RICK AND MORTY – EPISODE 22 “THE RICKSHANK RICKDEMPTION”

Ep #: 22
Air date: Apr. 1st, 2017
Synopsis: Rick must find a way to escape the Galactic Federation. Meanwhile Summer and Morty seek out their missing grandpa.

Last season of Rick and Morty ended with an enormous cliffhanger that changed the status quo seemingly for good. Rick and his family were invited to attend Birdperson and Tammy’s wedding, realizing too late that it was a trap by the Galactic Federation to harbor all the known rebellion under one roof. Birdperson was killed in the process and Rick’s family was forced to escape, unable to return to Earth since it’s now under Galactic Federation’s iron claw. The Smith family started to fall apart by the seams due to their mixed opinion of Rick. In a rare moment of altruism, Rick gave himself away to the Galactic Federation in exchange for his family’s safety.

Now nearly a year and a half later – just like Mr. Poopybutthole predicted – Season Three is back, airing in the most Rick and Mortiest fashion imaginable: on April Fool’s Day, taking over the much anticipated and recently revived Samurai Jack’s timeslot with absolutely no announcement of its arrival. It was a good joke. “The Rickshank Rickdemption” proves how much content it can squeeze, subvert, and play straight within a half-hour episode; the show has not lost its touch yet.

The episode opens up at a Shoney’s restaurant where Rick is celebrating his escape from prison with his family. Apparently the whole thing must have happened off-camera. When Jerry questions his actions, Rick orders the man to literally fold himself up twelve times. Jerry goes full origami in front of everyone, but only gets up to six before Rick disappointedly criticizes the Galactic Federation for their cheap hologram. Rick is still under their hands, hooked up to a machine called the Brainalyzer to look into his mind. One of the Galactic Representative – Cornvelious Daniel – has also been connected to it so he can speak to Rick directly through his brain and coerce him to unlock the secret code for interdimensional travel. Of course, being the smartest mammal in the known universe, Rick can alter any part of his mind to make the process difficult.

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Back on Earth, the Galactic Federation has changed everything. The technology is better, everyone gets a personal robot butler, they go by a new calendar system, and the Eiffel Tower is weaponized. The Smith family isn’t doing so hot though. Beth is drinking heavier than usual because she lives in a world where alien tech have ensured horses are healthy forever, rendering her job as a horse surgeon obsolete. Oh, and something about finally realizing that her father was never a good man because he kept abandoning her and how she shouldn’t have deified him all these years. Summer is angry, still loyal to her grandfather, and finds any excuse to bring that up and rebel against the family who seemingly stopped caring about him. Morty doesn’t seem to have an opinion. Jerry is the only one who’s happy, having secured a job for the Galactic Federation even if he has no clue what he’s doing, But he got a sixth promotion, so hooray for him!

Cornvelious informs Rick that he’ll die because the Brainalyzer is slowly melting his brain. The least he could do is fish out the code. Further motivation comes when it’s discovered that Rick made the portal gun the day his wife died. The way Cornvelious sees it, Rick can say good-bye while he’s here while the government gets their code. A saddened Rick reluctantly agrees.

Morty catches his sister rummaging in the garage as she’s tries to find a way to activate Rick’s lab (maybe by rearranging a row of dead flies located on the counter.) Summer is losing it, but she’s had enough of this crazy world. Everyone is miserable and worse, Morty isn’t doing anything about it because he’s stoked his grandfather is out of his hair. Morty chides her, saying he bailed on them; he bails on everyone and the only Rick who even stayed is buried in their backyard. That gives Summer an idea! She grabs a shovel and digs up Rick’s corpse, fishing out the portal gun so she can trek her grandpa. Trying to change his sister’s mind, Morty uses the gun to send the both of them to his former dimension: the Cronenberg world. He wants to show Summer how callous Rick is that he left his own family behind to live in another because of the way infinite dimension work. They’re all disposable to him. Unfortunately their robot catches them in the act and nearly kills them while they’re being teleported away. Fortunately Cronenberg-Dimensional Summer saves them.

