Last night, Rick and Morty wrapped up their fantastic second season on Adult Swim. If you haven’t seen it yet, beware of major spoilers below. (Note: But, also, if you haven’t seen it yet…why the hell not?! This is the greatest animated program on television right now. Catch up on Adult Swim’s website! You won’t regret it.)
It’s tempting to jump right in and talk about last night’s emotional finale right away, but I think to do so would be a disservice to the rest of the season. It’s easy to forget, in light of last night’s events, that this season’s premiere episode, “A Rickle in Time”, was an absolutely remarkable half hour of television, kicking the season off in style.
Starting season two right in the wake of season one’s finale was smart and unexpected. Rick and Morty hadn’t placed a huge focus on continuity in season one, so it was interesting to see an episode pick up right where the last had left off–situationally, at least. Considerable time had passed, but the episode picks up in the frozen time established by last year’s finale, and the episode’s plot is reliant upon the consequences of Rick freezing time.
“A Rickle in Time” immediately established that Rick and Morty was returning with confidence and a visible effort to bring something new to television. This continued through the first four episodes of the season, culminating in the season’s best episode, “Total Rickall.”
“Total Rickall” wins best episode for laughs alone, but I want to bring up the episode before it, “Auto Erotic Assimilation”, for a moment. “Auto Erotic Assimilation” represents a turning point for the show in my mind, the beginning of season two’s emotional arc that concludes in “The Wedding Squanchers.” Rick wallowing in his sorrow, creating and destroying life, and his botched suicide attempt represent the show’s darkest moment, paving the way for the sacrifice he makes at the end of “The Wedding Squanchers.” It’s my favorite moment of the season, if only for how deeply it makes me feel for Rick Sanchez.
“Total Rickall” shows Rick and Morty at its funniest and its smartest, delivering gag after gag and a round of satisfying action at the conclusion. It also brings Mr. Poopybutthole into the series, who ushers in the series’ biggest laugh so far.
It is in the season’s fifth episode, “Get Schwifty”, where the season makes its first mistake. “Get Schwifty” has the unfortunate predicament of following up “Total Rickall”, and it fumbles hard. It’s largely unfunny, and absent of any emotional beats for any of the characters. Coupled with episode 2.08, “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate,” these two episodes represent the low points of the season, the only two episodes I’ll be skipping when I rewatch the show.
“Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” is a season highlight for me. I love the sight gag of Tiny Rick, and I think it gives us the best Jerry/Beth plot of the series to date. Having the pair create monsters based on how they perceive each other was brilliant, and pays off handsomely by the end of the episode.The finale itself is a mind blowing emotional gut punch. “The Wedding Squanchers” drastically raises the stakes of the series going into the third season: Rick is imprisoned and Earth is a galactic vacation destination. Also, um, Bird Person is dead. We’re hardly given time to mourn his death but wow is it devastating. Tammy’s betrayal is definitely felt. Rick and Morty smartly showed us Bird Person and Tammy more than once, weaving them into the show’s continuity. Because of this, Bird Person’s death is impactful in a way it would not have been otherwise.
As for Rick’s sacrifice, the show has done an excellent job this season of showing Rick as someone who genuinely cares for his family and loathes himself. The conclusion is valid, and believable, and emotionally satisfying.
The cliffhanger the show leaves us with is a devastating one, because we have no idea just when the show will return. The wait between season one and two was a grueling year and a half, and I’m legitimately annoyed at the prospect of having to wait so long again. But, hey, that’s the way the news goes.
My grade: A
Notes / Highlights
- There was some debate on my part of giving the season an A- instead because of “Get Schwifty” and “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate.” I ultimately went for the higher A grade because I really think overall the season deserved it. Those two episodes don’t actively diminish the quality of the rest of the season.
- The finale’s use of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails is masterful.
- “Well, then get your shit together! Get it all together and put it in a backpack—all your shit, so it’s together. And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know? Take it to the shit store and sell it, o-or put it in a shit museum. I don’t care what you do! You just gotta to get it together! Get your shit together.”
- As much as I dislike “Get Schwifty”, the episode’s tag does have a hilarious scene featuring Water-T.
- Morty’s violent spree in “Look Who’s Purging Now” was both macabre and hilarious, a blend Rick and Morty succeeds at repeatedly.
- Likewise, Rick slaughtering all of his clones in “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez” was very funny stuff.
- One of the best comedic moments of the season was watching Rick’s spaceship protect Summer in “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.”
- “My function is to keep Summer safe not to keep Summer, like, totally stoked about, like, life and stuff. That’s you. That’s how you talk.”
- “What wicked webs we unweave.”
- “Well, Summer, maybe people that create things aren’t concerned with your delicate sensibilities, y’know? M-Maybe the species that communicate with each other through the filter of your comfort are less evolved than the ones that just communicate! Maybe your problems are your own to deal with, and maybe the public giving a shit about your feelings is a one-way ticket to extinction!”
“Geez, Morty. I take it Catherine Hefflefinger hasn’t texted you back yet.”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
- “Yeah! Science, huh? Ain’t it a thing. Y’know, one time, Rick sh— accidentally shot his laser pistol right through my hand. Ha, y’know, I mean, like… o…old-lady science, y’know? She-she-she’s… she’s a real… You gotta hang on tight, y’know? Because she… she’ll, she bucks really hard.”
- “Grass!! Tastes bad!!”
- “You guys! We gotta hurry! I just got back from Walmart, they’re selling Nintendo 3DS systems for 149.99 on sale, plus every time you buy one, you get a $50 gift card—brings the total price down to $110 after tax! Now listen! We can flip those sons of bitches for 230 bucks apiece easy! They’re all limited-edition Zelda ones! Hurry! Hurry, come with me! We can be rich, and we also all get to keep one and we can play Nintendo games! Nintendo, give me free stuff.”