It may have arrived on April Fools Day, but this was no prank. Instead, it was what a fanbase ever-increasing in size and rapaciousness has been craving for 18 months: the return of Rick and Morty.
Since the last episode of the show’s second season aired on Adult Swim in October 2015, Rick and Morty has experienced a rare word-of-mouth boom. Testimony about the hilarious, multi-layered sci-fi cartoon leapt off of Reddit and into sports bars and office kitchens around the country. While it was popular during its first two seasons’s run, something galvanized in the show’s absence, like the popularity of the Pixies after the band first broke up. So, when the show returned unannounced, like a mid-summer visit from Santa Claus, the Internet had a meltdown. Adult Swim’s 24-hour loop of the third season premiere, unaccompanied by news of when further episodes would arrive, quickly vaulted to the top of the trending topics on Twitter. Here’s a quick rundown for newcomers on why you should care.
What’s The Big Deal About Rick and Morty?
Community creator, podcaster, and all-around mad comedy genius, Dan Harmon, invented the show with Justin Roiland, an animator and voice actor who proved an unlikely foil. The pair used the ridiculous central relationship of Back to the Future as a launchpad for a show that sends a megalomaniac, chaotic good scientist and his gawky grandson on random adventures every week. If that sounds simple, it’s not. The show is bursting at the seams with mind-bending pretzel logic, fantastical world-building, jokes that come at a 30 Rock pace, and a hostile relationship with the third wall. Rick and Morty premiered in late 2013, and its first two seasons spanned 21 episodes with what appears to be endless repeat-viewing potential.
What’s the Big Deal About the Third Season Premiere?
After the second season ended in October 2015, there has been precious little information about when a third would arrive. Marginal side character Mister Poopybutthole addressed the issue directly in a tag at the end of the season 2 finale, saying the third season would come in “like a year and a half,” which would be right about now. However, the actual release date always has been, and remains, a mystery. Fans were expecting it at some point in late 2016, and they were ultimately disappointed. Dan Harmon has regularly addressed their rabid concern on his podcast, Harmontown, and revealed the cause for the delay in a statement on Twitter, saying: “[T]he truth is not dramatic. It’s quite boring. We love our show. It’s a weird show that we struggle to not overthink OR underthink. As for now, they’re drawing it.”
Adult Swim didn’t help calm fans down, instead releasing this elaborate “rickroll” back in February, which teased a clip from the third season but instead offered words from the show’s first two seasons edited to form the lyrics to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” When the third season premiere did drop, late on April 1, fans were convinced it was just another burn—and they were in ecstasies when it turned out not to be.
What’s The Big Deal About The Episode Itself?
After such a lengthy delay, fans rightly worried that the show’s writers might have crumbled beneath the weight of expectations, in the wake of its expanding popularity. “The Rickshank Rickdemption,” however, should disappoint no one. Although Rick and Morty has often played with the notion of continuity, the third season premiere picks up precisely where its predecessor left off—an impossible corner the writers had written it into—and finds a satisfying way out. Not only that, but there’s also contextually appropriate callbacks to past events, like the bodies buried in the backyard, the Citadel of Ricks, and the Cronenberg Universe. (The tag at the end of the episode telegraphs the return of Tammy and Birdperson, now revived, RoboCop-style, as Phoenixperson.) It may not be the best place to start for newcomers—it’s actually a terrible place to start—but it’s assurance that the journey will be worth it. By the time any Morty-come-lately’s get there, they should feel as satisfied as Rick finding McDonald’s Mulan tie-in limited time Szechuan McNugget dipping sauce—which is actually a real thing.
Look for the rest of season 3 to premiere… sometime this summer.