One of the most brutal episodes across three seasons, Rick and Morty continued delving into the breakdown of Beth and Jerry's marriage in the latest episode - or specifically the effect it's having on Rick.
The episode kicks off with Beth and Morty discovering Rick on his bench, transformed into the shape of a pickle. After a brief back and forth, the reasons become obvious: the family was headed to a group therapy session to better deal with the aftermath of the divorce, which led Summer to start sniffing pottery glaze and caused Morty to piss himself in History class. That opens the door Susan Sarandon to feature in a cameo as a therapist, hammering in on the family's inability to actually face their problems.
Sarandon doesn't really land any blows on the family until Rick appears at the end of the episode, but when he does, she unpacks his ego rather neatly:
You seem to alternate between viewing your own mind as an unstoppable force and as an inescapable curse. And I think it’s because the only truly unapproachable concept for you is that it’s your mind within your control. You chose to come here, you chose to talk, to belittle my vocation, just as you chose to become a pickle. You are the master of your universe, and yet you are dripping with rat blood and feces, your enormous mind literally vegetating by your own hand.
As she goes on to note, not everyone is suited for the daily grind of work. Some people prefer continuity, the comfort of a regular routine, and others prefer chaos. And that's the crux of what is unravelling the family right now: the family has been rocked by the divorce, and nobody, not even Rick, is handling it that well.
For the most part, however, the story focuses on Rick. Having transformed himself into a pickle and summarily removed from access to serum that would return him to a humanoid form, he ends up falling down a drain and going on a journey of Rambo-esque proportions.
Rick eventually lands in a private fortress of some description - it looks like an embassy or HQ for a corporation almost - and the episode from that point evolves into something like a cross between MacGyver and Game of Thrones. It's incredibly brutal, more so than the HBO series has been of late:
With the wholesale slaughter of rats, agents, explosions and even the beating of skulls in a piano in the end credits, it's comfortably the most gory a Rick and Morty episode has gotten for a while. It's incredibly over the top, mind you, so it remains comical throughout. It's a parody of action movies, in a lot of ways, with the Jaguar character being something like a cross between Birdman and Rambo.
The brutality also helps highlight a neat message at the end, partially because of Sarandon's cameo: despite his unbridled intelligence, Rick relies on a lot of brute force violence to solve his problems. And rather than actually resolving anything in the car trip home, Beth and Rick rekindled somewhat over their dislike for their therapist - whom Morty and Summer actually liked.
It augurs somewhat to a future split between generations. Morty and Summer will probably end up having an adventure of their own at some point, partially to work through issues their parents are deliberately avoiding. Summer still has the closest relationship of anyone in the family with Jerry, and as much as Rick loves the chaos of adventure, and being able to run from one adventure to the next, that instability doesn't make for a good family unit.
But we'll see how that plays out in later episodes. For now, Pickle Rick was a neat little spin on action movies. I wouldn't want every episode to take the same bent, but then I wouldn't want every episode to be 20 minutes of improv TV, either.
Rick and Morty's latest episode will air on Australian Netflix this Saturday.