Rick and Morty and character development

I just watched season 3 episode 3 of Rick and Morty, and damn that was cathartic. I was packed with little details that signal the progression of characters in the series, and I loved it. One thing that stands out to me the most is Rick’s alignment shift since season 1. I think we can all agree that Rick in Season 1 is chaotic evil, he has no regard for authority and prioritizes himself over his family. Take Lawnmower Dog, for example, what is Rick’s motivation for getting Morty’s math teacher to give him good grades in math? It’s so Morty can go on more adventures with Rick, and when Morty asks, couldn’t you just help me with my homework, Rick replies with something and then changes the subject to talk about how it’s like Inception, Morty. I haven’t seen the episode in a while, but the general vibe is that Rick doesn’t want to spend that much time helping, and generally bonding with Morty, so instead he chooses to bring Morty along as a little helper boy on what we can assume he considers an errand. So, to summarize Lawnmower Dog, Rick want Morty to get better grades so he can go on more adventures with him, but he doesn’t actually want to help Morty get better grades, you feel?

Now compare that to this latest episode, Pickle Rick, where he has become chaotic neutral, still with no regards towards authority, but not so evil or selfish as before. While turning himself into a pickle was a completely selfish move on his part, helping Jaguar out wasn’t so selfish. I love how that scene in the security room where every camera goes black makes it seem as though Rick got Jaguar, but about two minutes later we see Jaguar piloting that escape ‘copter and we realize that Rick spares him, and even agrees they help each other. Hell, it may have been Rick’s own idea that they help each other. He saves Jaguar’s life, possibly because in the course of the past two season he has come to realize he value of life, but he doesn’t care about Jaguar enough to help him find one of the infinite versions of his, now dead, daughter.

Another detail to notice is Rick’s openness. When we hear Jaguar and Rick talk about their daughters, Jaguar has a clear love and admiration for his daughter, while rick isn’t so clear about his love for Beth. He says something along the lines of I don’t have to tell her I love her, she knows… we don’t really talk about that. Which is exactly what the therapist is discussing with Beth, the lack of display of emotion. In this scene, Rick even over shares with Jaguar saying he abandoned one of the versions of his daughter in a world full of mutants. Compare to the first episode of the first season, where Rick tells Morty he has some issues with the Galactic Government, and that’s all he says about that. Even with these giant shifts in character from Rick,  Jaguar jumps off the helicopter and Rick ends the scene with “yeesh,” showing he doesn’t realize that he just displayed a similar level of emotion as this guy he probably thinks is a total wuss.

And after all the effort he probably went through to turn himself into a pickle to avoid therapy, he still goes to meet his family at therapy after this whole pickle ordeal. He even spills his thoughts out to this therapist when prompted with a simple question that could’ve been answered in one sentence. Her response to him is genius. I mean, I’ve read a lot of fan theories about Rick’s mind and why he is like he is, and to hear almost those exact words in the show makes this scene unbelievable. What stood out most to me most about her monologue is when she says this family uses intelligence to justify (mental) illness. It is true that Beth has some deep rooted abandonment issues that she justifies with “he’s a genius” and Rick has detachment issues that he justifies with “literally none of this matters” and while both those things are true, they detract from the real issue. So, yeah, I guess those things can be due to some kind of mental illness, and honestly, I never thought about it that way. After this reveal, the therapist says it takes work to fix these issues just like it takes work to do anything else and Rick may be bored out his mind, but it’s a necessary part of healing. Conveniently enough, we don’t see Rick’s reaction to these statements and are left to wonder what he genuinely thinks of this.

In the car ride home, Rick and Beth share a genuine moment of bonding where Beth even stands her ground telling Rick he shouldn’t lie to her anymore. Rick agrees with her, and we see the kids in the backseat looking on with the blankest of expressions they have shown in the series. Summer asks if they will return to therapy and Morty says he liked her (the therapist), possibly because they see the positive response the two other generations had to this session. They want to return to therapy and they know it can help, but they don’t want to outright say it and risk a defensive response from Rick or more likely Beth.

All in all this was a great episode and one of my favorite moments of  it was in the opening scene, where Morty asks “is everything a camera?” Lol. You’re breaking the fourth wall there kiddo, ha, like grandfather like grandson amirite. Though, I do want to mention something that bugs me a little about this third season so far, and that is that some of these episodes feel more contrived than the previous two season. I may be biased towards the world-building, introductory feel of the first season and this more established, familiar tone just feels like it’s falling short of the first season and it’s wonder. However, I did feel this way towards season 2 as it was coming out, since season 2 is so unhinged compared to season 1, and now some of my favorite episodes are from season 2. Just a creeping thought, though.

Please remember to support the official release of all your favorite shows, if you’re like me and don’t have cable services, you can watch the new Rick and Morty episodes on adultswim.com up to one week after they’ve premiered on air! It’s important to always support good content, from talented creators *cough*theemojimovie*cough* but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Opal, Out

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