Ranking All 10 Episodes of “Rick and Morty” Season 3: #10-6

Jack Brink, Editor in Chief

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Ooh wee, another season of America’s favorite nihilistic, sci-fi comedy has come to an end. Fans of the show had to wait nearly a whole two years for the this third season after season two’s heart wrenching finale, “The Wedding Squanchers”, and while the season may not have lived up to the high expectations many fans had, it most certainly delivered big time on more than a few episodes. With an even longer wait possibly ahead for season 4, we’ll have plenty of time to reminisce on a season full of comedy, drama, action, and pickles.

 

This list will be broken up into two articles, with #10-6 being ranked here, and #5-1 being ranked on the next article.

 

Also, obvious spoilers ahead, you boulder-person.

 

  1. Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender

This episode had so much potential. I mean, who wouldn’t love to see Rick and Morty team up with their world’s version of the Avengers? Rick being at odds with the Vindicators made the idea even better. Once you get to the meat of the episode however, everything starts to go downhill. Rick, in a much more drunken than usual state, devises a “Saw”-esque series of tests for the Vindicators to take on, which results in the very gory deaths of multiple members of the team. This episode really is an example of Rick and Morty at its worst, with it being a nonstop twenty two minutes bloody, gory violence and a completely sociopathic, devoid of any humanity plot. Maybe it was just wishful thinking that Rick would maybe obtain some morals after his sacrifice in the season 2 finale, but no, none of that here. He orchestrates multiple, horrific murders, and completely shatters Morty’s hopeful ideals of superheroes, which in all honesty, he deserves to have un-shattered considering all the chaotic, immoral realities of life he had to realize over the past couple of years. We all know Rick is somewhat of a scumbag, and the murder doesn’t seem out of character for him, but the way he destroys something Morty genuinely seems to care about does. While I agree the trope of superheroes being the “ultimate good” is largely overdone, the episode’s perspective that there are no such things as heroes and everyone is horrible deep down is completely wrong. Everyone should have someone they look up to, and while no one is perfect, not everyone is a terrible human being like the episode suggests with the Vindicators. Rick and Morty is famous for its nihilism, but this is definitely the episode where they take it too far. It’s not even funny nihilism, it’s just annoying and depressing. The episode doesn’t even have a subplot, which means we are forced to face Rick’s antics head on for the entire twenty-two minutes. While the episode has some ridiculously funny comedy, it’s still not enough to save this episode from being the worst of the season, and one of the worst of the entire series.

  1. The ABC’s of Beth

This was an episode I was extremely looking forward to, and one that disappointed me greatly. Beth, to me, is easily one of the weakest characters in the series, with her abandonment issues and terrible personality being her main character traits, so I was excited to finally get the long awaited Rick and Beth episode where maybe we could learn more about Beth so I couldn’t hate her so much. The episode starts strongly enough, with Beth and Rick travelling to the magical “Froopyland”, a world Rick created when Beth was a child to keep her distracted while he went on adventures. It turns out, one of Beth’s childhood friends, Tommy has been stuck there for over thirty years, with his dad facing capital punishment for his “murder”. Beth decides to take matters into her own hands to save Tommy and his father. Meanwhile Jerry begins to date an alien warrior with three boobs, but has trouble breaking off the relationship when it gets too intense because of much of a Jerry he is. Jerry’s plot is easily the weakest part of the episode, as it’s a standard “Jerry is a pathetic human being” affair. Honestly, the joke has been done to death so many times already, it’s not even funny anymore. One or two jokes is fine, but dedicating an entire subplot to it? No thank you. I was hoping we’d get somewhat of an improved Jerry after “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy”, but no such luck, as we get a subplot that feels like it would be much more at home in season one.  Now, onto Beth. I wanted some serious character development for Beth, but her becoming Rick 2.0 is not what I had in mind. In all honesty, it feels like lazy storytelling and completely unearned. At no point in the series has the show even remotely hinted at Beth being a genius like Rick, and now we’re supposed to believe she has his murderous tendencies too? Beth’s always been slightly unstable, but to be exactly like her father is a cheap cop out and just an excuse for the show to spout out more of its nihilistic “Nothing matters, the universe is pointless” agenda, which has been done to death at this point. And while Rick’s speech to Beth and the ending cliffhanger of the episode were both emotional high notes, I can’t help but think this episode could have been executed a lot better.

