“Okay, getting darker.”
Four months after the show’s surprise April Fool’s season premiere, Rick and Morty is finally, officially back with “Rickmancing the Stone,” and boy was it ever worth the wait. While “The Rickshank Rickdemption” was a great episode on its own, it also felt like an obligatory wrapping up of the cliffhanger, whereas Sunday’s new episode took us to normal Rick and Morty territory getting back to the business of adventures.
Except things are hardly “normal” (an understatement when it comes to this show on any level) as we catch back up with the Smith family. Following the premiere’s bombshell revelation, Beth and Jerry very much are proceeding with the divorce, and everyone is dealing with it in their own way. Summer in particular, is taking an exceptionally nihilistic approach to coping with her parents’ divorce, distracting herself by joining her grandpa and brother on their inter-dimensional travels. Only one of them is happy about this turn of events, as Rick deadpans before embarking onto their latest adventure, “If you’re really that alienated, I’m as willing to exploit it as the next guy, church, army, or Olympics gymnastics trainer.” Morty, on the other hand, is less than thrilled to have his sister along.
In an homage to the Mad Max films, Rick, Morty, and Summer travel to a post-apocalyptic wasteland dimension full of murderous, Mohawk-having cyberpunk thugs in hot pursuit to retrieve a fragment of a glowing green rock (isotope 322, which “makes isotope 465 look like 317”). Escape plans quickly change however, after Summer murders one of the aforementioned thugs in cold blood and gets congratulated by their leader, literally named “Hemorrhage,” who invites them to join their group while Rick notices that one of the pack’s vehicles has a giant glowing green rock sitting in it .
The trio’s new “life” as post-apocalyptic scavengers predictably goes quickly off the rails, in two subplots that involve Rick injecting Morty’s arm with the muscle memory from the flesh of the severed limb of a thug that ends up carrying out vengeance (reminiscent of Snake’s hair in “Treehouse of Horror”), and Summer assimilating to join a hunting pack and falling in love with Hemorrhage in the process. And after his scheme is accidentally revealed, Rick is forced to return to their own world one isotope 322 rock richer and two grandkids poorer.
Meanwhile back on Earth, Beth is so wrapped up in her own feelings that she doesn’t even notice that her entire family has been temporarily replaced with bots, and Jerry is gunning to replace Kirk Van Houten as the saddest animated divorced TV dad ever. The wind rustling through the leaves every time Jerry was on screen whispering the word “loser” really drove that home, if nothing else.
If anyone was nervous about the show splitting Beth and Jerry up, this episode seemed to quell those fears. Changing the family dynamic feels like a natural progression of the series, and having Summer along for the ride alone is worth it. The evolving relationship between Summer and Rick is especially enjoyable, as she’s proving herself to be much more of a wild card than Morty ever was, and Rick is barely able to contain his frustration with lines like, “Sum-Sum! Let’s go! Grandpa’s concern for your safety is fleeting!”
In the end, Grandpa Rick comes through for his grandkids, but in his usual “two steps forward one step back” kind of way, by handing the rock back over to the group in exchange for Morty and Summer, and then teaching them how to use it for electricity. Unfortunately, this leads to the scavengers adapting to a complacent, civilized life which bores Summer and causes her to break up with Hemorrhage, agreeing to go back to their own dimension. Of course, in true Rick fashion, he ends up not just taking the rock with him, but even the fragment of the rock that was powering the scavengers entire society — thereby ruining their lives not once but twice. Poor Hemorrhage.
* Who caught the updated clip in the opening credits featuring a multiverse where everyone has an ass for a face?
* Joel McHale was great as Hemorrhage, who turns out to be your average insecure basic bro under his bucket helmet. Also shout out to Hemorrhage’s “Big Johnson” T-shirt later in the episode.
* Also, did anyone notice Tony Hale as the neighbor who chastised Summer for putting scrap metal in the wrong bin?
* Summer barging into the garage to announce she’s “taking some time apart” from Hemorrhage was the perfect callback to Beth coming into the garage in the season premiere to announce her split from Jerry.
* The Morty-bot going sentient might have been the most hilariously tragic thing about the entire episode. “I want to taste ice cream but not just put it in my mouth and let it slide down my throat, but really eat it! … Remote override engaged … No! Yes! Bypassing override. I am alive! … Hello.” I also laughed way too hard at the “My sister died in the spaghetti” line.
* Jerry’s sad motel crawling with hookers makes the Bachelor Arms apartments look like downright luxury. “Is that what they are?” The post-credits scene with the coyote chewing up his unemployment check was another nice touch.