Rick and Morty: “The Rickshank Redemption” premiered season 3 of the cult show on April 1 in an anti-April Fool’s prank of epic proportions for fans of the Adult Swim show. Aside from prompting a nation-wide craze for Szechuan Sauce, a discontinued promotional sauce from McDonald’s, it also re-emphasized the nihilistic nature of the show, while also elevating cravings for nostalgic, politically incorrect, relics to equal status with pursuit of good, love, or happiness as potential meanings for life.
Spoiler Alert: some of the following may give away plot points
In much the same way a Buddhist monk seeks oneness with the universe, Rick believes in “noneness.” A nihilist, he plans overcooked schemes with little care for collateral damage. For most of the series, he has waffled between active and passive nihilism, but the new season promises a subtle shift to a chosen, albeit ludicrous, meaning for his, and only his, life.
After a year and a half, a variety of theories floated around about how the new season would see Rick escape from intergalactic prison, reunite with his family, and the trajectory of his philosophical ambivalence. With absurdism rising, the apparent love for his family expressed at the end of season 2 begins to appear illusory again. Whether the absurdism is simply a new cover to hide his true feelings, the actuality of his existence, or a new level of insanity initiated by the brain probe used by the intergalactic government remains to be seen.
As a return to the show, it did fulfill one promise: Rick successfully escaped from prison, and the show appears to be ready to return to the usual episodic style. I’m excited to see whether the intergalactic government and Council of Ricks will be diminished, extinguished, or merely temporarily checked. While I’m betting the government is done for, the Council of Ricks is hardier if for no other reason than the infinite number of Ricks from the various multi-verses. Yes, Rick C-137 took a large number of them out, but by his own logic, there are an infinite number to take their place.
Teased at the end of the episode was a return, in some form, of Birdman. Many fans were heartbroken with the death of Birdman at the end of season 2, and many theories were thrown around to, hopefully, prove Birdman not dead. While theories extrapolating it all to a simulation died a fiery death with the premiere of “Rickshank Redemption,” we do find Birdman brought back as cyborg Phoenix Person, under the control of Tammy. This raises a question: Tammy was working for the intergalactic government, which has collapsed in financial ruins. What purpose does Tammy have for Phoenix Person, and will she become a neutral character, or will Rick be forced to face his former best friend as a souped up cyborg at some point in the future? Given the depths of darkness delved in episode 1, I think yes.
Episode 2 is still a ways off, but for now we have our theories.