“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.