“Rick and Morty” officially and triumphantly returned again last night, with “Rickmancing the Stone” taking on divorce and the post-apocalyptic genre. Here are five questions for the third season I’m asking no one in particular.
1. Can the Show Keep Up the Pace?
“Rick and Morty” hit the ground running faster than most sitcoms or animated shows. It didn’t need a season or two for characters to find their voices. The show doesn’t take a moment to breathe (or let you breathe). The ten(ish) episode limit helps, as does the somewhat flexible production schedule. But the show has also sprouted a comic book, a Rickmobile, and a handful of video and tabletop games. It has to run out of gas at some point, right?
2. Will the Internet Beat ‘Rick and Morty’ Into the Ground?
“Rick and Morty” rightfully adorns many “best of” lists. But there’s a risk of the show suffering from what I’m calling the “Alan Shemper Effect,” where everyone loses his mind over everything the show does (you may also know it as the “Leslie Jones Commenting on the Olympics Corollary”).
This is most recently highlighted by the Internet’s reaction to “The Rickshank Redemption’s” surprise April Fool’s Day premiere and the show’s plea for McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce. It’s only aided by the long wait, and subsequent buildup, for season three.
3. How Will Jerry Smith Fare This Season?
Jerry Smith has long been the saddest sack in a cast full of them. While we typically see revealing and depressing glimpses of the rest of the family, Jerry’s brief moments of intelligence and bravery (not to mention his ironic urban patois) only serve to highlight how pathetic and simple he can be. Jerry and Beth finally separated in the third season premiere. “Rickmancing the Stone” showed that “Rick and Morty” may take a very serious (albeit fantastical) approach to the emotional effects of divorce. Maybe Jerry can rise to the level of a punching bag, rather than the punching bag.
4. Will Rick Actually Suffer for His Actions?
With Jerry out of the picture, Rick now only has “respected” members of the family left to alienate or leave for dead. He does this enough as it is, but Morty, Beth, and Summer could conceivably turn on Rick now that Jerry isn’t around to absorb their ire. Morty has increasingly pushed back against Rick’s selfish and inconsiderate (at best) treatment of his family. Summer looks more independent by the episode. And who knows what Beth will do if she ever runs out of wine.
We’ve seen the briefest flashes of Rick’s hurt, underneath the many layers of self-loathing, self-medicating, and contempt for others. Times when he cares for Morty or mourns his loss of family. Maybe Rick will acknowledge his pain. Or he’ll just undercut it with a catchphrase.
5. Who Will Be This Season’s Breakout Side Character?
Both seasons of “Rick and Morty” have featured one-off (or two-off) characters who end up having a deservingly outsized influence on the fan base. Season one had Mr. Meeseeks (and to a lesser extent Bird Person), while season two had Mr. Poopybutthole (and to a lesser extent Krombopulos Michael). The creators have handled these incredibly popular characters well, largely by limiting their appearances (I imagine trope-deconstructing co-creator Dan Harmon has a lot to do with this). Season three will likely produce the same sort of memorable character, inevitably voiced by a screechy Justin Roiland.