Attention,Â Rick and MortyÂ fans! This post contains major spoilers for the season 3 premiere of the seriesâ€”you’ve been warned!
Adult SwimÂ celebrated April Fool’s Day by surprising Rick and Morty fans with a looped and streaming premiere of the long-awaited first episode of season three. But amid Lawyer Morty’s capering and Rick’s body-jumping, did “The Rickshank Redemption” confirm a popular fan theory about Rick’s supposedly tragic backstory? The answer is: it’s complicated.The season three premiere kicks off with a Nathan Fillion-voiced Galactic Federation agent urging Rick to reveal crucial memories, specifically the moment where he invented his signature portal gun. Instead, the belching mad scientist drives to a 1998 McDonald’s to get some of that sweet and sour Szechuan Sauce the fast food chain unleashed as part of its Mulan promotion, because its flavor can only be found in memories. (Le sigh.) But after that “brain melting” bit, the pair arrive at a humble garage, where a younger, Blue Pants-Wearing Rick is fiddling with a flawed teleportation gun, only to have another Rick pop in and giftÂ the portal gun.“Imagine doing anything you want, and then hopping to a timeline where you never did it,” says Portal Gun-Giving Rick. “Imagine traveling anywhere you want, with no one being able to stop you.” But when BPWÂ Rick calls this suggested existence “lonely,” PGG Rick retorts, “Lonely? Dude, you have yourself, your infinite selves. It’s a nonstop party where the only guests are the person we like.” Still, younger Rick passes.”Excuse me? Broh, Ricks don’t pass on this,” PGG Rick declares, and maybe threatens. When BPW Rick choosesÂ a quiet life with his wife and young daughter Beth instead of being a “god” or “the infinite Rick,” a portal opens just in time to drop a bomb that annihilated the family of this “different Rick.” Which forces him to escape his tragedy, and this dimension using the portal gun.Taken at face value, this tragic backstory is exactly the kind fans of the series have speculated Rick must have to explain his long absence from his family’s lives and tendency towards dark attitudes. What we know of his timeline is that he ran out on Beth and her mom, and then reappeared years later, once she was married to Jerry, had Summer, and her second child Morty was already entering adolescence. So, what if the Beth of Cronenberg dimensionâ€”where the series was based before “Rick Potion #9″â€”actually lost her Rick to death like the Beth in the dimension of the current series’ focus? What if the Rick in her home never was Rick C-137, but a different Rick who accidentally caused the annihilation of his Beth, or his Morty, or even his entire universe in a different dimension?These suggested actions are horrific. YetÂ we’ve seen Rick do similar things before. Hell, in the pilot’s cold open a drunken Rick stumbles into Morty’s room and mumbles a plan to blow up the Earth, all save for himself and his grandson. In “Rick Potion #9,” the improvising geniusÂ creates a love elixir that leads to everyoneâ€”save his immediate familyâ€”to be transformed into horrible “Cronenberg” monsters, forcing Rick and Morty to flee to a dimension where they can replace some recently deceased doubles of themselves. (This very episode gets a prolonged call back in “The Rickshank Redemption.”) First with Summer digging up a Rick’s corpse to recover its portal gun, then with Morty showing his adopted dimensional sister the Cronenberg world to prove how dangerous Rick can be.But just as fans of that tragic dimension-jump theory were squealing with win, Rick dropped the set walls and devastated act and insisted it wasn’t a memory, but a “totally fabricated origin story” intended to trap his extraterrestrial interrogator. It’s the kind of outsmarting, gut-punch reversal the series revels in. And it’s reprisedÂ at the end of the episode, when Rick threatens his rescued grandson, claiming that he was more concerned with toppling the government and son-in-law that crossed him than he was actually saving the lives of Summer and Morty. “I’ll go out and I’ll find more of that Mulan Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce,” Rick froths, “Because that’s what this is all about, Morty! That’s my one-armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family, Morty. That was fake. I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce!”Rick and Morty co-creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon are messing with us one way or the other. Perhaps this twist was their April Fools prank, their latest Rick Roll. Because like Rick, this show revels in deflecting vulnerability with a brash joke.It happened at the end of season one as well. In “Ricksy Business,” Rick and Summer threw a party that initially left Morty frustrated and cleaning up on his own. Which is when Bird Person broke down the tragic truth behind Rick’s seemingly sillyÂ catchphrase of wubba lubba dub dub. “It’s not nonsense at all,” Rick’s oldest known friend explains, “In my people’s tongue it means, ‘I am in great pain; please help me.'”
Images: Cartoon Network
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