Ranking All 10 Episodes of “Rick and Morty” Season 3: #5-1

Jack Brink, Editor in Chief

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Rick and Morty’s third season left just as fast as it arrived and now all we have to do with our lives is reminisce on what a great season it has been. I’ve already ranked episodes #10-6 here:  https://thebellarion.com/ae/2017/10/03/ranking-all-10-episodes-of-rick-and-morty-season-3-10-6/

 

So after some delay, it’s finally time to name the top five episodes of what was a wonderful third season of Rick and Morty. Don’t forget, spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk

 

  1. Morty’s Mindblowers

Replacing “Interdimensional Cable” as the seasonal clip show, Morty’s Mindblowers is just a good, stupid fun time. When Morty looks into the eyes of the horrible “Truth Tortoise”, he’ll do anything to forget what he saw. Well, it turns out that Rick has an entire room full of Morty’s memories that have been erased, and the two spend the episode watching them. Hijinks ensue, and eventually both are rendered without any of their memories or knowledge of who they are. Season 3 promised to be the darkest year of their adventures, and this episode no doubt delivered on that promise. This episode is practically just twenty-two minutes of how terrible every member of the Smith/Sanchez family is, and it’s absolutely delightful. No doubt one of the funniest episodes of the season, this episode expertly showcases the dark comedy that the series excels in. And while not the most plot driven episode, it’s definitely a good look into the personalities and qualities of our main characters, especially the titular Rick and Morty. We get to see how truly manipulative and controlling Rick is of Morty, even over the most minuscule stuff (“For Granite” has to rank high as one of my favorite moments of the series), and we get to see how much of a tiny bada** Morty is when he’s not constantly put down by someone who he thinks is smarter than him.  It was neat to see the contrast in these two characters, as well how easily their roles can be reversed under the right circumstances. This is one of the few episodes of the season that gives Summer something to do, and her bit part at the end of the episode is brilliant. It may not have as many high stakes as other episodes, but it’s nonetheless an enjoyable fun slice of character analysis for America’s favorite family.

  1. The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

I have very conflicted feelings about Jerry. While he has some of the funniest scenes in the series, and he’s so unlikable that it makes him likeable in a way, episodes where he is the main focus tend to fall into a repeated punchline of how much of a waste of space he is. While we get some of that here in “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy” where Rick takes Jerry on a pity adventure at a place where it’s literally impossible to die (And Jerry still manages to screw that up), there is some actual substance to the “Jerry is a waste of space” joke and it plays a crucial part in the episode’s main narrative. Rick’s hated Jerry forever, and it’s always been pretty obvious why, but it just so cathartic to hear Rick flat out tell Jerry the reasons. Rick isn’t only mad at Jerry for marrying his daughter, but for also robbing her of any future she has, as she could have done anything, considering she is “Rick’s daughter” and Jerry is nothing but a complete loser who drags everyone he knows down with him. I thought it was a really neat idea for the writers to highlight that in this episode, as by doing so, it fleshes out Rick’s relationship with both Beth and Jerry, and gives a deeper insight into their constant family power struggle. I love how this episode focuses in on how both Rick and Jerry are absolutely horrible human beings, regardless of how completely different they are, which also leads to Rick and Jerry finally finding some common ground and working together in one of the season’s best bits of character development (even if it would be undone in the finale). This episode also features one of the trippiest moments of the season, when Rick and Jerry go through the wormhole, which while amazingly animated, will leave you in a pure state of confusion. They really played the whole “Impossible to die” scenario up to the highest degree and that led to some pure comic genius throughout the episode. This was a very strong episode that featured some good character work and a few good laughs, but suffered from a completely forgettable Beth-Summer-Morty subplot, and now suffers from the fact that a good chunk of the character development it brought has been completely undone.

