Review: Rick & Morty (Season 3, Episode 1)

In what might be the most brilliant piece of counterprogramming for April Fool’s Day, Adult Swim jolted the burgeoning cult of Rick and Morty fans by continuously streaming the season 3 premiere on their website until the stroke of midnight on April 1st. Personally, I had to watch the episode several times because lag caused me to watch piecemeal. What this means is they didn’t anticipate the amount of traffic they’ve received upon the announcement; a testament to the show’s widening audience.

As for the show itself, it’s been over a year since we saw Rick imprisoned in an intergalactic jail for his assorted crimes. Unlike most animated shows which treat continuity rather arbitrarily, Rick and Morty prides itself on not ignoring the consequences of its cliffhangers. The Federation has colonized Earth and Rick is being interrogated by an agent (guest star Nathan Fillion) for his interdimensional secrets.

The funniest part of Fillion’s role is when Rick transferring his consciousness into the agent’s brain and Fillion flaunts a hilarious Rick impersonation (complete with the burps, arrogance and slurred speech pattern). Dan Harmon’s world is not hermetically sealed from pop culture references either with allusions to David Cronenberg and the Hunger Games.

The time paradoxes are surprisingly well-crafted for a comedy show. When one Rick visits another doppelganger to persuade him to devise the portal technology, he flippantly jokes about how his influence on concocting the travel system means the current Rick isn’t the actual creator of it. Pretty cerebral material for what was preceded by a smorgasbord of flatulence gags.

Morty is still the fly in Rick’s ointment as he is constantly sabotaging Rick’s forethought with his irate behavior. During a standoff with Summer and a member of Seal Team Rick, Morty’s interference inadvertently yields a positive result unbeknownst to him. Morty’s role as the albatross around Rick’s neck is still highly amusing.

In the episode’s final moments, the show promises another contortion on nuclear-family bliss when Beth announces she is divorcing Jerry after Jerry issues an ultimatum between him and her father. It might be an example of misdirection but Justin Roiland and Harmon hardly believe in half-measures. They also lampoon the staple of having season-long character arcs with Rick exclaiming that his arc is a search for Szechuan McNugget dipping sauce.

It’s been reported that Roiland and Harmon are having creative differences over the 14-episode run of Season 3 which catalyzed the interminable wait before the official premiere this summer. If they can maintain this level of off-kilter invention and anti-humor, Rick and Morty is displaying no signs of not getting to that Season 9 condiment revelation.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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