Joe Matar

Oct 2, 2017

Rick and Morty season 3 goes out with a bwuhhh!? Our spoiler-filled review of the finale is here!

This review contains spoilers.

3.10 The Rickchurian Mortydate

Maybe it was the long wait before it returned, or maybe it’s the fact that it feels like we only got nine episodes because one had already aired months previously, or maybe it’s just that I was having such a gosh darn good time and time flies when etc., etc. Whatever the reason, season three came and went too soon.

Season one was chock-full of character development and world-building. Season two was generally more content to goof off. Season three struck a decent balance between both: there was quite a lot of goofing around but paired with a good amount of interesting character exploration, plus the extraordinarily impressive broadening of the Citadel of Ricks.

Oddly, however, even though I found this mostly a very strong season for character and storytelling, looking back, it seems more like a series of silly, self-contained romps, which is fine! Not every episode of Rick And Morty needs to end on a dramatic gut punch and it would grow trite if it did. And, overall, season three must’ve done a pretty good job if I found it silly, yet still regard it as full of top-quality story and character stuff (something I would not say for season two, which somewhat dropped the ball drama-wise).

Unfortunately, one area where season three floundered was with Jerry and Beth’s divorce. Ostensibly the main, continuous, dramatic plotline of season three, the writers ended up not quite knowing where to go with it. While I didn’t expect my sci-fi comedy to have more episodes in it about the wacky world of working through divorce, for such a drastic change to the family dynamic, it didn’t figure into the show as deeply as one might have thought. It was a springboard for multiple episodes, but a clear narrative path regarding how this divorce was progressing for any of the family members never really solidified.

The weakest link was Beth, who simply didn’t get enough screen time for us to understand her state of mind during all this. And when she did get episodes, they were sloppy (the previous one abruptly turned her character into a serial killer or something). The Rickchurian Mortydate surprised me by revisiting the concept the preceding episode introduced that Beth might be a clone now. This works for her character: she’s Rick’s daughter and she’s obviously very smart, so the question of whether she’s an original Beth or a clone is logically something that would eat her up inside. However, that this leads so quickly into her reuniting with Jerry seems forced.

The writers basically get away with it. It’s not so implausible because Beth and Jerry always stupidly fall back together. But, again, we know almost nothing about how Beth has been feeling this whole time and, frankly, we’ve seen no indication she’s been thinking about or missing Jerry at all. Ultimately, it feels like the writers wanting to return to series status quo.

Admittedly, it’s not quite status quo. Rick has been unexpectedly demoted to the bottom rung of the family power dynamic. It’s an interesting place to leave the series, though we’re left wondering, why, indeed, Rick chose to stay if he’s being treated like crap by everyone. Or, rather, we’ve been led to believe he stayed, but, technically speaking, we still don’t know if he pulled some complex switcheroo along the way, just like we still can’t be totally sure that Beth isn’t a clone. (I’m fine with the clone thing staying ambiguous, but it would also be a great plotline if real Beth came back and found out clone Beth got back together with Jerry and was pissed off about it.)

The bottom line is the family drama this season was mishandled and this finale wrapped it up awkwardly. But I mentioned goofing off earlier, which is really what The Rickchurian Mortydate is all about. Season two ended all dramatically, but Dan Harmon has revealed that’s mostly because they couldn’t think of how to end it so they went out on a cliffhanger. I believe Justin Roiland prefers Rick And Morty seasons to go out silly, a la season one’s Ricksy Business, which was just a house party episode. This one is largely about Rick having a petty fight with the President of the United States. I know! That guy just gets in petty fights with everyone, doesn’t he?

Just kidding, this is the Rick And Morty multiverse President, played once again by the lovely Keith David. I don’t have loads to say about this plot. It was entertaining, though felt like it was deliberately avoiding being deep in any fashion. Mostly it was just a lot of insults and sight gags, including an impressive, extended fight scene between Rick and the President. I do enjoy that the President’s character was expanded upon, revealing him to be stubborn and self-important.

Also, though the family dynamic wasn’t handled well this season, a solid theme that did emerge is the true ramifications of Rick’s omnipotence – for him, for the people around him, and for the rest of the multiverse. This episode hammers that home with Rick using his magical sci-fi powers to fight the supposed leader of the free world and ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in his spare time. It’s absurd, but it works. It holds up a lot better than last week’s The ABCs of Beth, at any rate.

This finale didn’t make for a terribly funny episode. I laughed out loud in several spots but there was so much stuff going on that jokes often felt sidelined as The Rickchurian Mortydate got a bit preoccupied in exposition itself. This was mostly a very, very solid season, but this finale was a mad scramble to tidy up Beth and Jerry’s divorce while Rick horsed around with the President.

Gosh, I can’t believe this season is already over. I hope it’s not quite so long until the next one. See you then!