TV REVIEW: Rick And Morty S3 E2 ‘Rickmancing The Stone’ (Contains Spoilers)

Whilst we’ve only so far been treated to two episodes of the newest season of Rick and Morty, I get the feeling already that I’ll be struggling to pick a favourite episode by the end, given the ludicrously high standard set so far.

Some might argue that the main setting for this episode, a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland, is a little dated, especially given that Fury Road came out two years ago now, but it was a fantastic backdrop to the episode’s real intent of exploring how the Smith family are dealing with Beth & Jerry’s divorce. Sadly we don’t see much of Jerry this episode (though his few scenes and post-credit sequence are arguably the funniest parts), instead focussing mostly on Rick, Morty and Summer.

It’s interesting to me that Rick admits in this episode that he’s not handling the divorce well, given that he engineered the whole situation. I liked this reveal, as it shows that Rick isn’t quite as callous as the previous episode’s Szechuan sauce-based rant might have had us believe. Roiland & Harmon have achieved a great balance with Rick. On the one hand he’s this super intelligent scientist genius guy that realises that emotional bonds and relationships are sort of pointless really and often the cause of a great amount of sadness and pain. On the other, he’s a human being that cannot help but feel love for and develop attachments to others, not matter how little he wants to show it. This is why he can sit his grandkids down and prove to them mathematically that they’re both pieces of sh*t, but he wouldn’t let them be killed at the hands of a bunch of Ricks in The Rickshank Rickdemption. It’s why he leaves them in a savage and weirdly leather-clad dimension whilst building decoy robots to stop Beth worrying about them, but returns in time to help Morty murder a dude in a bath tub (we’ll come back to that). It’s a fantastic conceit and what makes the show work so well; if Rick didn’t care about anything it would become dull and disheartening, but we can’t have him predictably running around saving his family either.

It’s really Morty and Summer I want to focus on here, though, as their journeys throughout the episode were an absolute delight to behold. I’m very glad that the divorce is something that’s getting time and thought devoted to it, rather than being instantly resolved or relegated to a B story. Morty works through his feelings via the help of a big, beautifully beefy arm given to him by Rick after an injection of sciencey stuff from a dead arm hanging nearby. It turns out that muscle memory is a much more real thing than Rick had realised, as Armothy (as Morty names him) goes on a Blood Dome killing spree in search of the invaders that murdered his family and burned his village to the ground. Morty uses this new-found strength to work through his issues with his father; namely that he hasn’t fought hard enough to keep the family together. Whilst I am a HUGE Jerry fan and think he was actually entirely in the right to give Beth the ‘Rick or me’ ultimatum, Morty’s point of view is understandable and relatable, and his ultimate conclusion that perhaps Jerry just isn’t strong enough to keep going up against Rick for Beth’s affections is a satisfying end to his arc this episode. We’ve seen Morty kill before, but the pure rage emanating from him as he envisions he is beating his father as he mushes people into a bloody pulp is visceral and disturbing, and as such it’s nice to see him let go of that rage at the end of the episode. He may not have forgiven Jerry, but he’s a step closer to accepting this new normal.

Summer fascinates me the more I see of her; it’s evident from the ‘Hunger Games’ version of her in Morty’s previous dimension and from her butt-kickery in the early part of this episode that she thrives on adventure and danger and does very well in survival situations. Much like Beth, a “normal” life is not particularly appealing to her. The nihilism and excitement of this post-apocalyptic setting offer her something she needs: an outlet for her anger and sadness. Her falling for Joel McHale’s wonderfully macho yet completely insecure Haemorrhage and subsequent turning basically into her mother after Rick provides the locals with electicity and a few creature comforts was a fabulous turn to watch. Rick sure knew how to play her to get her to willingly return to their own dimension (and the problems left behind there). I was also very happy that she visited her father upon returning home, as I’d begun to suspect that Jerry might just be getting phased right out of the show, and guys, I’m absolutely not having that.

Rickmancing The Stone may have been a little heavy-handed in it’s Mad Max parody (although I will never not laugh at the coffee slave crawling into and immediately back out of Haemorrhage’s tent) however it was quite a nuanced and intelligent look at how a divorce can affect different members of a family, whilst simultaneously delivering on the funny. Robot Morty’s meltdown upon achieving sentience and getting rebooted, fancy bourgeoisie guy and his genital washers and Morty’s “scurvy coming on” were particular highlights for me, as well as the suburbanising of the wasteland into the kind of place where you can’t put scrap metal in the blue bin lest the neighbours start policing your recycling. This series is off to an excellent start; good show, Rick and Morty, good show indeed.

Rating: 4.8/5

Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@staceysparlour)

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