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RICK AND MORTY Season 3 Finale Takes on the Show’s Biggest Challenge

Warning: All the Rick and Morty spoilers are coming your way.

We don’t need to labor over the many, many ways that Rick Sanchez doesn’t care about things. Depending on where you stand, it’s either his entire ethos or his hard candy shell hiding the tiniest nougat center of concern for his family. Either way, the guy double fists apathy and nihilism, and after three full seasons of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s show careening through insane adventures, the sentiment that nothing matters has infected it at a meta level.

On the spectrum of finales, “The Rickchurian Mortydate” was remarkably free-wheeling, but it also retroactively revealed how adventures that once felt dire now appear sillier in the rear-view mirror. Even Birdperson’s death at the hands of a Galactic Federation agent (ice cold, Tammy) feels miles away. Evil Morty running the Citadel doesn’t matter. Some dramatic personal showdown doesn’t matter. The Sanchez-Smith clan has simply been through too much. Rick seems bored with everything by this point.

And we got a lot of that in this episode. Rick and Morty both rolled their eyes at the notion of heeding the White House’s call to arms, annoyed they get treated like Ghostbusters phoned in to handle less and less thrilling monsters of the week. Meanwhile, Rick was referred to as a god several times during his cat-and-also-cat game with The President (Keith David), though he preferred an even more horrifying autobiography: “You don’t know what I am. You don’t know what I can do! I’m Doctor Who in the motherf*****! I could be a clone. I could be a hologram! We could be clones controlled by robots controlled by special headsets that the real Rick and Morty are wearing while they’re f****** your mother!”

First of all, it’s just “The Doctor.” Second of all, this felt so, so much like the writers waving a giant flag about the show’s limitless, “anything’s possible in sci-fi town” mentality being a massive burden. We’d just hopscotched through a tiny nuclear civilization, shrinking rays, bad teleportation, a Middle East peace accord courtesy of a cyber hookah, Beth’s existential clone crisis, and a half-dozen Rick defense mechanisms that killed soldiers, including one that died instantly and silently and without explanation just by touching him. If the show can do anything, what does anything matter?

For the answer, we have the ending to thank. After a season teasing us with the grand ascendance of Morty, the episode calmly gave us an adventure where he and Rick were on the same level, maybe not of intelligence, but of apathy, which is where it really matters. We also saw Beth and Summer’s relationship turn an honest corner, Beth reunite with Jerry, and the family come together around the dinner table for sitcom bliss. She even told Rick off and set boundaries with him, coming to Jerry’s defense. These are all huge steps considering the disastrous state the family was in at the start of the season.

Beth and Jerry getting back together felt weak, and largely brought about because Beth is gaining a sense of compassion while dealing with her own evils. It’s great that she recognizes that she loves him now, but it’s unclear why she loves him when she didn’t before. Especially with that robe. Yeesh.

But, okay. Beth takes Jerry back because of her own personal growth and a recognition that Jerry most likely can’t grow that much, and her family is all smiles around the table. She wrapped everything up in a tidy bow by saying things will be more like a streamlined season one without her fear of losing her father.

But that also sets up Rick as the outsider. And it sets up Rick as the one who has to openly show that he fears losing them. There are infinite families on infinite timelines, so what is this Rick willing to do to hold onto his? Can an angry God really just be happy eating sugar chicken and laughing at his son-in-law’s bad jokes?

And if you really needed more proof that, as the Winslow clan showed all those years ago, family matters–Mr. Poopybutthole rolled up in the coda to instruct all of us to do something with our lives. He got married, had a child, and continued his education. Don’t just sit on your hands waiting for the next season of Rick and Morty, everyone. Who knows how long you’ll be waiting…..[cue Evil Morty music].

Images: Cartoon Network/Adult Swim

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