Rick and Morty has finally returned, and for good this time. No longer are we awaiting an actual release date, the second episode kick-starting the third season of Adult Swim’s hit animation. Whereas the surprise season premiere was a high-concept stunner, featuring a ton of canonical references, ‘Rickmancing The Stone’ was somewhat subdued, the central focus being Beth and Jerry’s divorce.
Immediately, the effects of their breakup are seen; Morty and Summer have become reliant on Rick for distraction, the trio adventuring around the cosmos to get away from their broken family. Rick, being Rick, is willing to exploit the duo like an Olympic athlete’s coach, taking the duo to a Mad Max-esque world where this week’s adventure almost solely takes place.
On the planet, Deathstalkers roam around, destroying everything as they see in the search for Gasoline. After one group chases our beloved for some time, Summer takes charge, killing the scavenger group’s initial leader, the bucket head Hemorrhage, voiced by Community’s Joel McHale, taking over. Despite Rick offering Morty an out — ‘You have infinite sisters, Morty’ — they stay because the cretins have something Rick wants: Isotope-322, a glowing green mineral that acts as an energy resource.
It’s Summer who takes the lead from here; rather than work out those family issues, she becomes swept up with the Deathstalkers’ way of life, wearing their clothes and learning about the planet. “Jesus Christ, did the boom-boom blow up all your wordy-word books’, asks Summer as she learns about the before-fore times that led to this wasteland, one goon asking back: ‘You mean dictionary?’ Rick and Morty has always thrived when mocking genre clichés, ‘Rickmancing The Stone’ being a brilliant take-down of post-apocalyptic film tropes.
Meanwhile, to steal the rock/MacGuffin, Rick needs a distraction. Enter the Thunderdome, known to the Deathstalkers as the Blooddome, where scavengers fight to the death (because that’s what scavengers do). Morty’s arm gets pumped full of another arm’s DNA, his muscles growing huge and killing multiple scavengers in the arena, helping Morty work through the pain of the divorce while also exacting the arm's revenge ('We're making some serious discoveries about muscle memory').
Growing a taste for blood, Summer and Morty refuse to leave the planet with Rick, both choosing to remain wasteland warriors rather than deal with their issues. Rick, of course, thinks he’s better than everyone else, returning home without them and replacing the kids with robots.
The real genius of Rick and Morty lies with Rick; while he’s constantly reminding everyone they’re replaceable — whether with robots or versions of themselves from other dimensions — the Granddad actually cares. The divorce is causing him some issues, the scientist briefly admitting as much. It’s a tightly wound narrative that makes you constantly question Rick’s nihilism. Numerous times, we’ve seen this Rick, the Rickest of all the Ricks, go on huge benders, but family brings him around. Now they’re struggling, and he’s struggling as a result. So, despite Beth being gullible enough to believe the robots are the real deal, Rick travels back to the Mad Max world to help Summer and Morty work out their issues.
Once Morty exacts his arm’s revenge upon a king and Summer finds love, Rick restores energy to the world, bringing civilisation back on course. However, once the TV watching, rubbish recycling new-order is established, the trio grow bored. What’s the point in being somewhere like home that isn’t actually home?
And, so, they return, ridding Beth of the robots (the Morty version taking on some sentience, a wonderful gag similar to the ‘pass the butter’ robot) and everyone makes up, kind of. Summer visits Jerry, who is properly living the loser Dad life, taking unemployment cheques and being called “loser” by an ominous voice. Hopefully, next week, we’ll see more of the bumbling Dad. For now, we’re just happy the always brilliantly written Rick and Morty is finally back! Wubba lubba dub dub!
Rick and Morty is available in the US on Adult Swim and on Netlfix a week later in the UK.
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