With a title like The Wedding Squanchers, I thought I was going to be in for a jolly, possibly mildly inappropriate romp at a wedding when switching on this episode. What I got was a punch straight in the feels… We all know that Rick and Morty isn’t afraid to go dark. It’s kind of its signature move really, its ability to move so smoothly from comedic to emotional, and to make moments on each of those themes really, truly count. With this season finale, Roiland and Harmon proved just how ruddy fantastic they are at this, making us laugh, making us cry, making us laugh again and ending on a cliffhanger of epic proportions that left my stomach in knots.
The episode kicked off with the unsurprising realisation that Rick isn’t a huge fan of the institution of marriage, and is less than eager to fly off across the galaxy to attend the melding of Birdperson and Tammy. It’s a testament to the writing on this show that the pair have barely featured, and yet I a) entirely believed they were a happy enough couple to be getting married and b) flippin’ adore Birdperson. Of course the family end up at the wedding, after Jerry is mistakenly shipped to Planet Squanch by the courier flap that delivered the invitation. I have to wonder whether Rick’s choice to say Jerry’s name after the word ‘friendship’ was purposeful, assuming that the flap would take this to mean it should ship Jerry to Planet Squanch, giving Rick a reason to attend the wedding without appearing sentimental to his family?…
Anyway, over on Planet Squanchy, the guests are arriving and the happy couple are preparing for the ceremony. Harmon’s deadpan delivery as Birdperson is an absolute joy to listen to, particularly when he’s completely unnoticeably drunk (“It’s unwise of me to share these details, but I’ve become inebriated”), and the return of Squanchy is both overdue, and very welcome. I should’ve known something was going to come along and kick my heart in the butt, as everything was going a little too swimmingly in the earlier part of the episode. Despite his protestations and complete inability to remain something even close to sober, Rick actually behaves himself during the ceremony, even managing an “Awwww” (complete with trademark belch) as the couple were pronounced squanch and Birdperson. At the reception he delivers a speech that’s so utterly perfect I would’ve been happy for the episode to end right there, all lovely and twee and hilarious. But no, that’s not how Rick and Morty does things…
It’s at this point that the episode gets knocked into twelfth gear. Tammy reveals herself to be a deep cover agent for the Galactic Federation, a government organisation that has been attempting to arrest Rick, Birdperson, Squanchy and 13 others in attendance at the wedding for quite some years now. She brutally guns down Birdperson as he struggles to wrap his mind around this betrayal, and it is gut-wrenching… For characters who have appeared in such a small number of episodes, the relationship seems so real and close that the betrayal is shocking, and it’s awful to see Birdperson taken out so unceremoniously on what should’ve been the happiest day of his life. A chaotic gun fight ensues, with Squanchy transforming into a Hulk-esque version of himself to allow the Smith family to escape.
The fluidity with which Rick and Morty moves from heart-breaking to hilarious is one of its greatest strengths, and the family’s attempts to find another place to live are gloriously absurd. There are 3 planets similar enough to Earth for them to choose from; one in which everything is on-the-cob (and Rick’s terrified reaction to this with no explanation whatsoever is delightful), one with 42 hours to it’s days throughout which its Sun screams bloody murder, and one which is, well, teeny. The family settle for dinky-Earth, and the visual gags surrounding this are pure silly fun. Of course, it’s the tiny-ness of the planet that leads to possibly one of the harshest scenes of the series so far; upon discovering the South pole, crawling down an ice cave and discovering the planets teeny-tiny core, Rick overhears the family arguing as Jerry suggests turning Rick into the Federation. It’s a difficult conversation to eavesdrop on because, whilst I entirely agree with Summer and Morty’s assertions that “you don’t love people for a reward, you love them unconditionally”, I can’t help but also see Jerry’s side of the argument. Rick has brought nothing but chaos to their lives, dragging their children into dangerous situations almost constantly, and basically being a selfish tit. The look on Rick’s face as he crouches under the house, hearing the affect of his behaviour on the family is almost unbearable to watch, as he realises the negative impact he’s had.
Series 2 has shown a fair bit of development in Rick’s character, hinting more at his humanity (for want of a better word), and it builds up to a head in this episode as he goes off to “get ice cream” and hands himself over to the Federation on the promise of his family’s safe return to Earth. Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ kicks in as he poses as Jerry to report his own whereabouts, goes off to gets drunk one last time, and is promptly arrested. The song is insanely effective, and I found myself on the verge of tears as Rick was processed and placed in a Maximum Security prison as his family returned to Earth. It’s the most noble decision we’ve seen him make, and yet it’s breaking the hearts of the family he’s making it for. (Do they even know what he did for them? I mean, we see the police turn up to take them home to Earth, but we’re not privy to any conversations with them. For all they know, Rick was simply arrested and they’re free to go…) Whilst Rick’s influence on their lives has arguably been disruptive, it’s also a something that Beth, Summer and Morty are clearly lost without, especially now that Earth has joined the Galactic Federation and become an alien tourist hotspot.
It’s an insanely effective, completely unexpected cliffhanger and a suitably dramatic end to a fantastic, hilarious, touching season. I cannot imagine how Rick will get out of prison, or how Earth can recover from it’s sort-of-invasion of other-worldly tourists. What on Earth is in store in series 3? Only time will tell, and I sincerely hope we aren’t waiting a year, year and a half to find out! Seriously, guys, don’t leave us hanging, yeah??
Season 2 Average Rating: 4.67
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)