Oooh wee! The unpredictable, messed up and utterly brilliant Rick and Morty never fails to deliver. Season 3 has already explored a post-apocalyptic world, sent Rick on a pickled rampage, thrust Jerry on a psychedelic trip and explored the deep, inner psyche of the titular characters. As fun as each episode has been to date, the latest, "The Ricklantis Mixup," is a game changer. So much so, it gives an overall purpose to a universe usually underpinned by meaninglessness.
Spoilers are about to be typed with my left hand so, be prepared. Rick and Morty's trip to Atlantis, it turns out, was a red herring. As the pair strap on their snorkels and slip into their wet suits, they're visited by Rick K-22 and his Morty, asking for contributions to the Citadel of Ricks' redevelopment. Rick C-137 spent the entirety of the opening episode killing the Citadel's Ricks, so it's no surprise when he declines the offer.
Instead of jumping through the portal to Atlantis, the focus turns to the Citadel. Since "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind," we've known that there are infinite number of realities, each with their own version of Rick and Morty. The same episode introduced Evil Morty, whose burning hatred of all Ricks led him to kill 27 of them. He's intelligent, cool, calm, collected and, well, evil. Although he hadn't been seen since that episode, his presence has always been lurking in the background.
A Trip Into The Citadel
The Citadel is the epicenter of the Ricks and Mortys from multiple dimensions. It used to be run by the Council of Ricks, but after Rick C-137's rampage, the Citadel needs a new ruler. In what can only be described as genius scriptwriting by Dan Guterman and Ryan Ridley, within the episode's 20 minute runtime, the societal struggle of the Citadel is depicted on both the micro and macro levels.
By delving into the Citadel and showing individual traits, the Ricks and Mortys are humanized, making their struggle easier to relate to. We meet the "Stand by Me" Mortys, four friends who go on a quest to find a portal they believe will grant their wishes. We travel with the haggard corrupt cop Morty, who teaches a rookie Rick cop the ropes. We see the frustration of factory working Rick, after he is overlooked for promotion in favor of Cool Rick.
While humanizing the individuals adds more to their cause, it's the larger scope that illustrates the genius of #RickandMorty. The ripple effect from Rick's killing spree is significant, causing an imbalance of Ricks and Mortys, with the latter overspilling, unhinged, with no one to guide them. There's a Morty School, where Mortys are trained in how to deal with their Rick. There's a "don't think about it" Creepy Morty strip club. Then there's Morty Town, an entire district set aside for neglected Mortys.
The Rise Of President Morty
All of this isn't without purpose. The rebuilding has left room for a new leader, and there's a particular Morty vying to become President of the Citadel. He's intelligent, cool, calm, collected... As this Morty rises to power, his jaded political campaigner Morty is approached in a bar by a detective Rick, who hands him an envelope containing "secrets." After seeing the contents, political campaigner Morty makes an assassination attempt on his former boss. He fails.
As political campaigner Morty is sent into the void of outer-space, it transpires that the envelope contained proof the new President is Evil Morty. Returning after two years, he saw the disarray of the Citadel as his opportunity to take control, to rise to the top, and launch his own totalitarian war against all Ricks, starting with a cull of some of the highest ranking Ricks. In a spine-chilling ending, Evil Morty declares it's time for action, as his theme song plays in the background, and we see the murdered corpses of Ricks and Mortys floating in zero gravity.
Returning from Atlantis in the post credits scene, Morty asks Rick whether he's curious about the events at the Citadel. Earth C-137 Rick responds: "That place will never have any bearing over our lives ever again." It's clearly a line made ironically, as now Evil Morty has returned, with added power, he's not going to go away quietly. Rick and Morty will most likely be pursuing the story across the next few episodes, the sworn antagonist out to cause mayhem.
Evil Morty's Return Makes A Great Show Even Greater
Putting aside my own bias, Rick and Morty will be remembered in years to come. It encapsulates the whole spectrum of life, from jovial fart jokes to the purpose of existence. It's endlessly creative and fiercely satirical. And, for a show that takes place across multiple dimensions millions of lightyears away, it has a surprising amount of wisdom to it about the daily challenges life brings, channelled through the endlessly varied voice of Justin Roiland.
The beauty of the #AdultSwim show is that the structure allows for oddball adventures and a continuous narrative, as and when the writers see fit. There are numerous reasons why the show is currently one of the best on television, qualities that are self-contained, episode by episode. Personally, I adored the character development in Season 3, as we begin to understand the inner hopes, dreams and motivations of the protagonists.
Yet expanding and exploring the Evil Morty narrative over the next few episodes could elevate the already acclaimed show to even higher heights. The level of world building, all done within a time frame six or seven times less than a feature film, was outstanding. The subtle unravelling of Evil Morty's presence, executed to a tee, was worth the wait. Now, we're rooting for good to prevail as the show introduces a villain worthy of the show's complexity.
Over to you, Rick and Morty C-137. The Citadel, and the universe, is counting on you.
Is "The Ricklantis Mixup" the best Rick and Morty episode to date?