Rick and Morty Season 3 Premiere Review: Szechuan Dipping Sauce and All
In what may be one of the single most greatest April Fool’s Day pranks in television history, Adult Swim, without announcement, broadcasted and streamed the first episode of Rick and Morty season 3 across North America. As Adult Swim viewers know, Saturday nights are usually relegated to the Toonami block. Many were taken aback and the internet went up in a viral blaze, as fans rushed to tell others while simultaneously trying to prove this was no prank. Reverse psychology at its finest, which coincidentally, is also Rick Sanchez’s greatest weapon in this episode.
(MAJOR SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE STREAM/BROADCAST, TURN BACK. THE STREAM WAS NOT AVAILABLE OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA AND ENDED 4/2 12AM EST)
Season 3 opens with Rick still in a federation prison, but much like “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” finds himself in a memory simulator (the Brainalyzer Series 9000 to be exact). With nothing but his own twisted wit and the company of a Gromflamite interrogator (voiced by Nathan Fillion), Rick must outsmart the Galactic Federation as it desperately seeks the origins of Rick’s godly portal gun.
Meanwhile back on Federation occupied Earth, a disgruntled, disillusioned Summer exhumes the dead body of her Rick, replaced at the end of “Rick Potion #9,” stealing his portal gun to spring C-137 (imprisoned) Rick. Morty, in an effort to show Summer the true destruction of Rick and avoid Federal arrest, warps back to his home dimension C-137 (aka Cronenberg world). There they have a run in with the original C-137 Smith family who have turned savage after living in a world overrun with Cronenberg monsters, only then to be captured by the Council of Ricks and leveraged against C-137 Rick.
Back in the Brainalyzer Series 9000, C-137 Rick relives the joys of 1998, joys that include McDonald’s promotional Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce, as well as some potentially horrifying revelations. And here’s where the episode’s biggest reveals and questions begin. Rick fabricated a brutally, violent origin story for his portal gun, where an evil interdimensional Rick interferes with a young, pre-portal gun Rick, then murders Diane (Rick’s wife) and child Beth. Thus paradoxically ushering in the cynical, substance-abusing Rick we’ve come to know and love.
By supposedly fabricating this origin story, Rick tricks Nathan Gromflamite Fillion into swapping bodies. From then on, Rick body hops between several other Ricks, until he simultaneously rescues Summer and Morty, destroys the Citadel of Ricks and executes the Council, dismantles the Federation via a galactic scale stock market crash, and finally causes Beth and Jerry to divorce. After all of this, Harmon neatly and hilariously wraps it up with a season 1 episode 1 callback.
The prodigal return of Rick and Morty is a shining example of incredibly balanced writing from Harmon and Roiland, as the entire episode touches upon past plot points, themes, and running jokes, all while still proposing new questions and without bogging us down in exposition. The creative duo is truly building a world beyond just the main characters of Rick and Morty. As beloved as the dysfunctional grandfather/grandson team is, this episode was Summer-centric at its core. This is a truly clever way of tying in the recently updated Rickstaverse game, the show’s Instagram viral marketing campaign/scavenger hunt, which was mostly narrated in the voice of Summer. Much like the Adult Swim network itself, Rick and Morty is taking full advantage of the multimedia fluidity of its millennial fan base.
Aside from catching thousands off guard, the still yet titled premiere has already gotten gears turning, flooding the internet with many fan theories, and questions both answered and unanswered. But before anyone should dive into any Rickspiracies, here are the facts and questions we have so far:
- The Morty we follow throughout this episode is certainly C-137 Morty, as he openly declares this to the Council of Ricks.
- How sick is Lawyer Morty’s Pog collection really?
- Diane, real or not, is for sure Rick’s wife as we see a wedding band on her finger, and is most likely Beth’s mother due to similarity in character design.
- Just how fabricated is the portal gun’s origin story? Can we believe that Diane and child Beth are a complete lie? Or are based on a true event?
- Rick used to wear blue pants.
- Is this really the end of Jerry and Beth? Will Jerry be in this season at all? Is it a result of Chris Parnell assumingly doing voiceover work at the same time for the upcoming season of Archer, due this month as well?
- McDonald’s had a dipping sauce that promoted Disney’s Mulan, seriously look it up.
- Phoenix Person or Cyber Bird?
Guess we’re just going to have sit back, watch some interdimensional cable and enjoy the rest of this long awaited season. And then maybe 9 more seasons? Or maybe 97 more years?