  1. The Rickchurian Mortydate

Man, I feel for this episode. It’s gotten a lot of hate on the internet since it aired, and a large part of it has to do with it being the season finale. Last season’s finale dramatically ended with Rick captured by the Galactic Federation, leaving us with the cliffhanger of how he would ever get out of their clutches. There was no mind blowing cliff hanger this year. No, this season ended with Jerry, Jerry of all people on top. Admittedly, the subplot is terrible and the ending is a letdown, but these parts of the episode do not do the main plot justice. When Rick and Morty grow tired of doing the president’s dirty work, they decide to “break up” with him. This doesn’t sit well with the President, who declares war on Rick and Morty. The Rick vs the President plot was without a doubt one of the funniest, most thrilling plots in the entirety of the show. The political jokes and observations are wickedly on point, and Keith David is phenomenal in his role as the President, excellently delivering every line he has. I’m not lying when I say this is one of the most quotable episodes of the series. If this episode was placed in the middle of the season, and focused solely on the President plot, it would have cracked the top three, but sadly this is not the case. Beth’s subplot is dreadful, as all the emotion and development gained from “The ABC’s of Beth” is completely undone, with Beth questioning whether or not she took her father’s deal and replaced herself with a clone. Beth runs back to Jerry and the two decide to get back together, which means their divorce, which has been one of the focal points of the series is completely nullified. This really is a shame, because in a show where so little matters, the character development everyone faced from the divorce had been somewhat impactful and continuous throughout the season. Beth flat out saying things will be going back to the way season 1 is a slap to the face of the viewer, but it’s completely true, as all growth by the characters have been completely undone, and this doesn’t just mean Beth and Jerry. Morty and Summer have experienced firsthand how toxic their parents’ marriage is, so it’s completely ridiculous that they would be happy for things to go back to the way they were. The divorce should have been the best thing to ever happen to the family, with Summer even commenting earlier in the episode how much better off Beth is after the divorce. Also, Beth, Morty and Summer’s out of the blue opposition to Rick is completely bizarre. Beth had just officially accepted her father for who he is a week ago and loved him for it, Summer was pretty much treating Rick as a god at the beginning of the season, and Morty had been having a great time with Rick the entire episode, taking great joy in antagonizing the President with him. So why did they all turn on him out of the blue? Beth could be chalked up to not being as smart as her father thinks and not ready to handle things such as clones. But the other two? No explanation at all. It will be interesting to see what the family dynamic will be now that rick is the low man on the totem pole, but other than that, not a lot of good came from this climax.

  1. Pickle Rick

Ah, the episode that spawned dozens of memes and ruined the comments section of many Rick and Morty YouTube videos. In “Pickle Rick”, Rick turns himself into…a pickle, to avoid going to therapy with Beth and the kids. There’s some great comedy from the absolutely absurd premise, and the action that comes with it is even better. It may have been a little excessively gory at times, but the fight and death scenes in this episode were extremely clever and brilliantly fun to watch. The non-descript European villains and Jaguar easily rank among some of the best one-off characters the show has had, with both delivering some golden, memorable lines. The therapy plot itself isn’t half bad either, with Susan Sarandon’s Dr. Wong being a complete joy to watch on screen, as she gets to cut into both Beth and surprisingly Rick in a brutal verbal barrage that has been a long time coming for both of them. Rick and Beth completely ignoring Wong’s words is incredibly disappointing however, as the series continues its belief that “Intelligence justifies sickness”, which is honestly a terrible philosophy to have. Would it have killed at least one of them to take Wong’s words to heart? It’s moments like these that make character development so hard to come by on the show, and turn what could be a powerful moment like Wong’s speech into an afterthought. On a side note, Rick is still hilarious even when going on adventures by himself, but I have to say I sure did miss having Morty on this adventure with him, as their rapport is one of the best parts of the entire series. But hey, remember that time he said “Pickle Rick”?

  1. Rickmancing the Stone

Coming right after the awe inspiring season premiere of “The Rickshank Redemption”, this was definitely a much lighter paced episode, and I feel as though gets a bad reputation as a weaker episode for it. Re-watch this episode a couple times, and you’ll come to realize it’s one of the better ones of the season, just not in the top five. Morty and Summer taking out their frustrations about the divorce in a Mad Max type world is brilliant and a great way to drive home the emotions they’re feeling without getting too preachy for a show like this. One of my biggest complaints of season 3 is that we didn’t get an episode fully dedicated to Summer, who has become one of the best characters in the entire show. While she isn’t the only focus of the episode, it’s close enough and the extended emphasis on Summer’s new “Everything is bull” personality is wonderful, as she has some insanely funny lines throughout the episode. Morty’s plot of having a sentient muscle arm out for revenge is ingenious, and weirdly touching, being one of the most original, creative ideas on television this year. While the kids deal with their issues, Rick does his best to steer Beth away from going back to Jerry by making behaving robots of the kids while the actual ones are in Mad Max world, which provides some fantastic dark comedy. This episode provides a great insight into the main characters of the show, as we get to see what Summer and Morty think the reason behind the divorce is, and we get to see how much of a manipulator Rick is, and how desperately he wants to control Beth and the family. It’s wonderful slice of character development from all sides. I mean sure, this would be undone in the finale, but that shouldn’t hurt was otherwise a strong episode. It may not be as action packed as other episodes, or have as many funny moments, but it’s still a very solid episode with a clever ending.

 

And that’s it for part 1 of this ranking. Part 2 will be coming shortly, and that’s where we’ll be counting down the top five episodes of the season.

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