Rick takes Cornvelious to his home circa 1998, picking up McDonald’s schezwan sauce in the process because he used to love it back in the day and if he’s going to have his mind picked, he might as well take advantage of past pleasures. There he reveals a younger version of himself who tried and failed to invent a teleportation machine. Fortunately he’s visited by an alternate version of himself who gifts him with something far greater: interdimensional travel. Alternate Rick tries to introduce Rick to infinite universes where he can freely play around and get in trouble with none of the consequences. He can meet other Ricks, the only folks he’d care about, and live it up for the rest of his life. Rick passes it up though because he’s happy where he is. We see why: his loving wife, Diane.

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Morty and Summer have an awkward dinner with the Cronenberg Smiths, comprised of Jerry, Beth and Summer. They destroy the portal gun since it smells of Rick and are about to kill Summer and keep Morty as a replacement until agents from the Council of Ricks arrive, having located them from the compromised portal gun. They freeze the Cronenberg Smiths and is about to do the same to Summer and Morty until the latter informs them he’s Morty of C-137. Summer further confesses that their grandfather has been taken by the Galactic Federation. The possible risk of Citadel secrets falling into government hands is not kosher for the Council of Ricks, so they plan to break into the prison stronghold and assassinate Rick, much to the kids’ consternation.

Cornvelious sees the extent of Rick’s memories: Diane and his daughter, Beth, killed by an alien bomb from a random interdimensional portal. The young Rick, desperate after witnessing their deaths, figured out the formula for interdimensional travel. That’s more than enough for Cornvelious who sends the code to his men. He tries to leave Rick’s mind, but he’s stuck. Turns out that code wasn’t for interdimensional travel, but a virus Rick tricked them into inputting so he can control the Brainalyzer. Cornvelious is shocked because no one can alter a memory. Fabrications CAN be altered though. Yep, the so-called origin story was made up by Rick to trick the Federation. With the Brainalyzer under his command, Rick leaves his own body behind and transplants his mind to Cornvelious’ brain so he can access Level 9 facilities and find a way to collapse the government.

Before he gets a chance, a group of Citadel Ricks crash in to assassinate Rick. They technically do by shooting Rick’s old body; they just didn’t account for Rick having transferred his mind prior. Rick quickly uses the Brainalyzer to transfer his mind to one of the Citadel Ricks and kills them all. He’s forced to fly over to the Citadel when he finds out his grandkids are imprisoned within their base. Rigging the Brainalyzer to a stolen government ship, he transports his mind to a higher leveled Rick from within to get across freely.

At the same time, Summer and Morty are taken to the Council of Ricks to stand trial (which they don’t have a shot at winning because they’re lawyer is represented by a Morty and he’s not even a lawyer!) They’re willing to let them go if they renounce their Rick, something Summer refuses. She tells them to free Morty though since he did. Morty tells her and the council that he never renounced Rick, he just wanted to protect his sister and ensure she has a normal life which she can’t have as long as Rick is involved. After all, he knows the pain of traveling with Rick and the nightmares he’s forced to endure.

Rick sneaks into the main engine room and casually teleports the entire Citadel base straight into the heart of a Galactic Federation base. Federation agents, prisoners, and Ricks and Mortys fight for their lives. The council takes Summer hostage once they suspect Rick C-137 is involved. They’re right, of course, and he’s already transported his brain into one of the council members, killing all but the one holding Summer. He gives Morty a gun for backup, then threatens to kill the Council Rick even if it means shooting through Summer. After all, he has infinite granddaughters. He does give the Council Rick a chance to let her go for a quicker death, refusing to admit he is doing it because he genuinely loves his grandkids. Morty is not happy that Rick is using his sister like this and threatens him with the gun he was given. Rick chews him out since he never intended for Summer to die, so he basically ruined his plans. Everyone calls him out on this, frustrating Morty enough to shoot his own Rick. Fortunately the bullet was a fake because Rick anticipated Morty’s reaction. He shoots the last of the Council Rick and reunites with his grandkids. Whew, what a plan!

