Dan Harmon is, quite simply, brilliant. With season three of Rick and Morty having wound to a close, the show creator has just delivered his best ever season, filled with Easter Eggs, gritty jokes and the most mind-bending scenarios seen in recent animation.
But the instalment also gave its characters much more concrete and strangely realistic storylines across the board. Proposing an ultra-somber vision of our society, it looks like the adventures of Rick and Morty have taken a completely different turn.
At the end of season two, we were left on a cliffhanger as Rick sacrificed himself and the Earth became a member of the Federation filled with alien tourists. But while season three got off to an apocalyptic start, everything turned out okay with Rick's grand escape and the eventual liberation of the planet. The peace didn't last long, however, with Jerry's ultimatum leading to Morty's parents parting ways.
From there unfolds an entire season filled with anguish as the family is torn apart. Dealing with the whole host of problems that come with divorce, season three sees the kids deal with their parents' split. Summer loses it when Jerry says he wants to find a new wife and winds up looking for a new paternal figure in the shape of her grandfather. Basically, the whole batch of episodes explores the links of a broken family in a disturbingly real way.
But the core of the season isn't really the divorce as much as Beth and Ricks' relationship, which reaches breaking point as Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of family therapy in "Pickle Rick."
In "The ABCs of Beth", we see Rick bring his daughter back to the imaginary world he created for her as a child, where they enjoy adventures based around cannibalism and bestiality. At the end of the episode, we see Rick proposing to create Beth a clone so it can live out her life on Earth while she travels through different dimensions, which leaves us at the ultimate and key chapter "The Rickchurian Mortydate."
Beth and the Smiths win their lives back
Everything kicks off with the president (who we already saw in "Get Schwifty") asking Rick and Morty to get rid of an alien living underneath the White House in the Kennedy Sex Tunnel.
Bored of being sent on missions, the pair decide to play a virtual reality game that bears a striking resemblance to Minecraft instead. When the president finds out, the whole thing winds up in a battle of egos. Oh, and Rick also brings peace to Israel and Palestine with the "Pretty obvious if you think about it" accord.
But, despite various twists and turns, the real storyline is once more based around Beth and the Smith family. All throughout the final adventure, we follow Beth as she tries to figure if she's a clone or not, before she ends up back with Jerry. And just as things settle down, the show creators hit the brakes and reset the whole story. "Things will be more like season one," Beth says during the final moments of the show, "just more streamlined."
But will things really be like season one? Thanks to this latest season, which saw everyone grow and evolve, Beth is more open and more aware of the world around her – mainly thanks to that trip to Froopy Land which, on a side note, means we're not sure if she's a clone or not.
What's more, she's more conscient of her father's true nature, the risky decisions he takes and his arrogance in doing so. And she doesn't seem to like it, which ultimately leads her back to Jerry.
So in that way, we are closer to the beginning of the series and a time where the family was more or less united, with Rick as the outsider. Suddenly, Rick is the kind of loser of the family: Beth no longer lets him insult Jerry and Morty no longer want to go on adventures with him.
Basically, the situation is the complete opposite of the start of the season, with Rick's powers over the family seriously diminished. But don't expect the boozy granddad to be heading off to start anew anytime soon. Because, if he's taught us anything, it's that nothing matters, if you get through the "terrifying threshold" of accepting it...
Here's hoping the show creators keep up the darkness in season four.