[WARNING – This review contains SPOILERS.]
From airing the decidedly unanimated film The Room to marathons of the old Mr. T series, Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim block has a long tradition of pranking viewers on April Fools Day. This year proved no different, but for once the prank was decidedly more benevolent than annoying or stupid. Instead of their regular Saturday night line-up of The Best of Seth MacFarlane, this year Adult Swim ran and reran the long-awaited Season Three premiere of Rick And Morty – The Rickshank Redemption – through the early evening hours.
Picking up right where The Wedding Squanchers ended, the episode opens with Rick, Morty and the rest of the Smith family enjoying a wholesome family meal at Shoney’s. Unsurprisingly, given how dysfunctional The Smiths are, this is quickly revealed to be an illusion set up by a Galactic Federation agent (Nathan Fillion) in order to get inside the head (literally) of a still imprisoned Rick. The Feds want access to Rick’s greatest achievement – a portal gun capable of inter-dimensional travel – and they will do anything to learn how to build their own.
Back on Earth – now the newest outpost of the Federation Rick apparently abandoned his family to fight – the rest of the Smith family is adjusting to life under a fascist regime. Naturally Jerry loves any system that discourages thinking too much and Morty is enjoying a peaceful Rickless existence. Beth is less enthused, since the Federation’s medical technology is so advanced that there’s no need for horse surgeons. And Summer is determined to rescue her “heroic” grandfather, no matter the risks!
It spoils little to say that this episode is hilarious and lives up to the quality of the previous seasons. The funniest thing of all, however, is that the airing of this episode really was a prank almost a year in the making. After last season’s finale, several critics (including this one) wrote about how this show could be funny but still find ways to touch your heart and reveal the hidden depths of its characters. This episode revealed that was all a bunch of baloney and restores the status quo, more or less, to how it was before.
So everyone who thought we’d seen that Rick Sanchez really does care about his family and that he was a noble Byronic hero who sacrificed a normal life in the name of higher ideals? April Fools! Now sign the petition so we can get some of that sweet, sweet nugget sauce!