Rick and Morty season 3 just wrapped up over the weekend, and a lot of fans were left feeling underwhelmed by “The Rickchurian Mortydate” as a finale. As just another episode in the season? It was good, even great. But it lacked the world building of “The Ricklantis Mixup” and “Morty’s Mind Blowers.” And as an extension of that complaint, we have an even louder contingent of people screaming about the lack of Evil Morty and Phoenix Person.
Now I’m not usually one to get all upset over a show not giving me exactly what I want. I’ve read too many long-winded complaints from people who act like a show doing its own thing rather than catering to the whims of its fans is an abject betrayal. That said, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland may deserve a little bit of the blame for people expecting the return of Evil Morty by teasing his presence on the finale in a video podcast.
“Hey, can we talk Evil Morty?” Roiland asks.
“Just wait till the end of the season, this Sunday at 11:30 PM on Adult Swim!” Harmon responds.
The whole thing has led to some Rick And Morty fans refusing to believe “The Rickchurian Mortydate” was the real season finale. There are even theories out there that do their best to shoehorn Evil Morty into the episode by having him supposedly replacing the real Morty while Rick is busy smashing up the White House in his epic war with the president.
As for Phoenix Person, season 3 kicked off with a post-credits scene focused on his transformation from BirdPerson. How could they touch on that and not feature him again? But that’s somewhat backward thinking. When it comes to post-credits scenes, there are more instances where the wacky developments featured are never seen again. And it’s often for the best. Seeing Phoenix Person and Tammy again for a few moments was funny and interesting. Could an entire episode devoted to them live up to the hype?
That being said, maybe the original plan was to have more Phoenix Person in season 3. The episode where he appeared was the premiere that aired on April Fools’ Day, months before the rest of season 3 came out. Dan Harmon revealed in an in-depth Entertainment Weekly interview that season 3 was originally supposed to feature 14 episodes but was scaled back to 10 at some point. Was Phoenix Person’s story lost with those cut four episodes?
There’s reason to think what we witnessed wasn’t really supposed to be the original season finale. Dan Harmon admits that “the finale is a great episode that we finale-ified when we realized we weren’t going to be able to make 14.” He also claims they “have a pretty hefty shoebox from season 3 of ideas that are ready to go. Some are fully written, in fact.”
So you can take that in a lot of ways: as proof the finale wasn’t as mind-blowing as it could have been, as a sign season 4 of Rick And Morty could be coming sooner than past seasons have, and/or something that keeps the possibility alive that Phoenix Person will rise from the ashes yet! As usual when it comes to this show, there’s nearly an infinite number of possible realities we could be living in, and no way to know what’ll happen until it does.
I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for a Christmas special, though.