After being featured prominently in the season three trailer, fans were finally rewarded with Sunday night’s “Pickle Rick” episode of Rick and Morty, which saw — among other things — Rick turn himself into a pickle for the sole reason of avoiding a trip to family therapy with Beth and the kids. Why a pickle? And not, say, a tomato or a bottle of relish or some other condiment or vegetable that you’d put on a sandwich — or anything else, really? As Rick says shortly into the episode, to a less-than-impressed Morty, “Stop digging for hidden layers and just be impressed.”
And that’s the simple conceit of the episode in a nutshell. As the rest of the family meets with a family therapist, Dr. Wong (voiced by guest star Susan Sarandon), it’s suggested that the root of all their problems lies with their grandpa, the underlying reason Rick turned himself into a pickle in the first place. Rick, on the other hand, naturally manages to go on a solo adventure anyway.
When Beth takes away the anti-pickle serum that would have turned Rick back into a human 10 minutes after his family left for therapy — rigged into the first of many hilarious Rube Goldberg-like devices Rick uses in the episode — he should have been left to sit on his workbench and silently reflect for an hour. (Or as Rick says, “Okay, I may have [bleeped] up here.”) But of course that’s not how things work on Rick and Morty, so after being batted onto the floor and rolled out of the garage by a clever nod to an internet joke, Rick finds himself trapped in the sewer where he manages to construct limbs out of rat parts and escape up into a nearby toilet — which just happens to be in the covert operation of some highly guarded diabolical supervillain. Because of course it is. How does there happen to be such a huge operation in such close proximity to the Smith family home and how has Rick never managed to run afoul of it before? Again, just be impressed.
Eventually Rick takes out all 34 of the organization’s armed guards, and they’re forced to turn their prisoner, an action hero named “Jaguar” (Danny Trejo) against him — as if anyone can’t spot the inevitable twist coming a mile away. Meanwhile, Summer and Morty start to make some breakthroughs with the therapist, but are naturally foiled by Beth and Rick (who eventually shows up in pickle form), who remain in denial that there’s anything wrong with their highly dysfunctional family dynamic, or that therapy maybe has its merits.
While “Pickle Rick” didn’t have quite as many laugh-out-loud moments as last week’s “Rickmancing the Stone,” it still managed to be an epic, action-filled episode that will surely go down go one of the series’ most beloved — if for no other reason than the titular catchphrase.
* “Pickle Rick” was a sadly Jerry-free episode, other than being mentioned in passing in therapy. Hopefully we’ll catch back up with the saddest single dad ever next week.
* I think I probably laughed hardest at the line: “Is this your friend? Don’t worry, he died doing something he loved, being a dumb [bleeping] rat.”
* What is it with characters in this show eating their own poop? As teased prior to the episode, Mr. Goldenfold pops up early on as a patient of Dr. Wong, who — when not dealing with the root of adolescents peeing in class and huffing pottery glaze — apparently has one hell of a niche clientele.
* I’m not sure whether or not I’m disappointed that one of the bits teased in the trailer and updated season three opening credits — in which Rick and Morty are tied down to a giant piano about to have their heads smashed by keys — turned out to be a post credits throwaway gag just to have Jaguar come rescue them. I have a feeling that won’t be the last we see of that guy.
* This episode looks like it was super fun to design and animate, judging by this featurette that was released over the weekend: