In a surprise move to everyone, Rick and Morty is finally back for season 3! It was a little confusing because the episode aired on April 1st, so many a fan thought it was a joke. But luckily for us, this was no April Fool’s prank!
The episode starts off with a fairly obvious but hilarious mislead. The scene opens with Rick having dinner with his family at diner called Shoney’s, lamenting the fact that they were unable to witness the incredible escape that Rick pulled off from the Galactic Federation Prison. The scene is quickly revealed to be a simulation within Rick’s mind. He is still in prison and a federal agent voiced by Nathan Fillion is interrogating him, trying to get the plans to the portal gun. Meanwhile, Earth is under Galactic Federal Law and the Smith family is adjusting to the change. Beth and Summer are broken by the loss of Rick while Morty is trying to have some semblance of normalcy. Jerry, on the other hand is loving the new Galactic Martial Law, having received multiple promotions, while still having no idea what his actual job is.
This episode has a surprising amount of depth as it explores how Rick’s presence has essentially broken Summer and Morty. Interestingly, Summer is going down a similar path to her mother. She see Rick as her hero and desperately wants him to be back home with the family. Morty on the other hand, is taking a more cautious approach trying his best to protect his sister and deter her from chasing after Rick. This leads to some fantastic callbacks to events from season one, specifically the hilariously twisted “Rick Potion #9” where Rick and Morty turned their world into a Cronenburg nightmare and assumed the roles of the Rick and Morty form a different universe. Rather than being a throw away reference, it is a major plot point as Morty tries to use this world as an example of how Rick destroys the people and places he leaves behind. This is an interesting turn for Morty as he, more than anyone else in the show, knows how dangerous and psychologically horrifying Rick’s exploits truly are. He is doing his best to protect his sister from experiencing the same thing.
Rick spent a large part of the episode exploring his psyche with the Federation Agent. This adventure was fascinating because Rick willingly showed a lot of vulnerability here, although it turned out to be a complete mislead. (“We never left his Shoney’s!”). From this point Rick jumps from mind to mind, eventually gaining access to high ranking members of the Citadel of Ricks. Rick uses his rank to teleport the Citadel right into Federation Space, effectively destroying all of his adversaries at once. By returning home with his grandkids in tow, Jerry desperately attempts to stand up to Rick, but instead it leads to him getting a divorce with Beth.
This episode is heavily dependent on past knowledge of major events that took place in the previous seasons. Since season one, Rick has shown a lot of disdain for government and authoritative organizations. This episode served as a way to set back the status quo, where Rick is no longer a prisoner and does not have to worry about the Federation or the Citadel chasing him down during his adventures. While the series tends to be fairly episodic, this move to reset to the status quo is an interesting choice. It will be interesting to see what happens to Jerry and Beth over the course of this season. Their tumultuous marriage has been a great source of comedy and character growth. Now that they are going to be separated, it will be interesting to see how this affects them. Hilariously, neither Beth nor Summer seem to be too bothered by this as they are both just happy that Rick is back in their lives. Morty, on the other hand, is worried about his family. But Rick goes into a tirade in a hilarious callback to the end of season one, episode one, where Morty helplessly cowers in fear while Rick rambles about the fact that he got rid of the government and Jerry because they crossed him.
This episode of Rick and Morty is a great reminder for fans demonstrating what makes the show so unique. The morally grey (and often downright selfish) actions Rick takes to get what he wants continues to make for some incredible humor, while simultaneously makes the lament the suffering of those around him. Morty shows how he has grown as a character as he is so helplessly aware of this fact that he tries to express this to Summer. Rick continues to show how dangerous he truly is as he absolutely decimates his opponents, with such disregard for the collateral damage it causes. The writing in this episode is incredibly snappy, especially in the hostage scene near the end where Rick and one of the Citadel Ricks went back and forth yelling at each other about whether Rick should shoot through Summer to kill his adversary.
“The Rickshank Redemption” is a welcome return to a show that has been off the air for a long time. Fans of Rick and Morty will find this episode to be a great return to form, but this episode will not convert people who have not quite connected to to the show’s style of humor. This is also one of the more dense episodes plotwise, so this is definitely not a good place to start for newcomers. All in all, this is a strong start to season 3. It will be a difficult wait for this season to continue, but for fans of the show, it will likely be well worth it. Just make sure you watch the episode to the very end!