  1. Rest and Ricklaxation

“Rest and Ricklaxation” is such a good episode, one of my favorites of the season, and would have no doubt ranked at #1 if it wasn’t for the fact that two of the greatest episodes of an animated series ever were a part of this season. Rick and Morty decide to take a much needed break from their adventures and have a little R & R day at an intergalactic spa. While there, they get all of their toxic personality traits removed from their body, resulting in Rick being a normal kind grandfather, Morty being an uber-confident smooth talker, and oh yeah, toxic versions of our favorite grandfather-grandson duo trying to kill them and take over their lives. This episode is just brilliantly written from start to finish. The opening scene of Rick and Morty finally breaking down from one crazy adventure too many was one of the best of the season and ridiculously funny, with the added shock value of seeing Rick Sanchez cry. The complete contrast in the healthy and toxic versions of Rick and Morty is so excellently done, and really lets you see how much depth these characters have, and how many different layers there are to their personalities. This episode really tackles head on the varying opinions members of the show’s audience have about the main characters and how they should be written. Some want Rick to remain his completely sociopathic self, devoid of any humanity and care for others, while other members want to see Rick become a genuinely decent person who wants to do what’s right. The writers absolutely nail this situation, as they perfectly show Rick can’t be 100% either of those things. Rick can’t be like his toxic self, because then he’d be a totally unlikable, undeniable villain who’d be impossible to cheer for, but he can’t be like his healthy self because then he’d just be, well, plain boring. Showcasing that Rick needs to have a light side to his dark side and vice versa was one of the best things the writers did all season. Morty is the same way in that he can’t be a total dweeb pushover, but he can’t be a cocky jerk either. The show wouldn’t work if he was either of those things for the whole series. Even so, healthy, cocky Morty was the highlight of the episode. I just had pure joy watching him on the screen. I always love it when Morty takes charge of a situation, and to have him be in control for an entire episode, whether it be over his love life or over his grandfather was wonderful. When he’s healthy, Morty is a monster. A captivating, charismatic, little monster. His sales pitch scene alone is one of the most random yet most entertaining scenes of the entire season. The resolution to the episode’s plot is superb and so extremely clever, perfectly showcasing how all facets or Rick and Morty’s personalities weld together to make them who they are. I can’t recommend this episode enough.

 

  1. The Rickshank Redemption

It may not be the best episode of the season, but without a doubt, “The Rickshank Redemption” is the episode that put Rick and Morty on the map as one of the best shows in all of television. Only a show this stupidly intelligent could not only pull off making fans wait two years for the third season and then drop the premier with no prior announcement on April Fools Day, but also speed through what could’ve been an entire season’s worth of material in twenty-two minutes. The best writers will subvert their audience’s expectations in a smart way, and boy, did they ever nail that here. We all thought that Rick breaking out of intergalactic prison would have taken all season, or at least a couple episodes. But nope, Rick does it in one and it is one of the most thrilling, jaw dropping episodes in the history of television. This episode is a constant barrage of twists and turns that you don’t see coming and leave you floored when they happen, and they don’t stop until the very last minute. Rick singlehandedly takes down the Galactic Federation, the Citadel of Ricks, and his daughter’s marriage all at once. Could anyone have ever seen that coming? Setting aside the shock value from the episode’s crazy moments, and you still have an insanely well written episode, with some of the series’ funniest lines, and now most memorable joke (Gotta love Szechuan sauce), as well some wonderfully written dialogue between Morty and Summer, who unfortunately has her biggest role of the season in only episode 1. The plot twists and shock moments aren’t lazy or cheap either. They are perfectly written and completely well-earned in a way that doesn’t even make you question them other than “OH MY GOD! DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?” This episode perfectly set up some of the plots going forward in season 3, such as Rick becoming more and more like a god, Morty becoming weary of his adventures with Rick, and how Beth and Jerry’s divorce would affect the whole family. This is the episode that made the show THE SHOW and let its fans know they should expect anything and everything.

 

  1. The Ricklantis Mixup

It had to be this. There was no other option. “The Ricklantis Mixup” is without question not only the best episode of the entire series, but also the best episode of any animated series ever. I am not joking when I say this is a piece of art that will be studied for years to come. “The Ricklantis Mixup” is perfection in every aspect. Not having anything to actually do with Atlantis, the episode follows the Citadel of Ricks (and Mortys) as their citizens recover from its destruction at our Rick’s hand. This includes characters such as the Mortys at Morty school, the Ricks tired of working for little pay and no respect in terrible jobs, bigoted cop versions of Rick and Morty, and the Ricks and one Morty trying to run for the new President spot of the Citadel.  Being set at the Citadel, this episode literally features nothing but variations of Rick and Morty, hundreds of them. And yet, it still works brilliantly, thanks in no small part to the phenomenal voice acting by Justin Roiland, who somehow manages to convey thousands of emotions and feelings using only two different voices. It is a true triumph when you have such excellent writers and voice actors that your audience can instantly tell apart hundreds of characters who all look exactly the same. This episode parodies/makes tribute to multiple films such as “Training Day “ or “Stand By Me” and perfectly nails their depiction of them to a tee. Everything was so meticulously written, and you can tell part of why season 3 took so long to get here was most likely because of how much they wanted to perfect this episode. This episode has everything. It’s utterly hilarious, just like every episode of Rick and Morty, but this one also has the added bonus of the absurdity behind technically only having two characters in the entire episode. It’s also extremely thought provoking, as while it may seem outlandish at first, the Citadel really showcases how unfair life is to the underprivileged, as even in a society where everyone is exactly the same person with the same features and intelligence level, certain people still have better chances and opportunities for no other reason besides their wealth and status. It didn’t look like any episode would ever top the twists of “The Rickshank Redemption”, yet “The Ricklantis Mixup” delivered emotionally gut-punching twists for all of its subplots and then dropped the biggest plot twist in the show’s history with just a couple notes of a piano. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.  

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