having the time of his life without his crippling insecurities holding him back. As Rick tries to persuade him into a machine to merge their evil and good personalities, Morty refuses and his date ends up inadvertently being sent back.

It is soon revealed that evil Rick’s plan was never to merge but just to free himself and run riot. He sets off a device that turns the world into a similar one to Cronenburg world in the first season, leading to some of the funniest and darkest moments in the episode (who knew what kids would really do to party entertainers with their inhibitions removed?)

Luckily Rick realises in the nick of time that the a facet of his personality he would consider a weakness – caring for Morty – would save them. Knowing that is one of the traits he would have had removed, he figures out it can be used against Evil Rick as he emotionally blackmails him to merge back by harming him. Morty, meanwhile, takes a surprisingly Rick move and jets off without merging, leading to him landing a job at Wall Street and a penthouse suite. This doesn’t last for long of course, as Rick eventually tracks him down and reverts everything to normality.

As far as an episode goes, ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’ is up there with the best. One of the main and most important things it does is remind us how much Rick cares for his grandson. With the ending of ‘The Rickshank Redemption’ and hilarious shirking of Morty at the end of ‘Vindicators 3’, the show was at risk of making Rick almost too cold to empathise with. It was almost heartwarming to find out at the end that the jaded scientist had been drunk-dialling Morty’s crush to find him and a clever way to reiterate his attachment to Morty without ramming it down our throat.

It also has the classic sharp writing and outlandish humour we come to expect, while clearly bursting with new ideas. The premise was great; although arguably not fully-flesh out in some of the finer details or “rules” of the toxin machine, but that would make for a lot to fit into 20 minutes.

While most of the episodes so far have paired Rick with Summer and even Jerry for their adventures, it was refreshing to have our normal duo back together like in the earlier days – and a demonstration that Harmon and Roiland haven’t ran out of directions to take the show just yet.

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