Well, folks, someone has to do it. An actual honest review of Rick and Morty Season Three would seem like something you’d be stumbling across all over the internet with the amount of attention the show built up in anticipation of the launch of it’s third season. Honest reflections on the latest chapter in the rags to riches Rick and Morty story has been stifled, largely by its fanbases unfaltering faith to the show. Just because the first two seasons of a show are amazing, doesn’t mean it’s third will continue in its footsteps.
Rick and Morty‘s third season has now become so dark its episodes can almost feel without meaning. The theme of the show has always been one of the utter futility of humanity and existence itself, however, these were messages projected from its nihilist frontman Rick. With Season Three, we start to see those beliefs encompass the entire show. Take the episode Morty’s Mind Blowers, in which it’s revealed that Rick has removed the memories of Morty at a whim. The episode closes with Morty’s sister Summer being revealed to be in on the dark actions for the entire duration of the duo’s adventures. Even doing so with no remorse or questioning. Or take the character development of Beth throughout the season, as she becomes more and more like her father. The show’s message of questioning the value of life, both your own and that of others, has always been one of its core unique draws, but when the show doubles down on it’s “nothing matters” approach, there’s no weight to any of the actions or events we’re shown.
In Season One, where Rick and Morty are forced to move to another reality after destroying their own, the weight is felt because of Morty’s attachment to his reality. His entire family, his friends and the world he’s grown up on has ended, yet he still cares about life enough to make his speech to Summer. These are the kind of connections that Season Three appears to be lacking, and it’s what results in Season Three feeling just a little too empty.
Its haunting real-world commentary on everything from slavery, multiple dimensions, and humanity itself seems far more hamfisted this time around. Season One’s episode Meeseeks and Destroy addressed issues of becoming a “more complete woman” in a way that never felt overly central to the episode itself. The Meeseeks box fills this role, whilst in the background, the real complex and gritty human story centred around the marriage of Jerry and Beth is the, dare I say, intellectual draw. It was the kind of complex writing that resulted in Rick and Morty gaining the notoriety it certainly deserves, as other TV shows just simply weren’t hitting that same mark, animated or otherwise.
Fast forward to Season Three’s episode Pickle Rick, and rather than merging its particularly entertaining story of a scientist turned pickle, with its commentary on the father/daughter relationship between Beth and Rick, it’s up to a shrink to cover the entire concept in one straight uninterrupted monologue. Instead of allowing the audience to slowly dissect the characters through their actions, the episode attempts to add the intellectual element that it’s audience seek, but it ultimately feels like an afterthought, rather than an integrated point.
Having mentioned the episode Pickle Rick however, it is worth mentioning the step up in rapid action animation this season has displayed. If you binge watch the show from start to finish, the progress that the animation team has made may go somewhat unnoticed. Episodes like Pickle Rick and its mass murder of a horde of rats in the sewers by a part cyborg, part pickle version of Rick feature animation that simply wouldn’t have been as impressive in Season One. Its closest comparison in previous seasons being the Season Two finale featuring a massacre at a wedding. Rick and Morty does love a good massacre.
Rick and Morty is truly the show of the modern ‘millennial’ audience, for better and worse. The idea of having every piece of knowledge at your fingertips is an amazing prospect, but it’s difficult to find meaning once it becomes reality. You can talk to someone halfway across the world in an instant, answer any question in a matter of seconds, but that’s never going to give you an overall feeling of accomplishment anymore. The series has always addressed this, but without a supporting cast that genuinely believes in life and the value of “the little things”, it’s difficult to find meaning in a number of Season Three’s episodes.
Rick and Morty is most likely always going to be an amazing series with its incredible team of writers, including iconic Dan Harmon at the helm. But the shows first two seasons were above just about any cartoon to grace Western television before, and hopefully, after Season Three’s pretty straight reboot back to the basics of Season One, we’re hoping to see the show return to the heights of its first two instalments with Season Four. Yes of course it’s been greenlit, people lose their minds for this show and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.