The Good: Moments of humor, Good voice performances, Attempts to develop the characters
The Bad: Short, Not very funny, Fewer allusions and clever bits
The Basics: Rick And Morty Season 3 takes a risk on a season that finds the Smith family deeply divided and the adventures Rick Sanchez goes on far darker.
When a show reaches its third season, it often hits a stride that the experimental nature of the earlier seasons might not quite measure up to. Third seasons are usually a place where the characters are established-enough to have traits the viewers instantly recognize and the viewers are invested in the characters and their conflicts. The third season can also be a place where a show manages to course-correct. In the case of Rick And Morty, the long-awaited third season tries to make the show less-repetitive than it was in the prior seasons, but in the process it makes for a darker season and one that is far less funny than the prior two seasons.
The third season of Rick And Morty picks up after Season 2 (reviewed here!) and given where that season ended, it has the immediate burden of rectifying the world-changing aspects of the second season finale. After all, the second season ended with the Earth being taken over by the galactic federation and Rick was imprisoned by them.
Opening with Rick in intergalactic prison, Rick manages to trick his captors into an escape from their version of The Matrix. Slaughtering his way through the government and the Council Of Ricks, Rick manages to thwart the government and liberate Earth and in the process, his daughter and grandchildren side with him over Jerry. In the wake of the family being splintered, Rick takes Morty and Summer on an adventure to a post-apocalyptic style world where Rick robs the people there. Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of family therapy and joins Morty on an adventure with an Avengers-style super hero group.
Rick takes Jerry on an adventure to the safest place in the galaxy and then he and Morty attempt to detoxify themselves and their toxic incarnations attempt to permanently poison the world. The Citadel Of Ricks is rebuilt, putting a new leader in power based on an election that has a fairly obvious outcome. Rick reveals that he has erased a vast number of traumatic memories from Morty's mind. Rick attempts to bond with Beth in a world he once created for her. And, in the season finale, Rick and Morty confront the President Of The United States over their role in saving the world from various alien threats.
The third season of Rick And Morty features far fewer science fiction concept episodes and a lot more character-based angst. Episodes like "The Ricklantis Mixup" references cop films more than science fiction works. Sure, genre fans might love Stand By Me, but the show's attempt to develop the characters pushes it in both a less-funny direction and one that mortgages its science fiction-loving audience. The real weakness of changing the direction into a more character-based show is that the conceptual change fails based on the season's ten episode duration. In other words, with only ten episodes, none of the characters are given ample time to truly grow and develop. Instead, Rick And Morty Season 3 gets a good start, then works to restore the familiar homeostasis of the series. And doing that with less humor than the prior two seasons feels very unsatisfying.
For those not familiar with the show, it helps to know who the key characters are. In the third season of Rick And Morty the primary characters are:
Morty Smith - The grandson of Rick Sanchez and his sidekick in interdimensional adventures, he is jaded by Rick's actions and indifference. Following his parents' separating, he starts urinating in class. When he uses his adventure coupon, he and Rick end up in deep space with the Vindicators, where his expertise in Rick allows him to save the universe. He has had numerous memories erased by Rick and it horrified when he learns some of the things he has lost,
Summer Smith - After initially believing that Rick is the key to saving Earth, she learns of the world where she was left to die by Morty, who just wants to prove how terrible Rick is. She starts huffing enamel, which results in mandated family counseling. She is irked by how a boy she is interested in chooses a girl with bigger breasts, so she uses one of Rick's devices to get bigger breasts, with horrific results. She is responsible for restoring the mind-wiped Rick and Morty,
Jerry Smith - After adapting to having the world taken over by aliens, he is ditched by his family. While his divorce is pending, he is taken on an adventure with Rick to the safest place in the galaxy. He is willing to set up Rick for murder, but changes his mind. He briefly dates a powerful alien woman. Beth turns to him for the truth about who she is,
Beth Smith - Rick's daughter, she is a horse surgeon who decides to leave her husband instead of exiling her father. She returns to a world Rick once created for her and spends most of her family counseling session doubting Rick is as horrible as Morty and Summer claim he is. She has a crisis of conscience when she believes that Rick may have made a duplicate of her in order to allow the real Beth to go on a journey of self discovery,
and Rick Sanchez - Quickly recognizing that his captors have him in, essentially, The Matrix, in order to get the secret of his portal gun. To escape family therapy, he turns himself into a pickle, which goes on a murderous rampage. He is ostracized by the Vindicators and does more drunk than most people do conscious. He encounters a purely toxic version of himself and fights to get Morty a selfie with the President.
Much of the third season of Rick And Morty is gross and unsettling, as opposed to funny or edgy. The voice acting is fine, but things like the rape and cannibalism in "The ABC's Of Beth" take the show to a gross level.
Ultimately, the third season of Rick And Morty is a disappointing new direction for the once funny and clever science fiction-driven animated comedy.
For other works from the 2017 - 2018 television season, please check out my reviews of:
"Aruba-Con" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"The Flash Reborn" - The Flash
"Girl Of Steel" - Supergirl
"The Butcher's Knife Cares Not For The Lamb's Cry" - Star Trek: Discovery
"Divide And Conquer" - Inhumans
Twin Peaks - Season 3 ("The Return")
Game Of Thrones - Season 7
The Defenders - Season 1
Friends From College - Season 1
For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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