It’s difficult for me to write about Rick and Morty because it’s among perhaps one or two of the densest shows currently on TV. But I’m going to give it a shot and try again, after a long hiatus of not writing about it.
The most recent episode was officially called “The Ricklantis Mixup”, although its true name was “Tales from the Citadel”. Looking back over season three, we saw a few recurring themes and ideas.
In “The Rickshank Redemption”, Rick seems to profess an insane nihilistic philosophy centered about a McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, all in an episode of the falsity of memory and the balance of a dysfunctional family. “Rickmancing the Stone” explicitly called out the metaphor of children dealing with a divorce in a dystopian nonsense Mad Max future. “Pickle Rick” played it both ways with Rick’s self-loathing and self-possibility, with super-science applied to a pickle and therapy beautifully defined better than nearly anything else in pop culture.
In “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”, Morty’s connection to his grandfather is ruptured further in a “the story happened off screen.” Note that for later. In “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy”, Jerry is a fool and Morty defends his family. And in “Rest and Ricklaxation”, the toxicity of Rick and Morty’s relationship is made explicitly manifest, with the echoes of how Rick truly feels.
So back to the most recent episode. It was a layered, brilliant look at the universe of multiple Ricks and Mortys living together. The showrunners have given this concept a lot of thought; there are enough easter eggs and little details to show off in a hundred hours of YouTube “What You Missed” videos. Although the final reveal was quickly obvious, it was no less effective.
Unlike some episodes of the show where it’s traumatizing, instead here it was about depth of character. The fact that we saw a commercial in a commercial about Simple Rick as a system of control, a la The Matrix feels like a metaphor for The Citadel as a whole and in fact, Western society. Absorb the feelings you cannot experience yourself by paying for a facsimile of them.
The second subplot was an old school Stand By Me parody, except with parallel Mortys and a Snape-like Rick. Although much of it was funny, it was interesting how it dealt with sacrifice and pain, the Morty that loses multiple Ricks trying to be the savior to help the Mortys in general. But it seems to be a pyrrhic victory.
I think my favorite was the third subplot with the hardened Morty cop with the kinder Rick by his side. Although Morty was still Morty, because he screwed up while Rick survived. This all let us see the various facets of the society ripe for manipulation by the most sinister character of all: The Evil Morty.
Evil Morty, as it was revealed to be, was the one running for President, using the dissatisfaction of the masses with the status quo (tying back to that episode) to manipulate his way to a victory. Was the assassination attempt even one of his plans to get votes? I wouldn’t put it past this show.
This was an entire episode happening off screen, except we saw it. The “Atlantis” part is the one we missed, because our Rick and Morty enjoyed it too much. Had too good a time. So naturally it’s not relevant. I like that the show is so hardcore about continuity, and this sort of sci-fi rigmarole is unlike anything else on TV.
Rick and Morty is possibly the most clever sci-fi show ever made, but it’s also one of the most messed up. And I can’t believe we only have three episode left this season.
What did you think of this episode and the season so far in general? Sound off in the comments below!