Rick and Morty: “Pickle Rick” Review

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Rick is in a real pickle this time.

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below. I don’t know why the sight of Rick Sanchez transformed into an anthropomorphic pickle is so darned amusing, but it is. Pickle Rick[2] was easily the most memorable of the many twists teased in the Season 3 trailers, and the end result doesn’t disappoint. This wacky odyssey captured Rick and Morty at its most entertaining and helped the new season bounce back from last week’s relatively underwhelming episode.

Fittingly, Rick’s pickle transformation was an utterly pointless one, nothing more than a harebrained scheme to save him the hassle of sitting through an hour of family therapy. And also fittingly, he was left to deal with the consequences of his mad science when Beth and the kids left him to stew in his own brine for a while. Thus began a weird, wonderful journey as Rick clawed his way up from the sewers, forged himself an exoskeleton out of cockroach and rat corpses and eventually waged war against an entire Russian embassy.

That’s one of the great strengths of Rick and Morty. It’s not enough for Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon to throw out bizarre sci-fi premises; they have to keep pushing those premises in progressively weirder and more unlikely directions. This was also Rick and Morty at its most violent, with a level of blood and gore we haven’t seen since Season 2’s “Look Who’s Purging Now.” By the time the plot shifted from the (formerly) rat-infested sewers to the embassy, it became clear that Roiland and Harmon were taking the opportunity to parody hyper-violent action films in general and the John Wick series in particular.

Thankfully, not to the point where “Rickmancing the Stone” blatantly echoed the Mad Max series, but just enough to highlight the absurd nature of Pickle Rick’s escapades. The show certainly made great use of guest star Danny Trejo, who voiced stereotypical, grizzled action hero Jaguar. His destructive shootout with Rick was just sublime, particularly during the scene where both combatants took a breather to stitch their wounds.

Pickle Rick tearing apart a half-eaten hamburger and stapling a sliced pickle to his side pushed a ridiculous situation to even further heights. Jaguar’s surprise return in the post-credits scene served as another welcome moment of zaniness, though I really want to know more about this Concerto character… With all that craziness unfolding, there was never any way the B-plot was going to hold up in that regard, and it’s just as well Roiland, Harmon and writer Jessica Gao didn’t try.

The therapy scenes were more mundane, but still a fun way of examining the increasingly bleak state of the family following Beth and Jerry’s divorce. Susan Sarandon also made a strong impression as the surprisingly perceptive Dr. Wong, who didn’t seem the least bit surprised to see a talking pickle waltz into her office.

Sarandon’s monologue about Rick’s habit of disregarding anything in his life that feels like work really cut to the core of his selfish, narcissistic behavior. It was interesting to see the therapy storyline end on such an ambiguous note. On one hand, Rick had one of his rare moments of clarity, apologizing for his behavior and acknowledging that maybe becoming a pickle isn’t the answer to all of life”s challenges.

On the other hand, it’s all the more clear that Beth is willing to forgive any and all bad behavior on Rick’s part so long as she has her father in her life. This episode made it clear that Beth, not Summer or Morty, is the one faring the worst thanks to this divorce, and it’ll be interesting to see how much lower she sinks as this storyline continues to play out. Once again, I get the impression Rick wasn’t joking when he promised this will be the darkest season yet.

Unfortunately, Jerry seems to be getting the short end of the stick in this current status quo. He was probably the highlight of last week’s episode, despite only appearing in a couple scenes. This time around, Jerry was completely absent.

I’m not sure if Chris Parnell’s schedule is partly to blame or if Roiland and Harmon simply want Jerry out of the picture right now, but he’s sorely missed. The Verdict Rick’s pickle transformation may not be the most high-concept premise this series has ever dealt with, but it sure made for an entertaining episode.

The saga of Pickle Rick[3] grew progressively more bizarre and violent as this episode unfolded, before culminating with some hard truths about Rick’s selfish behavior and relationship with his family.

Jerry’s presence is badly missed, but otherwise this new season is making the most of the overarching divorce storyline.

Editors’ Choice

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