Rick, Morty, and Summer make their way to the Federation’s Level 9 mainframe. There Rick ends the entire government by changing their central currency value to zero. Without any money, they instantly falls apart. The aliens leave Earth, the planet’s rebellion fights back, and Jerry is out of a job again. Rick, Morty, and Summer return home and the Smith family is back together again. Unfortunately Beth comes crawling back to her father, begging him not to leave. Jerry has had enough and makes Beth choose: him or her father. Beth gives off a very blank expression, but it’s clear she’s not budging on the Rick issue in spite of the numerous heartbreaks the man has inflicted. Jerry decides to take time away from the family…via divorce.

Rick rearranges the flies in the garage so he can get his lab back (ha! Summer was right!), then in a recreation of the “Pilot’s” ending, he flies off on Morty, triumphantly declaring his entire plan was not only to collapse the government, but to get rid of Jerry so he can’t ever butt in on their adventures again. And he’s entire motivation for this was to find more of those McDonald’s schezwan sauce. He’ll get that sauce even if it’ll take him nine more seasons!

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And if you thought the entire episode was a shocker, the after credit drops an even bigger bombshell: the Federation has kept Birdperson alive, recreating him as Phoenixperson. Criticism of the name aside, Phoenixperson is stronger and better than before and now he’s working for the government (maybe, it’s collapsed, who knows who he’s working for now.)

“The Rickshank Rickdemption” is stunningly amazing in every conceivable form. In pure Rick and Morty fashion, they take what was originally a giant shake to the status quo back in “The Wedding Squanchers” and returns everything to a state of normalcy before the huge change. Earth is free of government hands, the Smith family reunites, and Rick and Morty (with Summer occasionally tagging along) can go back to their adventures. But at the same time, Rick single-handedly altered the galaxy by destroying both the Galactic Federation and the Council of Ricks. And needless to say, the Smith family are no longer the same people they were at the start.

Jerry gains enough of a backbone that he can no longer put up with Rick’s aloof behavior. It’s taking a great toll on them and has caused no short end of problems and heartaches. The divorce was overdue and something that might ultimately benefit both him and his former wife. Beth remains the same, constantly criticizing her father for leaving her, but worming back into his life the minute she’s vulernable. It’s become a severe issue that contributed to the divorce and only time will tell if separating from her husband will give her the leg up she needs to move past her daddy issues.

Morty has become increasingly cynical and tired, yet accepts that his fate is to be with Rick. At the time, I figured Morty serves as something of a moral figure to Rick and that path may still be a possibility; right now, it just seems like Morty is tagging along largely to keep Rick from ruining anymore lives. It’s a struggle no fourteen-year-old should go through, but it’s a sacrifice he’s accept with defeat.

Summer actually got better because of Rick. Previously just an apathetic, cliche teenage girl, she’s proven to be a smart and pragmatic person in the face of adversity. Though Rick’s feelings for his family is dipped in complexities, this doesn’t stop Summer from loving her grandpa and wanting him to be in her life. Summer isn’t the type to sit still; she is active and has agency to pursue her goals. While Morty maintains a negative disposition where he makes the best of what he’s got, Summer willingly goes out to accomplish her wants and needs.

As for Rick? God only knows with this guy. It seemed like we got a good grasp of the man by the end of season two, but it reverts back to a state of unpredictable ambiguity. As usual, his plans flip between motivated love for his family or selfishness rooted in his own callous behavior and disregard for those around him. He loves his granddaughter enough that he planned to save her from a Council Rick, yet he’s not wrong when he states there are infinite versions of her. He destroyed an entire government and presumably thousands of Ricks from different dimensions in the process because they’re just a body count that ultimately doesn’t matter. So what if one Galactic Federation collapsed? There’s probably another one in another dimension. So what if he killed a certain number of Ricks and Mortys; the universe is infinite. People are numbers to him and to what extent Rick cares for his family is an even bigger mystery now.

Rick and Morty is exactly as demented, nihilistic, and unexpected as ever. Welcome back.

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