When the Rick and Morty season 3 trailer dropped, there was one immediate highlight. ‘I’m Pickle Rick!’ screamed the mad scientist, spawning memes aplenty and making more than a few viewers wonder whether the show had begun to jump the shark, being random for randomness’ sake. Oh, they should have had more faith in the writers – ‘Pickle Rick’ proves to be an unlikely action adventure, which also works wonders in advancing the family dynamic.
There are two very distinct stories to this episode, and I’ll deal with them both in turn. Rick has turned himself into a pickle, ostensibly for the challenge. He winds up knocked into the driveway by the family cat, then washed into the sewer – this is where the episode stops dwelling on the uselessness of the pickle. In the sewer, he butchers a cockroach with his mouth and uses its brain and nervous system to build a body suit. This soon becomes a rat exoskeleton, with which Rick murders the rat population of the sewer in bloody fashion.
Still, if you thought that was gory, the episode has a lot of ground to tread. Pickle Rick winds up in some kind of foreign embassy, where he proceeds to slaughter tons of bodyguards with office equipment and explosives. He confronts a badass called Jaguar (Danny Trejo), and they team up after an impressive fight sequence (coupled with a hilarious juxtaposition of the human and pickle suturing their wounds), taking out the embassy.
Despite acknowledging the pointlessness of loving one family in an infinity of families, he does anyway
So, why bother with the pickle business in the first place? Well, that ties into our other story – still trying to cope with the divorce, Beth (Sarah Chalke) takes Morty and Summer to therapy with Dr Wong (Susan Sarandon – the show is going all out with the guest stars this season, it seems). The therapy scenes are more quietly awkward, poking fun at the TV convention but allowing the family a chance to really explore their demons, especially Beth’s refusal to admit that Rick has abandoned her yet again.
It culminates in a scene in which Rick appears at the session, and confesses that the whole pickle stunt was a scheme to get out of therapy. Again, we see some minute steps at Rick’s development as a character – despite acknowledging the pointlessness of loving one family in an infinity of families, he does anyway. Despite his disdain of Dr Wong – who also helps people stop eating poo as a side-line – and her practice, it seems that he is struck by her opinion that his adventure only ignores the need for ‘repairing, maintaining and cleaning,’ rather than removing it. His offer to take Beth for a drink is a huge step forward for him, and it’ll be interesting to see where the season goes next with his character.
‘Can you move? Can you fly’ Morty asks. ‘Wouldn’t be much of a pickle if I did,’ says Rick, delivering obvious putdowns as only he can.
‘To me, you aren’t special.’ – Rick gets up-close and personal with a rat as he murders it.
‘They have my daughter – there’s nothing I won’t do to see her again.’ ‘There’s lots I wouldn’t do to see my daughter, but killing you gets me there quicker than your derivative bullshit.’ – Rick always has time in an action sequence to slate the clichés of an action sequence.
Pickle Rick is far too obvious the choice, so I’ll pump instead for Peter Serafinowicz as the Agency Director. He is the perfect action villain – shadowy and sinister and (of course) equipped with a plum British accent. I mean, the European nation is unidentified – how else can you signify a bad guy?
Rick and Morty are tied up by the devilish Concerto, about to meet their fate at the hands of a giant piano death-trap. But, before the end, Jaguar pops up to save them. Morty asks who it was. Rick’s retort – ‘that’s why you don’t go to therapy’ – perfectly brings together the two stories of the episode in a wonderfully Rick-ish way.